Accessing Birds

To: Birding Aus <>
Subject: Accessing Birds
From: Laurie Knight <>
Date: Sat, 4 Dec 2010 10:59:51 +1000
The recent dialectic over access to indigenous land for twitching purposes is an interesting episode in the development of Australian birding culture.

To my [limited] knowledge, the application of a substantial access fee for nature-based tourism has few precedents in Australia. The only one I can think of is an offshore island in Vic/NSW? [mentioned in the media recently] where the parks service limits access to people who pay a large sum to do volunteer work [it was a bone of contention for locals who felt cut-off from a part of their neighbourhood].

While national parks were traditionally accessible free of charge, state and federal governments have been slowly introducing and increasing visitor fees. Visitors to Kadadu, for example, are required to purchase a pass for $25 a head.

While many of Australia's breeding endemics are broadly distributed, some are generally only found in remote and/or hard-to-access areas [e.g. Black Grasswrens, White-Throated Grasswrens, Red-cheeked Parrots etc]. Australian birdwatchers are more likely to pay for guides to help them find/access for these birds. Classic examples include organised trips to Cape York Peninsula, the Torres Strait, Mitchell Plateau, Ashmore Reef, Christmas and Cocos Islands. Birders pay significant amounts to go on these tours. In these cases, birders are paying for food, transport, accommodation, birding expertise [and possibly logistics management].

The situation with the Princess Parrots is particularly unusual in that the presence of the birds is highly irregular. Comparable situations where birders venture onto private property [e.g. Artemis Station, Mt Lyndhurst Station] involve relatively sedentary species, so it is fairly straightforward to manage sites and access, and to establish a pattern of visitation. In those cases, land managers can work to establish favourable conditions for the species of interest and be quite knowledgeable about their local status.

It would be nice if there were a section of the Haast's Bluff region where the presence of the Princess Parrots occurred on a semi-regular basis [so access arrangements could be regularised and alert issued in time for birdwatchers lacking Dooley's "fast twitch muscles" to get themselves sorted out]. Thanks to the informative posts by Andrew Stafford and John Reidy et. al., we have a clients' perspective on the situation.

It is also good to see Mark Carter providing a value-adding service for visiting birders. It helps to broaden the experience, so it becomes more than twitching exercise.

As I see it, an ideal situation would include a service from either Alice Springs or Yulara [airports], time for a yarn [and maybe more] with the traditional owners, and the option to catch up with some of the other birds in the area. In relation to the access fee, I would suggest a two-part charge. This would include a fixed component and a variable component [depending the number of birders in the group].

Now that the Central Aus community has a feel for the economic opportunities associated with hard-to-locate birds, it may be that it is possible for them to manage the habitat in certain areas to benefit those species and start to monitor their presence. It would certainly be nice to see Night and Princess Parrots on the same trip. I'm sure there would be many birders who would be happy to pay for that privilege ;)

Regards, Laurie.

To unsubscribe from this mailing list, send the message: unsubscribe (in the body of the message, with no Subject line)

<Prev in Thread] Current Thread [Next in Thread>
  • Accessing Birds, Laurie Knight <=

The University of NSW School of Computer and Engineering takes no responsibility for the contents of this archive. It is purely a compilation of material sent by many people to the birding-aus mailing list. It has not been checked for accuracy nor its content verified in any way. If you wish to get material removed from the archive or have other queries about the archive e-mail Andrew Taylor at this address: andrewt@cse.unsw.EDU.AU