The last few years, particularly 1982-83, have been exciting times for ornithologists in the Newcastle area. Unusual seasonal conditions in the area, coupled with Australia wide drought have resulted in remarkable surges in the population of water birds frequenting the Lower Hunter estuary wetlands and have again caused focus to be turned to controversial issues. Egrets have returned to nest after having ceased breeding in the area in the early 1970’s, this time to establish a rookery close to a built-up area within the city boundary. The first recorded Australian sighting of the Hudsonian godwit, a North American wader, on Kooragang Island, the breeding of black swans in suburban lagoons, a visit to these same lagoons by a jabiru, and the arrival of the rare freckled duck and large flocks of glossy ibis have been just some of the highlights.
These occurrences have attracted attention Australia wide. The arrival of the godwit in early 1983 brought more than 100 bird enthusiasts to Newcastle from as far afield as Queensland, Northern Territory and Victoria, as well as other New South Wales centres, hoping to catch a glimpse of the rare visitor amongst the hoses of migratory waders on the mud and sand flats of Kooragang Island. This island, which has been established to carry a population of between 10,000 and 20,000 birds, is well known to Australian naturalists. It has even attracted attention overseas because of the threat of encroaching industrialisation to the wintering habitat of some 190 species, with an article in the New York Times of September 14, 1974, entitled “Australian Factory Site Would Peril Bird Migration” (Stewart, 1974).
How to Cite:
Maddock, M., 2009. Hunter Valley wetland birds raise conservation issues.. Wetlands Australia, 3(2), pp.pp. 71–80. DOI: http://doi.org/10.31646/wa.74