Using call playback in bird watching and bird photography.

To: Carl Clifford <>
Subject: Using call playback in bird watching and bird photography.
From: David Stowe <>
Date: Mon, 27 Aug 2012 17:19:18 +1000
Carl  you obviously have too much time on your hands.
Seriously, (not condoning this particular incident at all)  are there honestly 
no bigger issues that we should be focussing on that this?
Surely the world and politicians have alot more important things to think 
Let's focus on the fact that National Parks are being passed back to grazing 
and half of them turned into game reserves rather than worrying politicians 
with people at least trying to enjoy the outdoors without killing them!
As has been asked for many times - lets see the scientific proof that call 
playback has a detrimental effect. If it indeed does, let's compare it to the 
damage done by deforestation and the points mentioned above.
Honestly its no wonder there aren't many birdwatchers - as soon as people get 
into it they are judged like never before by people with far superior morals. 
Even just birdwatching for ones own personal enjoyment isn't good enough for 
some on this forum.


On 27/08/2012, at 3:40 PM, Carl Clifford <> wrote:

> Robert,
> I would have cheerfully have asked the photographers if they would mind 
> posing for a photograph, with all of their gear and noted down their car 
> registration numbers. I would then send the images and rego numbers, 
> accompanied by a statutory declaration setting out what I had seen, to the 
> appropriate Minister, the shadow minister and local member of Parliament. In 
> the covering letter, I would politely ask if the Department was going to take 
> any action against the offenders. 
> I think that this type of behaviour is utterly unconscionable and should be 
> dealt with to the full extent of the law. 
> Carl Clifford
> On 27/08/2012, at 11:34 AM, "Robert Inglis" <> wrote:
>> I know this is a topic which has been discussed here before and that it can 
>> easily be classed as “controversial” but an incident I witnessed recently 
>> has prompted me to believe the subject needs to be revisited.
>> Bird-photography is my principal birding interest and recently I visited a 
>> bird hide I have used on numerous occasions and where I have spent many 
>> hours quietly photographing some of the quite uncommon and wary species 
>> which, from time to time, visit this wetland situated in a Conservation 
>> Park. Some of those species are extremely wary and shy and are liable to 
>> react immediately to any movement or loud noises coming from the hide. 
>> Generally they dart back into the thick vegetation around the wetland and 
>> often do not emerge again for hours.
>> On this particular day, on entering the hide, I was confronted by a 
>> spectacle which I found quite disturbing and which has left me with a 
>> feeling of bitter disappointment and despair.
>> I won’t go into the finer details but suffice it to say I found a small 
>> group of photographers excitedly and vigorously attempting to photograph 
>> birds from the hide while using continuous and very loud call playback to 
>> encourage the birds to come closer. A very brief conversation indicated that 
>> the target species was the jacanas I had just seen fly past the hide, 
>> undoubtedly the same pair of jacanas which had been breeding with mixed 
>> success in that location for the past couple of years.
>> Rather than confront the photographers (I have learnt from experience that 
>> confrontation, gentle or assertive, is invariably met with aggression) and 
>> because I was being deafened by the volume of the call playback I 
>> immediately left the hide and returned home.
>> Over quite a number of years I have taken many thousands of bird-photos but 
>> I have never used call playback to attract my subjects; that doesn’t mean I 
>> am totally against the use of call playback but I do believe that, when it 
>> is used, it should be used very carefully and sparingly.
>> For that reason I offer for the consideration of all birders, including 
>> bird-photographers, the following suggestions for guidelines on using call 
>> playback as well as how to conduct oneself in a bird hide.
>> Call playback: (keeping in mind that the welfare of the bird is paramount)
>> - Never use call playback in areas where breeding and/or nesting is known or 
>> could reasonably be expected to be actually or likely to be happening;
>> - Use call playback sparingly in all locations and particularly in locations 
>> which receive high levels of birdwatching/photography traffic;
>> - Never use call playback in bird hides as these are locations specifically 
>> intended to cater for high levels of birdwatching/photography traffic and 
>> are invariably located in significant and, often, sensitive bird habitats;
>> - Stop using call playback when: the target bird has been identified; the 
>> bird appears upset; the bird becomes aggressive;
>> - Do not simply turn the call playback on and leave it running continuously;
>> - Use a moderate to low level of volume and not the maximum level the player 
>> equipment can manage;
>> - Never use “aggression” or “alarm” calls for playback.
>> Bird hides: (keeping in mind that the birds can see and hear the occupants 
>> of the hide)
>> - Avoid loud noise inside the hide, e.g., loud conversation and mechanical 
>> noises;
>> - Move around the hide quietly and slowly avoiding sudden and violent 
>> movements;
>> - Do not wave arms and/or camera lenses out of the viewing ports of the hide;
>> - Enter and exit the hide slowly and quietly.
>> I am sure other people can think of more possible “rules” but these are the 
>> ones I think to be most important.
>> I should also point out the following extract from the (Qld) Department of 
>> Environment and Resources (DERM) Operational Policy document on visitor 
>> management:
>> “Section 139 of the Protected Areas Management Regulation states that a 
>> person must not use a radio, tape recorder or other sound or amplifier 
>> system in a way that may cause unreasonable disturbance to a person or 
>> native animal in a protected area.”
>> The whole document can be found at 
>> "Penalties do apply to infringements and details of those penalties can be 
>> seen in the document “Proposed regulations under the Recreation Areas 
>> Management Act 2006”.
>> The document can be downloaded from this web page:
>> Note page 16, item 129. The penalty appears to be usually $175 but possibly 
>> up to $3750."
>> I should point out that I did not recognise the people involved in the 
>> incident described above and I am not in any way suggesting that the 
>> behaviour I witnessed is typical of that of all birdwatchers or 
>> bird-photographers.
>> Bob Inglis
>> Sandstone Point
>> Qld
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