Hi Colin. I understand your wish to clarify the situation and respect your
effort to do so.
However, for a number of reasons I don't intend to engage in a public debate
about the finer details of the circumstances, other than to say that your
description of the properties doesn't accord with my recollections [which
are that there is a large vacant (ie no house or other improvements),
unfenced, but certainly private, block with a deep pond on its right-hand
(southern) side (where my wife and I, and many others, saw the original 14
ducks back in late September) and immediately adjacent to and south of that
block and the pond is Judy Terracall's property, with front fence and gate,
large modern house, extensive established garden, large pond in the
back-yard, but no fence separating it from the vacant block]. The reported
trespass was onto her property, not onto the vacant block (which as far as I
know she does not own). Perhaps I should add that I have only ever met Judy
once (the day I visited the pond on the vacant block beside her property)
and spoken with her by phone twice since (one of her dogs was bitten by a
Red-bellied Black-snake while Diana and I were having tea with her,
requiring urgent, and wildly expensive, veterinary treatment - happily it
I would be happy to discuss this with you by phone to sort out conflicting
recollections/descriptions if you would care to send me a phone number
off-line (and I might be able to clarify one or two other matters at the
All the best. Richard
From: Colin R
Sent: Monday, 9 January 2012 8:57 PM
To: Richard Nowotny; 'Birding Aus'
Subject: Spotted Whistling Ducks
With all due respect Richard, I think it is fair to describe the
location so that all readers have an idea of how and why the alleged
intrusion might have happened. It has been made to sound like an
invasion into someone's house, but in reality the property is as
A large block of land in a suburban street - probably 100 meter
frontage? The house set well back (~70 meters?) from the road and
apparently vacant as a For Sale sign indicates. No fence or gate or
personal possessions anywhere in sight at the front. The pool I believe
the birds were first seen on is about 30 metres from the road across
open grass and is a steep sided dam of relatively small size. Therefore
80% of the edges of the water are all but invisible from the road as the
property is essentially flat. It would be a natural step to walk in to
the dam to try to see any birds that may be present, but out of sight
below the dam 'edge'. The neighbour's - I believe she lives on the right
side of the property - fence is close to the edge of the dam - close but
there would be no need to enter her property or intrude in any way to
access the pond.
The second pond is to the left of the house (the first is on the right
side of the block). It is set back a little further - maybe 50 meters?
but still well clear of the house. It is of similar design and
visibility to the first altho more water surface is visible from the
road. Along the road frontage at this point is a raised hill crowned by
a line of palm trees - again no fence or barrier in any real sense.
While I am not condoning the claimed 'invasion' I think it is important
to understand the situation and appreciate how easy it would be to walk
in to see something as rare as Spotted Whistling Ducks - we're not
talking scaling fences, climbing over private property or disturbing
people at rest or play. Yes, its private property and yes, permission
should have been requested, although I don't know how one would have
gone about that, however it would appear to me - and others I have
spoken to - that the neighbour's reaction was extreme and unusual. To my
mind she would have served her community better by requesting a donation
towards the local school from visiting birders and, if she insisted,
monitor their behaviour on site. In fact, due to the position of her
well vegetated fence line, viewing from her property would have been
excellent - and discreet.
Word has it that she has actually been observed clapping her hands to
flush the birds off these dams so they would fly in and land on her
property. If true (and I hasten to add it is a second hand tale) then
she is in breach, as I understand it, of the wildlife laws herself for
unnecessary disturbance - something, I hope I am right in saying, most
birders would not do deliberately.
The ownership of the property is unknown to me - altho from the email
below it suggests the neighbour owns the property. I don't know, but if
she did then she has some cause to complain - however this is in no way
obvious and no sign present in early December when I visited indicated
For the record I visited the property twice and failed to see the birds.
It was very very tempting to walk in, but despite the temptation and
with respect to local birders we stayed on the road. I don't believe the
birds were there at the time of our visit anyway.
I don't intend to prolong this argument and am in no way defending
ANYONE's actions or statements, I just believe it is a situation that
demanded clarification and as a result some understanding of the
situation on the ground - in my opinion, easy to have happened and an
over the top reaction for whatever reason.
It will be interesting to see if the birds re-appear especially if there
were 50 +? We did see Wandering Whistle Ducks at the left hand pond when
we were there - I assume the neighbour can tell the difference?
Written with good intentions and absolutely no malice afore thought!
On Mon, Jan 9, 2012, at 12:30 PM, Richard Nowotny wrote:
> I've just been speaking with Judy Terracall, the woman who lives in Wonga
> Beach, FNQ, next to the pond on which the Spotted Whistling Ducks spent
> of their time through September, October and November last year. (They
> spent considerable time on her back-yard pond.) She told me that they
> for a couple of weeks but then returned in considerably greater numbers
> (>50) for some weeks. She last saw them on 8 December.
> Does anyone know where they might have gone? A big flock like that should
> have been seen somewhere.
> PS It was disappointing to hear that some visitors behaved less well than
> might be hoped and expected, particularly a well-known bird photographer
> who trespassed on her property to get shots (as previously reported by Del
> Richards - I think).
> Richard NOWOTNY
> Port Melbourne, Victoria
> M: 0438 224 456
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