Seven days shy of a year ago I found two rare Mountain Plovers in the White Rock Bay area of Antelope Island State Park and lately I have been hoping to see them again.
The last couple of trips to the island have made me think of how various technologies used for birding and bird photography have advanced in the last twenty five years. Twenty five years ago anyone finding a rarity would have had to drive to the nearest phone to make a report to other birders and today we can use our cells phones to call or text a single person or email every one who is signed up on a bird listserv immediately to notify them of a rarity while we keep the birds in sight. Within minutes people can be on the road moving towards the reported rare birds and they can easily stay in touch with people while they are on the road. Today you can place a pin on a map on Google and people can have their phones talk them through getting to those exact coordinates.
Twenty five years ago there wouldn’t have been the bird listservs that we have today on the internet where birders can instantly “chat” about rare or even common birds instead they had meetings and phone trees set up for getting in touch with other birders when rare birds were spotted. I might not even have been on that list because I am a bird photographer not a birder.
Quite a few local birders and bird photographers were able to see and photograph the Mountain Plovers on Antelope Island because of messages sent to them then by hitting the “send” button on a phone.
Not sure about a bird’s ID? We can search the internet rapidly or use apps to help with the ID. Want to hear the call of the bird? There are apps for that too. We can pinpoint hot spot locations for certain species by using eBird.
We can take photos with our smart phones and instantly share them on social media with the entire world instead of impatiently waiting days & days for film to be developed. Photos of rarities can be viewed almost instantaneously across the internet and before you even leave the birds experts can weigh in on the identity.
I know that last year if I had been using a film SLR camera I wouldn’t have taken as many images of the two Mountain Plovers as I did because of the cost of film and developing. Today we use digital cameras and can instantly see the results on the camera’s LCD screen where we can see if our exposure and sharpness are correct and if not make adjustments and photograph them again. We can take hundreds or thousands of images and not even think about the cost of film or developing and even though we might kick our own butts for the bad images we can immediately take better ones. Our cameras have small computers that “talk” to the lenses and some DSLR’s can wirelessly send the images to our smart phones for uploading to the internet.
Yes, compared to 25 years ago the technology used for birding and bird photography today is simply amazing.