Subject: Re: Threats to birders
Date: May 4 13:01:20 1995
From: "M. Smith" - whimbrel at

On Thu, 4 May 1995, Tracy Burrows wrote:
> Yes, I agree that the actual risk of physical harm to a birder is quite
> small. However, if you live in a rural county and you happen to speak
> out on environmental issues, you're risks of having your dog poisoned and
> of you being intimidated and feeling threatened are quite high. We need

I have a 'sweet justice' story about this:

Spring 1991, I had a 4 day break between my final exams at Texas A&M.
This was my last quarter in school, so rather than study for Genetics
during the 4 days, I took a trip down to 'The Valley' via High Island and
Bolivar Flats. The shorebird area used to be open to 4-wheel drive, but
during that year it was posted down to the waterline. I was talking to a
fella I had met earlier from Cape May (Kevin Karlson), and we were out
looking at shorebirds and a jaegar. Local opinion of birders was not too
high, despite the money dumped into their economies each year by us.
Anyway, this truckload of yahoos (young male yahoos) roared by us,
spraying sand and mud around, and generally trying to intimidate us and
other birders in the area. They drove down below the waterline,
deliberately ignoring the posted signs, and onto the mudflats where the
birds congregate, leaving deep tracks behind. We decided to walk out on
the flats, and about 30 minutes later we see the same yahoos, desperately
trying to dig the truck out of the mud with shovels, boards, etc. Some
worried little peeps were watching while feeding. That truck was
STUCK, up to the doors in soft marshy mud. This was a very nice new
truck, big tires, 4WD, the works. Couldn't have been more than 1 year old
(probably a present from Daddy on 16th or 18th birthday). Anyway, they
were digging, the tide was creeping in...digging, creeping... digging,

So we left to go back for more warblers.

How did it end? Two years later I'm talking to a friend of mine from
Texas who had been photographing shorebirds. He described to me this
'rusted out truck body that makes a great photo blind' he had used out on
the Bolivar Flats. When I asked for the exact location, it corresponded
exactly to the one described above. Sweet justice...

If any of you are going down that way this year, I'd like to know if
their truck is still in the mud, and if their stupidity and ignorance
benefitted any photography you might be doing.

PS on a different note, my second oriole of the year came only 2 hours
after my first, saw one on campus at 10:30 AM (maybe the same one, but
who knows).

Michael R. Smith
Univ. of Washington, Seattle
whimbrel at