Jim Williams has been watching birds and writing about their antics since before "Gilligan's Island" went into reruns. Join him for his unique insights, his everyday adventures and an open conversation about the birds in your back yard and beyond.
Sometimes the desire to see a bird well or get a particularly desired photograph of a bird gets in the way of good judgment. I think that happened Sunday afternoon at a piece of muddy shoreline at a place known to birders as the Bass Ponds.
The ponds are in Bloomington, along a backwater of the Minnesota River. The reedy shoreline there with its mud flats recently has been a stopover for migrant Nelson’s Sharp-tailed Sparrows. This is a secretive bird species not easily found, particularly in the metro area, even in migration. For that reason, this site has been a magnet for birders for the past three weeks.
When I arrived Sunday I watched two photographers walk off the shoreline and out of the area. Earlier that day, according to a friend, the shoreline mud was a smooth, wet flat that drew sparrows out of the reeds and into the open to feed. The birds were easy to see. When I got there footprints had plowed the mud flat.
Reading the footprints, the photographers had positioned themselves in the mud to put the sunlight at their backs, understandable in the pursuit of trophy photos. I do much bird photography. I understand the often-sharp desire for the best photos possible. This should be done, however, without compromise.
Whatever kind of birding is done: Do no harm to the birds. Do no harm to the habitat. Don't spoit the observation opportunity others might enjoy.
This is the shoreline area as I found it.
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