Leave the Twitchers (was Night Parrot) alone :-)

To: "" <>
Subject: Leave the Twitchers (was Night Parrot) alone :-)
From: Frank O'Connor <>
Date: Wed, 12 Aug 2015 11:01:26 +0000
   (Probably time to change the subject heading ......? as this no longer
   has anything to do with Night Parrots ...)
   Tony Russell wrote : (referring to irresponsible birders / maybe
>Oh yes, and to our exclusion from Price Saltfield and the
difficulty of
>accessing Alice Springs, Mt Isa, Broome and most other sewage ponds
Not to
>mention the access restrictions placed on other Evaporation areas
around the

   I think that Tony has got it wrong about Broome, and perhaps the
   others? ...
   In the old days (early 1990s), there was only official access to the
   Broome sewage works from outside the fence. However, if people were
   working there, you could usually ask if you could come inside the
   fence, and permission was usually granted.  However, there weren't the
   high bunds that are now there, so with a scope it was relatively easy
   to scan all the ponds from outside the fence, and especially the
   overflow section at the back.  A few locals were given keys to the
   The change to access seemed to coincide with the concern about public
   liability. My understanding is that this is when keys were no longer
   given out. Then over the years the ponds expanded as Broome rapidly
   expanded, and it became more difficult to see many of the ponds.  I
   have never heard it mentioned that birders, and especially
   'irresponsible' birders or twitchers had anything to do with the
   There is still a track around the outside fence, and by standing on top
   of your vehicle (e.g. the tray of a ute) you can still see the better
   I believe that access to the Derby sewage ponds has a similar history.
   There are tracks outside the fence (at least the last time I was there
   about 5 years or so ago), and you can still walk around the overflow
   area out near the mudflats.  They did build a viewing platform for the
   main ponds, but I understand that this has now been removed, from my
   understanding because it was getting old and risked breaking, and
   because of public liability it was easier to remove it rather than
   repair it.
   There was a case at the Kununurra sewage ponds about 15 years ago.
   Birds Australia WA (as known at the time) with me as the author
   published a Birding Sites around Kununurra brochure, nominating the
   ponds as an excellent site to visit. Someone tied a chain to the gates
   and the back of their vehicle and pulled the gates down!  This was
   blamed on 'birders' and because of the brochure. There was never any
   evidence of this, and I would be totally staggered if a birder did
   this.  You can easily see the ponds from outside the fence.
   In Western Australia, it is quite difficult to access many of the
   lighthouses in the south west which tend to be good seawatching sites.
   Again, I believe this is due to public liability concerns rather than
   'irresponsible' birders, and definitely nothing to do with twitchers.
   Yes. I understand that people (mainly birders?) doing the wrong thing
   is the reason given for being denied access to the Price Saltfield near
   Adelaide, and Koonchera Sand Dunes / Goyder's Lagoon on the Birdsville
   Track.  But not by being 'irresponsible' birders or twitchers, but by
   being bad drivers and getting bogged necessitating the locals having to
   rescue them, and the locals getting fed up with this.  And I have heard
   the details of people (yes probably birders but were they twitchers?)
   trespassing to see the Red Goshawk at Mataranka.  And the group who
   visited the Princess Parrots a few years ago without getting the entry
   permit (but I heard that this group - or one of the groups - was an
   overseas bird tour company and not Australian 'twitchers').
   I am a twitcher. Number 6 in Australia I think.  I think of all the
   twitches that I have done. Black-headed Gull / Blue & White Flycatcher
   / Semipalmated Plover / Franklin's Gull / Red-throated Pipit, Rosy
   Starling / Lesser Black-backed Gull / Chinese Pond Heron / Red-rumped
   Swallow / Tricolored Grebe (all Broome), Fairy Pitta (Derby),
   Red-legged Crake (Whim Creek), Black-tailed Gull (Geraldton), Eurasian
   Wigeon (Carnarvon), Northern Pintail (Mandurah), Javan Pond Heron /
   Tricolored Grebe (Darwin), Laughing Gull / Slaty-backed Gull (Cairns /
   Cooktown), American Golden Plover (Sydney),  Stilt Sandpiper / Northern
   Shoveler (Werribee), Hudsonian Godwit (Price Saltfields), Forest
   Wagtail (Alice Springs), Cape Gannet (Portland), Red-billed Tropicbird
   (Lord Howe), Lesser Yellowlegs (Northern NSW), South Island Pied
   Oystercatcher (Ballina).  The only bird I can remember flying
   specifically because of my presence was the Chinese Pond Heron and
   probably the South Island Pied Oystercatcher, and the Northern Pintail
   swam behind reeds.  The crake walked 6 inches past my foot!  Too close
   to photograph. The RR Swallow flew over my head as I stood there. The
   Forest Wagtail walked two metres in front of me. The AG Plover and JP
   Heron landed less than 10 metres in front of me. Then there are all the
   birds on Cocos & Christmas Islands. Yes birds flush there, but they
   would do anyway as people walk past the trees or drive / walk along the
   roads. Twitchers are a very valuable source of income for these
   islands.  Twitching is mostly about finding a good site to view from
   and being patient waiting for the bird to show.  On Ashmore Reef we
   have walked through the grass and around the pisonia trees and some
   birds do flush, but that is the last thing you want.  You aim to get a
   good view of the bird. If it flushes you don't see what it is.
   So like Kevin, Tony P and others I get very offended when 'twitchers'
   always seem to be lumped in with 'irresponsible' birders. 9/10 on the
   'Satanic' scale!!! by one ignorant person (just behind poachers). I am
   sorry, but the general public are usually the worst offenders. Feeding
   bread to ducks, driving on beaches, letting their dogs chase the gulls
   and other birds ('they are only gulls so what is the problem? .....'),
   destroying sand dunes with their 4WDs, disturbing nests, bush bashing,
   ....  General birders are far worse than twitchers because they are
   always on the move and disturb many more birds.

   Frank O'Connor                          Birding WA
   Phone : (08) 9386 5694               Email : 


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