Social networking and birding tourism

To: Birding Aus <>
Subject: Social networking and birding tourism
From: L&L Knight <>
Date: Mon, 21 Dec 2009 16:23:05 +1000
It is interesting to see how the internet is changing the dynamics of birding and birdwatching tourism. Prior to the development of email chat groups, birders largely maintained contact with one another via meetings, newsletters and phone-calls. Rarity sightings were distributed via word-of-mouth.

Now we have email chat groups like Birding-Aus, online forums such as, and reporting services like Eremaea Birds. Birding societies, birding guides and birding accommodation providers all have an online presence. A number of birders with commercial interests maintain a presence in fora such as birding-aus, and are starting to make use of social networking such as Facebook.

Following on from the post I sent to Birding-Aus last month regarding a field guide titled "Birds of Peru", I received an interesting email from Gunnar Engblum - an occasional correspondent on Birding-Aus. Gunnar organises birding tours in Peru and has mentioned his interest in involving local communities in conservation via ecotourism. In some parts, it may be a case of "last chance to see" as it is possible that some of the limited-range species in the region may be overtaken by poorly regulated mineral exploitation [see "Rising prices spark a new gold rush in Peruvian Amazon"].

Gunnar has launched a drive to drum up demand for his bird tours - you can have a look at it on his blog: [short link ]. The interesting thing about his campaign is the way he is looking to make use of social networking sites such as Twitter and Facebook to raise awareness of his tours. I notice that Gunnar has structured his campaign in such as way so as to encourage groups of birding friends to book trips together. I will be interested to see to what extent other commercial birding operators focus on getting people to book as groups rather than as unconnected individuals. The dynamics from the birder's perspective would certainly be different.

As a periodic pelagic twitcher, I was interested to see that Gunnar has integrated "connecting" pelagic birding trips with his land tours. I can't think of many other set ups that have this integration. These trips are pitched at overseas birders - I notice that Gunnar has a two-tier pricing regime so that local people can join the trips if there aren't enough primary birders to cover costs. Again, I am unsure if this approach is used by the organisers of pelagic birding trips in Australia.

Ultimately, I am thinking about launching another survey of the attitudes and activities of birdwatchers. I hope to submit an article based on my last survey for publication in the near future. If you have a topic that you would like to have woven into that survey [if it gets off the ground] please let me know.

Regards, Laurie.

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