It's natural to get excited about a photo of a bird you see online, and ask where the photo was taken. I’m pleased that you asked, as it shows that you’re interested in discovering more about at least one of the 11,121 species of birds on the planet. I have written this short explanation to address your question, with full respect for your love of birds.
Simply stated, I do not divulge the location of my bird photos. I follow the birding protocol of giving a general location, such as the name of the city, a township or an area such as “southwestern Ontario”. I do so because over the years of taking bird photos, I’ve chosen to treat the birds that I meet as somewhat sacrosanct and I consider it a true privilege to be able to photograph and observe them. On more occasions than I can remember, I’ve woken up very early and driven long distances in the dark to arrive at a habitat where a bird sighting is likely. I try to arrive before sunset, in all seasons. I know that some of the best photos are taken, serendipitously, just by being there at the right time, and this is something I strive to do. Sometimes I am lucky, many times I am not so lucky.
As a travel writer, I often cite Robert Louis Stevenson’s famous quote, “I travel not to go anywhere, but to go. I travel for travel's sake. The great affair is to move.” In other words, travel adventures don’t begin when you arrive at a destination, they begin before you leave home and during the process of reaching your chosen destination. For me, the same holds true with birding. The adventure begins by researching where a bird may be sighted and then actually travelling to the site.
The term 'Listers' often refers to birders who are only interested in adding another species to their life list. If the Blue-Grey Gnatcatcher has already been checked off their list, and they see another one in the wild, they ignore it as a waste of their time (similar to thinking 'been there…done that). They are only interested in “what’s next”. But the term Listers may also be used to denote those birders who ignore the research and understanding of a bird’s habits and habitat and seem to be interested only in being directed to where the bird can be seen. Once found, they click the shutter, and move on. Their task is complete.
Birders often refer to their activities in terms of a Treasure Hunt, where you never know what you are going to find, once you set out with your camera or binoculars or field scope. This is part of the thrill. Sometimes you are rewarded (such as the time we discovered a tree-imitating Potoo in a wooded area of San Blas, Mexico) and oftentimes, there is no specific reward other than a nice sunset and a calculation of 20,000 steps on your Fitbit or on your iPhone health app.
We are firm practitioners of the “8 Billion Syndrome” whereby we figure that out of the 8 billion people on the planet, we will attempt to be the only people (two of us), watching and listening to a bird in pristine silence. No horde of tripods with 800 mm lenses in sight. No loud talking people in the area. Just the sounds of silence as we commute with a Northern Saw-whet Owl in a Cedar tree in the woods. Or share a "drink-your-tea" song with an Eastern Towhee in the forest. And we’ve been fortunate to have this “8” experience in many places around the world.
Flash back to the winter of 2019-2020 in the small city of Schomberg, just north of Toronto, Ontario, Canada. News about a Northern Hawk-Owl spread like wildfire. When we arrived we found an army of photographers setting up their equipment and then with every rumour of the Hawk–Owl being sighted in a different area of the woods, the horde quickly re-located like a M.A.S.H Unit.
While I will be the first to admit that I have been part of the problem from time to time in the past, I choose not to contribute to this type of birding in the present time and for the future.
Now I am not suggesting in any way that you fit into any of the categories of birders listed above, as I don’t know you personally. I am only providing an answer with an explanation regarding the question “where did you take the photo”. I hope you appreciate my perspective.
Leave a Reply.