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Monday, January 30, 2012

Birders Vs. Photographers; WHY?

6:58 AM 1 Comments
The recent irruption of snowy owls in Illinois and other areas throughout the country has brought birders and bird photographers alike out in droves to see the majestic, beautiful snowy white creatures.

Certainly not a great photo ~ reasons follow below

What the irruption has also brought to the surface is the familiar and what seems to be age old feud between photographers and birders.

What I can't understand is WHY? Why two groups who obviously love birds, obviously love seeing and photographing birds, have to work at such cross purposes? Photography forums, nature forums, and birding forums abound with hateful, snide and snarky attacks , all of which I feel serve no purpose.

I was the object of one of those attacks by some over zealous birders over the weekend.

Let's get it straight right now; 

I follow the nature photographers code of ethics. I don't push, harass, bait, or any other manner of activity that could be detrimental to the subject or the ecosystem. I'm fairly quick to point out to other photographers  where they may be making a less than positive impact.

However; the fact that I was wearing full camo and carrying a long focal length lens this weekend  seemed to be enough to make me a target to  the birding community. Maybe it was the fact that I had taken the time to contact the landowner, request permission to access the property where the owl was found, and to also ask where the land owner preferred I parked. In essence giving me a closer look at the bird in the wild was what had the birders  a little pissy. I'm not totally sure, but soon there was yelling and gesturing and less pleasant comments being tossed across he field at me.

While my assumption is that the birders were well intentioned, and perhaps thought I had no clue about how to approach this easily stressed bird, the shouting and arm waving were having exactly that effect. The bird was frightened, expended a large amount of energy and flushed over the hillside.

again an obviously poor photo as I hold myself to the rule of not approaching too close to stressed animals

Once reaching the waterway on the other side of the hillside I sat quietly, watched the bird, noted that several red tail hawks and crows were beginning to mob it as well, and decided that my part in this birds stressful Saturday was over. I would come another day. I will not be a part of stressing a bird or any other type wildlife for that one good "killer shot" especially when it might well be a killing shot.

Upon returning to the property owners home to extend my thanks I enjoyed a friendly conversation with the landowner and another birder.
The other birder was a fountain of information, much of which I found useful and interesting, and friendship of sorts was fostered.

In general over the years that has been my experience with birders and photographers- although I will admit I have encountered a few overzealous birders who felt that photographers should either be banned, tripod mounted cameras should be banned (but not tripod mounted scopes?) and in an in general hateful attitude towards anyone carrying a DSLR and heaven forbid a lens of 400mm or over.

Yes, there are thoughtless photographers out there mingling with the birders, but there are also thoughtless birders deliberately ruining  photographers shots, equipment, and issuing what almost seem like wanted posters for photographers through the extensive  birding list serves and forums.  Vitriolic postings that including a photographers license plate number, vehicle description, a physical description etc. This latest trend truly disturbs me as I find it harassing ,a certain invasion of privacy ,and perhaps a bit libelous. I say perhaps libelous because sadly there are photographers out there who do practice such bad habits.

But through none of this have I been able to answer the question why the animosity between birders and photographers? We all enjoy the birds, nature, wildlife, we can learn from each other, we should be working together, not standing on opposite sides of the fence cursing each other.  What say you dear readers Why does this occur and what can we do to stop it?

Stay tuned for my next and related post - Sightings of Rarities in Nature; Don't Ask- Don't Tell; where I discuss the difficulties encountered when a rarity in nature is shared throughout the masses.

Happy Birding this week  and Happy Snapping!

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Ice Fishing in a Bikini?

5:34 AM 47 Comments
I've had my fill the last several days of women promoting themselves as outdoor women and also promoting causes for women with a variety products and photos showing women hunters and anglers in various states of undress.

Stop it ladies! You are not furthering the cause of women in the outdoors, you are furthering the misconception that for a woman hunter/angler/ trapper  ( insert your own outdoor pursuit here) to succeed you must cater to the men by displaying all your worldly goods; and I don't mean your new Benelli .

It started with a facebook  post trying to find new page fans.. if a page promoting FISHING FOR BREAST CANCER received x many likes the  profile photo would change to a large busted lady spilling out of her her pink Maidenform. As an angler who lost both breasts; and then had to endure what seemed like a second mastectomy when my reconstruction went awry - the absolute last thing I want to see promoting breast cancer awareness among women anglers is a set of 44 DD's popping out of pink lace bra. Show me a tastefully dressed survivor casting her line please. Show me that these women anglers understand how devastating breast cancer can be to a woman's self image and her ability to continue to pursue outdoor adventures. Show me something real and heart felt, not a pink lace bra damn it!

I have to question how many male anglers "liked" the page just so they could ogle the profile picture without getting the message?

Next comes an ad for a calendar  with page after page of bikini  swathed hunters and anglers - from an organization that states it promotes women in the outdoors, no less. This calendar was promoting women in the outdoors - but not in the way myself or virtually any of my fellow outdoorswomen friends wish to be promoted.

I have message for this organization; You are not promoting women in the outdoors, you are promoting the ancient and archaiac sexist attitude that a woman afield is only good for the occasional purient leer and snicker.

The images were laughable to say the least. Yep, I'm going to sit in a bikini to spring turkey hunt..ticks, chiggers, and poison ivy abound..better yet, you betcha I'm lying in a frozen field waiting on that coyote in my g string.

Give me a break! Have we a women in the outdoors still not moved past this use of our bodies to sell ourselves as outdoor enthusiasts? I know..I know.. sex sells.

But, if we as women outdoor enthusiasts  are promoting women  in the outdoors, it behooves us to set the proper example. A woman is just as attractive fully clothed, with her equipment and trophy proudly displayed. We strive to be recognized for our knowledge, abilities and skills; not our breasts.

So I issue a challenge to my fellow outdoor enthusiasts - speak up when you see this blatant use of the female form to sell a product, a service, or as a fund raiser. Ask about the model's skills, her trophies, her life experiences and what she truly does to further the cause of women in the outdoors.

And ladies, if you happen to be one of those bikini clad models - get yourself some self esteem,  properly fitting clothing, dress  for the occasion and promote your  skills not  your sex.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Strange Weather - Mushrooms in January!

12:57 PM 2 Comments
Strange weather this winter- I even hate to use the term winter; our days have been unseasonably warm, our waters are still open, with just a little skim of ice in the early frosty mornings. Our ducks season was disastrous thanks to all the warm weather. The birds simply haven't "come down" from their northern haunts  yet. Yes, there have been some, but overall; it's been decidedly duckless season.

The same weather patterns that wrecked the duck season however have made for a very long lasting mushroom season. The chilly wet days have been perfect for the oyster mushroom flushes.

Too nice of day to let go to waste, my pal Adam and I set out for hike and to check a few known mushroom spots. We'd hardly  topped the levee near the Kaskaskia river when Adam announced - "I can smell 'em"
Willie was off like a shot down the levee and in a blink of an eye he and Piper were dancing around the first log full of beautiful hearty winter oysters.

Willie and Piper anxiously awaiting Adam to show him the shrooms 

Just one small batch we collected

All together we cut almost 10 pounds of fresh winter oysters, while the dogs romped through the open water and fields- burning off energy that they didn't expend retrieve ducks earlier in the morning.

See Adam - We told you there were mushrooms down here! 

Willie and Piper..pals for life..
Teamwork! Fetch up that stick!
After we returned home- the mushrooms were cleaned and  the first cutting were used in a devine hot mushroom potato salad - especially good when paired with smoked sausages and  fresh baby spinach.
Here's the recipe for the Hot Mushroom Mustard Potato Salad


  • 1 pound oyster  mushrooms,cleaned and sliced into strips
  • one small red onion sliced into thin strips
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • Commercial garlic and herb type steak seasoning
  • 1 pound small or new red  potatoes, quartered
  • Honey Mustard Dressing 


  1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees, with racks in upper and lower thirds. On a rimmed baking sheet, toss mushrooms and onions with 1 tablespoon oil; season with steak seasoning . On another rimmed baking sheet, toss potatoes with 1 tablespoon oil; season with steak seasoning. Roast until mushrooms are browned and potatoes are cooked through, about 20 minutes, tossing once and rotating sheets halfway through. Transfer to a bowl and toss with honey mustard dressing