Brush Turkey - and RAOU Membership

To: <>, "'Graeme Stevens'" <>, "'Peter Shute'" <>, <>
Subject: Brush Turkey - and RAOU Membership
From: "Stephen Ambrose" <>
Date: Wed, 10 Jun 2020 11:08:49 +1000

Hi All,


It’s great to read stories about the “shining lights” from our birding days as youngsters.


My early mentors are a littler later still, going back to the early 1970s. And in a different state, Western Australia. The mentoring extended across two groups, the WA Group of the RAOU and the WA Naturalists Club.  I was very fortunate to have Dominic Serventy, Stephen Davies, Perry de Rebeira, Ian Rowley and Graeme Chapman as my birding mentors during my boyhood/teenage years.  A much later, but very significant mentor, was Peter Congreve, the 2nd warden of the Eyre Bird Observatory in the early 1980s. I owe a lot of the field skills that I acquired during my PhD to Peter, a very knowledgeable, unassuming and loyal companion who did not tolerate nonsense, but always made everyone feel welcome.


Stephen Ambrose

Ryde NSW



From: Birding-Aus <> On Behalf Of Greg & Val Clancy
Sent: 10 June 2020 10:08 AM
To: 'Graeme Stevens' <>; 'Peter Shute' <>;
Subject: Re: [Birding-Aus] Brush Turkey - and RAOU Membership




Your memories of early meetings of the RZS and RAOU have sparked some memories of my early meetings.  Mine were a little later than yours, being in the late 1960s.  I am not sure whether it was still the RZS and RAOU or the RAOU and the NSWFOC (NSW Field Ornithologists Club).  John Disney was the chair and the meetings were still rather formal affairs.  They were held at the Australian Museum.  I had met Arnold McGill and Fred Johnston on the mudflats at Quibray Bay at the southern end of Botany Bay.  They invited me to the meeting and I was very impressed to see Keith Hindwood there.  I did report a couple of sightings but I don’t think that the ‘gun’ birders were impressed but it could have been my shyness that made me a little uncomfortable.  I came to know John Disney quite well as we worked together, with Bill Lane, proof-reading the ‘Bird Bander’ (later’Corella’) journal.


Greg Clancy


From: Birding-Aus <> On Behalf Of Graeme Stevens
Sent: Tuesday, June 9, 2020 3:48 PM
To: Peter Shute <m("","Peter.Shute");">>; m("","birding-aus");">
Subject: Re: [Birding-Aus] Brush Turkey - and RAOU Membership



Being a callow youth at the time I can only guess (others on list may have a view) but at least in Sydney, meetings were held under the joint auspices of the Royal Zoological Society and Royal Australasian Ornithologists Union - i.e. they did operate under Royal patronage and membership was valued. I have no idea what happened in Melbourne but monthly meetings were pretty serious affairs in Sydney with some of the "names" of the day all in attendance like Norm Chaffer, Alec Chisholm etc.

My mother used to take me in to Bulls Chambers in Martin Place (which was the office of RZS I think) and we would sit up the back very quietly while I was enthralled with the evening's presentation, latest photography and sightings. We were officially "visitors" when we signed the attendance register.

It was always run as a very formal meeting with a Chairman, Treasurer's report, formal presentations and any other business etc. This was of course in pre digital times and not all that long after the end of WW2 where communication was telephone or typed or handwritten mail only, so it was an evening of valued exchange and update I believe - and not without occasional warm debate if there was a disputed sighting record! - there was nothing to confirm any record other than the Observer's "field cred."

Keith Hindwood was the elected President and Chairman at a point and was also Honorary Ornithologist at the Australian Museum.

There was a slight murmur of shock around the room when Keith nominated a mere boy for membership from the Chair (seconded by Jack Waterhouse as I recall, who was a neighbour and keen photographer). Given Keith's standing there was happily no dissent and no "nays" when the vote was taken - and so it came to pass.


So in summary Peter it was just a somewhat exclusive organisation in those far off days and while interesting to recall,  we now need all the members and the loudest voices for birds and conservation we can get so more power to Birdlife? Anyone who cares will have figured out by now this is my 75th year - body seems to recognise that even if the birding mentality and thrill of the field work still says 25!!


Good birding to all - especially when borders come down and other countries beckon.


Graeme Stevens



Why did they require nomination for membership?

Peter Shute

Graeme Stevens wrote:
> BTW I was excited to buy my copy of Keith Hindwood and Arnold McGills' book the day it was announced at a joint RZS  and RAOU (now Birdlife) meeting for 12 shillings and sixpence autographed by both authors. I was 13 and greatly privileged to be mentored by Keith. He nominated me for membership of the RAOU and yes in those ancient times one had to be nominated and seconded for membership!

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