Saturday, May 17, 2014

Pelee Birds - May 15th (a bit late)

This was how I felt!

With the mad dash of rares over (sort of) I spent most of the day doing photography. I found 2 Willets at Wheatley Harbour early in the morning, and spent a few hours driving the onion fields waiting for the rain to stop. 

I then headed to the tip and did a bit of photography. It had its moments. 

Cool/cloudy/windy days make for great photography - and I enjoyed the birding. A heavy downpour soaked all of the birds, and I actually made a pretty cool collection of "very wet" birds. Nothing that will ever appear in a field guide, but I felt that it told a story. 

A wet story...

Birding at the tip was actually pretty good. Best birds (for me) were a Yellow-throated Vireo and an Orange-crowned Warbler

Orange! Didn't want it's picture taken I guess...

With all that said, I need to vent a little. Pelee totally ruins photography for me. What I do (when taking photos) is SO much more than just walking around and snapping photos of anything I see. I have specific targets, specific images in mind, and want to create an accurate representation of the life history - for the specific bird I'm photographing. 

90% of the time that means I want to gain the birds trust - by learning its behaviours and gaining acceptance into its personal space. I don't want to "trick them" - getting a single snap before scaring it away. Or constantly follow a single bird around until I create a (so called) "perfect" image... 

But I CAN NOT do that at Pelee. There is no chance. I can't blame anyone for it - it just happens. Every single freakin bird is disturbed by the hundreds of people walking around - constantly changing their behaviours and emotions in response to each new distraction. Someone with an umbrella is a new distraction that this bird may have never seen before... Taking off a jacket is a flash of colour that changes their mood. 

And it makes me angry...

Not because it's anyones fault, but because I feel robbed of the chance to create the images I'd like to make - how I would like to make them...

Realllly angry...

So angry, that sometimes I have a strong desire to take my camera and repeatedly smash it into the ground (into a million little pieces), so I never have the desire to take another image in my life...

And it makes no sense! But it happens, so there isn't much I can do about it!

***** I also really need to stress that this isn't anyone's fault at all, as I walked around with some really great people this day while taking photos and had a lot of fun - it just happens to me, year after year, whenever I get my camera out with groups of people nearby! *****

So yeah! That's my story. I think I just need to focus on photography somewhere other than Pt Pelee in the spring. Other than that, I love the place!

Later that day I was shown a Common Nighthawk, and saw a few more warblers... Great birding when they're down low..

Outside the park I had the Laughing & Franklin's Gulls - along with 2 more Willets in a field.

I then stopped at Wheatley to see 2 Whimbrel on the rocks. Awesome birds!

After that, I packed up and went home!

One of my earlier exits from Pelee over the years, and it's still darn early (lots of birds left to move). But with the weather looking more like "photography weather" than "birding weather" - I made the call!

If I go back at all (which may happen) - I'll post the results!

I hope everyone has had (or is having) a superb spring migration in 2014!


  1. Hey Brandon: I totally agree with your rant! Crowds of birders don't intend to harm, but they definitely change a bird's behaviour. Which is why I avoid any trail or other location where large numbers of birders are. In some birding locations, one can actually get off the trail or at least find secondary trails that are not as popular. Not at PPNP, I realize, but that is one of the reasons I don't go there. I would rather sacrifice seeing the numbers of birds, with seeing fewer under better quality (to my mind, anyway) conditions.

    1. I hear ya... Pelee Island!!! (is my guess - as to where I'll head).

  2. Not having fun at Pelee in May? Maybe its time to take a break from birding!