Thursday, September 06, 2007

If Stupid printed money, my face would be on it

Birding isn't supposed to be a dangerous activity. Poison ivy, maybe a skinned knee from chasing a rare bird down a hill. But it's not supposed to get you suspected of terrorism.
Today, Lorelei and I headed west to Shawnee Lookout Park, and near the park is a power plant where some peregrine falcons have been nesting for the past few years. (A nesting ledge was added to one of the towers)
Although the breeding season is over, I wondered if the pair or any of the young were still hanging around (I don't have PFs on my life list yet). At what I assumed was the the main entrance, I pulled off the road and got out. I had seen what looked like a large bird perched up on a platform mid-way up one of the towers. I looked through the binoculars and saw ear tufts. Okay, that's not a peregrine. But a great horned owl? Out in the open, during the day? It looked real, not like one of those fake owls put up to discourage birds from perching and pooping everywhere. I was very, very far away, and my bins are not as high-powered as I would like. I took two pictures of it and got back in my car. As I was about to pull into the road, I saw a woman walking up the driveway, waving at me. I stopped and got out.

(Lorelei is sitting in the car during all this, totally oblivious)

Woman: Can I help you?
Me: Oh, I was just looking for the peregrines. I was hoping they would still be hanging around.
Woman: Well, you can't take pictures of the plant.
Me: I can't?
Woman: This is a chemical plant. We have to enforce our rules about people
taking pictures because of the threat of terrorism.
Me: (In my head...Holy sh*t.)

I started apologizing profusely, and then two more workers came up the driveway to talk to me. I gave them ID, and the plant manager said that he figured that I was looking for the peregrines, because of my bumper stickers. He said that since 9/11, they have cracked down on things.
Jesus. I hadn't thought of that.
He also said that if I wanted to come by to see the peregrines, to come to the front office and ask for him and he would let me stand out by the road to look for them.
He asked what I was looking at, and I told him about the "owl".
He said, "I think that's fake."
I was duped by a hunk of plastic. And suspected of being a terrorist because of the damn thing. Since it caused me so much trouble, here's the picture (No identifying items in this pic, so I think it's safe to show to the public):

It's fake and I am an idiot



Dave said...

Take notice that Dave didn't make any silly comments. He just sat at his pc with a big grin on his face. :)

Trixie said...

Hmmmm....well, you seem to have a rebellious streak. Are you indoctrinating Lorelei? (all very tongue-in-cheek)!

KatDoc said...

Oh Gawd, yes, Susan - Security is a Very Big Deal these days at a lot of places that used to be excellent birding spots. The power plant is infamous for what just happened to you. The water treatment plants, too.

Another danger zone for birders these days is around airports. They used to be great places to go searching for grassland species and (in the Cleveland area) snowy owls in the winter, but now the airport security guys are on you quicker than spit, unless you have made prior arrangements and offer to donate a kidney.

Bins, a field guide, and birding bumper stickers usually get you out of trouble, but in lieu of those, I'll bet a cute button nose and a big smile would help (I'm TALKING about Lorelei, people!) Or, you could try flashing your upper frontals. ;)


Liza Lee Miller said...

When I was taking pictures of the hawks near the airport this summer, I kept worrying that someone would think I was a terrorist. Thankfully, no one ever noticed.

So, I'm laughing WITH you, not AT you! :)

Zoey- Picaso rules you! said...

Well than that all verey /creepy/!

Anonymous said...

I think they have your photo posted on the Homeland Security website already.


Mary said...

LOL! You've done it now, Susan. So close to handcuffing...

Lynne said...

Both Duluth and Minneapolis St. Paul airports host snowy owls most winters and airport security there is notoriously strict about keeping people away. I guess times have changed.

I sure hope you don't cause this much trouble at Cape May...

cuszsfk! (word verification)

Larry said...

I'm not sure about Duluth, but the Minneapolis perimeter security may be a bit lax. It seems like all of their officers are now concentrating on the inside of the airport.
L. Craig

NatureWoman said...

I read somewhere (hmmm, I'm going to have to find where) that NOBODY can stop you from taking photos. I understand the concern these days with chemical, power, water, and whatever other plants there are. So much for our freedom, huh?

nina said...

Oh great. Now terrorists are going to begin birdwatching, too. As if we need them visiting blogs,.....

Q said...

Oh Susan,
We would vouch for you!
Wow, it is a crazy world we live in.

Anonymous said...

Of course, "two more workers" would come out to see you. How many people can go home from work and tell their family that they had been face-to-face with the embodiment of terror.

And don't think we are unaware that falconry is very popular in the Middle East!

mon@rch said...

Susan, we have not heard from you since last Thursday??? Did they come take you away for posting this picture??

KatDoc said...


I've been gone for 3 days and you haven't made a new post. Are you OK? Have you fallen and you can't get up? Are you in Homeland Security jail for photographing power plants? Have your children covered you in peanut butter and honey and stuck you to the furniture?

Write soon,