Articles New rules for photograph submissions


This page contains 157 reader comments. Click here to view (latest Mon 10/04/17 21:42).

For the latest version of our policy, see http://www.birdguides.com/webzine/article.asp?a=4254.

As many of you will know, we recently reproduced Bird photography — a new code of practice with the kind permission of British Birds. The article caused plenty of interest and comment; from partisan birders v photographers arguments, to some thought-provoking additions as to whether sites such as BirdGuides encourage the disturbance of scarce breeding birds by hosting an outlet for these photos. We also had a lot of private correspondence highlighting some unacceptable behaviour at certain sites.

Each week we approve some 1200 photographs on our site. We reject plenty of them, as we attempt to enforce impartially the guidelines listed on the upload page. We would remind you of some of the salient guidelines here (a much fuller list is found on the upload page):

  • Consider using "undisclosed site" if a location is sensitive, private or the subject is a rare breeding bird.
  • We generally won't feature pictures of birds, eggs or fledglings taken at the nest, nor pictures of captive birds.
  • Photographs of rare breeding birds will only be accepted where there is unlikely to have been any disturbance, or the photographer holds a current Schedule 1 licence. Such a licence is needed when photographing rare breeding birds at the nest or their dependent young. More details of the relevant Act of Parliament can be found on the JNCC website. A list of Schedule 1 species can be found on the here.

We receive many, many photos each week, and we use a team of ten people to put them through the approval process — which inevitably leads to inconsistencies on occasion. This also means that we don't personally know each and every photographer, whether or not they have a Schedule 1 licence, and whether or not most photo locations are likely breeding sites.

Therefore, in the interests of the welfare of scarce breeding birds (and consistency), we have decided to take a rather more draconian approach to our photo approvals. From now on, all photos of Schedule 1 species taken between March and June will be rejected by an automated system. We have carefully considered the Schedule 1 list, and we have made three additions of our own (Black Grouse, Long-eared Owl and Nightjar), of birds that may be particularly liable to disturbance during the breeding season.

The automatic rejection mechanism will not apply to photos of birds already reported on our bird news services (which are generally passage migrants and therefore non-breeders). Also, we will not be applying this new policy retrospectively: photos already uploaded will not be removed.

We hope that you will all agree that this is a fair and positive way forward. It puts the interests of our resident and migrant breeding birds first.


We would like to respond to some of the general points raised in this animated discussion.

BirdGuides is not in a position to modify Schedule 1, therefore we cannot make exceptions for Marsh Harriers and Avocets even though these species are now much commoner than when the list was drawn up. There are other species that should probably be added to it. We would welcome an updated list and in the meantime believe the right course is to err on the side of protecting the birds.

We take considerable trouble to ensure that our news services only report birds where it is safe to do so. In the spring and summer months we do suppress reports of possible breeders from many sensitive sites. We have close links with the RSPB species protection teams, the County Recorders and a variety of other stakeholders to make sure that we do not report birds that are likely to be put at risk. However, our photo approval system is not under such close control. Our team cannot be expected to know (apart from in very obvious situations) whether it is "safe" to approve a photograph of a Schedule 1 bird from a given site. Therefore we have taken the decision that it is safer to reject the photo (unless it has appeared on our news stream).

Given the increasing volume of submissions, and increasing amounts of time spent dealing with complaints, we are concerned that our ability to moderate photos sufficiently carefully and consistently might be jeopardised. Those taking issue may not appreciate that usually we have little or no information on the methods used to obtain photos or the exact details of the circumstances when they were taken. We simply do not have the resources to request reassurance every time a possibly problematic image is posted.

So, we have implemented an automated technical mechanism to help filter submissions. This is inevitably a blunt instrument. The filter was never intended as a rebuke to bird photographers, or as an insinuation that any particular pictures or category of pictures were taken under dubious circumstances. It is unfortunate that some of our more vociferous contributors have taken it that way.

We are investigating the possibility of adding a more flexible "safe sites" system to photographs of Schedule 1 birds for future breeding seasons.

We reserve the right to reject or amend photographs (and their accompanying text) at our discretion and without notice.

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The information in this article was believed correct at the time of writing. BirdGuides accepts no responsibility for errors, or for any consequences of acting on information in the article. The opinions expressed are those of the author(s) and are not necessarily shared by BirdGuides Ltd.

hide section Reader comments (157)

A good move - well done!
   Andy Hall, 19/05/11 12:16Report inappropriate post Report 
Thumbs up from me too.
   chris thomson, 19/05/11 12:24Report inappropriate post Report 
Does that mean that pictures taken during that period will be able to be posted after June?
   Stephen, 19/05/11 13:17Report inappropriate post Report 
Does that mean that pictures taken during that period will be able to be posted after June? No; the rule applies according to the date the photograph was taken. I've reworded the article to make this clear.
   Dave Dunford (admin), 19/05/11 13:20
Good idea, though I can see some inconsistencies arising - what about e.g. a photo of a Velvet Scoter on the sea, or a Red Kite photo taken from a hide at a feeding station, or an Avocet photo taken from a hide at Minsmere? Disturbance wouldn't be an issue in those cases.

Bit absurd that Black Grouse, Long-eared Owl and Nightjar aren't Sched. 1, they ought to be; it was a good idea to add them to the list.
   Michael, 19/05/11 13:38Report inappropriate post Report 
Well done, you have backed up your claims to put the welfare of the the bird first with positive action. No regulatory system is perfect but this is certainly a step in the right direction.
   Noel Elms, 19/05/11 13:58Report inappropriate post Report 
I know that this new policy is going to cause plenty of discussions on here and I'm afraid that I'm going to be the first who either doesn't completely understand or doesn't agree with it. I can understand not wanting photographers (yes I am one) to disturb nesting birds and I completely agree that this shouldn't be done, but what about photographing bittern or marsh harrier at Minsmere or another RSPB site, it seems strange that we wont be able to share our pictures of these birds during this time frame. I agree with the sentiment and I don't know how to do it better but just not sure it's right. How about Golden Orioles at Lakenheath, it's a well known site for the species and they are reported on bird guides but does that mean that we cannot show pictures of them either?
   Stephen Allen, 19/05/11 14:15Report inappropriate post Report 
Stephen, we face a very similar issue here at the BTO in that we receive records of RBBP Category A species during the breeding season that we hide using a blanket automated approach, inevitably leading to some unnecessarily suppressed records (e.g. we don't map Bitterns during the breeding season, even at the likes of Minsmere). We are considering ways to be more selective in what we hide but as BirdGuides have found, the manual approach simply doesn't work for large volumes of data and in the first instance, it is better to safe than sorry. It may well take a few years to develop regionally/locationally selective systems; in the meantime, we (and I'm sure BirdGuides too) would ask for patience and understanding from birders and photographers alike when it comes to systems for safeguarding information about sensitive species.
   Nick Moran, 19/05/11 14:48Report inappropriate post Report 
I agree with Stehen. While the aims are well meant, to add a blanket ban for some regions and times of year seems a little ridiculous. Many waders have only just arrived - for instance there have been two records of wood sandpiper in the database for March. This would rule out spring birds unless they have been reported on the News - which will only clog the system. Should we report every Whimbrel in April in the south where they are passage birds? Many of the species mentioned are well proteced in areas such as Minemere and species such as Little tern are hardly going to make the News. The timing and sites should be case specific. It would be tedious to set up for the first year but would then be straightforward
   Chris Darby, 19/05/11 14:57Report inappropriate post Report 
Unfortunately Chris, tedious = time + money. Definitely on the wish-list though.
   Nick Moran, 19/05/11 15:21Report inappropriate post Report 
It depends where you do the filtering in the database. If the information is parsed at the time of loading within the drop down menus then specific sites can be allocated differnet species and times of year. Time + Money = Quality/respected product
   Chris Darby, 19/05/11 15:39Report inappropriate post Report 
Yes, while it's easy to pick out potentially absurd applications of the rules, until a more nuanced system can be created for the hundreds of pictures posted each week playing a straight bat to all submissions is probably the best policy. Nest-botherers can have the rest of the internet, it's a good move that Birdguides won't be a home to them anymore.
   Jim, 19/05/11 16:22Report inappropriate post Report 
An excellent move that will only be critisized by the minority of ignorant, self centred photographers whose sole aim is to "get the picture". They give no thought to any other site user and they never give a thought to the birds welfare or breeding success all thay want is the picture. Well done Birdguides!
   Richard B, 19/05/11 17:26Report inappropriate post Report 
"An excellent move that will only be critisized by the minority of ignorant, self centred photographers whose sole aim is to "get the picture". They give no thought to any other site user and they never give a thought to the birds welfare or breeding success all thay want is the picture. "

Yeah, not like twitchers, eh, Richard?
   Keith Reeder, 19/05/11 17:51Report inappropriate post Report 
As you say this is quite draconian and I only hope it has been properly thought through. Having just taken images of a nice summer plumage Great Northern Diver on my local sea loch, a bird which will probably breed in the Canadian Arctic, it appears to be an image which would be automatically rejected as I would not file a report on it. It would presumably apply to the Golden Eagle which was photographed flying overhead three miles from its eyrie. Likewise, the many images of White-tailed...more more
   Robert McMillan, 19/05/11 17:57Report inappropriate post Report 
Birds welfare has to come first so if this policy is extended, will we no longer see any Schedule 1 species appearing on Birdguides during the same period irrespective of where seen ? I agree with the concept of protecting the interests of the bird but surely posting a picture of a bird knowingly taken from a hide or under license and without disturbance, is surely no different from posting a sighting of same species from a reserve ? Avocet at an inland location and clearly non-breeding or on passage might be an example ? Or better still - the reports of the RNPhalarope reported on Birdguides in Norfolk today ?
   Robin Edwards, 19/05/11 18:36Report inappropriate post Report 
Nice idea to post pictures taken without disturbance and all the other exceptions Robin Edwards suggests, difficulty is how could this easily be proved.
   Noel Elms, 19/05/11 18:48Report inappropriate post Report 
Noel, in the same way,how do Birdguide know that posting sightings of these same species (Quail in the last few minutes) were'nt found through causing some disturbance to the birds. I know it's all about the birds but I feel the policy should be extended to posting of sightings too. If the non-display of photographs taken by a responsible majority are removed to deter the law-breaking minority, then why are birders sightings any different from photographer's images ?
   Robin Edwards, 19/05/11 18:54Report inappropriate post Report 
All seems quite reasonable to me. I think Birdguides should take some credit for this step, as it is brave if bound to be contentious. It is a well meant edict at shoring up the bird welfare element of bird photography that cannot be ignored. In turn is it not also an attempt in damage limitation to those of us with a long lens? Sadly 'photographers' have become the new whipping boys, sometimes justifiably, and taken over the 'selfish' banner from the hardcore twitchers amongst the birdwatching populus. Has twitching not become more 'socially acceptable' since some kind of informal groundrules or voluntary regulation were established? This is a correct step for me.
   Dave Barnes, 19/05/11 19:06Report inappropriate post Report 
I agree with a number of points being raised here, I do not want to see or hear of nesting birds being bothered at all. I agree with what birdguides is trying to do but only to a point. If birdguides really wants to protect the schedule 1 birds as stated then as others above have suggested it should not put out reports of them either. We know that this won't happen as it would mean that people would start to use other means of getting information and they would lose money. I agree that some...more more
   Stephen Allen, 19/05/11 19:35Report inappropriate post Report 
Isn't the real answer here for Birdguides to apply judgement rather than a baby out with the bath-water policy. Ok some decisions may be difficult and judged wrong but does anyone on this forum agree that the pictures taken at LBO in March/April of the Short-toed Treecreeper in the hand encourage photograhpers to disturb schedule 1 birds from their breeding areas and break the law ? Close down the bird alerts for Schedule 1 species for four months of the year and stand up to the forthright approach you are taking, or apply double standards ?
   Robin Edwards, 19/05/11 19:48Report inappropriate post Report 
Has short toed treecreeper ever bred in Britain?
   Chris Parnell, 19/05/11 20:48Report inappropriate post Report 
Certainly is Draconian. Fully understand Black Grouse, Cirl Bunting, Dotterel and Nightjar, but Black Tern is really odd. They often show up at Staines Reservoir during spring, but I thought the last time they bred in the UK was in the 19th Century. Avocet and Black-tailed Godwit is gonna hurt, as they are two of the species that I photograph most at Minsmere and Oare.
   Ian Curran, 19/05/11 21:41Report inappropriate post Report 
March to June seems a bit arbitrary - Hobby & Honey buzzard often don't hatch until July so will not be protected to the same level, unless I have misunderstood the plan ?
   Mike Coleman, 19/05/11 21:55Report inappropriate post Report 
Surely a little double standards as bird of the week was bluethroat at welney but according to the new rules should not have been accepted as a potential breeding bird. I recently photographed Cettis warbler which was singing out in the open but was aware of where the nest was as the male was seen courting the female on several occasions. The bird sang from various locations without disturbance. I am surprised by the approach as this would also prevent photography at many well known sites like Red necked Phalarope on Fetlar and lewis. I would like to question how photographing any bird listed from any hide provided by the RSPB would not be allowable. If a Marsh Harrier or Hobby is flying above your head viewble from a public footpath how can the bird possiblly be disturbed!!!!?????? Have i missed something
   Rob Wilson, 19/05/11 22:28Report inappropriate post Report 
I don't see a problem with this list - it's not especially extensive, and minimizing disturbance to any breeding birds, particularly those on this list, is pure common sense. There's still plenty out there to photograph during March-June.
   Trevor Hill, 19/05/11 22:28Report inappropriate post Report 
I tried unsuccessfully to upload a photo of a Hobby, taken today, hawking insects over a lake on the Stodmarsh reserve in Kent. It was one of 30 plus birds on show, seen by many, walking the path down to the river. Whatever the merits for showing or not showing this photo, I fail to see why taking this photo could have caused any distress to it, as it was 30 foot above me, or how the photo is a threat to its successful breeding. If it was a photo of a Hobby sitting on a nest, or I was disturbing it in an effort to gain the photo, then I could understand it. Still, it is only a photo, and I will lose no sleep in having it rejected. I have read the above comment posted by Richard B, and was wondering, were you beaten as a child with a Canon 500mm lens by chance.
   Steve Ashton, 19/05/11 23:15Report inappropriate post Report 
Firstly I can fully appreciate the reasons for this action and the additions to the Schedule 1 list, and they should be applauded. However, does the decision need to be made by 'an automated process' or is it impractical for the human element to be added to the process? Obviously the staff at Birdguides are busy and we all accept this, but before this announcement it seems that all submitted photographs were scrutinised by a team of ten staff. Why cannot the same team continue as before but just exclude the Schedule 1 and other 'sensitive' species from locations that are considered, or suspected to be, breeding grounds (having due regard to locations and dates). Birds on passage, some examples of which are in above posts, and birds that can be clearly seen by all and sundry from public footpaths, reserve paths etc. (albeit on their breeding grounds), will then be free to be photographed without risk to that bird.
   Paul Lathbury, 19/05/11 23:58Report inappropriate post Report 
I applaud the action to limit trophy hunting photographers, using more and more technology including the Birdguides I phone App which plays territorial birdsong at nest sites. The problem is that its about educating potential law breakers and enforcing the rule of law where necessary. It is not in my opinion Birdguides role to police this, as blanket bans will send me and others elsewere. I took an image of a Hen Harrier last week which will now be declined. I was nowhere near its nest and it disturbed me more than I did it. I took a Great Northern Diver 2 days ago which is declined. It will go on Flickr, Orkbirds and my Website. The bird was non-breeding and feeding in Scapa Flow... the open sea. It is not the way to ensure nature photographers act responsibly.
   Maxwell, 20/05/11 00:38Report inappropriate post Report 
I was fortunate to have started bird photography in 1988 and there has always been an issue of disturbance of birds with the majority of disturbance not by photographers but the hundreds of twitchers chasing a rarity across a field or a river etc etc. I have never attempted to photography any schedule 1 speice at the nest site as you can only hold one licence at a time which limits your scope. I have noticed that there is a greater desire to capture the shot at all costs with some bird...more more
   Rob Wilson, 20/05/11 07:07Report inappropriate post Report 
Does this include the highly-publicised breeding Peregrines at Symonds Yat and other Schedule 1 birds at RSPB Date with Nature sites?
   Ed Hutchings, 20/05/11 07:35Report inappropriate post Report 
Just for the record i have not got a problem with your policy. I have been birding all my life and taken up photography as i head for retirement. Surely if you look down a scope or the lenes of a camera,they and we are one and the same. paul burgess.
   paul burgess, 20/05/11 08:30Report inappropriate post Report 
"Avocet and Black-tailed Godwit is gonna hurt, as they are two of the species that I photograph most at Minsmere and Oare." - This is a bit emotional isn't it? "gonna hurt"?? Give over! Birdguides won't accept the pictures but that doesn't stop you taking them or sharing them elsewhere if you want to (just be ready if someone does knock on your door asking about your license). Good move Birdguides.
   Hugh Pugh, 20/05/11 08:57Report inappropriate post Report 
This is laudable in its aims, well done for the ethical stance in principal. If there are no means of ascertaining if an apparently innocent photograph is of a bird which was sat next to the nest and disturbance was actually caused in taking it, then I can see no alternative in these instances. Ultimately a blanket ban will remove the doubt, effort and risk in making this call.
I cannot however help but feel that in some circumstacnes a blanket ban is a step too far. I can see that frustration will result regarding photographs of birds which can obviously be determined to have been taken without disturbance, on open mudflats or flying free. I guess this means no photographs of Red Kites from Gigrin Farm for a third of the year.
   Mark Coates, 20/05/11 10:00Report inappropriate post Report 
I also think shots of Birds singing their heads off to pre recorded bird songs for hours on end should also be banned, it must be sheer torture and distressful to them?
   Papathanassiou, 20/05/11 10:12Report inappropriate post Report 
While I understand and sympathise with Birdguides on this issue it wont stop anything , the images will still be taken and used by many sites and picture agencies . The amount of captive bird photos in the RSPB image library is proof enough that many only look at the image and not where or how it is achieved ... Its down to indiviuals , I have told many people about the people photographing the SEO at Worlaby Carrs and throwing snowballs to make it look round.. we all can improve but I am...more more
   Mark Hancox, 20/05/11 10:42Report inappropriate post Report 
Re comment #20 "I see that since this new code of practise has been issued today there have been pictures of posted of both whimbrel and little gull and temmick's stint, please can you tell me when this is actually going to be effective from?" The code was implemented yesterday but was turned on and off once or twice during testing. The Little Gull and Temminck's Stint pictures were of birds featured in our bird news feed so are not affected by the change anyway.
   Dave Dunford (admin), 20/05/11 10:44
Hi Dave, does this mean that as the Golden Orioles are featured in your news feed that pictures of these will also be accepted even though they are (hopefully) breeding birds?
   Stephen Allen, 20/05/11 11:00Report inappropriate post Report 
It's a bit draconian, maybe, a good few inconsistencies, but if time and money aren't there for a more nuanced system then this is definitely welcome. I imagine it is frustrating for photographers, but is it really that much of a problem in the grand scheme of things if people can't post the millionth picture of Minsmere's bitterns on BirdGuides?
   Pete Mella, 20/05/11 11:43Report inappropriate post Report 
The logo at the top of the page says "Birdguides, better birding through technology" not "better photography through technology". My point being this site is primarily for the passage of information so that birders can see what's about and not a showcase for photographers with the latest all singing all dancing equipment. I am quite happy to look at a bird from distance through my telescope and even more happy if it is undisturbed.
   Michael Hunt, 20/05/11 12:48Report inappropriate post Report 
Re comment #40: Sorry I may have confused things by raising the RBBP Category A list that BTO use to determine what we can/cannot map. This is not the same as the Schedule 1 list BirdGuides are using (the RBBP list contains more species). That said, Whooper Swan is on both lists, though note that the latest RBBP report on non-native breeders lists some feral breeding by Whoopers in Scotland - I'm guessing here but this might explain why the Ayrshire news was deemed OK to release.
   Nick Moran, 20/05/11 14:28Report inappropriate post Report 
Spot on birdguides. A bold move. Can I also recommend that if a bird that appears on the list is uploaded to the site (I won't be surprised that not everyone will read this article) during the breeding season a "friendly" e.mail with the link to this article is sent to the person. If then there is a persistent re-offending a ban from the site. In the vast majority birders with cameras and birders without cameras respect the wildlife they watch. Sadly in both "camps" there is a small miniority who over step the mark.
   Douglas McFarlane, 20/05/11 15:11Report inappropriate post Report 
I think the majority of people applaud anything done that will help and improve the welfare of any type of wildlife in Britain, and I include myself in that group. What I find a little hypocritical, is Bird guides taking this step, but still has the iphone bird call app for sale on the site. Is the welfare of the birds only ok as long as it does not affect the income figures? Also, why stop at schedule 1 birds, disturbance is disturbance, whether a rare bird or a common bird. If Bird guides...more more
   Steve Ashton, 20/05/11 15:29Report inappropriate post Report 
"While we are on the subject, will they please also stop showing photos of birds in the hand? I know of no other action that would cause more distress to a bird than a ringer carrying out his or her duty." Obviously another emotive and highly-charged subject, Steve, but when I investigated this assertion prior to becoming a trainee ringer myself, I found absolutely no evidence that any distress caused by ringing has a lasting effect on the birds (there have been several studies on this). Throughout my training, the key message has been that the ringer must evaluate every action they undertake with regards to its potential effects on the birds caught, be that when/where the nets are set, how often they are checked, bird handling technique etc. To imply that ringing is the 'same subject' as photography and/or birding (neither of which are subject to anywhere near the same level of training/regulation/policing) seems a little wide of the mark.
   Nick Moran, 20/05/11 15:39Report inappropriate post Report 
just been loading up a barn owl it was rejected,i can't see want is wrong with that,but you put up a redstart which is more than likely breeding ,don"t make sense to me,just put it up as undisclosed site would make more sense,i agree with most but a barn owl be real,steve got a very good point,how do we know if iphone apps don't cause stress towards the birds,some in a office more then likely giving the orders,as i said in my post just put up undisclosed with a name and thats it,simply not hard just making silly rules up,as for you nick get off your high horse and be real about it ,being caught in a net and dumped in a bag and handled,would you like no, you would not,if that was a human it would never be aloud,i would be stress as hell if that happen to me but you trained so it all right
   chiddy, 20/05/11 15:39Report inappropriate post Report 
Chiddy - the point of these measures (if I've read them right) is to help discourage photographers from actively seeking out Schedule 1 birds in the breeding season by removing a platform to display them online, not just to not advertise the birds' whereabouts (hence the fact just saying Undisclosed Site wouldn't have tackled the problem). Redstarts aren't Schedule One, and whether non-S1 birds should be disturbed either is a valid point, but this rule is in place to protect those birds who...more more
   Pete Mella, 20/05/11 16:12Report inappropriate post Report 
And re ringing - Ringing has a scientific purpose, and while I'm sure not every ringer in the world is innocent of wrongdoing, we know a lot about birds, their movements and how to conserve them through ringing studies by highly trained individuals. And there is no evidence it does lasting damage to birds - whereas a minority of photographers (and birders) that stumble around with no fieldcraft disturbing breeding birds can and does. EDIT - realised that might sound like I'm accusing Chiddy or anyone else on here of being one of these people, I'm not, just mean BG don't know what the photographers are up to who send photos in.
   Pete Mella, 20/05/11 16:14Report inappropriate post Report 
Nick, my intention was not to "imply that ringing is the same subject as photography/or birding" but to express my distaste in seeing a small warbler cupped in the hand after hanging upside down in a mist net, (if only for a short period) then put into a bag, tied up and transported to a ringing room. There it is weighed, measured and its feathers blown about before being released back into the wild supporting a leg iron. It does not sound so glamorous when put like that. To me it’s the same as taking a photo at a nest sight, a no go area. I do realise that this is an emotive subject, and straying away from the point in question a little, but if we really do need to change our habits to ensure that the welfare of our birdlife is ensured, it cannot be done half heartedly. Please tell me why this photo ban is only in force for schedule 1 birds. Is it okay to harass common birds?
   Steve Ashton, 20/05/11 16:29Report inappropriate post Report 
i argee with you steve,as i said before a barn owl flying in a field could be miles away from it nest box if it is breeding,hobby flying in the sky you find the nest,honey buzzard flying above your head i could go on all day,so you have see are point on breeding bird photos,to me there are fly overs,birds sitting on post or fences you could go on all day, some ways good ideas,others bonkers.as for ringing don't agree with full stop,leg irons on for the rest of your life,not nice think we should try on ringers to see how their like it.
   chiddy, 20/05/11 16:49Report inappropriate post Report 
Sorry Steve (#50)- it was your use of the phrase "While we are on the subject" that led me to think you were implying similarity between the disturbance issues of photography/birding and ringing. As Pete (#49) points out, ringing has very different - and one might argue, far more bird welfare-centred - goals (and as we both point out, is much more tightly controlled than either of the other two activities). Actually ringing is very different from persistent nest site disturbance for photography/birding in that it is generally conducted away from nest sites and when it does involve pulli in the nest, it is done in such a way so as to reduce the risk of desertion to an absolute minimum. I'm not sure the same can be said for photography/birding at/around nest sites. Can't answer your last Q I'm afraid - this is one for BirdGuides.
   Nick Moran, 20/05/11 16:53Report inappropriate post Report 
chiddy (#51) - do you wear a wristwatch? The weight increase to the bird is roughly equivalent to a human wearing a watch. It is worth bearing in mind that we would know far less about the birds you are so obviously passionate about (as am I) if we didn't have ringing data to call on. Unfortunately a 'hands-off' approach just wouldn't generate the information we so desperately need to help inform us how best to save an alarmingly wide suit of species (including several in the Schedule 1 list).
   Nick Moran, 20/05/11 16:56Report inappropriate post Report 
i agree with 99% of this the other 1% i can see why people dont like the fact they cant upload something from a RSPB hide but if it has to be done then so be it, may i suggest making this article big on the front page rather than having it small on the side ? more people will see it this way
   Thomas Hedge, 20/05/11 17:11Report inappropriate post Report 
Ok my last contribution to this thread. I think imposing a policy to deter criminals is a good thing even if I'm thinking that all good birders and photographers are being treated like offenders by Birdguides. A bit like banning football because of a small minority of thugs on the streets! What I find difficult to grasp is why posting regular sightings of the very same schedule 1 species seemingly doesn't encourage criminal activity ?
   Robin Edwards, 20/05/11 17:14Report inappropriate post Report 
Great debate but are Birdguides actually trying to save money as they are vetting so many pictures and now they have cut out 90 % of the more interesting photographs by introducing such measures. The I phone App should be banned as clearly double standards.
   Rob Wilson, 20/05/11 17:30Report inappropriate post Report 
I have a splintered backside, as I'm firmly on the fence with this topic. I can understand the desire to starve unscrupulous photographers of the oxygen of publicity, but I do agree with all the inconsistencies that have been aired by others. Perhaps a blanket "undisclosed location" flag might have been a solution here? I for one will certainly miss all those gorgeous shots of drake garganeys which will be en route from Africa before March and in eclipse plumage after June. However, if that's your last word on the matter, Birdguides, fair enough. I guess it won't really affect me personally as I don't specifically seek photographic opportunities, but just point my mobile 'phone down my telescope at anything I'm watching and hope for the best - as my pictures testify!
   Paul Cox, 20/05/11 18:00Report inappropriate post Report 
Would someone at Bird guides please explain to me why they will not publish photos of schedule 1 birds from March to June, but happily advertise their presence via the web site and paging services. Stop the lot. No photos, no news. How committed are you?
   Steve Ashton, 20/05/11 18:44Report inappropriate post Report 
Why is there a Black winged Stilt Picture added today when this a Schedule 1 Bird. Double Standards again
   Rob Wilson, 20/05/11 18:49Report inappropriate post Report 
"Would someone at Bird guides please explain to me why they will not publish photos of schedule 1 birds from March to June, but happily advertise their presence via the web site and paging services". Answer...So us birdwatchers can see the bird and the photographers will be less interested because there will be one less place for them to post their pictures ! Happy birds and happy birdwatchers !!
   Michael Hunt, 20/05/11 19:36Report inappropriate post Report 
Mr Hunt, I hope I have the name right, are you from Birdguides?
   Steve Ashton, 20/05/11 19:58Report inappropriate post Report 
Steve - I think I've got this right, someone tell me if I haven't, but I believe BG vets each news report that comes in, and assesses it for suitability. I know of a good few notable S1 breeding birds that don't end up on the news services, and I imagine it's not because no-one ever reports them (Whether BG's calls are always correct is a different debate, but I imagine common sense is applied in most cases). Photos, on the other hand, will flood in of the relatively common S1 species such...more more
   Pete Mella, 20/05/11 20:02Report inappropriate post Report 
Pete, my last post on the subject, it’s not the rights or wrongs and I certainly do not need bird guides to display my photos, I have a big enough waste bin for that, it’s the hypocrisy coming from Bird guides, and as ever the “lets hang all bird photographers brigade” that seems to appear when a debate such as this arises. I take photos but I still class myself as a bird watcher. Some of the comments on this subject are pathetic, such as the garbage coming from Mr Hunt. I have tried to take...more more
   Steve Ashton, 20/05/11 20:30Report inappropriate post Report 
When the new code of practice was released I started a thread on a photography forum with the link and not one reply was of a positive nature. As far as I'm concerned rules are rules and should be adhered to for the welfare of the bird. Having said that you don't have to look too far down the POTW or Notable gallery to see photos of 'banned' species by photographers who know their subject and pose no threat whatsoever to the subject in question. On the other hand you don't have to look too...more more
   Dave J, 20/05/11 20:36Report inappropriate post Report 
This will be the end of Birdguides!!!
   Ben the Plumber, 20/05/11 21:02Report inappropriate post Report 
Like Steve, I have emailed Mr Dunford requesting removal of all of my images from the Birguides database and have not received a response. I hope he attends the Bird Fair. and I said I wouldn't respond to this thread again !
   Robin Edwards, 20/05/11 21:13Report inappropriate post Report 
I am afraid that I seem to be in favour, I do take photos & do even get concerned if I happen to flush a bird on passage, its all needless to me. Taking the Barn owl as an example, how many pictures of a barn owl does one need to see? We have (mostly) all seen one. Even programmes like the up & coming Springwatch concern me, you cannot tell me that there is not some disturbance to nesting birds somewhere along the line in those type of programs, as stated earlier in the ringing debate, "keeping disturbance to a minimum", is not no disturbance at all?
   Ian Seward, 20/05/11 21:23Report inappropriate post Report 
IMHO a more sensible approach would be to have a much smaller list of species that are likely to suffer from the attention of photographers on their vulnerable breeding sites, than a blanket ban on all schedule 1 species. I'm thinking of Capercailie, Black Grouse, Dotterel, maybe Cirl Bunting as well. Nightjar gets my vote as well. Although open to debate, I personally think that repeated blasts of high powered flashguns could well be to the detriment of the bird. Therefore I can understand a ban on photographs from such species during the breeding season unless the appropriate licence is produced.
   Ian Curran, 20/05/11 21:23Report inappropriate post Report 
I was refused an upload of Avocet pictures taken from the East hide at Minsmere today. This does seem unreasonable to me.
   Nick Appleton, 20/05/11 21:37Report inappropriate post Report 
Nick i agree completely insane
   Rob Wilson, 20/05/11 21:45Report inappropriate post Report 
Generally I approve of the move. However, can I suggest two amendments to the process: 1. I don't think the list should be set in stone. As some species have been added, some could be removed? I think Avocet and Marsh Harrier are good examples (superb shots of both have been obtained from public hides during the breeding season). Unless I'm mistaken Twite isn't on the list for some reason which seems odd. 2. I suggest that the 'closed season' is April to June, and doesn't start in March. Hopefully these two changes wouldn't impact on Birdguides wish to moderate in the breeding season with limited resource, which we have to recognise. BTW my 'notable' of a Sand Martin that was mentioned was taken from a public hide nowhere near the nesting site, in fact I have no idea where the nest holes are at that location! Regards.
   Tom Hines, 20/05/11 22:35Report inappropriate post Report 
However, is it not obvious that that for many of the species listed above, the likelyhood of breeding birds being disturbed by photographers after "that shot", is extremely low. Avocets, Bitterns, and many of the waders are almost always photographed from reserve hides, where the birds perform to those within. Hobbys and Red Kites are now common in my area, and seem to be on the schedule 1 list for historic reasons. Probably near 100% of photographs involve birds away from the nest with no...more more
   Ian Curran, 20/05/11 22:46Report inappropriate post Report 
Isn't BG all about birders, bird photographers and twitchers finding out where to go and to see - and in some cases certainly disturb - rare birds (and BG making money out of this)? So say 100 bird enthusiasts go and see a schedule 1 bird because it was reported on BG (and I'm sorry there WILL be some disturbance to the bird, nesting or not nesting) it is ok to show photos of it as well. But if I visit a heathland area and a Dartford warbler decides to perch on a gorse bush right next to the footpath (which has happened to me!) and I take a photo of it I can't share it (not even as seen at an "undisclosed site"). I think any disturbance to any bird is wrong at any time of year. If BG really felt so strongly about birds being disturbed then no bird should be reported at all (and no iPhone app sold either). So what is this about? Birds? Money? The 'bad' photographers will continue their work anyway - and just post their photos somewhere else.
   Sandra Palme, 20/05/11 22:51Report inappropriate post Report 
This is not reasonably practicable
   Mark Coates, 20/05/11 22:51Report inappropriate post Report 
In principle a good move but please lets not kid ourselves that this is a photographer only issue as many scopes can be as intrusive when in the hands of a few and lets also be aware of the contradictions pointed out in many of the above posts regard Bluethroat POTW etc and technological aides. I only started photographing birds and wildlife again maybe 3 - 4 years ago when introduced to a group of photographers at my local reserve that included then local Mr Bedford, renowned for his...more more
   John Betts, 20/05/11 23:16Report inappropriate post Report 
I think the whole thing is a bit of an over-reaction by BG. I certainly agree that there are certain species that need protection on their breeding sites, but this list is far too wide. At the end of the day, there is a certain fraternity of birders/twitchers that hate photographers because of what they are. Even if its taking up space in a hide, or firing machine gun style stooting at coots! We should not submit to their agenda! Hopefully BG will amend it in the future.
   Ian Curran, 21/05/11 00:44Report inappropriate post Report 
For what it’s worth I think folks should take in what’s being said here. I believe the over-reaction is coming from the photographers, not Birdguides. Firstly, many of the schedule one birds listed will be migrants or vagrants reported by birdguides, making them, therefore, legitimate photographic targets that they will be pleased to display in their photo galleries. These are the same birds that are being ‘advertised’ to the birders who also subscribe to birdguides. Surely that is a...more more
   Chris Bale, 21/05/11 05:25Report inappropriate post Report 
I agree entirely with what Chris Bale has said here, I believe it to be a good move and just needs a bit of tweaking in the future. I certainly will still be using Birdguides.
   Lewis Thomson, 21/05/11 09:42Report inappropriate post Report 
Well, as Sandra points out, if protecting the interests of the birds is really the priority here, I reckon that Bird Guides is going to have to stop reporting sightings too - that way the worst of the twitchers don't get to undo supposed benefits of this restriction on photographers.

Fair's fair, eh? If we're really only interested in bird welfare, let's do the job thoroughly, properly, and across the board...
   Keith Reeder, 21/05/11 09:50Report inappropriate post Report 
I honestly can't believe the comments posted in the last 24 hours. Chris Bale is 100% spot on. There has to be common sense applied by all wether they carry a camera or scope. Now BG has a two options 1. Ban the photographs of schedule 1 species during the breeding thus protecting any photographer unaware of the law(lets remember there's a lot of new 'toggers that are oblivious to the law and ethics) and perhaps even themselves. 2. Accept the photos then pass the relevant photos to the relevant authorities. Keith you too are right about "watchers", a fortnight ago someone asked me to take a photo of two watchers who walked up to a sandmartin colony and were looking into their nesting holes!! If photographers feel "joe public" or watchers are disturbing breeding birds of any schedule, well use your camera, gather evidence and pass it on to the relevant authorities.
   Douglas McFarlane, 21/05/11 10:59Report inappropriate post Report 
I agree with the reasons for this move and also understand the many comments on its affects by others. The main problem I have often seen is not the photographers wanting 'that picture' when I am out enjoying the countryside as a watcher of birds, but of the 'twitchers' who just want to be able to say to all their friend "I saw that so and so bird today", and do not consider disturbance when they invade areas publicised as having a rare or little seen species on mass, as long as they get to see it. This could be considered with the real time sightings listing that we post on this forum, so is the next step to stop that for the listed birds?
   TFranklin, 21/05/11 11:08Report inappropriate post Report 
Merely to highlight the double standards.......... Thanks to news posted on Birdguides this morning a non-breeding Slavonian Grebe in Bedfordshire was available to be enjoyed from afar by both birdwatchers and photgraphers alike. See here http://bedsbirds.blogspot.com/
   Robin Edwards, 21/05/11 11:50Report inappropriate post Report 
I think everybody needs to consider the "why" here. Why do schedule one species need protecting from people getting close enough to take a photograph (because they may be disturbed by it and that could cause a lack of breeding opportunity) Also Birdguides has a responsibility here to promote the welfare of the birds as it's first concern...it's no use them and us doing everything we can to make it easier for others to see the birds if we then all do nothing to promote the birding code to...more more
   Brian Anderson, 21/05/11 14:56Report inappropriate post Report 
"being caught in a net and dumped in a bag and handled,would you like no, you would not,if that was a human it would never be aloud,i would be stress as hell if that happen to me" LOL. This thread has been a good read.
   Berry Nickle, 21/05/11 17:13Report inappropriate post Report 
I'm a little confused, nothing new there then. :-) From Birdguides. "From now on, all photos of Schedule 1 species taken between March and June will be rejected by an automated system" Which is then undermined by- "The automatic rejection mechanism will not apply to photos of birds already reported on our bird news services (which are generally passage migrants and therefore non-breeders)" In which case would it not have been simpler to say. "Between March and June any and all photos showing Schedule 1 species holding territory, attempting to breed, or nesting will be rejected. "
   M P Goodey, 21/05/11 17:46Report inappropriate post Report 
I think there are many aspects to the debate but one the main issues of contention is the bad behaviour of bird photographers chasing schedule 1 birds whether they are holding territory, breeding or just on passage. To put a blanket ban on Marsh Harriers and avocets taken at the likes of Minsmere and cley seems to be a bit insane. I have no problem with the ban but do not understand how they can have such double Standards. 1) Selling an I Phone App which allows you to lure a bird by using...more more
   Rob Wilson, 21/05/11 18:16Report inappropriate post Report 
The sentiments of this ban are spot on, the birds welfare should always come first. Like it or not photography causes more disturbance than general bird watching, with the inherent temptation to test boundaries, and within reason, to get as close as possible. I would think few shots taken in the field, especially of passerines (whether of schedule I or not), don't in some way impinge on a birds behaviour. Wouldn't want to appear whiter than white - I'm capable of getting things wrong...more more
   Dave Mansell, 21/05/11 20:23Report inappropriate post Report 
@Rob Wilson, post #59: "Why is there a Black winged Stilt Picture added today when this a Schedule 1 Bird. Double Standards again"
Hi Rob - I think you may have the new rules a little confused. The Dorset Black-winged Stilt qualifies for the following reason: "The automatic rejection mechanism will not apply to photos of birds already reported on our bird news services (which are generally passage migrants and therefore non-breeders)."
As this bird is an apparent vagrant/overshoot/migrant and has been reported on the BNE site, it qualifies for the galleries. Hope this clears things up! Cheers, Josh
   Josh Jones (admin), 21/05/11 21:08
Hi Josh, does this mean that say pics of the golden orioles at lakenheath would also not be banned as they to are schedule 1 breeding bird but has also been reported on birdguides or the honey buzzards at Swanton Novers etc?
   Stephen, 21/05/11 21:13Report inappropriate post Report 
I thought I'd post the following observation which is relevant to the birder / photographer issue which has been well aired [ again ]. So please don't bother to read further if you are purely interested in the S1 photo issue. At a recent twitch at which I was present over a period of 2 days to observe & photograph the bird, I witnessed the following; Having been given permission to enter adjacent land I returned to the original site as the light was better. Some 20 birders then entered...more more
   Mike Coleman, 21/05/11 22:36Report inappropriate post Report 
The theory is good...but surely some sort of appeals system(to a _human_ adjudicator) is needed, so that when birders have taken pictures in a way that poses no risk (for example stone curlew from the hides at Weeting), they can be posted. Also, March to June is surely ludicrous for another reason; it will prevent any pictures of spring passage waders! (and before you start having a go at me, I'm not a photographer.)
   Elizabeth Watts, 22/05/11 09:06Report inappropriate post Report 
I have no particular axe to grind regarding bird photographers per se but had I taken the 2 images currently viewable on Iris of Dartford Warblers with food at an "undisclosed site" in Norfolk on 29.4.2011, I do wonder how I would go about providing convincing evidence that the images were obtained without causing disturbance within the meaning of the Wildlife & Countryside Act. To the best of my knowledge, Dartford Warblers are not in the habit of carrying food unless to feed dependent young and again to the best of my knowledge, there was only one nest in Norfolk on that date with dependent young. There was good evidence of a significant amount trampling at and around the nest on that date sufficient to support the report of 3 people with cameras within 20ft of the nest.
   Noel Elms, 22/05/11 10:37Report inappropriate post Report 
Well between Rob's and your concerns written here on this thread, one question remains...did you report your concerns to the relevant authorities? If not, why not? It doesn't matter what rules BG's introduce, bad/law breaking photographers/watchers will not mend their ways until they are hit by a fine or even confiscating camera equipment..that would change attitudes.
   Douglas McFarlane, 22/05/11 12:30Report inappropriate post Report 
Just been watching BBC Country File. Very interested to see a large group of people with scopes and cameras watching and photographing a nesting pair of Peregrins. I was pleased to note that the RSPB were also at the site complete with marquee and a representative who I guess was there to check that everyone had Schedule One licenses. According to the RSPB representative the pair have nested at the site for the last ten years, and is now quite a tourist attraction. Shame on the BBC for showing some images that a photographer had taken previously of the pair......
   tonyf, 22/05/11 20:05Report inappropriate post Report 
No need to save up hard earned cash to sit in hide at Inverdruie Fish Farm, as Osprey shots will not be shown from this world famous site.
   Joe Graham, 22/05/11 22:13Report inappropriate post Report 
Ok I agree with the ethics but this blanket ban hasn't been thought thro properly and just isn't going to work ....... It would have been more sensible to put the onus on the person uploading the shots to declare where and how from what position the shot has been obtained. If the person will not commit to where and how the photo was obtained then kick it into touch. Everyone knows that birds photographed in spring and summer are likely to be breeding. Does it make it right to hang about near...more more
   Pauline Greenhalgh, 23/05/11 00:25Report inappropriate post Report 
Lots of advice as to what the bird information services should or should not be doing to address a problem but as yet, no practical advice as to how. In my view, the only practical solution is in the hands of the birding/photography fraternity. We all know the persistent offenders and until these are named and shamed or as a last resort prosecuted, the problem will remain.
   Noel Elms, 23/05/11 09:27Report inappropriate post Report 
Noel its very difficult to police any system unless you have evidence of photographers or birders going out of their way to disturb a breeding bird. To say we all know the offenders is a very sweeping statement !!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I was accused of flushing the Crested Lark at Landguard nature reserve in 1996 because the bird had moved off. I was actually being interviewed by Radio Suffolk as the bird was being pushed by the many birders that had arrived trying to gain that vital tick. I received...more more
   Rob Wilson, 23/05/11 10:14Report inappropriate post Report 
As I understand it you do not need a license to photograph breeding birds on the schedule one list as long as no disturbance to the birds is caused. Hence there is no problem with photographs of Peregrines taken from the bottom of a cliff or Ospreys from half a mile away or Avocets at Minsmere. So Bidguides could be quite relaxed about posting them However if you want to trim away some offending gorse so you can photograph Dartford Warbler chicks in the nest you can apply to Natural England...more more
   M P Goodey, 23/05/11 11:19Report inappropriate post Report 
#97 was going to be my last comment on this topic but Rob Wilson's latest post deserves a brief response. Persistent offenders were the operative words in my suggestion.
   Noel Elms, 23/05/11 12:29Report inappropriate post Report 
To answer the question in post #97, as the photo is uploaded the system checks as part of the process whether the species is on Schedule One. If not, the photo goes straight through for subsequent moderation as normal. If it is a Schedule One species, the system then checks whether we've already reported that species at that site in our recent bird news output. If it has been reported, the system adds the photo to the queue for manual moderation as normal. If it hasn't already been reported, the photo is declined, and an explanatory message is displayed to the uploader. The Dorset Black-winged Stilt had already been reported via Bird News Extra and our other services when the first photo was uploaded, so the photo went through for moderation and was subsequently approved for publication.
   Dave Dunford (admin), 23/05/11 13:10
looks like you have to report avocet and marsh harrier as present at minsmere then you can upload your images. Birdguides claims to have better birding through technology and they can't create a set of filters for their database to include sites such as well known RSPB reserves. The Schedule 1 Licence allows you take pictures at or near the nest site without disturbing the bird. If there have been issues recently such as Dartford Warblers with food being photographed and areas flattened just tell the police at get the offenders arrested.
   Rob Wilson, 23/05/11 13:58Report inappropriate post Report 
Hi for what it's worth here is my two penneth. This in MY opinion is a VERY good idea. For me this is a wonderful hobby both the birdwatching and photography aspects. But the behaviour of a minority of people sometimes makes me question if I really want to continue taking photographs. At the end of the day the Schedule 1 Licence system is there for a reason i.e. to protect endangered species and it is the LAW. Although the BirdGuides route is draconian I can understand the reasoning behind it and I applaud them for at least trying, hopefully the policy will evolve to suit the majority of users. I don't believe it will be the end of Birdguides for as can be seen from the archives not only rarities make stunning images...
   Gordon Speirs, 23/05/11 13:58Report inappropriate post Report 
Reporting Avocet at Minsmere wouldn't work as they're a well known resident and breeding species. You'd have to wait until July.
   Ian Curran, 23/05/11 19:13Report inappropriate post Report 
To pick up from MP Goodey #99 you do not need a licence to photograph a schedule one species if you are in a public place or on a public footpath or from a public hide, neither from a car window on a public road or right of way and this has already been demonstrated by the photographer who took pics of Woodlark young which approached him on a roadside. Aand this was my point that the photograph should have the onus squarely on him or her to state the circumstances of the photograph when...more more
   Pauline Greenhalgh, 23/05/11 19:45Report inappropriate post Report 
Birdguides has written an update at the bottom of the article for those who haven't noticed. If you are purposefully disturbing a Schedule 1 bird at or near the nest or their dependent young then you are committing an offence, whether you are on a public right of way or not is irrelevant. Unfortunately some people will not disclose the true circumstances behind the images and as far as I know none of the BGs team can read peoples minds to judge who is or isn't being truthful. If you want to photograph birds like Dartford Warblers feeding young, apply for a licence, its not rocket science. From reading through this thread I am starting to understand where the negative thoughts about bird photographers come from.
   Lewis Thomson, 23/05/11 20:45Report inappropriate post Report 
To me it is simple......dont try to photograph birds during the breeding season, or worse on or near breeding/hunting grounds, and message #105 the very fact that you are parked near the above whether it is on a main rd or a homemade hide to me is disturbance, these birds are used to "passing traffic" but not campervans or other vehicles positioned near enough to the nest/hunting ground, to get that better than anyone elses image and get that trophy POTW,there are many other birds to...more more
   J Sutcliff, 24/05/11 10:48Report inappropriate post Report 
Re comment #105. According to Natural Englands legal department, if the letter of the law was applied ( which in most circumstances it isnt ) you DO need a licence to photograph schedule 1 birds from a public place. I still have the emails when i enquired about this some years ago, not wanting to get myself into any trouble. Anyone who disputes this is more than welcome to contact

Wildlife Licensing Unit
Natural England
First Floor
Temple Quay House
2 The Square

They admit the rules are fairly grey when it comes to public hides, footpaths etc, BUT, you can still be found guilty and prosecuted for disturbance, so dont automatically think you are within the law when in a public access area.
The obvious misunderstanding of the rules by most people seems to completely support the decision of BirdGuides to ban publication of schedule 1 images.
   Steve Fletcher, 24/05/11 11:02Report inappropriate post Report 
I agree Steve that the rules are grey (and probably need to be tested given advances in technology) because when I made enquiries a few years back, no one would state that the rules didn't stand for digi-scoping where the subject is significantly further away and the same distance if just watching the bird through said scope. This means that the man in the hide holding a camera could be infered as breaking the law when photographing a perched Kingfisher, but the man to his side who is merely watching the bird, is not.
   Robin Edwards, 24/05/11 11:10Report inappropriate post Report 
Wouldn't call myself a hard core photographer but the irony of this thread is that its aimed at people who knowingly do the wrong thing at the wrong time, both watchers and photographers alike. I would guess that all that have commented on this thread do not fall in this category and as such are venting there frustration. Its the few that have an impact on the majority, I've witnessed both bird watchers and photographers doing stuff I don't condone. As Robin states above holding a pr of binoculars or a camera is treated differently and this is where the whole argument falls down. Walking through the footpath on Dunwich Heath and taking shots of a Dartford or Stonechat is no different to standing there with binoculars.
   Steve, 24/05/11 12:41Report inappropriate post Report 
Obviously I'm not making myself plain - you need the licence if you are going to disturb the bird in question - but if that bird regularly perches or returns to a perch or flies over or past you (think Leighton Moss and the Marsh Harriers) - within reach of your camera lens while you are in a public situation then no disturbance is taking place. Think of: Minsmere, Marshide, Loch Ruthven to fire off three from the top of my head. If disturbance was felt by the birds would they return year...more more
   Pauline Greenhalgh, 24/05/11 12:57Report inappropriate post Report 
The Article and discussion have been a very interesting read. As a birder/photographer myself, I think Birdguides has summed up the decision well with the update at the end of the article. Although the change appeared to be a rushed one, if concerns/complaints were being raised by individuals or Authorities, then some sort of change needed to be implemented. Even if BG had time to question how each photo of a Schedule 1 species was obtained, or ask the uploader to disclose the relevant...more more
   Will Rawles, 24/05/11 15:57Report inappropriate post Report 
Pauline, you are making yourself very plain. I am merely stating the law as it stands, i have no say in the decision making whatsoever. BirdGuides, being a private company, have every right to do as they see fit, whether anyone agrees with it or not, so really, i dont know why people are banging on wasting their time on comments here, myself included. The decision has been made, so why not accept it, there are plenty of things to photograph out there without it having to be schedule 1 birds. I probably cannot now submit photos of Golden Orioles, Dartford Warblers, Bluethroats etc etc, even though they are very common birds here, and not on any protected list, but thats the way it goes, and i accept it.
   Steve Fletcher, 24/05/11 16:46Report inappropriate post Report 
Good Steve - I'm glad I'm coming thro loud and clear! I'm well aware about the law as it stands - maybe this situation will get big enough to get noticed and be the beginnings of a change to an outdated system of law that isn't keeping pace with modern life. I can live with BG's decision and am not in disagreement with it as a way of BG not being seen to contravene any laws as they stand. The reason I am 'banging on' is because the injustice of yet again coming up against another situation where my freedom and choices as a responsible person have been removed by the selfishness of others. This makes me very angry in all walks of life and as I've never been a shrinking violet I could be likely to bang on for a while yet ....... unless of course BG decide to ban me!
   Pauline Greenhalgh, 24/05/11 17:19Report inappropriate post Report 
Then it would make far more sense, and a more worthwhile use of your time, to lobby the lawmakers, petition Natural England, hire a barrister, put forward a case of law for amendment of the wildife and countryside act, get the RSPB, BTO, WWT, UAE Research Unit, Birdlife International etc on your side, rather than appearing to castigate a private company for a decision made in what they think is theirs, and the scheduled birds best interests.
   Steve Fletcher, 24/05/11 17:35Report inappropriate post Report 
Thank you Steve but I will decide what is a sensible and worthwhile use of my time! It would be useful and far more effective if more than just myself did all of those things. As for castigating - you don;t seem to have read my posts accurately after all - if you had you would have noticed that after my initial shock, anger and disbelief caused by logging on after a fortnights holiday to find the changes, and of course the update above - which I hadn't missed either - I have agreed fully. I can see BG had no other option open to them in the circumstances and that by next year there will be a list of the venues where Sched 1 birds can be viewed from safely both by birdwatchers and photographers. I have expressed my opinions as I see it but I have no wish to get into an argument. I shall pick up my camera and go out ...... perhaps I will come back restored and calmer ..........
   Pauline Greenhalgh, 24/05/11 20:09Report inappropriate post Report 
I wasn't going to post anything, mainly because none of this really affects me (as a keen birder who carries a modest camera + lens, rather than an avid bird photographer). But I do enjoy uploading the odd (average) shot and viewing all the galleries and so have read this thread with interest. Obviously Steve and others are right in that you do need a licence to photograph a Schedule 1 bird/dependent young at, or near, the nest. I don't see how a simple 'site filter' would work as we still...more more
   Andy Mould, 24/05/11 20:13Report inappropriate post Report 
I have read your posts extremely carefully, and if i am wrong, i of course stand corrected, and apologise, but in my eyes, phrases such as "this blanket ban hasn't been thought thro properly and just isn't going to work", and "Come on BG I applaud the idea but think this blanket ban is a knee-jerk idea and not practical or useful or even workable" could easy be construed as castigation.
   Steve Fletcher, 24/05/11 21:21Report inappropriate post Report 
A couple of observations - English Nature are quite clear that no S1 licence is needed if photography is from public hide. I have been assured of that recently in response to a specific enquiry. How seriously is the S1 legislation taken ? i.e how many prosecutions have there been even in relation to serious breaches ? As a holder of many S1 licences I can assure everyone that the issue is disturbance but the real culprits have taken to the eggers habits of only distributing offending material amongst their own fraternity !
   Mike Coleman, 24/05/11 21:22Report inappropriate post Report 
....... then stand corrected! As I said Steve 'my initial shock, anger and disbelief' caused the first outburst. Since then I have seen reason and read the update while still trying to get certain valid points across. I'm sure if BG thought I was castigating them I would have been barred by now ....... but maybe I speak too soon ....... maybe by tomorrow I won;t be able to log on .......
   Pauline Greenhalgh, 24/05/11 21:31Report inappropriate post Report 
I can't really see how the "safe site" would work, as there would be no way to verify if a shot had actually been taken at that site. BG would surely have to take the photographers word for it, which would make the system pretty pointless
   Ian Curran, 24/05/11 22:07Report inappropriate post Report 
One question I would like to ask Birdguides - I assumed this automatic rejection system only applied to shots taken in the UK, but Steven's post (#113) suggest's that this might not be true.
   Ian Curran, 24/05/11 22:14Report inappropriate post Report 
#111/120: The automatic system is only applied to photos taken in the UK and Ireland. There could be a case for a similar system for "foreign" photos, but deciding on appropriate criteria would, I suspect, be even more problematic. The other guidelines on the upload page (on photos taken at the nest, etc.) are judged and applied by our moderators regardless of the source of the photo.
   Dave Dunford (admin), 24/05/11 22:54
Shock, anger disbelief!! #120 get a life, its not only you trying to get valid point accross here and others are welcome to theirs, its only a hobby, why the need to photograph breeding birds is beyond me, there are far more challenging birds to photograph, and not quite so easy as waiting for the bird to return to its young with food in its mouth. This is turning into a shouting match with the big personalities not liking being told what they can and cant do....well thanks to BG's new rules they can do just that so get used to it.
   chris brownlow, 25/05/11 13:53Report inappropriate post Report 
I am working on a definitive list of the equivalent Spanish version to schedule 1, and will forward it to you as soon as it is completed, not the easiest task in the world though, so please bear with me. It is actually easier to enforce transgressions here, as we have SEPRONA, the widlife arm of the Guardia Civil, who are more than happy to act on a phone call, arrest offenders, place them in court, and fine them up to €20,000, ignorance not being one of the defences you can call on. Being self financed, they actively seek out transgressors, large fines being beneficial to their funding system, as it means they all get paid !!
   Steve Fletcher, 25/05/11 14:41Report inappropriate post Report 
Jeez Louise!! Reading some of this makes me want to weep!! Some comments (#13,36,124) are utterly ridiculous; others (#115,125) irrelevant. The fact is BG have implemented a policy for all the best reasons and will, no doubt, tweak it in the weeks/months ahead to give a better ‘fit’. As for S1 legalities the law is the law (and BG’s stance is irrelevant) but plainly is neither draconian nor stupid. Can I assume that I and all the photographers, birders, digiscopers and members of the...more more
   Russ Tofts, 25/05/11 17:33Report inappropriate post Report 
#126 well you have sorted the whole thing out! dont know what your point is, apart from a lot of me and my......... Yawn.
   Russell, 25/05/11 18:04Report inappropriate post Report 
Why is BG taking responsibility for social control of bird photographers? BG is not the RSPB. It is not the police. It is vehicle for communication promoting the sighting and recording of birds in the UK. It runs a popular means of rating photographic records, and that sums up its role. This is a subscription site, and I pay my subscription for the above, not to be told what I can and cannot do. I have a fair idea of what is legal, and if I come across anyone breaking the law in relation to disturbing birds I will call the police. If I am breaking the law I expect others to do the same. I get the impression BG is getting a little grandiose as an organisation in implementing these measures. If the RSPB were responsible for censoring the images with links with police I would be more supportive, as it would not simply focus on BG subscribers.
   Maxwell, 25/05/11 23:24Report inappropriate post Report 
#124 There's no need to be so rude Chris! I have a life - and I don't see it as a hobby! I'm aware it isn't only me but this thread is for everyone to say what and how they feel and ask questions. I can only speak for me which might result in 'I, me, my and mine' I can't speak for others but I can express how I feel affected and you or anyone else who tries to put me down for that is out of order.
   Pauline Greenhalgh, 26/05/11 09:04Report inappropriate post Report 
You know when this debate is over and done with the ban will be over! :)
   Douglas McFarlane, 26/05/11 15:45Report inappropriate post Report 
Anyone wanting to see my recent pics of Avocet, Marsh Harrier, Black Tailed Godwit and the like from Norfolk can see them on my website, on the Rare Bird Alert gallery or on the Surfbirds galleries. For the record all of the pictures were taken at Titchwell or Cley from the public hides that were full of birdwatchers, photographers, tourists, familys, screaming kids, pushchairs - oh and a dog - and guess what - the birds were completely oblivious! For my penny's worth this ban has the right intentions but is PC GONE MAD! (Where has all of the common sense in the world gone???)
   Richard Stonier, 26/05/11 17:20Report inappropriate post Report 
here here
   Joe Graham, 26/05/11 21:50Report inappropriate post Report 
Richard Stonier... agreed. The bottom line is, I know where Rare Bird Alert is. So does everyone else reading this. May I suggest that next time our subsciption is up we all seriously consider which service we choose...unless and until Birdguides thinks again on this one. A pity, because I have always thought this is INFINITLY the better service...till now.
   Elizabeth Watts, 26/05/11 21:59Report inappropriate post Report 
Why are the reserves throwing complaints at bird guides? It's down to the individuals or minority groups that cause these disturbances. I only see the point in throwing bans around if it will stop this behaviour, It wont! I don't like to disturb birds but "photography" is an activity where you need to get close to your subject in order to capture it, so get over it. As far as i'm aware photography has never driven any species to extinction and we as people will always be trying to capture them weather there breeding or not. Protection of sensitive species is of course important but we are part of the same world as them so incidents will always occur. I honestly don't see what all the fuss is about the decision to me has nothing to do with protecting birds and more to do with improving your own reputation!
   Matt Newman, 26/05/11 22:21Report inappropriate post Report 
I have to say, for what it's worth, I agree with Birdguides stance on this. Erring on the side of caution would appear to be their policy, and surely this is sensible? However, there will always be grey areas. If like me, you come from an area of the country where schedule 1 birds are relatively common: i.e. Hen Harriers, Golden Eagles etc. It is very possible to photograph them in the breeding season WITHOUT disturbance. Both these birds have a huge hunting range when feeding young, and as...more more
   Jimmy MacDonald, 27/05/11 14:47Report inappropriate post Report 
I can't believe someone has actually used the phrase "PC gone mad"....
   Pete Mella, 27/05/11 15:13Report inappropriate post Report 
So are we to see thousands of uploads in july of birds taken in june? when people just say they took it in july? ???? Or is there a filter for this
   adam hough, 28/05/11 08:49Report inappropriate post Report 
I don,t agree with the blanket ban,but i agree with stopping any potential nesting bird being disturbed while nesting,in my instance I very rarely post pictures,and went to post a hobby shot yeterday,taken on my local patch of 15 years,a first time on the patch for me,in an area that they definately don't breed anywhere near to,I was in an area that is dog walking paradise,more dogs than birds,got a crackin shot,then couldn't post it.It is just dissapointing ,as I like to show my shots,but will probably not post again on birdguides,as I may as well just show them to my friends.I, like pauline Have been scouring my local patches for 35 years,and feel I know myself if anything I am doing is harming the bird in any way and to my knowledge,I have never done this.
   John Tymon, 30/05/11 08:33Report inappropriate post Report 
Am I missing something here? Yes. From the article: "The automatic rejection mechanism will not apply to photos of birds already reported on our bird news services (which are generally passage migrants and therefore non-breeders)." The Beacon Ponds Phalarope, like the Little Gulls, Temminck's Stints and Black-winged Stilts queried earlier, is such a bird - it's been on our bird news services so the automatic block doesn't apply.
   Dave Dunford (admin), 30/05/11 11:11
Oh dear! I absolutely refuse to get embroiled in this tangled mess of accusations , misunderstandings and misapprehension, but as I have just returned from a great holiday in the Uists with a card or two full of Sched one shots , I have to register my utter disappointment, as I discover that I can no longer post them:not one of my pics caused any disturbance whatsoever to any of the birds concerned : Eagles ,Corncrakes Hen Harriers , Red N. Phals etc. Naturally up there it is another world...more more
   Kev Joynes, 31/05/11 21:13Report inappropriate post Report 
If in doubt ban it. I have uploaded many photos from my local nature reserve. All taken from paths and hides open to the public, I'm also heavily involved with surveying and recording at the same site. so I know all about protecting the species on reserves. Hides and viewing areas are there to do just that. I know its not possible to know where a photo was taken, or if disturbance took place to get it, but there are many other websites who will still allow photos to be uploaded. These sites will quickly become more popular with photographers. There are also 100's of blogs and websites of the many photographers who upload to Birdguides, where you can see photos of Schedule 1 species taken inside the breeding season. I can't help thinking this could turn out to be an own goal for Birdguides. Just because there are no photos of Schedule 1 species here, won't mean people haven't taken pictures of them, or in fact in some cases disturbed them.
   Howard Booty, 31/05/11 23:04Report inappropriate post Report 
I came to this page having had a photograph of Red Kite (taken from my daughter's garden in Maidenhead) rejected. They are seen almost hourly from this suburban location. I was puzzled about the rejection but, having read the article and most of the comments, I can understand and accept the reason for a blanket ban, mainly because of the number of images submitted here, and the time it would take for manually having to take decisions on each and every photo of Schedule 1 birds. After all, as other contributers to this thread have pointed out, it's easy to submit photos to other sites. I just hope that people are responsible enough to protect sensitive information when sharing bird images with the world (which, unfortunately, includes eggers and raptor persecutors).
   Ian Traynor, 24/06/11 17:58Report inappropriate post Report 
Recently had a photo of a Purple Sandpiper taken on a Storm Beach on the Shetland Islands rejected under the blanket Ban Schedule 1 Birds, Fair enough I thought that's the posting Guidelines. Started looking at the Gallery only to see a Spoonbill photo! Strange I thought Then of course there was the Bluethroat POTW. Double standards BG?
   James Wood, 19/07/11 06:36Report inappropriate post Report 
I thinks its a fair policy. but the shot I have use tried to post was taken at approx 60 feet and the birds were just getting on with their day, I just happened to be passing. and was lucky enough o be in the right spot at the right time.
   Andrew Bamforth, 05/04/12 23:22Report inappropriate post Report 
You are showing huge amounts of inconsistency almost on a daily basis. My LRP which was rejected was taken on a gravel pit site, no where near a nest site and no disturbance was caused to a nesting pair. You should review your auto rejection system. Bittern, Black winged stilt, Red Kite, Dotterell, and Purple Sandpiper have all appeared in March/ April just to name a few.
   Brian Davis, 15/04/12 17:15Report inappropriate post Report 
Bittern was photo of the week in March, the rule is no photos between March to June. Does the rule not apply to everyone?
   Margaret Ryalls, 09/05/12 22:48Report inappropriate post Report 
The rules apply to everyone. However, birds that appear on Bird News Extra are allowed, as explained in the article.
   Fiona Barclay, 10/05/12 10:53Report inappropriate post Report 
Censorship!! Hey BG, you are getting more and more entrenched in crap policy and alienating so many members. A novel shot of a Blue Tit fledgeling coming out from its nest which happened to be an outdoor cigarette stubbing box! These are garden birds which were disturbed by dog walkers stubbing out their fags whilst passing by, but not by me with a 600mm lens!! GET A GRIP!!
   Maxwell Law, 08/06/12 23:44Report inappropriate post Report 
I've just been on holiday in Norfolk and had the opportunity to speak with a member of the Cley Reserve species monitoring team. He spoke of photographers becoming a real problem, that he had on two occasions pulled them out of the reed beds. That sort of behaviour is completely unacceptable and should be jumped on. However, a couple of days later whilst on the reserve I saw approximately 40 "twitchers" along the side of the bank adjoining the reserve not a camera amongst them surely the huge presence they had could have caused disturbance? The point is how much disturbance does a single camera cause used responsibly? It's non existent and the people "pushing" birds don't just carry a camera.
   Andrew Bamforth, 09/06/12 10:42Report inappropriate post Report 
I see the debate goes on, You rejected a photograph of a Barnie that I tried to submit recently despite the fact that it was taken from the road adjacent to a huge patch of Common land with numerous pathways across it. Yet any bird featured on the BNE is acceptable because its "probably a passing migrant" rubbish its because one has to subscribe to BNE and you'd lose income if you banned the photos of these birds too.
   Brian Davis, 09/06/12 13:53Report inappropriate post Report 
I've recently had a Hobby picture rejected, taken from a public hide and clearly just flying past. I also stated 'undisclosed site' when i attempted to upload! Other Hobby pictures have been uploaded without a problem as they had been reported before hand...... does this mean these birds could not be disturbed? If they've been reported at a site they are somehow immune?! Seems crazy to me!
   Carl Bovis, 30/06/12 18:00Report inappropriate post Report 
Hey, if thats the case why don't we all stop using this site and find another that has a sensible posting policy? That will drop ad revenue and maybe they will see sense. But maybe this post will never see the light of day.
   Andrew Bamforth, 01/07/12 14:45Report inappropriate post Report 
We are investigating the possibility of adding a more flexible "safe sites" system to photographs of Schedule 1 birds for future breeding seasons. May 2011. Any further news on this please ?
   John, 26/07/12 15:07Report inappropriate post Report 
As per #151 , can we have an update BG please, or has this subject been kicked into the long grass ?
   Chas Moonie, 17/12/12 10:18Report inappropriate post Report 
#151/152: We considered it as promised, but decided against it, for the following reasons: (a) we couldn't come up with a rigorous definition of what constitutes a "safe site"; (b) maintaining an up-to-date and credible matrix of which of the 90 species are "safe" at thousands of sites (and accommodating the potentially differing wishes of stakeholders at each site) was considered unworkable; and (c) it would cause more confusion and controversy than it saved if identical photos from different sites were treated differently. We know our policy is a "blunt instrument" but it does have the advantage of being transparent and straightforward to explain.
   BirdGuides Webmaster (admin), 19/12/12 10:13
Many thanks for a response which was all that was required but never came. Good communication is a wonderful tool. At least we all know now where we stand with regard to Sched 1 photos (and Black Grouse, Long-eared Owl and Nightjar) in so far as the" blunt instrument" will prevail on BG. I am slightly dissappointed I had to drag out a response, and even more so now I have read it! Anyway, Merry XMAS to all at BG and a Happy New Year :-)
   Chas Moonie, 19/12/12 10:55Report inappropriate post Report 
BG and others should ban publishing all photos taken by bird photographers known to them to have been found by the police/RSPB to have been illegallly disturbing Schedule 1 spp.That would help. Rather than judging each individual photograph no matter who took it. Ban them for life otherwise they will just carry on, especially when they think nobody is watching them e.g. in remoter parts of the country.
   Pete Jennings, 14/03/13 14:38Report inappropriate post Report 
Agree with Pete Jennings - But name them and shame then too! As both a keen birder and photographer, I managed to take a shot of a Golden Eagle flying past me in Scotland on an open road, pure luck although I knew they could be in the area, (three years travelling to the same site to get the shot) when it came to posting it and one of a crested Tit on 22nd April both were blocked, I understand why but surely when such a picture is taken if it just said Scotland (we all know they are there)...more more
   Craig Storton, 24/06/13 00:31Report inappropriate post Report 
I totally understand this policy although from a personal standpoint it is a shame when a Chough landed less than 5 yards from my car at RSPB South Stack carpark and I cannot upload the photo!
   Brian Sandison, 10/04/17 21:42Report inappropriate post Report 

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