Collecting birds

To: "Birding Aus" <>
Subject: Collecting birds
From: "Peter Waanders" <>
Date: Wed, 30 Jul 2003 19:35:52 +0930
Thanks Tony, the SA Ornithologist was still on my pile of things to read. I
have now read the article concerned and am thoroughly appalled by this
incident and the attitudes it reflects.

Eckert, J & Ludewigs, M: Yellow Chat Epthianura crocea at Tolderol Game
Reserve. South Australian Ornithologist 34, pp83-84, May 2003.

A few quotes:
"On 22 April 2002, a chat was flushed from an area of sedge and salt water
couch .... west of the bird hide of Tolderol Game Reserve..." (SA).
"The bird was not seen until 26 April 2002 when it was found on a property
adjoining Tolderol to the west some 2 km from the original sighting."
"The bird allowed vehicular approach to within 15 m. It was collected and is
now in the South Australian Museum, Reg. No. B 49,500. As Pandiburra Bore is
the only South Australian location from which specimens have been taken it
was considered sound ornithology for present and future workers to be given
the opportunity to assess the identity and sub-specific status of a bird
found at such a distance from there."

Obviously the observers must have been driving around with some means of
"collecting" the bird ( presumably some weapon). This is questionably in
itself - who goes birdwatching with a gun? Did they go out to deliberately
"collect" the bird?

Apart from that, the last quote is a blatant reflection of the
narrow-minded, parochial, old-fashioned attitude present here in SA. There
is no justification for shooting a bird in particular not boundaries on a
map. Presumably there are specimens in museums elsewhere in Australia. If
"workers" want to research Yellow Chat they can go and access them there.
Just because this bird happened to overshoot the State boundaries by a long
way is no justification for collecting it - certainly not in this day and
age. Instead, the observers should have made it more widely known that this
bird was present at Tolderol, so that people with the appropriate
equipement - telescopes, digital cameras, video cameras, whatever - could
have shared in the enjoyment of watching it and providing useful pictorial
evidence of this rare occurrence. Instead, they not only chose to keep this
sighting to themselves (and their little clique, one assumes), they went one
step further and shot it - thereby eliminating all chances for other
birdwatchers to see it.

It just shows how far behind we are here in Oz but particularly in SA.
Having come from the well-developed twitching scene in Western Europe
(imagine shooting a rarity in the UK and then publishing it!!!), I am
continuously frustrated by the secretive, old-fashioned attitudes of some of
these old socks who haven't moved into the 20th century yet - let alone the
21st. I am embarrased to be a birdwatcher in SA.

Being a member of the SAOA I might just look into this further. As far as
I'm concerned, the person who "collected" this "specimen" should be stripped
of their membership and any scientific standing they may still have, and
they should be publicly reprimanded.


Peter Waanders
Waikerie, South Australia

Birding SA:

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