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Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Disturbing Youtube Video of Photographer Flushing a Snowy Owl

There is a plan this Friday to go photograph "snowy owls" in Boundary Bay. This year has a larger migration of snowy owls than last. And the problem therein lies in the fact that the snowy owls are starving when they reach Boundary Bay Regional Park. They have very little energy to be spared and that has to be conserved if they want to maintain enough strength to hunt.

On YouTube I observed a very disturbing video of a photographer who disregarded all signs that the bird was getting stressed and proceeded to crawl up uncomfortably close, eventually resulting in flushing the owl. That kind of behavior is wrong and seeing such behavior is infuriating. There is no excuse for that kind of behavior. No photograph is worth the life of a creature.

The photographer in this video has a 300mm f/2.8 lens and presumeably teleconverters to go along with it. There was no excuse for him to go crawling up to the snowy owl who visibly was stressed (you can see its outspread wings in warning, the arched back and the apparent opening of the owls' beak in a warning hiss partway through the video). There are signs posted all along Boundary Bay Regional Park stating to stay away from the snowy owls and to not stress them out. To watch them from a distance. Yet birders and other conscientious bird photographers say that they observe idiots walking onto the flats when they have been warned by the sign to stay on the dykes.

If you plan to go down to Boundary Bay at any point, please don't approach the snowy owls. Watch them with respect from a distance. If you want to photograph them, then buy yourself a supertelephoto lens. There are affordable options out there as you can see in this post. Less Pricey Options for Wildlife Photography. There are no excuses for this kind of behavior even under the best of conditions which this certainly isn't considering the health of the owls. These are the idiots that give wildlife photographers a bad name.

Stay on the trail or on the dykes, don't approach the snowy owls, learn your subject, respect your subject. Understand that to you this may be a photo opportunity, but to the owl, conserving their strength is a matter of life and death. It's not worth a photo opportunity to deny the owl a chance at survival.

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