the heron debate

To: "Birding Aus" <>
Subject: the heron debate
From: "Phil Straw" <>
Date: Thu, 26 Aug 2004 12:29:48 +1000

It is not often I look at Birding Aus – only if my minder sends me notes on important things like waders. However I have noted with interest the discussion of herons.


Firstly the ‘bittern’ seen flying over the airport could quite easily have been a Black Bittern as this species is associated with mangroves at wetlands close to the airport as well as the Parramatta estuary. I have seen birds in the past at “The Landing Lights” wetland (also known as Riverine Park) and at Homebush Bay. These secretive birds are rarely seen by the average birder as they rarely flight by day and spend a lot of time along mangrove channels, a habitat shunned by most birders.


The leg colour of White-faced Heron discussion reflects the lack of reporting of field notes by Australian birdwatchers. As Danny Rogers suggests, there is little information about leg colour in HANZAB because so few people write up their notes, or even make notes in the field, assuming that the ‘experts’ have written everything there is to know about our common birds. As Danny noted, museum specimens are not much good when trying to describe colours of ‘softparts’ of birds. Now that digi-scoping is becoming popular a lot more people are ‘seeing’ a lot more detail of bird plumages. However this is a fat lot of good if these images and notes are not included in some retrievable form in the future. One un-refereed journal (Australian Birds) has folded due to the lack of contributions and others are becoming thinner.


If you have any suggestions what bird clubs should be doing to encourage better note taking, or ways of storing and publishing interesting notes and images on birds let me know as I will be chairing the next Bird Interest Group Network (BIGnet) meeting in a few days time. It would appear that an appropriately managed website could be the way to go – similar to the “bird track” website mentioned recently on Birding Aus.


Phil Straw

Chairman, NSW Wader Study Group

P.O. Box 2006

Rockdale Delivery Centre

NSW 2216, Australia

Tel: 61 2 9597 7765



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