I often wonder if birds think that I am a stalker. A person with a fetish for voyeurism. Look at the facts. I follow them around. I try to escape their line of vision so that they don’t fly away. Then, I photograph them before coming back home to admire them.
I post it on restricted groups across social media. Engage others in the stories that led me to them. And hope that they will come back for more.
I feel like the gatekeeper of an underground pornography racket. Excepting that, nobody is paying me for it.
Last summer, I spent about half-an-hour, following a pair of Spotted Owlets, at Palaverkadu. They were about 300 meters away from me. Every time I inched towards them, they would find a different spot to perch upon.
I gave up and returned to my vehicle. A few minutes passed by and I saw, through the corner of my eye, the owls fly past me. I poked my head out, like a dog on a family road trip. They were much larger than those I had seen earlier.
I got out of the car and looked around. I spotted an owl sitting pretty atop an abandoned water-motor shed. And one more perched on a cement slab above it. They were staring at me, arching their heads and sizing me up.
Right then, a pair of juvenile owlets flew in, landing on the window railing. They were soon followed by yet another pair. Now, there were six of them.
I ducked behind a mound. I didn’t want them to notice me.
But no matter where I stood, I couldn’t escape their gaze. They didn’t seem to mind as they went about their businesses. I couldn’t be sure, though.
I feel guilty about being a birder at times. Especially when birds abandon their meals upon intrusion. Or when they go berserk, trying to frighten me away from nests. It breaks my heart that they feel vulnerable and uncomfortable around me.
But it would be silly and selfish to expect them to treat me without caution. It is their ability to respond to precautionary intuitions that have helped them survive.
No matter how much I care about birds, I am still a human being. I am a threat. I am a creep.