Monday, February 12, 2007

Greenshanks and a "Beef".

I was sauntering back from the local shop this morning, having decided that the occasional light drizzle and heavy overcast didn't augur well for birding. As I neared my front gate, I heard several Masked Lapwing calling raucously. I turned to see the cause, and was surprised to see they were diving at a passing Swamp Harrier. This was a rare event in my suburb, in fact I can't recall the last time I'd seen one here. The upshot was that it tipped the scales in favour of going out.
I decided on a visit to Five Mile Beach, close to Hobart Airpo
rt, part of the Seven Mile Beach Reserve. I have to say at this stage, that I have been visiting here for many years now and I don't recall it ever being in the run down state it is today. The car parking area had numerous beer cans strewn about, as well as other litter and evidence of regular hooning sessions. The children's play apparatus had the swings missing, and a notice announced that the toilet facilities were no longer there as they had been burnt down. The beach looked as if a rodeo had recently been run there, and there was evidence that mini bikes or similar, had run riot. This is an all too familiar scene in many of the reserves around Hobart.
Leaving this depressing scene behind, I wandered over the mudflats, laid bare by a very low tide. I was hoping to get close enough to photograph the Eastern Curlew that I could see feeding there. In fact I could only get close enough to count them, about a kilometre, and even then they seemed very nervous. There were 26. I turned and trudged back, disturbing two, previously unseen Greenshank, that had been feeding at the mouth of a small creek. I fully expected them to fly out to the tide line, but instead they sought refuge in the marsh. I could still see them, and decided that a close approach might just be possible. I used the shrubbery along the creek to mask my approach. I peered through a saltbush, but couldn't see them. Deciding that they'd flown, I wandered to the creek edge, only to realise that they were still there, but by now, rather nervous! A quick few shots of one of them, before they took flight, landing farther into the marsh. I decided that what I'd captured (the shots shown here) would have to do as I was reluctant to disturb them any more.
Greenshank are by no means uncommon, but this was the first time I had managed to photograph them.


John & Shirley Tongue said...

Sadly, I would have to agree that many of our local reserves are shown an alarming degree of disrespect. Whether it be the 'dog-lady' at Meehan Range, the vandalism you've noted at 7-mile beach or elsewhere, or the very worrying events we witnessed recently at the Penguin colony near Kingston. On checking on this colony just before we did the twitchathon, we found a group of teenagers camped there, and about to light a fire on a day of total fire ban. At least they were reasonably well behaved, and penguins did come in to shore. On the night we visited during "the Twitch", there were about 15 camping there, with fires and loud music, swimming at the beach when the penguins would have been coming in, and letting off fire crackers! needless to say, no penguins came ashore that night!!
We have written to the local council, saying they need better signage, banning fires and camping, and maybe to consider locking the gate on dark. We have heard there has been worse vandalism since, so we fear for the future of one of the last penguin colonies actually IN the Derwent.

BirdingTas said...

Thanks John. It is distressing to see the decline and I think it comes down to poor management, or in many cases, no management. Putting up a notice is not management! They are largely disregarded as the chances of getting caught are zero. There is a lack of personnel and the will to police areas that have been set aside for conservation. Contrast this with Risdon Brook Dam, which is well managed and a delight to visit, and it's obvious what the issues are. Perhaps we need to have conservation police, as I've seen in the US, with real teeth and a willingness to issue 'tickets' to offenders.

Duncan said...

You did well to get pictures of the Greenshank, Alan, I've always found them very nervous and wary.
You're not alone in having to confront vandalism, plenty of it in my neck of the woods.

BirdingTas said...

Not only vandalism, Duncan, just plain flouting of the law. Fires in 'no fires' areas, dogs in "no dogs" areas, leaving garden rubbish in reserves. The list goes on. And then there's tha off road vehicle issue. I have yet to see ANY ranger in these areas, and I've been very regularly in many reserves. Some of the reserves are so bad, I will not go in them at weekends. I'm sure the relevant people know what's going on, but will not fund an adequate ranger system. The Risdon Brook Park works because it has a resident warden and closes the gate in the evening. Most reserves have been set aside for their conservation values, not as public open spaces where anything goes.

John Tongue said...

The Kingston Penguin Colony most likely needs to be locked at night for the sake of the few remaining penguins (even though it makes it hard for interested observers like us to go and see them). However, when we suggested this to Kingborough Council, we were told that it IS a public reserve! Well, the Public soon won't ba able to see Penguins here!

BirdingTas said...

Hi John. I'm not aware of the staus of the reserve you refer too. Most reserves I visit come under the "Nature Conservation Act". This sets out objectives, which I feel the relevant authority fails to implement. There is no management, they are allowed to"self manage". This strategy costs nothing in dollar terms, but fails to meet any of the objectives, and is allowing these areas to be abused. In the US many reserves have a curfew and in some cases this is implemented by locking them up at night. Unfortunate for the "early birder", but does keep out many undesirables!