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Saturday, 23 July 2016

When did the word 'Photographer' become an insult?

On a well-known (but declining) online bird resource, I recently read a post about photographers trampling down wild flowers in an effort to take pictures of a Silver-washed Fritillary. I visited this site recently and watched a family group with children running about in this 'wild flower glade' with small 'point and click cameras': they obviously realised they weren't going to get decent pictures from the path. I didn't say anything, because they were doing something better than playing 'Go Pokemon' and, in any case, there was nothing to suggest that this patch of brambles and rank grass was anything special...

I was at Minsmere on Wednesday: there was little to set the heart racing, but my friends and I walked round to the East Hide to look for the reported Little Stints and Spotted Redshanks. As we entered, we were surprised to find both tiers of the hide were packed with elderly visitors, many of whom had no optical aids at all: they were obviously just enjoying a day in the country at this famous reserve - no problem with that! We separated to find seats: none of us had tripods, just cameras with zoom lenses (If you're a regular reader, you've seen enough images of the three of us!) I had hardly sat down when a group of middle-aged people entered the hide. They were apparently being led by a somewhat younger bearded guy. He surveyed the hide and then exclaimed (in a loud voice!)

"Typical! Nowhere to sit because of all the photographers! They sit here all day and hog all the best seats!"

A while back I was making one of my frequent visits to Strumpshaw Fen. As I reached the T-junction of Sandy Path and the Riverside Path, I was astonished to find two family groups with seven kids between them playing football on the path! Every now and then, one of the players would run into the reeds (the bit with singing Groppers!) to retrieve their football. Perhaps foolishly, I pointed out that there were parks where they could have a kick-about without disturbing the wildlkife. You have never heard so many "F***s" in your life, all directed at

"... f***ing photographers who think they own the f***ing countryside!"

One last example: on two online forums (fora?) there have been recent posts stating as a fact that "...bird photographers scared away the nesting Little Terns at Winterton." No-one seems to have pointed out that the presence of vast numbers of free-running dogs are allowed to charge up and down the beach throughout the day. In exactly the same way: I was on Kelling Heath last week and had to remonstrate with three groups whose unleashed dogs were running all over the place. In the past four years, I have been attacked by dogs three times: on one occasion this required a hospital visit. Because I like most animals, I declined my Doctor's request for the owner's name so that the dog could be put down.

 Now - as I've often said - I'm NOT a photographer: I'm an amateur naturalist who carries a camera. However, I think this photographer-bashing has to stop: it's unjustified, is a mythology based around the behaviour of a few idiots and is becoming an all-too common catch-all for the poor behaviour of other countryside groups.

I watched these dogs run through the Little Tern colony.

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