Sunday, 29 January 2017

Where would you go birding today?

     The United States under Donald Trump gets more dystopian every day and just when you think that one round of hyperbolic excess and outright lies is as bad as it can gets, along comes another to prove you dead wrong. The trends in that country are truly disturbing and have ramifications for the entire world. 
     At a point in my life I came to the conclusion that I no longer wished to enter the United States and my reasons at the time are given here. It seems to me that they were reasons enough but other factors would now have to be taken into consideration.
     I have a friend in Southern California (I have birded there on three separate occasions) who is constantly faced with the presence (and sometimes hassles) of the border patrol.Witness an actual incident. She was birding and shooting pictures in the Tijuana Valley from her car and she made a safe u-turn in the middle of nowhere between the famed birding spot, Dairy Mart Ponds and the Bird and Butterfly Garden - not on the border mind you, but close, moving around freely as the constitution of her country allows her to do. She was surrounded by border patrol agents, little twenty-two year olds on three wheelers and told to pull over. They asked her what she was doing. She asked them if she broke the law. They told her she was acting suspiciously. She told them she lived nearby and had turned to photograph a magnificent female dark morph Red-tailed Hawk Buteo jamaicensis and a Coyote Canis latrans disputing the same dead rabbit on the road.


     She was let go, of course, but she is convinced that it is only because she is white, blond, sixty-two years old and when they ran the check on her licence plate she had no criminal record or outstanding warrants. She says that when confronted she immediately speaks up with humour to try to diffuse the situation, but she cannot imagine that kind of interaction taking place with a young male with a dark skin, a hispanic or middle eastern name, an African American. I know birders here in Canada who would fit all of those descriptions.She admits to living in a police state there, so close to the border. She says that the encounters (plural) are tedious and frightening.
     Even before this latest ban on travel for people from certain countries, I know a Canadian businessman who was born in Iraq, but has lived here since he was nineteen; he is now in his sixties. Several years ago he stopped going to the US because of the hassles he faced at the airports when his Canadian passport revealed a birthplace in Iraq. Twice he was denied entry and sent back to Canada. He once did a good business with US companies, but that is all a thing of the past. Part of his contract was that he would supervise installation and train people in various functions. He was sued by one company (the suit failed) because he didn't fulfill this commitment, despite the fact that he was on his way to do it when he was refused entry and returned to Canada when he tried to get a connecting flight at his initial point of entry into the United States. This honest, trustworthy, forthright fellow committed no crime, he simply was born in the wrong place.and has a stereotypical middle-eastern name.
     In the San Diego area there are border fences both on land and extending out into the ocean.



     A great place to bird was the Tijuana Slough. The last time we were there it was almost impossible due to the constant presence of border patrol helicopters. Their rotors flattened the marshes and the noise they made meant that we could not hear each other speak, let alone detect bird song.
     Border Field State Park, another desirable birding spot, with several endangered species breeding there, is now overrun (my terminology) with border agents. People with binoculars and telescopes are not viewed benignly. It is the same at Otay Mesa on the border with Mexico.
     My friend contends that civil liberties were already being eroded before 9/11, but after that everything changed for the worse. She cannot even contemplate how draconian it will be under Trump, or what will happen (or has happened) to the wonderful birding borderlands of Arizona and Texas. Based on personal experience I can vouch that these locations were fabulous.
     How ironic it is that Ronald Reagan worked so hard to have the Berlin Wall dismantled and now the United States is building its own. Jews for so many centuries were forced to live in ghettos in Europe, now Israel has a border fence and has created its own ghetto. When countries in Central Europe sent their "tired and huddled masses" to the United States, it was salutary and laudable. Now that Syrian refugees are escaping the incredible carnage in their homeland, these same nations are erecting barriers to keep them out. 
    When I go birding I want to be able to travel freely, to move around at will, to not fear using my binoculars or telescope, to not be fearful of being detained without reason, to take whatever photographs I choose - to simply enjoy the moment.
     Where would you go birding today?

31 comments:

  1. Hadn't thought if that perspective in the new world Trump is creating!

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  2. The President quite serious about trying to take all the electoral promises. Not everyone is feasible.

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  3. Trump: relax, he'll be gone in 4 years.............just congratulate yourself on living in Canada not the US at this particular moment in history.

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    1. I can't begin to imagine the way the United States will look after four years of Trump.

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  4. wonderfully written. it's very sad that none of us can go freely in the world.
    let's hope all things in the USA will turn out ok and that man isn't permitted to do all those dreadful things he said he was going to do.
    where i live we don't know a great deal as yet..

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  5. My husband thinks he'll probably get assassinated! It is sad though to think of how one person can have such a drastic affect on other peoples lives. At least your Prime Minister sounds as if he is a human being!

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    1. Sadly, assassination has been used all to often in the United States, Sonja. And to think that Donald Trump actually offered a thinly-veiled hint that "second amendment" people should consider "taking care of" Hillary Clinton.

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  6. I do feel so for you in the US at the moment, it's just one blow after another with his administration. There seems to be a lot of political uncertainty at the moment. Here in the UK, we're awaiting the outcome of Brexit, and many of us are worried of the effect it will have so we can definitely sympathise with you all. Thank you so much for the kind comments on my blog, I'm afraid my bird photos aren't as nice as yours as we had very few visitors this year but it was fun to take part again! - Tasha

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  7. Nothing left, he is working for himself, oil, bad food, bad climate on on on on.

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  8. It breaks my heart to see how Obama's admirable reforms, actions, bans are now repealed.

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  9. Hello David,
    What a great place. Wonderful.
    And the view over the water is amazing. Good shots.

    Greetings, Marco

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  10. Las pocas ganas que tenía de visitar los Estados Unidos se han desvanecido, a ver si dura poco este presidente, no me gustan los tiranos. Buen reportaje David, un fuerte abrazo desde España.

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  11. An excellent post, David, that I fully sympathise with. As you know, I too made up my mind a while ago that I would not return to the USA whilst their gun laws remained so liberal. Now, with this new chaos and further threats, the possibility of change for the better seems even more remote. I take some consolation in the belief that the chances are that this presidency will be short-lived - I just hope that he doesn't take the rest of us with him when he goes.

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  12. May be he will step out of the shower,and it was only a dream.
    Wishful thinking.
    John.

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  13. Hi Both, unfortunately the CIA is not the body it was, he would have been dead months ago if it was. The only good thing so far is that he has not as yet started World War 3. All the best. John

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  14. Hi David. I have enjoyed visiting many places in the world but the USA has always been off my list despite its obvious attractions as a birding destination.After 9/11 many things in the world changed, not least the West's desire to interfere in countries many miles from their own in trying to introduce our style of democracy to the Middle East. The resulting chaos of the Blair, Bush, Brown and Cameron years and the resulting "World mess" is a fact that we have to deal with in the best way possible without division and chaos in our own systems. For my own part i can safely walk the border country of Scotland and England without fear of arrest, at least until Krankie gets her evil way.

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    1. Forgive my ignorance, but who is Krankie?

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    2. Of course. You didn't meet her in Scotland. Just as well.

      http://www.dailystar.co.uk/news/latest-news/463550/Krankies-lookalike-Nicola-Sturgeon-fed-up-jokes-appearance

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  15. Hello again! Is your email address the one I found on your Google+ page (theospreynest@...)?

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  16. Living close to the Canada border, I have found it best not to use humor with the border patrol on either side. It seems to inspire suspicion.

    Yes, what is going on here is sad, frightening and anger inspiring now.

    I have never gone somewhere to go bird watching, but I do watch them whenever i see them.

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  17. I have not really wanted to go to the United States for a while, of course if I had enough money to travel. I know a lot of things from that country because of a relative who lives there and there are things that I do not like very much, besides I do not understand the language, but above all, as accounts of armed people, I'd rather not go, unless I earn millions in Lottery and go to some famous national park to give me the pleasure of knowing. With so many birds here, only in my country there are once and a half the number of species that are in all North America, so many beautiful places and regions that best stay here, will be more modest but safer and less violent, nobody stopped me to find out anything or suffered threats for traveling or bird watching ... so far

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    1. I hope that one day you will get the chance to visit us here in Canada.

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    2. I hope you can visit someday Argentina, you're welcome. There are lots of interesting places to visite

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  18. Perhaps it's an age thing!!!
    But we certainly don't travel abroad these days ... perhaps it's for the best.

    Reading Phil's comment above, I can so relate to his words!

    All the best Jan

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  19. Cannot disagree with your perspective David. We're sad. Hoping that the world survives the next four years.

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  20. Hi David,
    your new politics makes me speachless.
    Nice to here, that the birds are living along the border and can fly, wherever they want. We should do the same...
    Best regards, Synnöve

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  21. We live in strange times - I work on and off in the middle east and I am just waiting for 'why all these arabic nation visas in your passport' questions.

    I may have to just bird locally - which is not a bad option!

    Cheers - Stewart M - Melbourne

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    1. If you were transiting through the U.S. with that passport you might well have issues, Stewart.

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  22. That story of shooting pictures in the Tijuana Valley sounds scary, and can imagine how things will go downhill from here.
    Like some one said, "how can some one mess up so much in such a short time. Wonder what his Trump card is going to be"

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  23. I resent having to apply for a Visa just for the privilege of changing planes in the USA.

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