To: "Birding-aus" <>
Subject: Responsibility
From: "Terry Pacey" <>
Date: Tue, 28 Jan 2003 10:20:07 +1000
I am NOT posting this message to try and create dissention within the group.
I am posting it to show why some of us have a different attitude to
disclosing rare bird sightings.  This subject has been discussed on numerous
occasions and any further discussion will do nothing to solve the issue.  I
am simply explaining my reasoning.

Two recent incidents on the Gold Coast have added to my resolve.

Near where I live, a site was found, not only containing Painted Snipe, but
supporting several broods of young.  Last year, this site was the only one
Australia where it is known that young were reared.  Many birders found out
about this site (originally from the internet and then from word of mouth).
As it is close to a major city and there are a number of birders who were
prepared to spend the time in some serious study, it seemed a very important
find.  The birds tended to co-operate as did the local and state governments
and the owners of the land.  The area allowed access for vehicles through a
local park (with written permission of the local government - illegal
otherwise) and a regime of observation of the resting birds from vehicles
was devised by the Painted Snipe Group of Birds Australia.  This included a
strict regime of approaching and departing the site without disturbing the

Recently, a number of birders have decided that if those using their
vehicles with permission could drive in, so could they.   These other
birders did not follow any regime other than driving up and down until they
could flush the birds and have a good view.  The birds have moved from their
daytime resting areas and full study at the site is now impossible.  It is
hard to imagine that the irresponsible behaviour of the birders involved was
not responsible for the changed habits of the birds.

The results of the study were intended to supply information that could be
used in the conservation of the birds.  No one was using the information for
personal gain or glory.  There were no restrictions on birders accessing the
site on foot.  Indeed, there is an embankment which allows full viewing of
the swamp and it is only a 100 metres or so to walk around to the other

The local council and the owners of the land involved tried to help.  The
council provided a locked gate with keys provided to those involved in the
study.  The land owners blocked off access via their property.  The locked
gate was forced and the lock stolen.  I hope that birders were not
responsible for this act of breaking and entering but .........

The second case occurred within the last fortnight.  On an outing of the
Gold Coast Bird Observers, a nesting Marbled Frogmouth was found.  During
the outing, the nest was observed from a distance and the members then moved
on.  The sighting was passed on to a number of birders.  The nest is now
abandoned and there are signs under the tree of much human activity.  At
least one bird photographer was known to be attempting to obtain pictures
but whether that person was to blame remains unknown.

We are not talking about wandering rarities such as Yellow Wagtails,
Laughing Gulls, etc but rare (if not endangered) breeding, native species.

I guess you will not be surprised to hear that I WILL NOT divulge the
location of such rarities in the future except to those who will help with
the conservation of these species.  If I could be convinced that all birders
were responsible, I might change my mind but then I still believe in the
Tooth Fairy.

Terry Pacey

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