查看完整版本: How was your photograph obtained?

cgeoff 27/05/2015 09:10

How was your photograph obtained?

I believe that those posting photographs on this website should be required to indicate if any of the following applies to the photographs:

1. Playback of song or calls.
2. Baiting with food.
3. Photograph taken at or near the nest.

For some photographs, it seems fairly obvious that one of these has occurred. All three have the potential to disturb a bird's natural activities, and I am concerned at the number of photos appearing on the site that appear to have been obtained in this way. While I think these activities can be used sparingly in certain circumstances without undue harm, the issue we face is that certain locations and certain individual birds are being over-exposed to this kind of disturbance, which will impact their survival and breeding success.


wcaptain 27/05/2015 09:42

totally agree

wilsondring 28/05/2015 00:26

might you be more specific as to which photos you are referring to please?  the reason being that a lot of shots are posted here recently have come from Mai Po 16/17 and although there are obviously nests, the shots surely are taken from inside the bird hides meaning that the disturbance is kept to a minimum or the disturbance is as much from the tours which are taken there on a weekly basis as those from photographers.  in such a situation, if the birds are nesting, they are active enough as it is and therefore no bait or calls are required to capture them on film, .. moreover, i doubt that anyone can walk out on to 16/17 without anyone noticing them.

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ctakming 28/05/2015 07:40

Totally agree with GeoffC. Very good suggestion.

cgeoff 31/05/2015 21:01

I certainly don't think that shots of birds taken from publicly-accessible birdwatching hides at MPNR come under the category of those that I'm concerned about. I'm not against photographs of birds at or near the nest per se, merely that I think it's important we know if this is how they were obtained. I know of barbet nests in Thailand that were seriously affected by disturbance due to the persistent, if not continuous, presence of photographers.

There have been a number of shots posted over the years which seem to me have been obtained using playback. For example, otherwise highly secretive territorial song birds in Tai Po Kau such as Lesser Shortwing and Pygmy Wren Babbler, both of which are relatively restricted in their breeding range in HK. I also remember walking past a photographer at TPK a few years ago playing back the song of Hainan Blue Fly to a male about 15m away for at least ten minutes. This kind of behaviour, especially if repeated by others (which quite often happens with rare or shy species) could have an impact on breeding success if the individual is forced to behave abnormally for prolonged periods of time or decides to abandon its territory. The problem with playback is that it never backs down, not until the batteries give out anyway.

ajohn 1/06/2015 10:09

Wilson, perhaps in the situation at Mai Po you could put a comment along the lines of 'Photo of bird near nest visible from publicly-accessible hide'.
I think it could be useful to know that you were not disturbing the bird, particularly for a species such as Greater Painted-snipe - photographing this species at/near the nest at MP would be very different from photographing a nest of the same species at Long Valley, where there is a much higher risk of disturbance.

Overall I agree with Geoff's suggestion. I don't disagree with these activities in moderation, but it is important that they are not having a negative impact.

wilsondring 2/06/2015 14:19

[quote]Original posted by [i]cgeoff[/i] at 31/05/2015 21:01 [url=http://www.hkbws.org.hk/BBS/redirect.php?goto=findpost&pid=70288&ptid=23338][img]http://www.hkbws.org.hk/BBS/images/common/back.gif[/img][/url]
I certainly don't think that shots of birds taken from publicly-accessible birdwatching hides at MPNR come under the category of those that I'm concerned about. I'm not against photographs of birds at ... [/quote]

i have photographed quite a lot of birds in particularly in thailand, KKC and Khao Yai National Parks where play backs have been used.  there the guides are very skilled at using play backs, for pittas, broadbills and kingfishers ... and i have used call back myself for my recent capture of the garnet pitta in malaysia.

as always, when done by those who know what they are doing, is never a problem, calls were used in short bursts, and when the birds come nearer, volume is turned down/stopped.

i have also come across the TPK hainan blue situation (last year) where calls were played non-stop and very close to the nest.  it makes no sense as the the nest at the time of my visit already had chicks, the adults were already feeding regularly, the used of calls were of no use what-so-ever.  moreover, i do see signs in TPK warning that the used of calls is prohibited ....if anything, the call back will make the adults worried of attacks and hence more unstable to photograph.

Jonathmartinez 3/06/2015 13:11

well as ever the main problem is the amount of photographer and the pressure on the bird it results rather than these practices which to me may not be harmful if use sporadicaly by a single photographer during the all breeding process time. The problem to me is that photographers tends to go always to the same places and are attempting to get picture of the same birds, after... It is particulary true in Hongkong with probably some of the highest density of photographer in Asia, but also true in most of famous reserve in Asia...then I would totally join Geoff in his concern that even a different single photographer (it is often more than that) attempting everyday to take a picture of the same bird using playback create a big disturbance to the bird and reduce greatly its breeding success...In the other hand, a photographer that would go to any poorly visited place finding its own birds on a remote trail and use playback to get pics of it would be to me a minor disturbance...But I'm not sure that it is even possible in Hongkong...
To me the pleasure to get a good picture is not only to press the shutter, but all this process before that lead to the finding of a great bird and the solution found to get the right pic which often do not require any playback, but just a good analysis of the bird movment and favorite perch...

Feeding bird come to the same category to me.

Picture at nest would require hight binding precaution that I'm sure nobody are taking and are definitly best banish as a conservative approch...there is dozen of solution to take picture of birds without creating any disturbance...the best of all to me are a bathing pool, since birds are always very alert and cautious (so isk to put the bird in danger is reduce) when go bathing and it can provide great proximity...and most of bird species are drinking and bathing almost everyay...then just need the right weather and place...

kmatthew 3/06/2015 21:27

I agree with Jonathan's point, sometimes that many people visiting throughout the month during the breeding season of a single pair of birds (for example Yellow-cheeked Tits 2 years ago? Hainan Blue Flycatcher this year and Black Drongo at MP a few years back) is itself a great disturbance, even though the birds may have fledged successfully in the end, this does not proof as support that the crowd have not caused any disturbance or that it did not affect the chicks. There are chances that chicks in disturbed nests are fed less then chicks in well hidden areas, therefore affecting their survival rate after fledging...This I can only speculate.

Personally, I uses playbacks and find it a very useful tool for birdwatching, mainly to bring in birds a little far away. For instance, I used playbacks for the Fairy Pitta I saw last month, which I believe would not have shown if I didn't use playbacks. If done correctly I don't think it will harm the birds in the long run, I only played the tape until the bird came into view and stopped once I got it's attention, it stayed long enough afterwards for me to enjoy great views. The problem is when playbacks are used during breeding season or close to a known nesting site, I completely agree this should be avoided, plus anyone who have tried should know that birds get more "jumpy" and alarmed when playbacks are used near nests and make them more difficult to photograph anyway. If the same bird is continually taped in day after day for a few weeks or months, I am sure this will cause problems, imagine hearing someone calling your name but never finding out who was calling you constantly! You will go nuts too! So, I agree playbacks should only be used sparingly and not in front of big crowds.

Disturbance of nesting birds should really be avoided, I never stay long if I find a nest, 10 - 15 minutes tops, and I rarely revisit the site. Staying there too long will not only increase the stress levels of the nesting birds but will likely attract the attention of crowds of photographers. I have seen people breaking off twigs and cutting off branches to get a good view of the nest, which will no doubt cause a lot of stress on the birds. 30 - 40 people all focusing on one nest is not a good practice and no doubt will attract unwanted attention. Some Taiwanese photographers told me last month a Fairy Pitta nest was raided after a few weeks of continued visits by groups of photographers, the chicks likely to have been taken away by bird catchers and sold for money. People could argue that they can protect the nest if photographers are there, but in reality once the nesting site's location is known, nest raiders can easily go back at night and snatch the chicks or eggs.

I know there's been a lot of debate going on with this issue, and have been going on for a long time. I just hope everyone can respect the birds that you are photographing, or else sooner or later there won't be any to photograph!3551875328cc445

[[i] Last edited by kmatthew at 3/06/2015 21:28 [/i]]

HFCheung 4/06/2015 11:41

I don't think the practice of declaring photography method can help solving any problem.  I will lead to more finger pointings and widen the gap between the views of electronic-assisted birdwatchers and traditional birdwatchers.  I think we should unit all bird-lovers to combat wildlife hunting and wildlife eating.  The anti-bird-trapping project in Guangxi by the HKBWS China Programme Team is in the right direction.

Jonathmartinez 4/06/2015 14:49

this is a totally different polemic... I see no link between illegal poaching in China and abusive method of some wildlife photographer in Hong Kong.
I'm sure nobody want to hear about any bird with a sewing needle emerging from his throat or any yearling owls killed by dogs because of photographers disturbed them at nest...all this has happened and will happened again if wildlife photographer do not behalve themself and try to stick at a minimum of deontology code...
If nature lover, birdwatcher and photographer do not show the example how can we take the right and get the position to point out wildlife crime and other things that are going wrong...

If I'm the first persuaded that recent development of wildlife photography is one of the best things that happened in China recently, it does not mean that photographers have the right to do everyhting and finish to f...cked up what the poachers and heavy development has left..
Even in China, good habitat left are located in few very small pocket that to me are at very hight risk...
I will not blame photographers because I'm convinced that most of them are just not aware of the impact and the possible consequencies of what they are doîg, but education and information are to me a deep need...

HFCheung 5/06/2015 11:07

I am trying to say two points.

1. We are not using the right method to co-operate with photographers. I think many of them are decent people and can be convinced to help protecting birds. But we build a strong dis-trust relation with them and so we lost most of their support to protect birds. This actually create problems rather than solving the problems. Many of them decide to work against our effort intentionally.

2. In term of effectiveness in protecting birds, it is much more efficient to put in efforts in mainland China to fight against hunting and bird eating.

HF Cheung

wcaptain 5/06/2015 12:05

My view of Ho Fai's Pt 1 is partly about the "Face" problem.

HFCheung 6/06/2015 16:48

Take for example when we submit bird watching records, what if some authority suddenly require the submitter to state (1) the distance of obsevation, (2) whether the bird has been thrushed, (3) whehter playback or whistle has been used to lure the bird out. Would the submitter think that the authority have not placed sufficient trust in himself/herself? Why should the submitter be assumed guilty and that he has to prove himself innocent?

JohnC 6/06/2015 18:47

Agree with HFCheung.  

This forum is pretty quiet for the amount of birders I see out there.  I think we should encourage more photos.  

Also, non- photographers may also use some of these methods. Why target the photographers only?

Jonathmartinez 6/06/2015 22:55

we're getting too far from the initial debate to me...
To me the initial post was not against photographers at all, but against the way some of them behave without thinking of the consequencies of what they are doing...
There is possibly as much to said from some birdwatchers behaviour but this was not the initial debate to me... I don't think many birdwatcher are baiting bird appart from their balcony (even I'm not totally against baiting birds if it is made temporaly and with intelligence to get pics of a bird), I also don't think many birdwatcher are trying to get bird as close as taking a picture require...usually many are allready sastified with a glimpse of the bird...I'm not sure many birdwatcher are getting so close to an egretry as photographer recently did in TPK....This is a totally different activities which are not comparable here in my opinion...
I also don't think that because China has a large poaching scale that it means everybody can do whatever they want with birds unless it is not kill them...

I just remember this picture of a group of dozen of photographers standing 10 meters away from a nest of Black Drongo at Mai Po...PLEASE!!!!just a bit of common sense, and just think that the life of these birds are much more important than a couple of pics of a species that can be easily made the rest of the year without risking the success of their brood...

JohnC 7/06/2015 08:36

I also agree with you Jonathan, except that the photos of the black drongo nest and the TPK egretry were probably not submitted on this forum. Therefore these suggestions will not help in those situations.  

This type of disturbance is a problem of eduction as you say. So let's educate people about proper use of playback and approaching nests without disturbing them too much.  I think feeding wild  birds is illegal so that should not be discussed or submitted here.

cgeoff 9/06/2015 13:08

I am glad my initial post has generated some debate. I’d like to respond to some the various points raised above.

While declaring whether a photograph was obtained using artificial assistance or close to the nest will not solve any problem per se, what it will do is alert people to the potential impact obtaining such shots may have had on the individual birds. Raising awareness of any issue is a necessary and important part of dealing with problems. If it makes a photographer think twice about using such methods, then, as far as I’m concerned, fine.

I disagree that putting effort into discouraging hunting and eating of birds in China, however laudable and effective, means that we do not need to worry about what is happening on our doorstep. That would simply be ignoring the problem. I do, however, agree that we may be using an inappropriate method of connecting with bird photographers, though I have no suggestions as to how to do this more effectively. Unfortunately, there does appear to be a small proportion of photographers who are not prepared to seriously consider a bird’s welfare; reaching this particular group will be very difficult, of course.

It is true that non-photographers may use some of these methods, but it is likely to be at a much lower level than is the case with photographers. Without the motive of obtaining a photograph, such activities as baiting and playback will be too troublesome. It’s not a question of targeting photographers only, but one of targeting those who potentially impose the greatest impact. As Jonathan mentions, it is the activities, not the people.

While my suggestion would not have helped directly in the Black Drongo and TPK Egretry cases, by raising awareness generally it is more likely that in forums where such photos are posted, there is more likely to be a negative response to such photos.

Fundamentally, I believe that the HKBWS should be setting an example, and requiring photographers to indicate the circumstances of their photos is one way of doing this.

[[i] Last edited by cgeoff at 10/06/2015 11:30 [/i]]

HFCheung 10/06/2015 10:43

I am sure the executive committee will consider this issue and possible actions.

Personally I think we should trust other people more. Like our members, they have already decleared that they will follow the birdwatching rule of conduct.  Why do they still need to declear every time they post a photo? Even for non-members, if they already declear that they will support the birdwatching rule of conduct once, I don't think they need to declear any other things.

I have known very bad examples sound playback of traditional birdwatchers.  I think it is wrong to discriminate against part of the birdwatching community.

Mai Po has been putting up baits in waterfowl collection for a very long time. If used properly, this is an excellent method to assist conservation and education. I am sure taking bait photos in Mai Po waterfowl collection is acceptable. Like playback photography, bait photography by itself is not a crime.

The present suggestion of policing against bait photography will hurt decent electronic-assisted birdwatchers only. Instead I believe the society should promote the proper method (like build more hides with waterpools or even baits in Tai Po Kau, Long Valley, Po Toi, etc).

Last, there is a far bigger issues other than this. Why are we spending most of our efforts on policing photography, and doing almost nothing against eating wild birds or swiftlet nests?

HF Cheung

cgeoff 10/06/2015 11:52

While there are many trustworthy members who abide by the Code of Conduct, it appears (to my eyes at least) that certain photographs have been obtained by playback. Anyway, responsible photographers should, by definition, be willing to state if a posted photograph was obtained using artificial means (note, this will not be every time a photo is posted). While the idea of purpose-built hides for photographers is great, it's unlikely to happen any time soon, if at all.

I must emphasise (again) I'm not against these activities per se, but I feel we need to know when they are being used. I am also not proposing 'policing' them, as I realise that is not possible. All I suggest is that some indication is provided if the shot was obtained using artificial means. Can we not expect that [u]and[/u] work to conserve Yellow-breasted Bunting?

In regard to the final point, I don't think anybody is suggesting we are spending, or should spend, 'most' of our efforts on policing bird photography; to reduce my mild suggestion to this is absurd. I agree there are bigger issues such as wild bird consumption and, closer to home and more relevant surely, the trade in wild birds through and to HK. Almost all the birds in local bird markets are wild-caught and destined for an early death, yet the Society is strangely quiet on this activity. That's another issue, however...
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