We have never met. I only know you through your birding activities.
You have shared with us a long list of negative things about your recent life.
Clearly there are positives. You are obviously very talented in a number of
areas, including birding. You are obviously very industrious and have made
important contributions, in particular to birding in your home state. These
cannot be taken from you. If you really enjoy birding, then you will have much
to offer in coming years.
With respect to your VicTwitch attempt. Your honestly achieved score still
remains as your actual score. If you want to attempt to better that at some
time in the future, then you should - perhaps when you get your licence back.
From: Birding-Aus On Behalf Of
Sent: Thursday, 2 April 2015 6:49 PM
To: James Mustafa Jazz Orchestra
Subject: Re: [Birding-Aus] (no subject)
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.
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
> 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
> 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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