Night Parrot Interview this morning

To: Simon Clayton <>, Birding Aus <>
Subject: Night Parrot Interview this morning
From: Denise Goodfellow <>
Date: Thu, 04 Jul 2013 12:33:55 +0930
Hi Simon
Some tour operators do behave badly, as happened with the Red Goshawk at
Mataranka. I know from experience (30 years as a birding/natural history
guide)  that Tourism NT promoted any operator who ran bird tours no matter
how little experience they had or what they did to show clients birds. As
long as they had the right permits, public liability insurance and were
'accredited' they were taken on board.   On raising issues of bad behaviour
I was accused of professional jealousy.

However, private individuals appear to be a bigger problem, as with the
Goshawk, and also at Leanyer Sewage Ponds - there the manager was so upset
by the behaviour of some that he threatened to have any birder found in
there without a permit, arrested.

American birders involved in my PhD research sometimes mentioned a dislike
of guides  who disturbed birds. But again, in the opinion of respondents
(who included some of the US's top birders) private individuals were more
often the problem, and in particular photographers. Interestingly the main
reason given for disliking photographers was not the welfare of the birds
they disturbed, but that they could prevent a birder from seeing a target

Conservation is not a top priority for some really serious listers (I don't
have time at the moment to dig up the research on this, but it is around).
Indeed, the American Birding Association was founded by birders more
interested in the activity as competition and 'sport'.

The ABA is now promoting conservation as are many other birding
organisations all over the world. Yet some birders will join an organisation
that promotes conservation, and even donate to such causes.  However, their
desire to "collect" a target species can over-ride all sense of what's right
(and safe, in some instances).  And  that goes for some guides as well.
One couple (again PhD respondents) reported that on a South American trip
they left a guide and his other clients who spent hours bashing bushes in
the hope of seeing one particular species.

Other guides or tour operators will go along with whatever their client
wants.  A pet hate of American respondents who were not mad keen listers was
guides who bowed to the wishes of clients who would do anything to see a
bird.  So when training Indigenous relatives in Arnhem Land as
birding/natural history guides I ran a course on how to deal with
inappropriate behaviour by clients (and tour operators), and that included
birders or photographers likely to pressure them to chase particular
species.  However, because of the difficulty some were likely to encounter
dealing with such people, I excluded them as a market.

As long as there are listers with the resources and the obsession,  the
welfare of birds will run a poor second to the 'list'.

Denise Lawungkurr Goodfellow
PO Box 71,  Darwin River,
NT 0841
043 8650 835

PhD candidate, SCU
Vice-chair, Wildlife Tourism Australia
Nominated for the Condé Nast international ecotourism award, 2004 by the
American website, Earthfoot.
Wildlife Adviser, BBC¹s ?Deadly 60¹

On 3/7/13 4:36 PM, "Simon Clayton" <> wrote:

> Hi David,
> I agree with your approach to bird conservation & tourism for sought after
> species. The welfare of the bird must come first, particularly with
> Threatened species. Good points
> I think most birders are prepared to pay to view a bird, for the habitat
> conservation of the rare species they may see, it may well be beneficial for
> the species & associated ecosystems.
> Unfortunately, some tourism operators do use call-playback, spotlighting and
> other disturbance during the breeding season of threatened species, for
> profit, without the welfare of the birds in mind.
> As a birding tourism business, we don't use call-playback, or spotlighting.
> Night vision equipment is becoming more affordable, and disturbs the fauna
> less, and we are having success with this viewing Masked Owls here, amongst
> other fauna. Hopefully any money from those prepared to pay to see Night
> Parrot, will support their conservation by doing it responsibly.
> Cheers,
> Simon Clayton
> Manager
> Birdrangers, Gibraltar Reserve
> Cangai, NSW, 2460
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