Dick Smith meets BIG

Posted on Posted in Central QLD, feathered

A few weeks ago, BIGs specialty bird knowledge services were called upon. A group of serious twitchers were coming to town, with one little bird on top of their list: the Eungella honeyeater (Lichenostomus hindwoodi). We arranged to show the travelling birdos around Eungella NP and surrounds, and hoped that we’d catch sight of the EHEs we have come to know through our surveys.

As the time drew closer, we were contacted by the birdos to sort out the finer details. It was then that we realised just how serious these twitchers were. The group consisted of Professor Paul R. Ehrlich and his wife Dr. Anne Ehrlich from Stanford University, Dr. Graham Pyke from the Australian Museum, and Australia’s most famous entrepreneur Dick Smith and his wife Pip. And they were bringing a film crew with them…

Dick Smith and Paul Ehrlich filming their new documentary, featuring the plight of the EHE (photo by K. Burndred).

After their smooth arrival in Dick’s private jet, we met the team at Broken River. They weren’t here just to tick another bird off their twitchers list. They were in fact embarking on a 12 month journey travelling the world filming a documentary, to follow on from Dick’s last controversial piece which aired on ABC last year: The Population Puzzle.

And they were interested in dedicating some air time to species that might be challenged in the face of future population booms and unsustainable resource exploitation – political issues among those close to Paul and Dick’s hearts. For them, the Eungella Honeyeater provided the perfect platform.

Early next morning the troops set off in the thickest fog EVER with dubious faces to search for EHEs. Once we arrived at our most reliable spot, the fog miraculously lifted and we were treated to an orchestra of EHE calls, and sightings unlike we had seen before. The birds must have known they were in the presence of stardom as they performed spectacularly for the cameras, impressing the group.

The EHEs put on a performance for the film crew (photo by J. Neilly).

The crew captured plenty of footage and happily moved to track down their next target species’ (which included red goshawks and red-backed button quails).

After spending a day wandering through the forests, partaking in much chit-chat over ginger slice, the group was increasingly taken by Marj Andrews’ impressive knowledge of the region, and specifically, how the bird life and landscape has changed dramatically in the past decades. The crew devoted a few hours that afternoon to interviewing Marj. She generously shared her records and opinions on the issues affecting the local species and habitat.

Marj Andrews (left) was generous enough to share her formidable knowledge of the local bird species with the film crew (photo by K. Burndred).

The weekend served as a reminder to us that risks to our local landscape are not so unique; they are amplified across a continent, indeed a planet. It was a great experience for Before It’s Gone to work together with such motivated and prominent personalities to help spread the word on conservation and sustainable growth.

7 thoughts on “Dick Smith meets BIG

  1. That’s so great to hear the day went off without a hitch! I hope you guys scored some EHE shots for yourselves too :)
    That’s so good that Marj was able to share her extensive knowledge of the area and these elusive birds. Hope 2012 treats you guys well!

  2. Spread the word……….Progress should never be in the way of natural beauty and the gifts we have been given in finding and learning about them.
    Teach your children well.

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