Saturday, 4 August 2012

How not to do it.

I had the misfortune of witnessing some, in my opinion, disturbing behaviour at Otmoor on Friday afternoon/evening. Myself and two friends were standing at the swing gate near the hide (Greenaways) when we saw a youngish man with short cropped fair hair walking up the path from the 1st screen. He stopped approximately
where a juvenile Cuckoo was known to be in a bush. He started to poke
the long lens of his camera into the bush. He saw us and sheepishly withdrew to the
opposite side of the path. We walked up to the scrapes on Big Otmoor. On
our way back half an hour later. We noticed the said gentleman had
climbed over the gate on Big Otmoor. The gate that has a “conservation
area keep out” sign on it.
He obviously didn’t think that applied to him.
He was on the other side of the bushes from where we saw him before.
Once more he was poking his camera lens into the bush. He saw us and ran to the gate. Clambering over it he marched in double quick time back towards the car park. We could see he had a bright red face. He new exactly what he was doing was wrong, but did it anyway. This idiot had no qualms whatsoever about disturbing the bird. Or indeed the welfare of the bird. This sort of behaviour is unacceptable. Where harassing and haranguing a bird just to get a photo is justified and the photograph is more important than the welfare of the bird. An hour later I walked back to the same gate and looked down the track. Sure enough 50 or 60 yards away the Cuckoo had reappeared on the path. If only that idiot had more patience and used some common sense. He could have had all the photographs he had hoped for, without any detriment to the bird whatsoever. I watched the bird sitting on the path for 20 mins or so before it shuffled out of sight into the bush. It was continually calling for food. But there was no sign of the parent birds. I just hope for the Cuckoo's sake that his actions have not scared the parents away permanently.

Compare this with the actions of a friend of mine. (John Shepard) He had seen the report of the juvenile Cuckoo on my blog and travelled down to Otmoor to see if he could get a photo opportunity. We soon found a Cuckoo and were treated to wonderful views of it being fed on a gatepost. Where we had ample time to take our photos. Being a dedicated photographer, he stayed in the area hoping for another opportunity. He staked out the area for three hours plus waiting for it to reappear. Even though the Cuckoo didn’t reappear. He never once tried to make things happen. Or in any way affect the birds behaviour by his actions. This is how it should be done. Patience, dedication and perseverance. Without disturbance.
With his kind permission, here are three of John’s fantastic photos.
The results of doing things the right way.

(Extract from e-mail John sent me when he heard about the lads behaviour)
“What a "blxxxy" shame, I have waited for a very long time to get the shots I did on Wednesday and I hesitate to publish them in case I encourage this sort of behaviour. This young lads actions compare unfavourably with ours when you think I spent three hours waiting for him\her to come out of that bush and it never did!!!!!!”

I must confess I felt a pang of guilt, when I witnessed the behaviour of the said person. Had I not, in my enthusiasm published my photos, would this idiot have been there at all. However Otmoor is a very public place and this particular Cuckoo was in clear view on the paths and gateposts. I am sure sooner or later the word would have spread. Had I not published someone else would have and you can never legislate for the tiny minority that behave in this manner. I think all we can do is act responsibly ourselves and try to promote good behaviour. It would be a shame if the experience of seeing this wonderful event and the brilliant photos, such as my friends, cannot be shared because of a few idiots. But when all is said and done the birds well being is the only thing of real importance here and we have a responsibility to ensure this is upheld.
In my defence when I first photographed the juvenile Cuckoo and reported it on my blog. I had no idea a second bird would make such a public appearance. This is definitely a different bird (see tail length)

                    Original bird 

 I would very much appreciate your thoughts on the subject.
Please reply… Disgraceful behaviour at Otmoor this evening.. post (On Oxonbirds message board)

On a lighter note i would just like to sincerely thank everybody who has been so kind in offering their support and encouragement for my new blog. You never quite know how these things will be perceived when you start something new.
And cheers Derrick for the photography lesson. Great stuff

1 comment:

  1. In the interests of another species (Cuckoo)that is struggling it's probably best to take photos but not report the site, i'm sure the Otmoor regulars will let responsible acquaintances know of the birds location.
    We really can not take any chances although I make no critism of your actions for my observations are retrospective and are my thoughts for the future.
    Barry Hudson.