Saturday, February 26, 2011

Birding Pet Peeves - Number 2

Time for pet peeve number 2....

Birders who judge other birders based on the price of their gear.

This one always leaves me confused. On one hand, I can understand that the more experienced a birder gets, there is a tendency to buy better, pricier, equipment. On the other hand, I know many expert birders still using the same binoculars they purchased 35 years ago and are still toting around a Golden Guide or Peterson they purchased about the same time.

Many times in the field I have come across another birder who looked at my chest first. I guess I know how women feel. After they determined the type of binoculars I owned, they engaged me in conversation. As my own gear has gotten better, the nature of my conversations has changed. People seem to assume you know a lot more based on the amount of money you’ve spent. I’ve experienced the same thing with scopes and especially cameras.

Making assumptions based on the price of the gear is risky. I’ve seen old timers with taped together gear and high schoolers with hand me downs who can bird circles around people with better stuff. On the same trip you can run into rich newbies with the latest and most expensive who think sparrows are baby robins.

Take the time to ask a question or two and you’ll learn a lot more.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Birding Pet Peeves - Number 1

I started working on a post of various pet peeves and decided to post them individually over time. I'm sure I'll catch some heat for some of these but that's the chance I take.

So on to pet peeve #1.....

Birders who don't pay attention to their electronic devices.

I don't mean birders who ignore their devices like unwanted junk mail. I'm talking about the noises their various devices make. Don't get me wrong, I think it is great that we have smart phones with all sorts of cool apps and cameras that make it easy to get really good shots, but the noise some of these devices make is frustrating.

I hate it when I'm on a group walk and suddenly you hear Sir Mix-A-Lot's "I Like Big Butts" blasting from someones pocket at maximum volume. Is it that hard to turn off the ringer before you start the walk? It's worse when the trip leader reminds people to set their phones to vibrate at the start of the walk and you are still greeted by the "Old-timey Phone" ring 45 minutes later. To complicate matters, most of these people take the call and then have to tell the caller that they "WILL CALL THEM BACK BECAUSE THEY ARE IN THE MIDDLE OF A BIRD WALK".

The other part of this that irritates me is the noise from some of the cameras on the market. When you are birding alone, it is OK to have the camera beep at maximum volume and to set the shutter sound effect to something about as loud as a 12-gauge shotgun slamming the next shell into the chamber. If you're on a group walk, turn it down. Or turn the sounds off.

OK, that sounds petty and whiney, but I feel better.