birding-aus Seabird watching trips and leadership

To: "Birding-Aus" <>
Subject: birding-aus Seabird watching trips and leadership
From: "Philip A Veerman" <>
Date: Thu, 30 Sep 1999 15:21:02 +1000
Just a comment on the Seabird watching trips run around the place. We are
well served by the number and availability of these (Even though I am from
Canberra) and judging from the reports there has been some terrific trips.
My neighbour (Hazel) wanted to shout herself and husband (Ian) a whale
watching boat trip and asked my advice. They were for a few years, members
of Canberra Ornithologists Group and know a fair number of the species
around - a lot more than the average lame brain. I pointed her in the
direction of the Eden, Wollongong & Sydney ones that are run primarily for
seabird watching. They went on the Wollongong one last Saturday. They had a
wonderful day out, saw heaps close up, Humpback Whales, even banding of some
albatross but couldn't remember which ones.
They did, however offer one point for improvement. I think it is reasonable
to pass it on, even to a broad audience, because it is also relevant to any
of us leading any birdwatching trips. This is second hand. I trust those
involved will take this as helpful comment (but if people want to send me
hate mail, I guess I'll cope too). Obviously each trip is different, this
one had several foreign visitors on it and others who knew little about the
The response I heard was that those leading knew their stuff really well but
there was something of a deficit in explaining much to those others on
board, what was what and what was going on. The impression they received is
that there seemed to be an assumption that those on board already knew
everything. (This may not have been the case but impressions do count.) Even
in leading birding trips where the identifying is relatively simple, there
is still a lot that can and should be said in providing some education to
beginners. Hazel was very disappointed that there wasn't an evaluation form
given out at the end, so that people there could provide some feedback (Well
she is a teacher). They would have provided a response that they enjoyed it
enormously. Neither Hazel or Ian have a strong bird background.  They said
there was plenty of time for more explanation but they left rather lost in
the confusion of so many seabirds, many of which are difficult. I'm expect
most of them would have been identified at the time. For example, it was
stated something like one or some of the Shearwaters was a (were)
Short-tailed among many Wedge-tailed (or was it the other way around). They
could be picked by the different flight, without really explaining how it
was different or clearly pointing out which one(s) were the other ones, and
yes I know it is difficult, I wouldn't know how to pick them that way
either. That is not very useful to those who don't know the flight of the
common one. (I have heard the same sort of thing and found it just as
difficult). So a bit more imparting would have helped a lot.  Maybe a sort
checklist of likely species would also help.
Anyway, that is a response from some interested people that know a few birds
on the way some of them see some of us.

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