It seems I've started a passionate forum discussion, just by posting some
current information that I thought birders might like to know.
I think some birders may not have understood what I was saying.
Gurney's pitta will probably head into extinction in Thailand, whether you
go to see it or not. The 'disturbances' I was speaking about are, besides
climate change, illegal clearing of vegetation, illegal hunting, forest
fragmentation and of course increased visitors (visiting Emerald Pool) and
more facilities. The biggest immediate impact on Gurney's pitta at the
moment is selfish photographers, lots of them. As usual, as an animal
becomes rare, a photo (or collecting it) becomes a lot more desirable.
I fully support sustainable birdwatching of Gurney's Pitta! Why? Because
it's often the only hope the bird has. The bird guide Yotin (and other Thai
guides), the Morakot Resort and numerous other locals (including park
rangers) obtain an income from visiting birders. They are usually the only
ones fighting to keep the birds there (whether for income or love of the
birds). Yotin in particular has done much to protect Gurney's and the other
wildlife in the park. I don't think many of us here in Australia have done
much to protect Gurney's!
Unfortunately in this current age, you want to protect something, you better
provide some economic benefit!
When we watched the 2 Gurney's Pittas from about 15 metres away, they just
went about their business, feeding in the leaf litter before slowly moving
away. That's sustainable birding! Minimal impact, no taped calls, no
feeding, just coming across the birds and watching them.
As for personal safety, the Gurney's area is fine. If you read my email
properly, you will see I'm referring to the birding areas south, near the
Malaysian border. I'm just trying to stop some unaware birder getting his
head blown off!
From: Philip Veerman
Sent: Monday, 4 June 2012 4:20 PM
To: 'Richard King'
Subject: Gurney's Pitta Update - Hurry if you want to see one.
That is of course concerning about yet another species in trouble. In the
context of my response I take your message entirely on face value as being
true, as I have no information to the contrary. However I am quite concerned
that you should write to us "so if you want to see one you better hurry"
along with "and disturbance in the park are affecting the pitta in a bad
way." It seems not to be a wise suggestion. I don't see that you demonstrate
how seeing the bird (presumably without taking photos or using call
recordings) benefits the bird. Sorry but it seems logical to me that it
would be preferable to say: "so if you want to see one you should change
your mind and go do something else", if I am reading your message correctly
that disturbance is a big problem for the bird. My point is: would my life
be any better to see this particular bird species, in contrast to the many
thousands of other (common) species I haven't? No. So if it causes the bird
problems (and risks my security) I have no wish to do so, for self
On Behalf Of Richard King
Sent: Monday, 4 June 2012 1:09 PM To: ;
Subject: [Birding-Aus] Gurney's Pitta Update - Hurry
if you want to see one.
I have just returned from birding for 13 days in southern Thailand, with
some hard birding, due to it seems climate change according to the guides,
rain cycles totally out of sync for last year and this year affecting many
rainforest birds. 250 bird species were seen, including 6 pitta species, so
The info about Gurney's Pitta at Khao Nor Chi Chi is pretty bad, so if you
want to see one you better hurry (maybe ~ 6 pittas left?). Climate change
and disturbance in the park are affecting the pitta in a bad way,
photographers are the main culprits with numerous photographers and
videographers setting up hides and playing Gurney's Pitta calls all day
long. It seems they only care about getting the perfect photo, not the
bird's welfare! Most (not all) of the recent photos and Youtube videos have
been obtained this way. We saw one of these guys in a hide at another park
trying to get Blue Pitta photos, playing the call for hours!
We spent two days looking for the pittas with local bird guide Yotin,
finally got great views of a male and female Gurney's for about 2 minutes,
male and female in the same view. Yotin is the pitta expert, but even he had
trouble finding any Gurney's in the last 6 months, a number of international
birding companies missed out on seeing them! I would recommend hiring Yotin,
as he has assistants out with radios to find the pittas, otherwise you could
spend a whole week walking the overgrown and poorly signposted trails and
not see one. This was a common statement in the bird log book at the Morakot
The situation with the 2 Gurney's Pittas we saw is not very good, as it
seems the male has paired with his daughter! The 'official pitta rescue
project' also hasn't helped, by 'illegally' taking wild Gurney's for
breeding, which resulted in the pittas not breeding but dying, a lot of it
due to lack of experience of the 'researchers'. Maybe they should have tried
breeding some more common pitta species first! The Gurney's Pitta will
probably disappear from Thailand shortly and the population found in Burma
are in hard to get to locations, so it's best to hurry if you want to see
As for the birding situation in the far south near the Malaysian border,
DON'T GO. Extremists are killing people on a daily basis, with guys riding
motorbikes along forest tracks with machine guns and killing whoever they
find! Beware, there is at least one southern Thailand birding company that
doesn't even mention the trouble down there, some just say that no tourist
has been hurt! Possibly because no tourist go there and the rebels haven't
been able to find one to gun down or keep as a hostage?
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