30 C
Mossel Bay
29th February 2024
Nature & Nurture

Birding Booboos

A recent visitor reminded me of a mishap he’d had on a previous visit to the farm. He (a retired gentleman who shall remain nameless) and friends had spent much of the day tossing sticks into the river (as he describes it, “a boy thing”). Unfortunately the last stick he threw had a bit of a hook in the end, which snagged the strap of the expensive binoculars he was holding in his other hand, and he watched the binoculars go sailing off into the river along with the stick, never to be seen again. I’m embarrassed to say that I couldn’t stop laughing on hearing of his misfortune. I had a quick look at the internet for other birding mishaps – here are a couple for your amusement:

“In January 2019, I was working at a garbage dump in eastern Ethiopia trying to (humanely!) trap Egyptian Vultures to tag them. These birds are very shy, so we made sure to carefully cover the traps on the ground so they couldn’t be seen. We sat for hours in the garbage dump, waiting for vultures. Unfortunately, no birds showed up, but eventually three donkey carts arrived at the dump, each loaded down with three 50-gallon drums of sewage. We watched, in horror, as the carts stopped right next to our traps, and men poured all of the 450 gallons of raw sewage over the area. The worst part was we needed the traps back, so we then had to dig them out.” (Dr. Steffen Oppel)

“Canoeing down a lazy river through a bird-rich riparian habitat one summer, three of us bird watchers pulled over to the bank to get our binoculars on the abundant flycatchers, warblers, and other birds feeding in the dense vegetation. The song of a Black-headed Grosbeak caught our attention and we simultaneously turned our binoculars to a point high in a tall pine. By the time we felt the canoe tipping as we leaned upward, it was too late. We all glimpsed the grosbeak as we splashed into the water.” (Kim Marie Thorburn)

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