Archive for Feb 14th, 2013


The ability to observe

I scattered a little seed around and went back to the Landrover to see what it would attract. Black headed Gulls were the first to take advantage and then a few Turnstones arrived. Sitting with the camera to hand I expected a few Snow Buntings to turn up. They have been regular around the car park, as they have in previous winters, but perhaps not in as greater numbers this year. Sure enough it wasn’t too long before a small flock of a dozen flew in and I started snapping away.

I don’t see everything, but I do class myself as relatively observant; but some people must walk around in a world of their own. You would think that a large vehicle with a 400mm lens pointing towards a dozen white birds feeding and shuffling across the shingle would prompt someone to think “What’s he doing? … Oh! he’s photographing birds … let’s give him a wide berth so as not to disturb what’s going on”. No such luck. Drongo and his five Labradors pile straight through between me and the birds and of course the whole shooting match is in the air. Now I’m a tolerant chap and we all have to live together and life will always be a compromise so I settled down to wait for them to return.

25 minutes later, again they fluttered in and once more the whole situation was disrupted almost immediately by yet another visitor with accompanying four legged friends. And so it went on sometimes in true Fentonesque style. In a moment of weakness the thought even presented itself to me that on occasion interventions were not accidental, but I dismissed this thought as decidedly uncharitable. It has to be said even a few bird watchers were not immune from this blinkered vision. It appears we have lost the power to observe. An ability that is essential to survive in the wild has been eroded by our cosseted lifestyle.

This inbuilt reflex is demonstrated by one of the Snow Buntings I was photographing. The bright sunshine and still air had prompted the emergence of an insect or two. Even as it was feeding head down on the shingle the little chap below had his eye on a passing fly.

Snow Bunting


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Feb 2013


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