Observing wildlife.

Discussion in 'Nature' started by alex_lofquist, Oct 13, 2006.

  1. I came across an article in National Geographic, Sept 1959 by Dr Wm Beebe of
    Bathysphere and high altitude ballooning fame on observation of birds and
    animals in the forest. While he was using binoculars, I believe that these
    rules apply equally to photographers.

    (1) Move only when the wind blows and moves the leaves.

    (2) When a wild creature is near, keep eyes partly closed. Animals do not like
    to be stared at.

    (3) Hold hands high so that any movement is down, as leaves fall.

    (4) When listening to faint sounds, keep mouth slightly open (as lovers of
    music do in the top gallery of the opera).

    (5) Drab clothes are best, but a scarlet or blue shirt will do no harm if one
    keeps still. It is movement, not color which frightens wildlife.

    (6) If sand flies or mosquitoes are bad, do not be ashamed to use a repellant.
    A dozen mosquitoes biting at once may disturb the toughest observer.

    (7) When approaching a singing bird, take a step during each song: many birds
    will not notice.

    (8) Learn to squat East Indian fashion. It allows two slight shifts which
    alternately ease all muscles, and keeps you clear of wet surfaces and bete
    rouge (red bug).

    (9) When squatting, hold glasses close to nose, so they can be shifted to eyes
    with a minimum of motion.

    (10) Don't trust your eyes or memory when you can check and recheck.

    (11) A sudden yell or gunshot frightens wild birds for a few seconds, but the
    effect of a cough or a sneeze will last much longer.

    (12) A low monotone in speaking is less disturbing than a hissing whisper.
  2. Those are very good tips. A couple more that have helped me: Never look frontally at an
    animal that is watching you. That is a threat. I sometimes move ahead with my body
    sideways. I always keep my head down and peek over the top of my glasses. Also, I try to
    stay smaller than my tripod and camera and always keep it in front of me. Sounds goofy,
    but I think that some animals perceive that to be a tree or bush and are more tolerant of
    you, since there is perceived barrier. Thanks for posting.
  3. Any deer or duck hunter learned this stuff on their first outing. The one REALLY important thing not mentioned was wind direction. When observing mammals, keep it in your face as much as possible. Many animals rely on scent even more than vision.

    I believe #8 is referring to chiggers, but I'm not positive about that. If so, chiggers will crawl up on you anyway.

    Kent in SD
  4. well if i see someone walking thru the woods, with their mouth open, hands held high, eyes partly closed, moving only when the wind blows, speaking in a monotone, i'll know their a nature photographer. lol. i like the advice my grandpappy told me. "take your spurs off before ya squat" and " don't pick your nose on a bumpy road"
  5. (N) When watching a mountain lion walking towards you, and you're not sure if the animal is aware of your presence, and you figure that it is 'close enough'... move your feet around to make some noise. It helps to avoid surprising the animal and also allows a bit more time to assess its possible intentions.
  6. and look around for some rocks, they hate getting hit by rocks alot more than getting stared at.
  7. How do you squat "East Indian fashion"?
  8. The afore mentioned article shows Dr Beebe assuming the position: feet pretty much flat on the ground but the weight mostly to one side.
  9. Most people North American sized cannot squat. You won't be able to get up. We're just too heavy (I used to be able to squat :( ).
  10. "(2) When a wild creature is near, keep eyes partly closed. Animals do not like to be stared

    While it is true that animals are put off by staring, I don't ever find it necessary to keep my
    eyes partly closed. The thing that helps the most is to appear to be doing something other
    than observing wildlife! If animals nearby think you are occupied with something other than
    themselves they will relax. An angle finder on your camera can help a lot with this.
  11. horses can be funny like that. if the horse is real nervous about you, turn around, and put your back to him.
  12. Andrew Robertson wrote: "While it is true that animals are put off by staring, I don't ever find it necessary to keep my eyes partly closed. The thing that helps the most is to appear to be doing something other than observing wildlife!"
    This has been my experience as well.
  13. I've just spent the last three years here in Australia wading around and sitting in a swamp/lake with my camera. Eventually the birds, ducks, lizards, snakes, turkey's etc got to know me and trust me enough to take me to their nests. What is interesting is when a stranger happens along, all the animals start talking amongst themselves and then go and hide. Some of the most important things for photographing animals (especially birds), is if you scare them from their nest, then you are risking the lives of the babies - the parent may be too scared to return to feed the baby and a delay can cause the baby to die. If a parent bird is scared off an egg, then the egg is exposed to sunlight and too much sunlight can kill the baby inside (even one or two minutes is too long of exposure). But a long wait can be so rewarding - it took me two years of patience to get within 30m of two Osprey Eagles and now I have excellent close up shots of them tearing fish apart and eating with their claws and sharp beaks. Also keep in mind the animals privacy - how would we like it if a stranger walked uninvited into our house while we were having dinner, so we must remember to act as if we are 'guests'..and if we need any further inspiration The National Geographic headquarters in Washington DC is an excellent place to visit..
  14. Geof, you bear out my theory that the best nature photographers are not those with the best gear or the best technique or the best aesthetic sense (although those things obviously help) but those with huge amounts of patience. I don't have it and that's why I'll never be a great nature photographer.
  15. im an avid wildlife photographer myself, iv been hunting from an early age and quickly learned the tricks for getting close to animals, but why not let the animals get close to u? get a blind(or make one) and hide out in a good spot, maybe set up a feeder near there to draw some attention, i know alot of good shots come from blinds, and its very effective with skittish birds u cant approach on foot. but ur tips are good.
  16. bummer, photo came out way too big, lets try again, any tips for making it smaller?
  17. danggit, its a panorama, so just try and imagine what it would be like:p

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