2017 Season of Shame

It must seem odd that I’ve started this post with an image of Red-necked Avocets (and two other species you may be able to identify). The image is in honour of the first bird taken to the RSPCA Mobile Vet Clinic on the opening day of last year’s shooting season at Lake Burrumbeet. Yep, someone shot an avocet. Someone lifted a shotgun and took aim at an exquisitely beautiful bird that looks absolutely nothing like a duck. It didn’t survive*.


Red-necked Avocet (Recurvirostra novaehollandiae) – reflections
1/1000, f/7.1, ISO 800


Laurie Levy from the Coalition Against Duck Shooting said, “Too many shooters either can’t recognise what they are shooting at or simply don’t care, and there are too few authorised officers available to regulate the hunt”. After photographing numerous shot birds, including endangered Freckled Ducks, swans, coot, Whistling Kite, pelicans, a cormorant, a Musk Duck … remembering the list is making me feel ill, and not seeing a single compliance officer, I agree with Laurie’s statement.

The Victorian duck shooting season starts tomorrow, Saturday 18 March; it is not sustainable. Professor Richard Kingsford’s annual aerial waterbird survey counted 71,993 waterbirds at the end of 2016, the least since his surveys began in 1983. The average over these years is 393,000.


Australian Shelduck (Tadorna tadornoides)
1/2500, f/8.0, ISO 160


Shooters refer to Australian Shelduck as Mountain Duck. They are large, easily identifiable birds measuring between about 55-75cm and weighing about 1.5kg. Apparently they are tough to eat and can be abandoned (illegally) by shooters who manage to bag something they consider tastier.

If a shooter fired a shotgun towards these eight birds they would be sprayed with 150-200 pellets; one in four birds hit by pellets is left injured to die a slow, cruel death. This wounding rate comes from Tom Roster, an independent US ballistics expert and shotgunner, and has been acknowledged by the Sporting Shooters’ Association of Australia, Field and Game Australia and the Victorian State Government. I can’t understand why birds that are protected for nine months each year can be treated with such horrendous and unnecessary cruelty for the remaining three months.


Australian Wood Duck  (Chenonetta jubata)
1/1000, f/5.6, ISO 400


The first shot and abandoned bird I found during a duck season was a wood duck. It was lying, discarded among a miniature sea of empty alcohol cans and shell casings. Such a shameful waste.



Grey Teal (Anas gracilis)
1/1000, f/8.0, ISO 800


Grey Teal seem like the epitome of sweetness. They are so tiny, hardly a mouthful.


Unknown Duck
1/400, f/5.6, ISO 800


I’m an optimist and have included this image with the hope that it won’t be long before all our native waterbirds can swim off happily into the sunset every night of the year.

I have never liked the thought of duck shooting but it was only a few years ago that I realised the enormity of it. I hadn’t known that shooting is permitted at many thousands of sites across Victoria, I hadn’t realised that more than 400,000 birds could be shot, I hadn’t realised that more than 100,000 could be left to die slowly.

With only 0.4% of Victorians choosing to shoot ducks, I look forward to the day when our state government follows the lead of Queensland, New South Wales and Western Australia and puts a permanent end to the shameful cruelty of recreational duck shooting.

What can we do?

  • Write or re-write to Premier Dan Andrews – daniel.andrews@parliament.vic.gov.au
  • Write or re-write to Minister Jaala Pulford – jaala.pulford@parliament.vic.gov.au
  • Write or re-write to Minister Lily D’ambrosio – lily.d’ambrosio@parliament.vic.gov.au
  • Write, re-write to, or phone your local member of parliament, regardless of which side of politics they support
  • Comment on social media, especially on bird-watching and environmental pages – let’s support each other and make it okay to speak out, ignore the trolls
  • Donate to the Coalition Against Duck Shooting, Animals Australia and/or similar organisations
  • Support the group Regional Victorians Opposed to Duck Shooting by voting ‘yes’ in the poll
  • Help to raise awareness by sharing this post, and others like it, on social media and with family and friends
  • When at lakes, wetlands and reserves report sighting of listed species as this can close the area to shooters
  • When at lakes, wetlands and reserves be watchful for injured birds that need assistance

Thank you for caring.

Happy birding


NB   Further information and images at Season of Shame, and Season of Shame Part 2 (Graphic)

*   Footage of the Red-necked Avocet shot during the 2016 season can be viewed here  (Graphic)


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16 comments to 2017 Season of Shame

  • Warren Brown

    This morning on the gable of my shed were two Burdekin ducks. They sat up there for 30 minutes or more. There’s plenty of these birds around Darwin, but I’ve never seen that before.
    I can recognise most ducks because I was brought up by my great grand father, my grandfather and my father to shoot ducks. I remember well going to the duck opening at Buloke in 1973. I drove up after work on Friday night and didn’t get to the lake until nigh on midnight. To my horror, there were about 20 000 shooters there. What!? I just missed out on Vietnam, but this was the next worst thing. I roughly calculated the amount of birds (of all descriptions) shot that weekend and the amount of lead that was left on the floor of the lake. Not to mention the rubbish. I was sickened.
    That was it for me. No more duck, quail or goose shooting for me. And then I came across Laurie Levy. I rang him out of frustration, to talk ducks. Now, Laurie is a busy man, but he gave me a good 30 minutes of his time just talking about duck shooting and all the bad stuff that goes with it. In fact, there was never a sense that I was holding him up or wasting his time.. I learned a lot from that: if some one is worth talking to, then that person should be your only focal point. I felt like I was the most important person on the planet. And he is still there, fresh as ever, doing what’s good for the environment and reflecting back at us all our humanity.
    Thanks, Kim. Thanks, Laurie. Thanks, everyone who is involved in stopping duck shooting in Victoria ( and anywhere else that it’s legal, including the NT).
    Warren Brown

    • lirralirra

      Hi Warren, I have read your comment several times and wish everyone was as discerning as you are. I totally understand what you say about Laurie too. If you know of anyone who might write a sentence to Premier Daniel Andrews I’d be very grateful if you would forward this link to them. Thank you for taking the time to share your experiences

  • Marg Morris

    Thanks for this information and links. Have voted. Intend to contact politicians.

  • Annette Butterss

    Thank you for this info and for your bird passion. I have emailed Dan Andrews.

  • Tears.
    Of grief. Of rage. Of shame.
    Thank you for the list of people to write to.

  • Alyssa

    Beautiful photos of our magnificent native waterbirds!

    Thank you so much for raising this very important issue. If all the birders joined with BirdLife Australia in speaking out against duck shooting it would help the cause so much! I have no doubt it will be banned at some point, but we need it banned ASAP.

    • lirralirra

      We really do need it banned ASAP, or sooner. It is sickening. Thank you for everything you do for the waterbirds, please take good care of yourself as well xo

  • Barbara Devine

    Dear duck rescuers

    Just a quick last minute request – as we head up to the wetlands…….

    Please vote ‘yes’, Lake Natimuk should be closed to shooting in this poll.


    Many thanks,

    For our precious native waterbirds,

    Hope this can be printed and all your wonderful, compassionate and caring bird lovers will show that killing these incredible, precious birds is not acceptable.

    When the poll started the count was 300 to 70 and now the gun lobbyists are making sure the numbers are reversed.

    The birds need us all to speak up on their behalf. These amazing images show why we must keep fighting to stop the killing of our unique wildlife.

    Pls post and share the poll.

  • Debbie Lustig

    I suggest urging birdwatchers to visit Lake Natimuk, which has been closed for the moment, due to the presence of Freckled Ducks. http://www.mailtimes.com.au/story/4534639/natimuk-lake-closure-to-hurt-businesses-poll/?cs=225 Make this caravan park owner see that passive recreations are more valuable and less damaging than duck shooting.

    • lirralirra

      Great idea Debbie! The business people I’ve spoken with say they do better when the shooters aren’t there, it’d be great if that was the case for every business.

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