(no subject)

To: James Mustafa Jazz Orchestra <>
Subject: (no subject)
From: Peter Shute <>
Date: Thu, 2 Apr 2015 18:48:32 +1100
Thank you for posting that and putting an end to the matter James. You must 
feel like crap right now, but hopefully things will get better from here on.

Peter Shute

Sent from my iPad

> On 2 Apr 2015, at 5:03 pm, James Mustafa Jazz Orchestra 
> <> wrote:
> To the Birding Community,
> My name is James Mustafa and I am birder, musician and the initial founder
> of both the Victorian Birders and Australian Twitchers Facebook Groups.
> Most of you know me from either these forums or through my 2014 VicTwitch
> endeavour where I attempted to set a new record for the amount of bird
> species seen within a single year.  Though it has been over a week since
> this was revealed, I wish to confess that my record attempt final tally is
> false.  As has been pointed out “They say the first rule of birding is
> admitting when you made a mistake” and I have certainly made mistakes over
> the past few months.
> The honest truth is that I convinced myself that if I was to set my new
> record, climb up the twitchers ladder, so to speak, that all my problems
> would disappear. This is an obvious ignorant and immature discernment, but
> I somehow managed to believe it anyway. We all have issues, dramas and
> problems in our lives – this is just a fact of human existence. I do not
> wish to bore you all with mine, but instead, offer up some kind of
> explanation no matter how unacceptable it may be.
> Birding to most of us seems to be an escape from our daily existence, an
> escape from the reality that can often tie us down. For me, that statement
> could not be more accurate as it was because of my ‘real world’ that I
> undertook the foolish challenge of undergoing a big year so unprepared and
> late in the year (April).
> It all basically started when I was falsely accused for a severe crime
> against a fellow student at Monash University where I study. I am not at
> liberty to share exactly what that was but I did put my studies on
> suspension and threatened my position at the institute and in the wider
> music community. Though it was generally known that the claims were
> fabricated, it took over 8 months for my name to be cleared and litigant to
> be expelled from the university. During this period (and extended), I was
> under severe counselling that I sometimes wonder whether it did more good
> than bad. Every time I felt like I was getting through it, I had to drag
> myself into a stranger’s office to bring up the entire trauma for a quick
> hour chat.
> During this investigation, I became sternly detached from my music world.
> As the rumours flew around, it was hard to know who knew what and thought
> what about myself. This cost me many relationships, work opportunities and
> social acceptance. It was extremely hard to get back into a scene where the
> attack had happened. Thankfully, I can report that this gradually been on
> the mend. I believe this why I suddenly went from your standard
> recreational birding type to an obsessive listing maniac. Ultimately, it
> was a means of coping.
> Unfortunately, even though I had become lost in my big year birding world –
> life seemed to continue a downhill spiral from there. After driving over
> 80,000km around the state, I eventually lost my licence in October for
> speeding whilst on route to twitch a bird. I then completed the remaining
> three months of 2014 by hitching rides, spending literally hundreds of
> dollars on taxis/public transport, driving illegally and inconveniencing my
> friends and family. I then failed two subjects at university despite
> getting what seemed like every possibly special consideration option that
> faculty could provide given the issues from April.
> During the middle of the year, I received an abusive email from a member of
> the birding community that I had, until that moment, quite admired. They
> basically tore strips off me unprovoked for a sighting I claimed whilst sea
> watching. Until this point, the birding community had seemed like a really
> accepting place of warm nature loving individuals. Even though I had spent
> over 50 days sea watching during last year, this individual refused to
> accept that I would have the ability to identify any species. I found this
> experience really disheartening and damaging and had always considered
> myself a very, very careful ticker. So much so, I was only adding birds to
> my VicTwitch on clear visual alone – not on song.
> As the year began to wind down, I got fired from a band for missing too
> many gigs as I was almost always away on a pelagic or birding trip. Almost
> straight after that, my binoculars were smashed. I managed to borrow a
> friends pair for the next two months as mine were repaired. Given my luck,
> I foolishly also managed to damage this pair – forever souring what had
> been a really fantastic friendship.
> The chase, the twitch and the record seemed to be the only thing that kept
> me going. I’d pretend none of my other life bullshit was happening and
> drive over night to Mallacoota to dip on a miss-identified Striated Heron
> by local boatmen. As I said, I had convinced myself subconsciously that if
> I beat the VicTwitch record and achieved a commendable number, everything
> would be ok and that somehow, that would help me to get through everything
> else. No matter what, it seemed that twitching and this record was my
> sanctuary away from all my other problems – as I imagine this can be for
> everyone else at times also.
> So when I was so close to my goal I could pretty much taste it, I became
> desperate, panicked and in an ultimate moment of weakness - hoaxed the
> Melbourne House Crow of 2014.
> To you all, I am so so aware that this is truly the ultimate birding crime.
> It was more than just “the wrong thing to do”, it was selfish, desperate
> and went against everything I had held high in the birding world ethically.
> I’d like to think that I’m better than that and that I’d never commit crime
> like this, but I guess that turned out to be false.
> I apologise so honestly and with anxiety to how this may be received. I am
> sorry for those that I have affected and sorry for the mess I have made.
> However, I feel like the only way to move forward is too publically
> acknowledge my mistakes, admit to playing dirty and trying to move on and
> get back to why we all go birding in the first place. This is my own
> name-and-shame if you will. Ultimately, this entire episode is of my own
> doing. What a waste it all now seems. Thousands of dollars down the drain
> and a million memories tainted.
> It is because of this that I publically renounce my 2014 VicTwitch record
> completely. I have really shamed and discredited that entire 365 day
> effort, so I believe that it is best to have it expunged. I am also
> deciding to step down as the manager of the Australian Twitchers and
> Victorian Birders Facebook groups. I will leave these groups in the very
> capable hands of people such as Kevin Bartram, Scott Baker, Rohan Clarke,
> Tony Palliser, Tim Bawden, Jeff Davies and Owen Lishmund. From now on, I
> will be taking a back seat in the world of Australian birding and will take
> the time to get back into the bush with my bins and camera to have some
> fun.
> At the end of the day, I want to say that we all make mistakes. My first
> mistake was last year, but my biggest mistake was not sharing this all
> sooner. This community and world really does mean a lot to me and I know
> it’s going to take a lot of time, but I hope this is something we can all
> move on from. I am going to treat this as my own Blue-fronted Fig Parrot
> scenario and hope to eventually come back from this debacle. I hope you all
> can understand my actions, perhaps not accept or forgive, but at least
> understand so that we can all move forward.
> Yours truthfully and honestly,
> James Mustafa
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