The Polite and Social Birder.

Blue-and-white Flycatcher

Usually, well at least in the old days, I used to go out looking for photographic subjects alone, however in recent years I have discovered the benefits of social birding, both in Australia and Japan. It’s just in the last year in Japan that I have been going out looking for birds with an elder “Birding Friend”. It’s interesting how my bird list has increased through “word-of-mouth-know-abouts”. My birding friend meets someone who knows someone else who sighted a something in a particular place. I have discovered the residences of Long-eared Owls and Northern Goshawks in city parks as well as new places that are often regarded as places of interest for migrants or other natural features.

Blue-and-white Flycatcher

This approach certainly has its benefits however, there are behavioural or cultural adaptations required to my usual methods of observation and photography. That is, when we go to an informed place of interest, we are not the only ones there. There are usually troops of bird photographers preceding us. This is good in that we can get live updates on what’s been seen recently in the area (There is no surprise in finding something special) and enthusiastic picture takers kindly insist on showing us what they have recorded on their digital screens. It’s interesting to see the latest of Japanese birding technology being used in the field. I enjoy looking at the various scopes, cameras and lenses.

Above and below: Blue-and-white Flycatcher in flight.

The funny thing is what to do when a subject of interest appears. Everybody shuffles into formation. Of course there are better positions than others, depending on lighting, backgrounds and angles. I often find I’m more interested in watching the photographers in action than the birds and I don’t really feel comfortable with trying to move into a position. Does my big head get in the way of someone’s lens or will I trip over a tripod and send a million yen, nano-coated, 600mm lens bouncing on the ground? Most people rush into a row ‘uplight’ but I tend to stand back ‘downlight’ in the open. The problem is, I don’t seem to be getting any good pics from such outings.

Eastern Crowned Leaf-Warbler.
(post-edited: Name changed Thanks to observations by Unravel. See comments below)

I guess I have to enjoy the advantages of new discoveries, (both of nature and culture) but adapt and develop new approaches and techniques with my camera.

Above and below: Japanese Grosbeak

It's nice to see new birds. All photos taken on Sunday, April 4 2010, at Junsai-ike, Niigata, Japan.