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Thread: Birds and pishing, re Mangrove Pitta

  1. #1

    Default Birds and pishing, re Mangrove Pitta

    Hello,

    just a note (from an individual who witnessed questionable practices at Pasir Ris Park) to highlight the acts of some so-called nature photographers. I'd hope it's not anyone active here.

    Birders Behaving Badly « G33k5p34k

    excerpt: "The last straw came, however, when the pitta finally flew off deeper into the mangrove, whereupon several of the birders present took the opportunity to leap off the boardwalk and onto the sandy mangrove substrate to chase after the bird. In addition to that, our erstwhile pisher whipped out his iPhone and began playing back a recording of the mangrove pitta’s call in an attempt to draw the bird out of the dense mangrove forest and out into the open. Like pishing, call playback also has the effect of luring out birds, though in this case it’s mainly due to the fact that birds tend to be territorial and playing back the call of another individual of the same species fools the bird into thinking another individual is present and is contesting its territory. This, too, has the unwanted side effect of placing the bird under unnecessary amounts of stress and duress since defending one’s territory is quite a taxing task for the bird and may lead to birds abandoning their territories if they lose the challenge. Indeed, if the bird happens to be nesting, playing back the call of another individual may sometimes lead to birds abandoning their nests and aborting their breeding cycles if the bird thinks the playback is a more dominant or aggressive individual. This is particularly problematic for slow-breeding species like the pittas and using call playbacks to draw pittas out may have the opposite effect of chasing the bird away from the site. All this, of course, on top of the fact that members of the public are generally not supposed to stray off the boardwalk in the mangrove areas for fear that their trampling may accidentally damage the mangrove trees or negatively affect the mangrove fauna."

  2. #2
    Senior Member cichlid's Avatar
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    Default Re: Birds and pishing, re Mangrove Pitta

    Hi

    I was there yesterday and walked past the group of photogs.

    Are you the biologist?

  3. #3

    Default Re: Birds and pishing, re Mangrove Pitta

    Alamak.....
    You should remove the watermark on your picture.
    People can identify you Uncle DT.

  4. #4

    Default Re: Birds and pishing, re Mangrove Pitta

    Yeah, I was the biology student there yesterday

  5. #5

    Default Re: Birds and pishing, re Mangrove Pitta

    I know those 2 guys.
    Meet them quite a number of times in the field.

  6. #6

    Default Re: Birds and pishing, re Mangrove Pitta

    We should all better appreciate the fact that there are more of us today who appreciate and value these natural assets we have.

    In the 1980s birders were viewed with suspicion and ridicule. Bird photography the preserve of the privileged. Back then there were no boardwalks and facilities like what we have today. We have them now simply because more people are interested in nature and birds. And no, the boardwalks and facilities were not made possible by students or scientists. They were made possible by greater public interest and money (we also need to understand where this money comes from. Not from the students and scientists I think).

    So those amongst us who do bird-watch and photograph birds should be a lot more circumspect in our criticisms. Its a tough topic and short of directly injuring a bird, the line is difficult to draw. Nothing is worse than a sanctimonious pretender who questions everyone else with a different field of interest and goal in nature. The converse must be that their own conduct, focus and level of interest would be the clearly better, if not perfect, balance.

    We all do chase birds to some extent. We all do intrude on their environment (err isn't it our environment too??) and impose ourselves. The boardwalk? Well, strictly speaking it is of no relevance to the bird. So are we then attributing a man-made "parameter" to the bird's preference or interests? Evidence?

    We can argue till the cows come home but it would be much better to spend that time encouraging and expanding on our common interest instead of setting rules and guidelines at a level where no clear answer is available.

  7. #7

    Default Re: Birds and pishing, re Mangrove Pitta

    I fully agree with Varanus. To draw the line and dictate what should be done or not is not within just us. But for sure, inserting bottle into the woodpecker nest, spraying paint on the nest, cement up the nesting hole and chopping off plants and flowers that blocked your views are unwanted and undesirable behaviors.

    I happened to be there yesterday morning and saw those people in the mangroves too. What more they moved even deeper into the mangroves. There is not much I can say really. I then decided to go for other birds, then, along my way, I've overheard one of the National Park officer telling his men to inform those people not to go into the mangroves and that they should not go beyond the boardwalk. Obviously in this case, there is a reason why the boardwalk is built, it is for public to walk on understanding that at all times we should not go off the boardwalk for whatever reason, I believe this is the boundary. The same applies for Lower Peirce Reservoir and other "protected area", if I may use the word as those places are not REALLY "wild" or "virgin" forests/swamps, which don't have the same level of playing fields.
    Last edited by Jet Lim; 27th January 2012 at 08:19 PM.

  8. #8
    Member limmick's Avatar
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    Default Re: Birds and pishing, re Mangrove Pitta

    Let He Who Is Without Sin Cast The First Stone...

    As bird watchers and bird photographers I think I can say that we are all guilty of some level of "mis-conduct" from time to time. We each probably have our own self-imposed standards of "ethics" or right-from-wrong which we individually try to maintain in pursuing our hobby.. although there are also probably some areas of definate "NO-NOs" which most of us would agree should not be crossed eg. physically harming the subjects, clearing around nesting areas etc..

    If one has stepped around a tree/bush etc - which caused the bird to fly away..
    If one has followed after a bird which has flown away to a further perch - causing it to fly even further away..
    If one has pushed aside some foliage/vegetation/branch..

    in order to get a better view/shot of a bird - are all these not actions which may/are "stressing" the bird to a certain extent already ?

    so then where is the line to be drawn ?

    playing of calls, using flash (full ? fill ? what EXACT level of flash ?), feeding ???

    From the American Code of Birding Ethics (Principles of Birding Ethics | About the American Birding Association | American Birding Association)

    1 (b).. Limit the use of recordings and other methods of attracting birds, and never use such methods in heavily birded areas, or for attracting any species that is Threatened, Endangered, or of Special Concern, or is rare in your local area

    .. Use artificial light sparingly for filming or photography, especially for close-ups.

    3. Ensure that feeders, nest structures, and other artificial bird environments are safe.

    So the American "standard" is not against the use of recordings, flash or feeding.. but to limit their use.. to me personally it is to exercise some common sense and not be excessive in such areas.. to echo varanus - let each of us maintain our own personal level of conduct but not impose our "own" standards on others thinking these to be THE standards which all should abide by.. or be overly harsh on others when we are ALL guilty in various degrees at different times..

  9. #9

    Default Re: Birds and pishing, re Mangrove Pitta

    Thanks for sharing this article, raising general public's awareness.

    Btw, also thanks for sharing the location of the rare, elusive, critically endangered mangrove pitta. I'm sure it will attract more nature lovers to head there to appreciate it's beauty. Will be lifer for many of us.

  10. #10

    Default Re: Birds and pishing, re Mangrove Pitta

    I would like, at this point, to express in as polite a manner as possible my disagreement with the general sentiment on this thread. In fact, I'm quite appalled by the sort of hypocrisy and fallacious postmodernisms being bandied about so flippantly and freely and it greatly aggrieves me to see such views seemingly being held in wide acceptance.

    But perhaps the comment I take most umbrage with, and the one most culpable of spreading confusion insofar as this thread is concerned, is the comment by Varanus. I, for one, am fascinated by how an appeal to history and talking about how birding used to be very much frowned upon can actually be used to justify the unfettered and willy nilly devil-may-care attitude of bird photographers. Sure, no one is denying that birding might not have enjoyed the same status it now possesses, but to assert then that that should in any way legitimise a free-for-all is baseless and smacks of a similar argument bandied about by a political party that shall go unnamed here in a recent major national event. Just because something is in the middle of a period of boom or progress does not mean that the progress should not be monitored or regulated, and this fallacy is precisely the foundation for every financial crisis we've experienced since the 1700s.

    Varanus then goes on to draw a peculiar bifurcation between that of the interests of 'the general public' and 'students and scientists', as if there actually exists such a dichotomy that necessarily excludes one from the other both in terms of objectives and in terms of actions. Furthermore, Varanus alleges based on this supposed dichotomy that one group seems to be, with sanctimonious intent, projecting their necessarily antagonistic perspectives and opinions by virtue of this dichotomy on the other, and that this is in effect is unjustified since public areas are necessarily built for public consumption rather than merely for scientists and students to autocratically impose their whims and fancies on the general populace. I think we can now quite easily see what's oh so very wrong with this argument. By assuming that such a dichotomy exists and by identifying his own personal interests with the interests of the status quo (the general public), Varanus now possess the full liberty to mischaracterise those whom be perceives to be antagonistic to his, and by extension, the rest of the populace's cause. This is, of course, characteristic of a strawman fallacy, where the views of another group are intentionally misrepresented for the purposes of advancing an agenda and let's face it, Varanus should have known better. Indeed, I would venture to say that the root cause of this entire folly lies in the assumption of the dichotomy in the first place. Cast in that highly polarised light, clearly a minority cannot hope to justifiably impose their ostensible moral superiority on the majority. By assuming the existence of this bifurcation of interests, this also allows Varanus and subsequent commenters to assert that the difference is a matter of perspective and, drawing on the ideas of postmodernity, therefore assert that all interpretations are based on the fundamental truth and that neither perspective can assert greater legitimacy over the other. This opens up a remarkable horror of competing interpretations, a vast parallel universe of moral relativism wherein a great diversity of 'ethical' perspectives, even contradictory ones, can be tolerated and allowed to proliferate with reckless abandon with no one perspective being able to critique or impinge upon another. I therefore have no right to criticise you, and you have no right to criticise me (although this hypocrisy has very rapidly become apparent) and we can all do whatever we want - pish, trap, kill, destroy - so long as we can morally justify matters to ourselves.

    Would that matters were so simple! And indeed, would that all minds were as simple as that of Varanus's!

    In truth, I don't think the matter is quite as simple as one party hoping to impose their value system over another. Only in this falsely dichotomous universe is it even possible to conceive that nothing is certain and that no consensus can therefore be achieved. In truth, no moral system, whether environmental or otherwise can be as simple as this. In a world of unfettered moral relativism such as the one Varanus and to some extent Jet is proposing, murder and all manner of activity would be permitted so long as it can be justified to the individual. It is NOT, and I stress, NOT, impossible to conceive of a world wherein both absolute principles coexist with issues that are necessarily grey and indeed, I believe we (ignoring the supposed split between 'us' and 'them') are all united under the common intent of preserving nature as far as possible (regardless of how impacted it already is) and to minimise harm and maximise felicity at the same time. This, I believe, can be and has been the basis for various recommendations and guidelines (such as the one put out by the Nature Society) on how bird enthusiasts ought to carry themselves. To assert otherwise seems to be an attempt at preserving the status quo as conceived of in the imagination of Varanus, that we live in a world of 'do-as-I-please'. It is a childish and petulant notion and one which I must and will utterly rebuke in this most public of settings as a flagrant display of selfishness and intransigence. All allegations of sanctimoniousness, it seems, stems from those who would call others sanctimonious since they refuse to see beyond their own perceived moral high ground. Indeed, so long as this perception is perpetuated, no progress can be made. Instead, let us find ways to cooperate - guidelines have been written and guidelines should be taken heed of - in order to allow for everyone to continue appreciating that which we love so much.

  11. #11

    Default Re: Birds and pishing, re Mangrove Pitta

    There got mangrove pitta meh???..I dun know leh..I chiong down first thing the morning tomorrow.. Btw bring 17-50 mm enough focal length anot huh??

  12. #12

    Default Re: Birds and pishing, re Mangrove Pitta

    Wah Liew ! Post #10 so long and so cheem,.......can put it across in simple angmoh or not??

  13. #13

    Default

    Bluesteel, you read already confused ah. I read already TL leh... Don't know whether can call that effective communications?

  14. #14

    Default Re: Birds and pishing, re Mangrove Pitta

    Quote Originally Posted by Bluesteel View Post
    Wah Liew ! Post #10 so long and so cheem,.......can put it across in simple angmoh or not??
    Post #10 in simple english:

    "I do not agree with Varanus. We are all united under the common intent of preserving nature as far as possible. This has been the basis for various recommendations and guidelines (such as the one put out by the Nature Society) on how bird enthusiasts ought to carry themselves. Let us find ways to cooperate - guidelines have been written and guidelines should be taken heed of - in order to allow for everyone to continue appreciating that which we love so much."

    you can buy better gear but you can't buy a better eye

  15. #15

    Default Re: Birds and pishing, re Mangrove Pitta

    U have the courage to post their pix here, why didn't u tell them on the spot? Or u just another behind the screen "HERO"??

    Going PRP since Mangrove Pitta spotted there, thanks TS!!!
    Ain't too clever but definitely not stupid. Hey guys, just wanna learn....

  16. #16

    Default Re: Birds and pishing, re Mangrove Pitta

    Why should there be any effort on your part to try to be as polite as possible?

    Don't worry young man, if our young people were not to be idealistic and passionate about their ideas and views, the older generation wold have failed in your upbringing. So keep it up.

    The quest for knowledge is commendable. But equally, the capacity to acknowledge and recognise the limitations of one's knowledge. In your current mood and on the internet, it would be futile to expect a constructive discourse.

    The reason why you have not connected the dots in my earlier post is best manifested in your comment as follows:-

    "In a world of unfettered moral relativism such as the one Varanus and to some extent Jet is proposing, murder ........ would be permitted so long as it can be justified to the individual."

    I live in Singapore and I happen to believe in capital punishment.

    See, I told you that the topic is difficult. A lot of reading no doubt but not enough of analysis and most importantly, not enough experience on your part. In short, do you even know what is the environmental cost incurred to enable someone like you (a student) to be able to afford your camera and lens so that you can go shoot birds? If you still cannot connect my historical anecdote dots, please come up to me in the field for a chat and I'll buy you coffee to boot.

    I'm usually the only guy in slippers, shorts and t-short with a camera and biggish lens and nothing much else.

  17. #17
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    Default Re: Birds and pishing, re Mangrove Pitta

    Quote Originally Posted by g33k5p34k View Post
    Yeah, I was the biology student there yesterday
    1) Are you also the thread starter?
    2) Care to share what is your expectation for starting this thread and the post on your blog?
    3) Do you think you have achieved your objective?
    4) Is it necessary to post the photographers photos in your blog? Personal attack?
    5)Are you aware that there are so many photographers there today trying to shoot this Pitta after this thread was posted?

    Hope you would remove photos of those photographers from your blog. Don't think this is necessary; at least if you still want to, mosaic their faces.

  18. #18
    Moderator rhino123's Avatar
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    Default Re: Birds and pishing, re Mangrove Pitta

    Quote Originally Posted by notsoclever View Post
    U have the courage to post their pix here, why didn't u tell them on the spot? Or u just another behind the screen "HERO"??

    Going PRP since Mangrove Pitta spotted there, thanks TS!!!
    Bro... if you read his blog... he did approach them and tell them to stop or something.

    But I do not encourage anyone to post other people's photos more or less as personal attacks. (unless those are harmless street photographs and not with rude captions).
    I am not a photographer, just someone who happened to have a couple of cameras.
    My lousy shots

  19. #19

    Default Re: Birds and pishing, re Mangrove Pitta

    Quote Originally Posted by jcho View Post
    1) Are you also the thread starter?
    2) Care to share what is your expectation for starting this thread and the post on your blog?
    3) Do you think you have achieved your objective?
    4) Is it necessary to post the photographers photos in your blog? Personal attack?
    5)Are you aware that there are so many photographers there today trying to shoot this Pitta after this thread was posted?

    Hope you would remove photos of those photographers from your blog. Don't think this is necessary; at least if you still want to, mosaic their faces.
    We should appluad the courage and righteousness of the TS for telling off the photographers and also showing these pictures.. As some of these birders even bring worms to entice the birds out.. I have forwarded the link to the blog to Nparks so that the relevant authorities can also look into this matter..

  20. #20
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    Default Re: Birds and pishing, re Mangrove Pitta

    Fellow bird photographers alerted me to this thread while I was out in Malaysia on my usual bird photography.

    I am going to use simple Singapore English here, just in case there are others who are not able to digest those complicated words exchanged previously.

    Varanus, limmick and jcho have already given their thoughts. I know of a lot of folks here are mature nature photographers. Yes there are a few who may need a little bit more help.

    Over the years, I have come across many so-called nature police, who only have one thing on their mind, i.e. to go all out to “catch” those badly behaved birders and bird photographers. And make them adhere to the so-called regulations and best practices.

    Let me cite a few examples (names withheld, so will be photographs)

    1) Once I was in Fraser Hills and happened to bump into a senior lady with a digiscope walking around. I was just setting up my gears and the moment she saw me putting on a flash, she jumped at me and said that I shouldn’t be using flash or even tape playback. Flash photography if it is handled well by a season-photographer, will never harm any subjects, be it a tiny little fly or a large subject like a human!
    An hour later, I bumped into her again (sigh! L) and there she was, whistling bird sounds loudly, trying to attract some birds out. I walked up to her and asked, what’s the difference between tape playback and whistling then?

    Guess what? She dare not reply. Nature police? Nah….

    2) Another incident was in Thailand. Bumped into 2 bird guides (not Thai nationals but from Britain) at Khaoyai National Park.

    Maybe I was seen carrying a large lens setup and they immediately viewed me as someone who would bash into the bush and flush birds out. They came up to me and said they don’t want me to go into the jungle with my setup as they are going on a heavy bird twitching mission and needed to go into the same forest trail as I am.

    My immediate responses were: This is a national park trail and it is opened to anyone who has paid his park fees to enjoy any trails one would like to walk into. Just because you are a foreign birders, that doesn’t give you the rights to own that trail. Furthermore, I told them that by going into a trail, one is already imposing onto Mother Nature. So aren’t you 2 already trespassing into Mother Nature land?


    Young man: There are many other better things to go when you are still young. Going around taking pictures of people and using those photographs unnecessary will deem you liable for certain actions and reactions (typically negative ones). Plus your actions here have been deemed by many to be just another one of those nature policemen.

    From one angle, you are trying to promote better birding activities (which is a good idea) but on the other hand, as many would point out, this is an area that is very hard to impose and regulate.

    Furthermore, from the blog, what you have already done is to alert potential bird poachers to have a pinpoint location on where to trap this rare bird. I have seen Blue-wing leafbirds and baya-weavers for sale at local bird shops. Why aren’t there any actions done to educate these shopkeepers?

    Many forums , including Clubsnap here, have set aside certain rules and regulations on wildlife photography, so as to alert their members to practice better wildlife photography. It is not a hard-set rule but just a set of guidelines for all of us to follow.
    It is a tough topic and you can argue till the cows come home.
    Why not use those energy, time plus saliva of yours and go do something more meaningful like contributing to the society, helping out at old folks home or doing a good deed to someone who really needed help ?
    I’m usually the only guy out there with a Nikon 600mm mounted with DSLR and Flash Beamer. If you still cannot connect all the dots from all the anecdote dots from all of us, please come up to me for a chat and I’ll definitely buy you a few cups of coffee to boot.

    Cheers !
    http://www.avianwatchasia.org for some real bird photos
    My website : http://www.gorgeousfeathers.com

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