For the birds

By on April 12, 2017

Mike Shull will share his passion for birdwatching at Pleasant View

Birdwatcher and photographer Mike Shull will present “Spotting Those Birds” at 4 p.m. on Monday, April 17, at the Stiegel Dining Room, Town Square North, Pleasant View Retirement Community, 544 N.Penryn Road, Manheim.

With its abundance of farmland, forests and waterways, Lancaster County is a birding paradise. A member of the Lancaster County Bird Club, Shull will share his knowledge of birding. His hour-long presentation will help answer questions such as what’s out there, where to find them, and what they look like.

“We’re excited about this program and can’t wait to hear with Mike has to say,” said Jean Bednarski, Pleasant View’s director of community advancement.

There is no charge to attend, however, anyone wishing to do so should contact Bednarski at 664-6218 to reserve a spot.

Birdwatcher and award-winning photographer Mike Shull poses in the exact spot where he digitally captured the image of a migrating Red-necked Grebe he’s holding. (Photo provided by Mike Shull)

Birdwatcher and award-winning photographer Mike Shull poses in the exact spot where he digitally captured the image of a migrating Red-necked Grebe he’s holding. (Photo provided by Mike Shull)

Now retired, Shull was a science teacher in Manheim Township School District for 38 years. He has also been a wrestling and basketball coach, Scout Leader and member of the 4H Club. He is often referred to as the “bird expert” for bird identification or information for the Lititz Record and Ephrata Review.

In addition to birdwatching, he is an avid, and self-taught, photographer, and member of the Lancaster Camera Club. He takes photographs for LNP, as well as the Ephrata Review and the Lititz Record, and was recently honored with a Pennsylvania Keystone Award for a photo he took of black-crowned night herons in a tree near Ephrata Community Hospital.

Birding and photography have gone hand-in-hand for most of his life. He said that he took his first bird picture in 1957 as an eight-year-old. At that time his family lived in Perry County.

“There were a lot of birds right in our backyard. I found and old camera and loved taking photos, but I couldn’t get close enough to the birds. When I told my mom, she took the camera from my hands and gave me a salt shaker instead. She told me that when I could shake salt on the bird’s tail, I would be close enough,” he recalled, “I was a bit rambunctious, so this was an effort to get me to slow down.”

Shull pointed out that birding is best done with others. He said that anyone can enjoy spotting birds, no matter their age or physical abilities. There are three levels of birdwatching:

  • Casual birding or enjoying birds through the windows of your home or vehicle.

“For the past 34 years my wife and I have kept a daily log of the birds we see in our backyard,” Shull said. “I’ll also drive to some place such as Middle Creek Wildlife Management Area and take pictures out of my truck window.”

  • Join a club like the Lancaster County Bird Club. Shull said that not only do people learn more by sharing information with others, but it’s also a social opportunity. He stressed that there are programs geared toward beginners, plus there are also a variety of field trips to see birds in their native habitats.
  • The “all-in” mode. At this level Shull said that bird enthusiasts actively seek out birds in their own habitat at different times of the year, plant specific plants to attract different types of birds, or patiently wait to get just that right photograph.

“I would say that my wife and I are in this category,” he said.

With regard to photography, he said that being a member of the Lancaster Camera Club since 1996 has helped him hone his skills.

“Like birdwatchers, the members of the camera club enjoy sharing their knowledge; they’ve been my mentors,” he said.

Shull said that he made the transition from film to digital photography in 2004 when he bought a digital point and shoot camera.

“I bought that camera just before going on vacation. I deliberately left my Nikon film gear at home and decided to master my digital camera as I was photographing the gardens and interior of The Biltmore Estate (in Ashville, N.C.),” he explained. “It helped to know the basics of photography, like framing a shot and lighting, but I needed to learn what was possible with a digital camera.”

As part of his birdwatching presentation, he will share some of the photos he’s taken.

As part of his birdwatching presentation, he will share some of the photos he’s taken. “Birdwatching promotes enjoyment, fulfilment and fellowship,” he concluded.

Rochelle Shenk is a correspondent for the Lititz Record Express. She welcomes your comments and questions at RAASHENK@aol.com.

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