Bird Photography - Pecking Order

This is a bit of a rant having had 4 recent experiences with what I deem inconsiderate bird photographers.

In social media it is common to read that opportunity should be given to all no matter their country of origin etc.

When it comes to bird photography I take the position that first to location, all others should stay clear. Exceptions where birds are accustomed to multiple humans such as some refuges, are certainly acceptable.

Recently when photographing ducks I had several occasions where perhaps thoughtless newcomers show up making lots of noise with very expensive teles and pro cameras, standing up, walking around in camo gear thinking that they are hidden fron sight.

I will say this. I refuse to move anywhere near another photographers space and usually move on so as not to interfere with their experience and by my motion disturb the birds.

I find those that dont heed this courtesy will find they have perhaps destroyed opportunity for those first on site, and for themselves.

Lucklly and due to stealth and careful stalking I did capture some fine closeups of wild birds prior to disturbance by others. In fact I had 3 birds within 10 feet at ine point.

What amazes me is the lack of respect and consciousness of others.

One fellow had the audacity to move within 25feet from me, standing up, making noise, and chatting with me while I was hunkered down low, hidden behind foliage and quiet, waiting for birds to come to me.

Needless to say, the birds scattered and my good experience ended.

A word of advise. Stay clear of your fellow photographers when they were first on site. Judge carefully before you move into gheir space.


  • PB_PMPB_PM Posts: 4,454Member
    As a long term bird/wildlife shooter, all I can say, better get used to it. 25 ft? Thats nothing. In popular birding spots it’s common to have 20-30+ birders side by side. Just remember the birds don’t belong to you, no matter when you arrive and it won’t bother you as much. Is it annoying when some shows up and tries to chat when you’ve been waiting for an hour to get a shot? Yup, but sadly it just comes with the territory. Humans are social creatures.

    I’ve seen people do all kinds of despicable things to wildlife just to get a shot. From people who smash pots and pans to wake up sleeping owls, to walking out into restricted and sensitive landscapes. In some cases the amount of people who did that kind of intrusion cost the wildlife sanctuary thousands of dollars, because they had to restore destroyed dikes etc. As in all walks of life, there are selfish photographers who only think of themselfs and not about the subjects or others.
    If I take a good photo it's not my camera's fault.
  • DenverShooterDenverShooter Posts: 398Member
    I love it when folks decide to try and venture beyond the safe/sane/appropriate areas for wildlife photography.

    I usually pick spots that are remote or inhospitable for wildlife shooting.

    One year I was shooting Canadian Geese at Barr Lake State Park and it was 10 degrees F on Thanksgiving day at 5:00 AM. Not a soul out there other than the Park Ranger and she made me go back to the car and warm up for 30 minutes while waiting for the sun to rise. Something about -25 F windchill. Nice Gal & cute too. Carried a formidable firearm.

    Pick the toughest spots you can get into safely. Keeps the amateurs and idiots at bay.

    Denver Shooter
  • sportsport Posts: 120Member
    It's happened to me at Rocky Mountain NP. I was just getting ready to get some photos of elk after taking 20 minutes to get in position. A lady comes running up behind me and runs off the elk. She told me that I was in a great spot and couldn't understand why they ran off. It's hard to not blow up about it, I just to look at it as an opportunity to educate.

    Yellowstone is the worst I've seen. It's amazing how excited people get about bison. Even more amazing is how much risk they take with a point and shoot.
  • BVSBVS Posts: 440Member
    sport said:

    Yellowstone is the worst I've seen. It's amazing how excited people get about bison. Even more amazing is how much risk they take with a point and shoot.

    Maybe Nikon should open a shop selling P900s at Yellowstone, so people can take shots from a half mile away. :smile:
    D7100, 85 1.8G, 50 1.8G, 35 1.8G DX, Tokina 12-28 F4, 18-140, 55-200 VR DX
  • PistnbrokePistnbroke Posts: 2,333Member
    edited January 2018
    The bird sanctuaries I have been to in France are open to the public ( money making top priority) so the herd of the public follow the path and the pros jump the fence and go around in reverse . even then there is a lot of posturing to keep in font and get the best hide " lens holes in the hide".... its just how it is and if you shout "silence Mesur" in a hide full of french peasants and childern you get a 10 second pause and the guides are just as bad ...
    Silence mesur and secreblue works a little better..
    Post edited by Pistnbroke on
  • HankBHankB Posts: 222Member
    edited January 2018
    sport said:

    Yellowstone is the worst I've seen. It's amazing how excited people get about bison. Even more amazing is how much risk they take with a point and shoot.

    This is arguably irrelevant, but I gotta mention it anyway:
    When visiting Alaska, some newly arrived tourists were VERY excited over some small wildlife (and so overcome by the notion that they were actually in Alaska), that they were scrambling to take pictures. The animals were squirrels…regular, lower 48, rodent squirrels!!!
    Post edited by HankB on
  • retreadretread Posts: 572Member
    I once was sitting in my truck with a long lens getting ready to shoot some geese and a guy just ran up and chased them away. Then had the stupidity to ask me if I was going ice fishing.
  • i didnt mention that the interloper at large wore one of those white pollution masks over his mouth and nose along with full camo gear, and even brought along a deer blind seat cushion to sit on the elevated rocks to photograph ducks at perhaps 4 feet above ground level. He must have taken several hundred images of a static immature great blue heron sitting in a tree perhaps 40 yards away. He ran out of space on his card and left his ~$20k? in Equipment (canon 600mm f4 v2, converter, rapid fire canon camera, gitzo tripod, wimberly etc) on a fully extended tripod while he went back to his vehicle to replace cards. He was away long enough for someone to have easily absconded with his equipment.
    Then when his rear got uncomfortable from sitting on the rocks he went back a 2nd time for the seat cushion. Unusual behavior if you are a pollished photographer.... and as I was leaving with my packed equipment he asked me if i was finished. Curious.
    As i was leaving i stated that he might get better results if he was quiet and to stay low when photographing ducks.
    No reply received.
  • PB_PMPB_PM Posts: 4,454Member
    Some strange behavior without a doubt. Who doesn't keep extra cards with them, particularly if they shoot like that? I'm usually half a hour or more walk from my car, so doing that would be crazy. Then again, there are a lot of new people out shooting that have more money/gear than experience, so there's that.

    As for the Heron, well personally I love shooting Herons. I course as time goes by I wait for good light or them doing something interesting. I think GB Herons, Sandhill Crane's and Hooded Mergansers make up 70% of my wildlife shots in the last 10 years.

    Where I live finding spots without odd balls is hard, millions of people, many of who have super high incomes, and limited space for wildlife = crowded spots as soon as news of a rare or popular bird hits the web. Now days I just avoid it, since I shoot for enjoyment, and that just kills it. I have noticed that the parks and wildlife sanctuaries are cracking down on some (who destroy the landscape/purposely disturb wildlife), but they can only do so much.
    If I take a good photo it's not my camera's fault.
  • Hooded Mergs. Great species for breeding behavior images. In a hard winter along with tamer species you can find them less skitish. The male display is incredible. Years ago Tim Fitzharris took the most stunning duck, mergs and waterfowl images at turtle's eye level for Audubon magazine mostly on Kodachrome with both Nikon and Canon gear. They have stuck in my memory with mostly immitators thereafter and none that eclipsed.

    Last year had wonderful male red breasted merg and male readhead shots during severe cold spells with little open water. The readhead stayed for 2 days in an isolated cove and gave me hundreds of fine images in all kinds of light and weather including snow squall. It was alone, but fully wild, and came to within 15 feet feeding on underwater grasses. Except for lots of bloody CA with some of the merg images they were for the most part exceptional. Ring neck ducks were so far this year the primary subject. Though Common Mergs are abundant they are almost impossible to get close enough to. Fewer ops this year even with colder temps from last year. But winter is not over and with spring comes grebes, bonapartes in large numbers. In Sept had fine shots Caspian terns.

    Have fun!
  • PistnbrokePistnbroke Posts: 2,333Member
    edited February 2018
    Not quite in context but the birdy people are here ...Do you use flash for your bird photos? Try this ...We all got one of those lambency flash diffusers and think they are rubbish so I did this for my birding. take say the orange diffuser bit and cut out the centre so you got a ring. buy a frisenel lens used for reading books ( $5) and cut a circle out the centre . glue this onto the front and fit the ring to hold it in place . Line the inside with foil now have a telephoto flash fitting.
    If you don't know what I am on about one of these..

    and the lens

    Much more robust than the $45 I paid for a floppy commercial version with two side arms that don't stay in alignment.
    Post edited by Pistnbroke on
  • PB_PMPB_PM Posts: 4,454Member
    Flash’s can be useful, but many wildlife and protected areas are banning the use of them.
    If I take a good photo it's not my camera's fault.
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