Gurney's Pitta Update - Hurry if you want to see one.

To: Richard King <>, Birding Aus <>
Subject: Gurney's Pitta Update - Hurry if you want to see one.
From: Denise Goodfellow <>
Date: Tue, 05 Jun 2012 10:51:55 +0930
Hi Richard

Most international birders in my experience (nearly thirty years) and PhD
research, are happy to do more than tick birds off a list, particularly if
they're accompanied by their spouse or other family members. Subsequently
there is a move away from really serious listing - as many bird tour
operators are beginning to recognise the importance of these other markets.

If as you say, Gurney's is on the path to extinction anyway, then it would
be in the best interests of the resort and the guides to broaden their


on 5/6/12 10:13 AM, Richard King at  wrote:

> Hi All,
> 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!
> Regards,
> Richard King
> -----Original Message-----
> From: Philip Veerman 
> Sent: Monday, 4 June 2012 4:20 PM
> To: 'Richard King'
> Cc: 'birding-aus'
> Subject: Gurney's Pitta Update - Hurry if you want to see one.
> Hello Richard,
> 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
> indulgence.
> Philip
> -----Original Message-----From: 
>  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.
> Hi All,
> 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
> I'm happy.
> 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
> Resort!
> 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
> one.
> 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?
> Regards,
> Richard King
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