Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Great Horned Owls - GVP 22, 23


I have a new outlook on life and photography. Trying to manage people, contacts, friends and share "secret" info is too hard.

Great Horned Owl
-click for more-

Secrets are a commodity. Secrets are things no one can really keep. You tell me your golden nuggets and I will tell you mine, right? When I first got in to photography I wondered why it was hard to find detailed and exact information on nesting locations. But there's good reason, thoughtful people want to protect the animals and nests in question.

It is hard enough to be careful all by yourself. Then add the internet and if you broadcast (post publicly) the info there's no way to know who is reading it and what they might do. It is reasonable to assume people won't be outright destructive, but it is not really that reasonable to assume a stranger will know how to best act to do as little as possible to not impact a nest, egg(s), or chicks.

Three or 4 years ago I didn't know what I didn't know. I was just starting out, and I was hungry to find and see things and take photos.

Since then I've learned a lot, seen things, had my own little impacts and wondered how I could have done this or that better. And people have proven to not be able to keep a secret themselves, and I've seen people I would have judged worthy act in ways that don't seem right to me these days. (For example flushing a bird on purpose, to get a 'flight shot', seems rude and uninformed, and is not helpful to wildlife.)

One of the hard parts of this position I now find myself in is that I've learned so much from other photographers, and the internet in general. Open sharing has enabled a lot of this for me, to find things, pursue things, etc.

Baby Owl

The way I balance it now is that I share the location info for places that are well known, and publicized by me already, but I might not sharing the info in real time. That's not to say I will risk a spot, a nest, to conform to this. Most widely known spots don't have easily accessible eagle/owl/osprey nests.

For places I've not shared the location info before I maintain that, and I do my best to not draw attention to things like Owl nests. And when someone else shares secret location info on nesting birds with me I don't share it even when someone asks directly.

There's a lot of hard work that goes in to doing the right thing. "Just" wanting to get images of something is not an indication of anything but raw desire. And knowing someone first hand, having met in person (not just on the internet) provides some much needed context and insight in to who someone is...

All that said, I feel lucky to have been trusted with a spot a couple years ago. I added it to my list, and have gone a couple dozen times. I now have a real appreciation for the wildlife I want to photograph, more so that was possible when I started out.

I waited to post this Owlet. It has only recently fledged and made it past the 'perch close to the nest phase'. On a recent visit it saw me coming and took off after a minute or two. That's a success in my eyes - from egg to fledged and ready to move along as needed to keep safe. And now I can post these images confident that I did my part to appreciate and not hinder these owls' chances at success. / Jon


Anonymous said...

Very nice shots of fascinating animals - I do love owls :)
I applaud your philosophy on sharing info, time-delayed, so as not to disturb the birds too much - given that about 60 % of wild-born owlets and other bird of prey chicks don't make it past their first year, we must do everything we can to make sure we don't disturb them during breeding and in general.