Birdlife Magazine March 2018 - Ode to the Ibis - food for thought only

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Subject: Birdlife Magazine March 2018 - Ode to the Ibis - food for thought only
From: Philip Veerman <>
Date: Sun, 9 Feb 2020 03:35:01 +0000

Taking our GBS as an example. It is hard work to compile, analyse and publish long-term studies. Not just hard work and many years doing so as a voluntary activity but great expense and little or no reward for doing so. The only reward is the achievement of getting it done and made available locally and internationally. The book at 130 pages is too big for any journal to have published it, so it needed to be self published (personal expense), and it was important to have the thing out as an integrated whole, such that any similar city in the world could use it to do the same survey, because all the details as to how it was done, are explained. Now as the most recent data are 17 years old, it is well overdue to be completely updated. This should be done. At the time it was a wise strategy to keep the results to ourselves, until it could be issued as an integrated whole. The early results published in COG’s ABR were very limited and in recent years (since then) have gone on to become very hard to comprehend. The GBS was almost completely unknown outside COG, let alone outside Canberra until The GBS Report was issued. It provides a huge amount of data on population trends of many species, albeit in a limited and somewhat special environment. The information is now in many libraries around the world and has been widely (highly favourably) reviewed in many journals in and outside of Australia.


It is curious to postulate whether CSIRO would indeed have the low opinion of Birdlife that I am sort of thinking that Mark (below) might be suggesting. Worth noting that The journal Emu was published quarterly for the Royal Australasian Ornithologists Union in print and online by CSIRO Publishing until 2016 (though I don’t know when that started). According to the Journal Citation Reports, the journal has a 2012 impact factor of 1.895, ranking it 4th out of 22 journals in the category "Ornithology". (This is from Wikipedia). CSIRO also publishes Wildlife Research, that contains papers from all around the world. (I get the extract for each issue). I find that curious, as CSIRO is financed by Australia, yet you wouldn’t easily detect a strong basis for Australian research in that journal. It is often strange to observe what journals publish what papers,


I wonder about ebird records. These are a repository for observations. That is hardly the same thing as summarised findings. There is a lot of work in between a set of observations and a summary of changes.


Then there is the problem of what should be baselines for bird populations. I noticed last month an interesting hint at a huge change: in the 1971 release of the book Australian Honeyeaters by Hugh Officer, for the Regent Honeyeater: “It has stood up successfully to the encroachments of settlement and can still be found in Melbourne’s inner suburbs, while in Bendigo, it is a bird of city gardens.” Yet for the Gould league series of Victorian birds the Rainbow Lorikeet was not listed in the 1969 urban birds book, other than as “accidental” in Victoria. It is now abundant.




From: Mark Clayton [
Sent: Sunday, 9 February, 2020 11:08 AM
Subject: Re: [canberrabirds] Birdlife Magazine March 2018 - Ode to the Ibis - food for thought only


Hi Jean et al,

There are many many journals that publish the results of birding projects both from scientific and "citizen science", sources be they large international journals or small(er) local ones such as Corella, the journal of the Australian Bird Study Association (formerly the Australian Bird Bander) or Canberra Bird Notes. A private individual obviously cannot hope to follow all these journals. I am not sure you are correct in saying that "Individuals conducting long term studies record and keep their results to themselves, perhaps for future use." The Charcoal Tank banding team operating near West Wyalong, which I coordinate, took nearly 30 years to collect sufficient data to have 2 papers published in major international journals with a 3rd in the editorial process. On some species we only have a limited amount of data but a paper that is currently in preparation managed to write a very comprehensive article on a species listed on the NSW Threatened Species List using data on only 52 birds. Prior to these publications whatever information we had on the relevant species at the time was given to the HANZAB series.

I doubt CSIRO or other major research organisations would consider Birdlife or eBird as somewhere to publish as they would consider them not to be of a sufficiently high standard given, in CSIRO's case, the use of taxpayers funds for their research. However there is nothing to stop Birdlife from reviewing any such research publications for all who are members to see.

Your last point is something I have been meaning to write to Birdlife Australia about. In the last 40 years there have been two Australian bird atlases. It is now about 20 years since the last atlas and given what is currently seen as the decline of most bird species, it is now time to start a third atlas. At the same time perhaps COG could also update the atlas done many years ago in COG's "Area of Concern".

Overall it is a problem that we will almost certainly be unable to overcome.



On 9/02/2020 9:49 am, Jean Casburn wrote:

This morning on Radio for the Print Handicapped I heard a reading from the above magazine. The article by Shaun Dooley was “Ode to the Ibis” (March 2018) was mostly about the eastern states distribution of Ibis and potential decline of the species as a result of climate change and our use of water etc.

This set me thinking about the collection of data Australia wide not only for this species but for other species as well. From my limited experience in talking to people in various places I feel distressed that there seems to be little communication between all of the bodies collecting data and therefore perhaps a skewed analysis of bird numbers.  While there may be declining numbers for example of Ibis in NSW, there appear to be very large numbers of Ibis in Queensland and northern and other states.

Coastal migrant bird watchers tend to send their information to Birdlife Australia. 

CSIRO and other research bodies perhaps send their findings to various gazettes and other research bodies, and most likely not to Birdlife or EBird. 

Next is EBird with an international collection – this data is available to anyone who cares to use it.

Does anybody take all of these collections into account in their summations and predictions of Australian bird species?


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