Diamond Firetails and the release of sensitive information

To: "Dion Hobcroft" <>, "Birding-aus" <>
Subject: Diamond Firetails and the release of sensitive information
From: "Michael Todd" <>
Date: Fri, 30 Jun 2000 16:09:46 +1000
Hello Dion and others,
I agree that habitat clearance and alteration are the major factors affecting woodland bird loss, including the Diamond Firetail. And I'll say straight away that I don't think Dion has done anything wrong telling us about the pair of Diamond Firetails at Cobbity, so I don't mean to be picky!
However, I'm pretty sure that the Dimey is suffering at least on a local basis from trapping also. It has disappeared from a lot of areas where it used to exist in the Hunter valley, some of which still would have the habitat. When I lived in the Hunter I used to keep birds including finches, and I talked to quite a few aviculturalists who would tell me where they used to see Dimeys out in the bush. Some of these I have since found out have been convicted of poaching! I've lost track of the number of aviculturalists I've talked to over the last few years who are obviously skilled in their hobby (breeding many and varied species) yet say they can't succeed with their dimeys. Not being an expert in bird breeding I'd prefer not to speculate on why, but, some of these people refuse to give up and instead of continually buying more they decide to take a few from "out the back". I think half the time it is a matter of pride for them rather than greed, but it still has the same effect in the end if too many are taken. I've probably tarred too many birdkeepers with the same brush- that wasn't my intention! Most aviculturalists would frown on such activity I know.
The one place in the Hunter that I found Dimeys to be regular and very common was a place with no public access, ironically, due to a large slab of the area being subjected to coal mining. Enough of the woodland was untouched for the finches to do well and the presence of coal mining activity around about two-thirds of the area prevented people finding them. P.S. I wasn't trespassing there I was working on an EIS there!
While in general I don't think bird poaching is nearly as important an issue as habitat clearance and alteration there are some cases where it could have significant impacts, at least locally. I also don't think that bird trappers are going to flock to Cobbity to chase Dion's pair of firetails. However, if people say found a large flock of Diamond Firetails in a similar situation it might be prudent to not broadcast the information too widely. What is the general opinion of everyone on this? The record could be sent on to the Atlas without it being otherwise publicised. The problem is where do we decide to draw the line between releasing information and not. This issue also crops up with regular nests of rare birds and whether releasing the locations provides opportunities for egg collectors.
I'm interested to know how people feel about this. I'm still sitting on the fence- horses for courses and all that.
Cobbity still sounds like a great place, and at least some of the woodland birds must be hanging on.
Michael Todd
Finch Researcher
Tropical Savannas CRC
c/o Stephen Garnett,
EPA, PO Box 2066, Cairns, Qld, 4870
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