Feedback on Rockjumpers PNG birding Tour July-August 2011 - Between a ro

To: robert morris <>, "" <>, birding aus <>
Subject: Feedback on Rockjumpers PNG birding Tour July-August 2011 - Between a rock and a hard place so think before you jump!
From: Vader Willem Jan Marinus <>
Date: Sun, 1 Jan 2012 11:07:41 +0000
Dear Rob and Birding-aussers,
                                                     I have never been to 
PNG---in fact actually fear I may no longer be up to it at 75--, and I have no 
knowledge of this actual tour, but I still feel that you have maybe gone on 
this tour with somewhat unreasonable expectations. I myself have during these 
last years been on one or two birding tours every year (i.a. with Rockjumpers 
to Madagascar and Namibia-Botswana), and I am one of the older people that Rob 
had so much troubles with. I have always had bad eyesight, and am now also hard 
of hearing, and the days are probably not far ahead when I have to pass on the 
steepest and most slippery slopes. I love nature and birds, but I am at best a 
moderate birder and am much dependent on leader and participants to show me the 
birds I never would have found on my own. I am not a 'ticker' though, although 
I do keep a life list (around 4000), and I love to watch also the commoner 
birds again and again. So in many respects I am one of the elderly people, that 
according to Rob should never come on such trips, as they are in the way and 
disturb the real birders.
                                               I beg to differ! I think that in 
fact most birding company trips are primarily meant for people like me, who 
need the assistance in logistics, bird spotting and bird identification, and 
who have much more problems in organizing such trips on their own---often 
considerably cheaper. As these trips are expensive, it is no wonder that  many 
of the participants are elderly (although this changes a lot from trip to trip: 
last year in Argentina I was the youngest participant, this year in Ecuador by 
far the oldest (both VENT trips)). The  ornithological knowledge of the 
participants is indeed quite variable, although most have traveled extensively 
on similar trips, and many are much better birders than I am. Also, some 
participants may be not in the best of mobility; again, in Argentina we had 
regularly to assist an 80-year old both to get around, and to find the 
birds---he had had many eye operations---, but the man derived great pleasure 
of the birds he saw and clearly had a most satisfactory trip.. And this year an 
elderly lady skipped the day we visited Angel Paz and his steep forest paths 
towards the Cock-of-the -Rock display area, but she greatly enjoyed the other 

                                           Going on a trip with 10-12 other 
people always means one has to adapt to a certain degree. Each group has 
usually at least one person to whom one has difficulties adapting: incessant 
talkers, people who always are first at the telescope and show little empathy 
for the others, people who never help other find the birds, people who clearly 
are on the wrong trip, etc.  These problems arise independently of the  quality 
of the birding knowledge of these participants: the one time one participant 
had to be let go, because he very clearly was unfit to be in a group, the 
person concerned had the sharpest eyes and best spotting abilities of anybody I 
have met on these trips

                                    I fully grant that the normal birding 
trips, with Rockjumpers as well as with other companies, will often feel 
frustrating and limiting for the best birders, but for them the solution, if 
they are unable to organize their trips themselves, must be to use the 
possibility of customized tours, while the 'normal' birding trips are primarily 
for people like me: run-of-the-mill birders, who through these trips and their 
leaders get the chance to see many more birds, and those also much better, than 
they ever would be able to see on their own. My two Ruckjumper trips were a 
great pleasure, and I won't hesitate to go out with them again.

          Wim Vader, Tromsø Museum
          9037 Tromsø, Norway

 namens robert morris 

Verzonden: zondag 1 januari 2012 10:01
Aan: ; birding aus
Onderwerp: [Birding-Aus] Feedback on Rockjumpers PNG birding Tour July-August 
2011 - Between a rock and a hard place so think before you jump!

This is the feedback I gave to Rockjumpers about a tour I went on to PNG in 
August 2011. If you are a serious birder, I would not recommend travelling on 
their tour with 9 or 10 others. be warned or at least prepared.... I did not 
receive an evaluation form before departing from the leaders - and I am happy 
to give constructive feedback.  It won't be pretty but the leaders will be 
perfectly aware of all the major issues: 1. the people on the tour were too 
old, unfit and had virtually no birding skills or knowledge2. because of 1 
they:            a) needed long rests ( I would go and bird alone most days in 
the breaks of up to 4 hours!).            b) were more interested in eating 
than birding.            c) could not walk far and struggled to walk up hill. 
Some trails were not even attempted.            d) took a huge amount of time 
to see the birds. This was mainly because there was 1 scope between the 10 
people and most had poor eye-sight.            e) there were 12-14 pe
 ople going down narrow trails looking for shy birds which is a joke. I left 
the group to bird independently at every opportunity.            f) they made 
night birding a complete nightmare and I felt guilty for continuously raising 
the issue. I actually had to be left alone in remote locations in PNG jungles 
for many hours on end to see difficult species - such as Papuan hawk Owl. I did 
not in any way dislike the group  or any individuals - but birding wise it 
ranged from a joke to a nightmare. These trips are NOT for real birders. They 
are for OLD people who are generally happy to spend 1 second looking down a 
telescope to tick something. If they glimpse a bird, a shadow etc. most of them 
count what they are told they've seen. I had my own Leica 77 for the whole trip 
and I was completely independent from the queue at one leader's scope (the 
other leader rarely took his because it wasn't working properly). Add to the 
above the amount of time we stood around waiting for buses
  to show up because the agent didn't have control of what was going on (we 
lost many, many hours of birding time), descriptions in the published 
itineraries which are at best 'economical with the truth' and good local bird 
guides that Rockjumpers booked and paid for who were 'unavailable' e.g. Daniel 
Wakra was guiding others when he should have been with us, and I spent most of 
the very trip frustrated. The leaders did help try me to bird alone where 
possible which I really appreciated and I did see a lot more birds than the 
general group - but overall I was bitterly disappointed with the whole 
experience. I actually feel really sorry for the leaders in a situation like 
this.  Cheers
Rob Morris
Rob Morris

Brisbane, Australia


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