I visited the Alice Springs Sewage (Poo) Ponds this morning and was a little dismayed to see the sign on the gate the Ponds were still closed for Bird watching access. A Power and Water employee who was at the gate into their facility kindly came over to have a chat. It turns out there are various issues, not just the dogs as was the reason given for the initial closure over 8 weeks ago. The following is a list of what was advised by this Power and Water employee:
He said that as far as Alice Springs staff were concerned at Power and Water, they didn't have a problem with people bird watching on the property, but safety for all was obviously a priority. But, it would be decisions made by others that would ultimately decide when and/or if the Ponds would be re-opened to the public for bird-watching, and what, if any, additional conditions would apply.
- dogs are still a problem
- there have been Power and Water employees driving around the ponds doing their work when suddenly a bird-watcher pops up from below the banks of the ponds
- people have used the road near the gate as an overnight stay point
- people have seen the Tip has been closed so have used the entry road into the Ponds as a dump site
He then went on to say that there were a few points being considered:
- limited access areas for bird watchers
- high visibility tops for bird watchers
After a bit more of a chat about how the few spoil things for the many, we parted ways.
So here is my take:
The idiots who drank at the bird hide started this recent round of concern by Power and Water over a year ago. Your actions have stopped a lot of people enjoying an activity at one of the premier bird watching sites in Australia.
The photographers who feel the need to go beyond the limits of the paths and roads should feel ashamed that their attempt to get a "better" shot has put in jeopardy anyone getting any shots at all. It is pretty clear in Power and Water's WH&S part of the conditions of gaining entry that the general public (bird watchers) are NOT to leave the paths. I feel disgusted that I may know some people who have done this.
Limited access to areas may be a good thing depending on the areas. I have spent a lot of time wandering around the Ponds to see pretty much the same birds I have already seen.
As to high vis vests, well, most birds fly off when I have approached and settled just a bit further away, so I doubt the clothing will have too much affect.
Again a huge thanks to the guy I met from Power and Water. I am sorry I can't remember your name.
Finally, it would be a huge disappointment if the Ponds were closed to bird watchers, not just because it is a place to see some amazing birdlife, but for important data collection on migratory waders, as well as a big drawcard for bird-watching tourism.