Alice Springs birding contacts and sewage ponds access

To: Christopher Watson <>
Subject: Alice Springs birding contacts and sewage ponds access
From: David Stowe <>
Date: Tue, 18 Jun 2013 21:43:03 +1000
Well written and some excellent points there Chris!

Sydney birders will no doubt remember fondly and sadly the McGraths Hill 
Sewarage treatment works that is no longer accessible to birders. Cumberland 
Bird Observers Club did alot of work trying to keep access to no avail, because 
at the end of the day it becomes too hard for a business to justify allowing 
the public in.

I also agree that we can all so easily make small gestures that make landowners 
etc happy with their decision to allow birders in. 
Has anyone been to Mt Lyndhurst station to see the Chestnut-breasted Whiteface? 
Why not email or call Bill after you have done so and even send him a picture?
The list could go on and on - Just one small example of saying thanks rather 
than feeling it is our "right" to be there.

I for one thank you guys for making such an effort to help other birders out 
when visiting the amazing red centre. The list below shows just how much you 
have done.


Dave Stowe

On 18/06/2013, at 6:14 PM, Christopher Watson <> wrote:

> G'day birders,
> [Before I get into the rest of this post, for those keeping track, the
> Forest Wagtail is still being seen although slightly less frequently.]
> In the spirit of give and take, I'd like to offer you something at the same
> time as making two small requests.
> Firstly, with Adelaide birders recently losing access to some of their
> premier shorebird sites (the salt works), it seems like a good time to ask
> anyone visiting commercial or industrial sites such as salt works or sewage
> treatment plants, to consider the local birding community that your
> behaviour might impact upon.
> A few recent events in Alice Springs, none involving local birders, have
> strained the relationship between the local water authority and the birding
> community. There seem to be some birders who possess an irrational sense of
> entitlement to access at these sites.
> Recently, one visiting birder took the incomprehensible step of approaching
> the media and, in their own words, kicking up a fuss until access could be
> arranged - The
> most likely outcome of this approach is that management at the water
> authority will decide that providing birding access is an unjustifiable
> drain on resources, generates nothing but bad publicity and will lock
> birders out for good. This would be a tragedy for local birders, future
> visitors, and the regular shorebird monitoring that is conducted at the
> ponds. You may not intend to visit Alice Springs again, but the bridges you
> are burning here are other peoples', not your own.
> Ideally, it'd be better to build the relationship with sewage facility
> operators to the point that there is good publicity or recognition for
> them, rather than having them see birders as only a source of difficulties
> and negativity; this is how it stands now. These organisations are under no
> obligation to permit birdwatching access, we're a drain on their resources,
> we're a source of negative interactions with their staff, we're a potential
> liability to their operations, and in many cases we provide nothing in
> return. Birders are a burden and a liability for what is otherwise a fairly
> straightforward industrial business - why would they persevere with this
> relationship if all we do is make it harder for them?
> It falls to us to show them appreciation rather than aggravation, and make
> sure that they see maintaining a relationship with the birding community as
> a worthwhile effort to commit resources to.
> So my second request is this; when you visit a sewage treatment plant,
> private wetland, salt works, mine-site or any other such spot for birding,
> find out the manager(s) of the organisation responsible for its running,
> and write them a letter of thanks. Write a letter, write an email, put a
> nice message or photo on their Twitter feed or their Facebook page - if
> possible do all of these things. Let them know how much you enjoyed your
> visit, tell them about rare or interesting birds you saw, even if you think
> they couldn't care less. Let their managers read* fan mail* instead of *hate
> mail*. Tell them how much you value being able to visit such sites, and how
> much potential their site has to contribute to science through shorebird
> surveys and water bird monitoring. Make sure you acknowledge them in any
> publications or newsletters you put together resulting from observations at
> their facility. Whether it's your local patch, or whether you're visiting a
> facility interstate, just take two minutes to thank the group that
> maintains the birding access. If you're a traveler, you could have a
> "thank-you" email template saved on your laptop ready to go whenever you
> visit a new spot. It doesn't take much, but it makes a world of difference
> to the people who run these places to have incoming kudos rather than a
> daily barrage of disparaging quibbles about inductions, keys, vehicle
> access restrictions, and safety requirements.
> ...and here's what I offer in return. Many members of the Alice Springs
> birding community have kindly put their hands up to have their contact
> details listed, should you ever visit Alice Springs and be interested in
> accessing the ponds. The list that follows is not a list of guides, and
> neither is it a list of people who can provide you with a key or access to
> the ponds, but they can assist you in your dealings with Power and Water
> Corporation, and may be able to provide a very simple answer to a question
> that might take some time to find on the PWC website. You still need to
> organise your induction *well in advance* of your visit, and you still need
> to lodge your indemnity form before getting a key - but if you have any
> difficulties or questions, if there are any hitches or delays, don't get
> angry, keep your hair on, and ring or email one of us!
> Print this out, stick it in your field guide or binocular case, bung it in
> your glove box or tape it to your thermos. Email it to your mates, print it
> in your newsletter, and spread it as far as you can. The Alice Springs
> birding mob are a pretty friendly lot, and we're always happy to be
> contacted by visitors who need advice on sewage ponds access especially if
> it avoids any potential angst with Power & Water. We're just trying to hang
> on to the access privileges as they stand.
> Also, between us all, we know a thing or two about the local birds. So here
> it is;
> Alice Springs Field Naturalists Club - website
> It's a good idea to check this site BEFORE you head up to Alice. A bunch of
> active birders are members, and the website is being rebuilt to include
> some up to date bird info. The club meets on the second Wednesday of each
> month at 7pm on the campus of Charles Darwin University and visitors are
> encouraged to come along.
> Birds Central - website
> This is my website and I have linked here to the page that deals
> specifically with the sewage ponds. It took me a lot of time - please read
> it... before you come. Don't discover that it exists after you arrive.
> Desertlife - website
> Mark Carter's website containing his contact details as well as bird and
> other wildlife news.
> Richard Waring's Birds of Australia - website
> Despite the title, Richard is a local resident so much of his birding is
> done around Central Australia. Richard updates his blog quite regularly and
> he travels widely, so checking his site will give you a good idea of what's
> about.
> Barb Gilfedder - Seasoned local birder and president of the Alice Springs
> Field Naturalists Club
> Email - 
> Pete Nunn - brilliant photographer and a keen bird observer and researcher.
> Email - 
> Anthony Molyneux - Expert arid zone zoologist and desert expeditioner.
> Email - 
> Mark Carter - Doyen of desert birders and professional zoologist resident
> (mostly) in Alice Springs.
> Email - 
> Chris Pavey - Senior scientist and walking Centralian birdpedia.
> Mobile - 0435 878 320
> Email - 
> Richard Waring - Local bird photographer extraordinaire, and constantly
> traveling wilbury.
> Mobile - 0457 057 869
> Email - 
> Andrew Crouch - Local birder and active field nats member, Andrew is only
> contactable on weekends.
> Email - 
> Will Cormack - Elder statesman of Alice Springs birding, keeper of the
> longest running record of observations at the Alice Springs ponds, and
> venerated custodian of "The" Forest Wagtail.
> Email - 
> Website -
> Chris Watson - Ratbag, pompous git, can't tell a thornbill from a
> fairy-wren.
> Mobile - 0419 358 942
> Email - 
> So there you go, if you're having trouble working out how to plan your
> birding at the Alice ponds and one of the above people or sites can't help
> out, I'll eat my hat. If you're headed up our way, organise your induction
> well in advance, and get in touch if you hit any snags.
> Thanks and happy birding,
> Chris Watson (in consultation with the above-named.)
> -- 
> *Central Australian birding resource*
> *Guiding, tips, and site information **from Alice Springs*
> *Mob - 0419 358 942*
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