Presque Isle is known for its natural beauty, sunsets and sunrises, recreational opportunities, plus birds and wildlife. For as long as I can remember, it has always been a haven both for the casual and passionate birdwatcher who visits it to watch the many different species of birds and waterfowl that frequent the woods, lagoons, shorelines and bays and ponds of Presque Isle.
Over the last few years, I have noticed that on Presque Isle, Asbury woods, the Bluffs State Park and many of the Pennsylvania Game Commission’s gamelands, watching wildlife has become a popular activity. Some bring a camera, some just walk and watch. The advent of the digital camera has made nature and wildlife photography a more uncomplicated hobby to pursue. In today’s digital world it is now much easier to capture fantastic shots of birds, wildlife and waterfowl on your camera or even cell phone.
To support what I was seeing here in Erie, I recently read a report by the National Surveys of Fishing. Hunting and Wildlife Associated Recreation that said that the numbers of American’s who took trips for the specific purpose of watching wildlife increased by 63% during the last decade. Sure, we can study and statistically report about watching wildlife, yet in real life and on a personal level; it is really all about experiences and memories that can last a lifetime. For example, what could compare with a chance encounter where you come eye-to-eye with a Red Fox and her kits staring out from under a large fallen pine tree? I know in my case when this happened a few years ago on Presque Isle, a feeling of wonder, awe and excitement made a warm feeling flow throughout my being. It is something I will never forget.
Wildlife watching is fun and educational. Its goal is to serve animals and birds without interrupting their normal activities. Unfortunately, people aren’t smart and sometimes trample habitat and harass animals as they attempt to get a closer view of the animals and even worse do things such as tossing a stone to get them to “do something.” On Presque Isle I have seen some so-called wildlife photographers get too close to a bird’s nest just to maybe get a little better shot. This is not wildlife watching or even good photography.
The Golden Rules of Wildlife Watching
- Respect habitat.
- Respect the WILD in wildlife.
- Respect private property.
- Respect other people wildlife watching.
- If in a state, national or county park, observe their rules.
- Respect the wildlife.
Of course, the first five are really just common sense; however, many people just cannot seem to understand what respect actually is. Number six is the very essence of wildlife watching.
All active wildlife watchers MUST remember that the welfare of wildlife should always come first. If you cannot get that truly wonderful shot of a bird feeding its chicks, so be it. Just don’t get the shot. To show your respect for wildlife and birds, follow the following guidelines:
* View wild animals from a safe and appropriate distance.
* Stay clear of nests, dens and rookeries.
* Use calls and whistles selectively.
* Do not touch sick, orphaned, young or tame-looking wildlife.
* Avoid surprising wildlife.
* Limit your stay.
* Leave pets at home.
* Don’t litter.
* Don’t pound bushes, throw stones or do anything to panic animals or birds.
* Never – never – never feed the animals.
* Do not rearrange or disturb foliage around nests or dens.
* Stay clear of a mother with her young if possible.
A final insight that I have learned over the years is that to fully see and learn about wildlife, don’t just look at it – - learn to slow down and observe it. Learn what an animal or bird is doing and then find out why. You should also try to understand what you are seeing and hearing. A whole new breathtaking world will begin to open up to you merely by slowing down and working a little to understand what you are seeing, where the wildlife might be and when they are more likely to be viewable. Sure, it will take some time, however the end results will be your reward.
I hope to see some of you out on Presque Isle this fall practicing watching wildlife. Try it. It is really fun and educational. Besides, we all need the exercise.
See you on the Park!!
Categorised in: Wildlife
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