Ocean City Today

I’m no bird nerd

The Public Eye
By Stewart Dobson | Nov 30, 2017



printed 12/01/2017


I take pictures of birds and other animals for one simple reason — they’re not people.

You don’t have to ask their permission, you don’t have to ask them how to spell their last names, they don’t argue that their feathers or fur are out of place, and not once have any of these photo subjects said, “If you put this in the paper, I’ll sue your pants off.”

I did once experience what you might call a statement of protest, but it washed right off.

The downside of taking nature photographs, and more specifically birds, is that people have a stereotypical image of the type of person who does that.

Years ago, I reluctantly agreed to a trip to see the elusive purple-collared boomshakalaka or some such thing after being promised that we would not find ourselves stuck in the midst of the funny hat brigade.

“It’s really not like that,” I was advised

Naturally, the minute we got out of  the car, along came a guy who looked to be wearing a Napoleon hat, pants with 45 pockets and a pair of glasses so huge he could have read street signs on Pluto.

I will say nothing of his physical characteristics, because he had no control over that, except that he could have popped the hub cab off a car with his teeth. All this reinforced my belief that looking and photographing birds involved taking a fast train to Nerdville.

Ever since childhood, however, I have always enjoyed being outside looking for whatever might be flying, crawling, slithering or swimming my way. Consequently, it occurred to me that I needed a way to do that without inviting the inevitable dork comparisons.

After some experimenting (the T-shirt that said, “I Eat Songbirds” didn’t really work out) I adopted what I consider the least goofy approach possible — cursing.

“Holy ******! That’s a ******** Yellow-Banded Field Glitch!” That usually does the trick. If I need special emphasis, I add, “I wonder what it tastes like?”

So, yes, I do like taking pictures of birds and, no, I don’t wear a funny hat. Besides, the last time I tried taking an unsolicited photo of a human being, I heard, “Hey! Who’s the  ******** nerd photographer?”

I’ll stick to photo subjects that don’t complain, don’t talk back and don’t protest … well, not usually.

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