Yellow Bittern at North Lakes

To: "'Colin R'" <>, <>
Subject: Yellow Bittern at North Lakes
From: "Sandra Gallienne" <>
Date: Mon, 14 Jul 2014 07:51:04 +1000
What makes you people think that you have the right to criticise and falsely
accuse me on a public forum?  Do I have warts on my nose and a wear a pointy
black hat - should I perhaps be burnt at the stake?   I'm actually very glad
the bird returned to the original site and put on such a good performance
for you all and that you were able to obtain lovely photographs of it.  I'm
not against photographers nor am I trying to stir up trouble as some of you
allege, I take photos too, as I'm sure you can see if any of you read the
Recent Lists on the ebird website.  

I VOLUNTEER hours of my time as a Birdline Moderator to publish your reports
as quickly as possible to enable you all to go out and see these rarities.
Then I have to index all your sightings to the birdata atlas - something
which takes me literally hours attempting to locate your obscure sites on
Whereis or Google Earth - all so that atlas data can be as accurate as
possible, all because you people don't give precise information and take for
granted the work that goes on behind the scenes to enhance YOUR enjoyment of
birding.  I often get requests to help identify photographs of obscure birds
which I often have to check out online or in HANZAB, something I willingly
do, to help newer birders with their passion - ALL AT NO COST TO ANYONE.  

Now, in answer to some of your accusations, I state the following:

I can provide a name of the eyewitness to whom I spoke as well as the name
of another person who sent an email to me about the trespassing on the golf
course.   Below is the body of that email:

"I have just been up to North Lakes to see "the BIRD". ... When I arrived I
was told that it was now showing over on the lagoon at the golf course just
across the road. On walking over that way I saw a number of people looking
at the bittern from within the golf course boundaries. Stupidly, without
thinking I joined the group and had a look at it. We were soon approached by
the course ranger and asked to leave and not to come on the course without
getting permission. And rightly so. There were no golfers around when I was
there and nor did we attempt to walk near the greens etc, but we should not
have been there. Not only is it a private course but it can be very
dangerous as golf balls strikes have been known to kill people.

So I am just wondering if you could get a note out to other birders to not
encroach on the golf course. I don't want other birders (like our little
group) giving birders in general a black mark. 

Sorry about this but I feel compelled to get the message out as soon as

However, at this point I don't believe it would make any difference to the
current hysteria to name them.  

The eyewitness to whom I spoke said he didn't know the names of the
photographers he alleges he saw chase and flush the bird and to involve him
at this stage would only have another birder maligned.  I believe also that
through the chain of events that occurred before I made my birding-aus post
which involved phone calls with at least 3 people, that I may have
misunderstood the initial part of the chain of events explained to me by
this witness that involved the moving on of the bird from the original site
to the golf course.  However, this does not alter the fact that the bird was
later flushed from the golf course.

I also have some emails from a BQ member calling for calm on this issue and
confirming my statement that there was an eyewitness who saw what I have
claimed.  These are below:

First email:
"Mike has been to North Lakes this morning and the Yellow Bittern has
returned to its original location. (he has just phoned in his report) There
are plenty of birdos there getting wonderful shots without disturbing the
bird at all.  They all seem to be behaving themselves.
The story of some "enthusiastic" birdos flushing the bird several times
yesterday have been confirmed, but these birdos were not known to a BQ
member that was there yesterday.

Lindy West"

Second email: 
Calm down children.
The latest in the Yellow Bittern saga is that the bird has been reliable
reported as leaving the pond at Wallaroo Circuit WITHOUT harassment by
However there is NO doubt that (unknown) photographers followed it onto the
golf course and their "pushy" actions there caused it to flush at least
The bird has now returned to its home (of possibly two years or more
according to local residents).

Watch this space.

Mike West"

There is also a claim being made by two people present at the site, Jim
Sneddon & Nicolette Thompson, that the bird was not seen at the Wallaroo
Circuit site that morning.
However, there have been two lists entered onto ebird by two different
observers from Friday morning at two different starting times 0800 and 1000,
that both record the Yellow Bittern at the lagoon as well as one at 0810
that only recorded the Australian Little Bittern so I don't know at what
time the bird left the Lagoon and went to the golf course but it appears
from these lists that in fact, it was present at the Lagoon despite their
claims to the contrary.

It seems that my intended message that the bird had left the site and its
whereabouts were unknown was unappreciated by you lot.  However, if you'd
all attended the site and later found out that the Birdline Moderators had
known that the bird had left and NOT alerted you to the fact, there would
still be sour comments made.  It is your good fortune that the bird has

I also point out that I am not, have not and will not be asking for anyone
to be named and shamed and I hope the above information is enough to settle
the disgruntlement that you people seem to feel entitled to express and
share publicly (also known as bullying) with complete disregard to the
humiliation and damage you do to other's reputations.

In the words of the wise BQ member above - CALM DOWN CHILDREN.

Sandra Gallienne


-----Original Message-----
From: Birding-Aus  On Behalf Of
Colin R
Sent: Sunday, 13 July 2014 6:31 PM
Subject: Yellow Bittern at North Lakes

Well said Nicci

I wasn't there on Friday but I was on Saturday morning from dawn until
8.30am or thereabouts. I hadn't read Ms Gallienne's 'instruction' at that
time, but it was a topic of discussion on site. I later met a birder offsite
who had not gone to North Lakes because of her 'directions'!

My post of Saturday on Eremaea which described the group of birders on site
that morning has been removed. I have requested an explanation for that.

All in all the birders and photographers who were present on Saturday
morning were, as I said in my 'sighting' report "quiet and respectful'
and the bird/s completely undisturbed - and, I understand from someone who
was present on Friday, a similar situation was experienced that morning too
- as the numerous reports since have also described.  
I, too, want to know how Ms Gallienne feels she has the authority to
instruct birders on their behaviour and, or, whether they should visit a

The claims of damaged vegetation, disturbed birds and bad behaviour by
photographers are causing unnecessary grief and recrimination and driving a
split in the birding community in SE Qld - even drawing comments from people
interstate, for God's sake, who aren't here and don't know the individuals

If this is really happening - provide proof. Otherwise stop throwing it
around and move on. Life is too short.


On Sun, Jul 13, 2014, at 04:23 PM, Nicolette Thompson wrote:
> I was one of the birders at North Lakes on Friday.  I saw the email 
> from Sandra Gallienne when I arrived home last night and immediately 
> let her know that her account of the day was not based on fact.  I did 
> this in the hope that she would retract her statement and thus avoid 
> the usual acrimonious emails.  She has neither done this nor responded 
> to me.
> On Friday morning the Yellow Bittern was not at the lake where Paul 
> had seen it.  When I and a friend arrived we met two birders who had 
> been there since early morning and who had not seen the bird. It was 
> not FLUSHED by birders or photographers.  It simply was not there.  I 
> did speak to a few folk who had left the footpaths contrary to Paul's 
> request. Some moved back immediately and only a couple remained where 
> they were.  There are always a couple of people in any group to whom 
> any considerations don't apply, aren't there?  Anyway they didn't 
> flush or chase the bird as it wasn't there.  The waterfowl were 
> foraging or loafing in and around the lake and were in no way 
> perturbed by the dozen or so watchers plus various bikers, walkers and 
> dog walkers who I guess are regulars in the area.
> Late morning a gentleman came back to the lake to let us know that the 
> YB was across the road at the Golf Club. There was no great rush 
> across.  As the message spread folk walked across to the pond to watch 
> or photograph the bird.  Eventually officials from the Gold Club came 
> to talk to us because the pond was in the line of fire from the 
> golfers and it was a safety issue.
> They were very interested once they knew what we were doing.  After a 
> discussion about safety issues versus our interests they were going to 
> work on  some management strategies for the following day so that both 
> could be satisfied.  We left at midday, so I can't comment on anything 
> that happened after that .
> Sadly, Sandra's email has caused a lot of angst and unnecessary 
> back-biting on this forum.
> I would also like to know on what grounds Sandra has given herself the 
> authority to tell us that 'birders are now asked to refrain from 
> visiting this site'
> Nicci Thompson
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  Colin Reid
So many birds, so little time......

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