The Birds are Laughing at Us.

The Birds are Laughing at Us.

A Quick Contract

On a new project, checking our scope of works with the the principal contractor who was responsible for having the site prepared, ready for us to get to work. 

Apart from the mobilization and some surveying, nothing was ready at all. Excuses being, among other things, the final plans had not been approved, and there is a bird problem.

For us it was a case of hurry up and wait. A small 3 month contract, We wanted to be out by Christmas. 

One Problem. 

There is a tree where a new service building is to be built. Requests for information on alternatives to tree removal have all come back in the negative.

The tree has to go, but first there is a process.

The Bureaucratic Process.

The principal contractor supervisor contacts his environmental department for advice. They hire a environmental firm to conduct a survey of the tree. 

Bad news there is a bird nesting in the tree. 

Twany Frogmouth on a nest, The birds are Laughing at us.
twany frogmouth

The sub- contractor contacts the principal contractor’s enviro. department and tells them there is a definitely a bird in the tree, and they will get submit a quote and will get back to them with work method statements on how to remove a bird from a tree.

But they have a problem and that is they don’t have the relevant permits as they are only an advisory company. It is up to the principal contractor to have the required permits.


I am booking time to delays. Machinery sitting idle, site facilities hire costs and labor stand down. We need cost recovery for delays not of our making. 

Not a big job but about $5,000 a day in stand down charges on a small job soon blows the cost out of the park.

Each day I fill out the another page in the Variation / Day works record book and take to the principal contractor for signing. 

After another week of waiting, the enviro department of the principal contractor think they have found they have a valid Permit for Moving Wildlife.

Upon checking with the relevant government department, they find out it is not the right permit.

They need a Damage Mitigation Permit.

An application to obtain a Damage Mitigation Permit could take months, so the search is on to see if they can “borrow” the correct permit from some other company.

Another week, more pages filled out in the Variation and day works book.


 Good News! They have a permit. For $4,000.00 a rival company will let them use theirs. 

The client is happy to go along with that and will even toss in another $1,000.00 to the local wildlife carers who will take control of the bird once it is removed. 

It is all planned for Wednesday. Emails sent to the tree loppers, environmental subcontractor and wild life carer. 

All are advised be dressed in high vis, long sleeved shirt with sleeves rolled down and long trousers. Steel capped boots and to have a hard hat.

As well, they must bring their “work on a construction site blue card” so they can complete a site induction (including watch a video), and sign off on the work method statements on Wednesday morning before work commences.

Wednesday is Cancelled.

The wild life carer does not have a blue card and needs time to be able to get one.

She wasn’t prepared to pay the cost of the card, plus she wanted to be paid for the time it took do complete the “course”.

Oh well, get the variation book out, enter the stand down costs for us and then add in the costs for getting the excavator operators who showed up expecting to work and then being stood down plus the cost of their machines, added on to the costs of our rigs.

The wildlife carer ( a middle aged women who previously worked in retail), will do the bluecard online course today.

I updated my Day work book and got it signed.

Thursday is now zero day

Thursday arrived and the wild life carer still does not have a blue card. A plan is engineered to get around that.

Also she has to “borrow” a hard hat.

The wildlife carer’s former career in retail posed a few problems in understanding the questions related to, working in confined spaces, working at heights and the shoring of excavations.

It was a case of 3 strikes and wait 48 hours before you attempt the course again.

She complained about the hours she wasted and still wanted payment. We agreed on 4 hours.

Your average construction worker with some experience gets through the online construction blue card course in about an hour or less.

An exemption was made for the wildlife carer, because the tree was outside the fenced off area of the construction site. 

The wildlife carer would have an escort to where everyone else is standing around. An observer will stand near her as she places the bird in a cage and locks it.

Then the wildlife carer will be escorted to the lunch sheds where she can complete her paperwork for the bird, and then leave the site. 

(Wildlife Carer would probably be a good blog topic, maybe even pick up a few dollars from adsense).

The Birds are Laughing at Us.

We got to Work. 

Bird gone, tree gone and mulched, our excavator got to work removing tree roots and top soil so we have a solid base for our foundation. 

The Birds are Laughing at Us.
Removing Tree Roots.

Work Progresses

Then about a week later I am doing some marking out. I just happened to look up. 

The bird had come back and had made a new home on a steel support bar. A couple of weeks later we could see chicks. 

Twany Frogmouth on a steel support bar, The birds are Laughing at us.
twany frogmouth on a steel support bar with chicks

12 Months

And about 5Million dollars later ( the original quote was for about $870,000), we de-mobilized. 

Also published here

The Birds are Laughing at Us.
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