Spotted Whistling Ducks

To: "'Colin R'" <>, "'Birding Aus'" <>
Subject: Spotted Whistling Ducks
From: "Richard Nowotny" <>
Date: Tue, 10 Jan 2012 00:34:13 +1100
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
same time).

All the best.  Richard


-----Original Message-----
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

such ownership.

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

> much

> of their time through September, October and November last year. (They

> also

> spent considerable time on her back-yard pond.) She told me that they

> left

> 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.


> Richard


> 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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