I have had a lifelong interest in birds. 

Amongst my earliest memories are being taken by my uncle, Charles Giffard, on "nature walks" along the Yarra River in Kew to get us out of my Grandmother's house and give her some peace.  Charl would point out wonderful birds, such as Sacred Kingfishers, Red-rumped Parrots and, at the right time of year, Latham's Snipe (or Japanese Snipe as he called them then).  He also had large aviaries with dozens of colourful birds.  My particular favourites were the Gouldian Finches, which Charl successfully bred.  Charl's enthusiasm for birds sparked my lifelong interest.  

In the early years, I mostly birded on my own, riding my bike to all of the good sites around my parents' home.  On one of my journeys, I met an old birder at Blackburn Lake, Harold Tarr, who told me about a group called the Bird Observers Club, that met every month in the city.  I went to their meetings for about two years before anyone spoke to me or I was confident enough to approach them.  I then learnt about their outings and how I could become a member. I joined the Bird Observers Club in 1973 and some seven years later, joined the RAOU, the former names of Bird Observation & Conservation Australia (BOCA)  and Birds Australia.

Many years passed when I was mostly preoccupied by me career and family, but I always had time for birding on Sundays.  During the working years, I became the Managing Partner of a major accounting firm until I retired in 2003.  

I joined the Board of BOCA in 2005, serving in various capacities including as a member of its Finance & Audit Committee and as Trustee of the Australian Bird Environment Foundation and became its President in 2009.  At the same time, I also served on the Finance & Audit Committee and Victorian Group Conservation Committee of Birds Australia.  Working with both of the national bird organisations in Australia, put me in a unique position to advocate for their merger.  This was achieved in 2012, with overwhelming support from the members of both.  The new national body is BirdLife Australia, of which I was, until June 2020, honoured to be the President.  I will remain a Director until May 2021, at which time my term will end and I will not seek re-election. 

I have had a long and passionate involvement with the internationally significant, Ramsar listed, wetland at Melbourne Water's Western Treatment Plant.  I have served on its Biodiversity Conservation Advisory Committee (BCAC) since the inception of the committee in 1986, for many years now as its Chairman.

As birds have given me so much pleasure over my now long life, I feel an obligation to put something back.  I have regularly lead outings, given talks on my birding travels and generally promoted the need for conservation.  It was the desire to put back that led me to photography.  I was frustrated that when giving talks about birds, I had difficulty finding pictures to add meaning to what I was saying.  The camera solved that and has now become an essential adjunct to my birding.

I have been asked to comment on the camera equipment I use.  I started in 2006 with a Canon 30D with a 100-400mm lens.  I then progressed to a Canon 1D Mark IV with a 500mm f4 lens, followed by a 5Ds with an EF 200-400mm f4L, IS USM Extender 1.4x.  Recently I realised my gear was too heavy for me to carry all day in the field, so I switched to a much lighter Nikon D500 with an AF-S NIKKOR 500mm f5.6 PFED.

I hope that my website can play a small part  in making people aware of the beauty of birds and their conservation needs, as well as giving pleasure to the viewer.

I welcome any dialogue about birds or photography and can be contacted on johnbarkla@bigpond.com.        



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