Tonight, I had the good fortune to do some quiet, respectful birding by watching a Great Horned Owl wake up, preen, fly out and spend 20 minutes with the owl after fly out./p>
I was able to do this despite of Bob DeCandido and his group. He used a flashlight on the owl while it was roosting, played owl calls and used a flashlight all across the rocks of Belvedere Castle to look for the owl. When his group arrived at the Turtle Pond Duck Blind just as I was leaving, he made a number of jokes about playing calls from all three species of owls endlessly. At least he reads my blog! Bob's little more than a middle school bully. While his bullying doesn't bother me, I do feel concerned for the birds he taunts.
My realization at the end of the night was that despite all of his heavy handed use of flashlights and audio playback, my evening was full of great, natural observations of an owl and I doubt his group saw little more than the back of an owl's head.
Ethical birding wins every time. I highly recommend asking any bird trip leader if they subscribe to the American Birding Association Code of Ethics and decline to take a tour with them if they don't. I still can't believe that anyone pays Bob money to show them an owl, when you can do it for free and have a much more pleasurable experience.