Public nest announcements

To: "" <>
Subject: Public nest announcements
From: Chris Watson <>
Date: Mon, 19 Sep 2016 23:45:51 +0000
G’day all,

This post might be interpreted as vaguely rebarbative but I’m genuinely
interested in having this discussion.

After posting about some forthcoming trips to see Letter-winged Kites, I,
and by extension Mark Carter who organised the trips I would be running,
received what amounted to an uninformed public dressing down from a
researcher who suggested that the proposed trips posed a risk to the
welfare and nesting success of the birds. This public response was made
without contacting us beforehand to establish our own understanding of the
relevant issues and ignored the fact that the ethical parameters of the
trips were clearly and prominently outlined in my post.

I thought it was completely uncalled for but… such is life in the online

It left us in a, “damned if you do, damned if you don’t” situation in which
we decided the only recourse was the prompt cancellation of the trips so
the finger could not be pointed at us in the event that any nests did fail,
for any reason.

Fast-forward a couple of months however, and it’s difficult not to be
perturbed by the double-standard on show. At the time of my post, the
breeding sites were a poorly-kept secret already. They are now completely
public. Nests have been visited by, conservatively, dozens of birdwatchers
and photographers and a cursory look through online birding groups reveals
hundreds of images from the sites, many of them with locations very
specifically identified or identifiable. Without doubt, there are pictures
online which have been taken from within 30 metres of an active nest when I
was publicly warned to remain a minimum of 300m distant from any nesting
activity. A quick look through public eBird lists from the region shows
people submitting annotated lists, detailing nesting activity at specific

All of this is occurring on publicly viewable sites and social media
accounts – where’s the disapprobation now?

When it was two trained zoologists, with the requisite wildlife permits,
suggesting showing these amazing birds to people under supervision that
would ensure the birds’ welfare was prioritised, we were admonished for our
perceived lack of consideration.

Why is the entire birding community, which is usually red-hot in scotching
the publicising of nest sites for Grey Falcon, Princess Parrot, etc, now
complicit in the tacit approval of this blatant show-casing of specific
breeding sites for a nationally endangered bird in such an accessible

I’m prepared for many to write this off as sour grapes on my part but it’s
also a serious question.

Why are we letting this happen?


Chris Watson
*Mob - 0419 358 942*
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