Birdwatching in the Hunter

Curlew Conservation Project Update

Conservation Volunteers Australia (CVA) is leading the Community Conservation of the Far Eastern Curlew project, to help protect this critically endangered species. This is a 2-year project to be completed by 30 June 2019. Funds have been provided by the Australian Government through the Threatened Species Recovery Fund under the National Landcare Program.

Far Eastern Curlews are the largest of all the world’s shorebirds. About 75 per cent of the worlds curlews spend winter in Australia, so we have a special responsibility to protect them. Project activities are taking place in 5 locations: Towra Point Nature Reserve (Sydney NSW), Moreton Bay and the Broadwater (South east QLD), Hunter Estuary (Newcastle NSW), Shoalhaven Heads (Nowra NSW), and Casuarina Coastal Reserve (Darwin NT).

The CVA project team has liaised with land management agencies to assess each location and prepare Site Action Plans. These have been approved by the land managers and reviewed by BirdLife Australia. To date, 17 on-ground team-days have been completed at four of the locations, with the fifth location commencing on April 10. On-ground work is being monitored via daily site reports and photo points. Now that the 2017-18 shorebird season is coming to an end, on-ground work is ramping up and the community events and monitoring surveys for Year 1 are almost complete.

Raising Community Awareness

CVA has hosted four community events at Towra Point, Hunter Estuary, Shoalhaven and Deception Bay. The events included a community marine debris clean-up, a Year 8 geography excursion, and two Farewell Shorebird field events with a chance to observe migratory shorebirds through scopes. The Darwin event was postponed due to a cyclone and will be held on April 21 2018.

In all, 86 people participated in these events, and 12 organisations were involved including University of Queensland, Moreton Bay Regional Council, Hunter Bird Observers Club, Shoalhaven Birders, Shoalhaven City Council, Sutherland Shire Council, NSW Wader Study Group, Georges River Riverkeepers, NSW NPWS, and Local Land Services.

The photo at the top of this page shows a high school excursion at the Hunter Estuary, supported by Hunter Bird Observers Club and NPWS.

CVA produced a factsheet and PowerPoint presentation on the Far Eastern Curlew, and BirdLife Australia provided ID booklets and student handouts.

Evaluation surveys are undertaken at all community events. We have had a very enthusiastic response, as shown by the feedback:

“[I learned] how endangered the Eastern Curlews are and how important our shoreline is to their survival”

“It is wonderful to be a part of this project to help protect and preserve these incredible, critically endangered species.”

“Awesome day, combining action to clean the land and education on how to protect endangered species. Having food provided and pick-up were enjoyable bonuses!”

“Worthwhile project. Anything that contributes to avoidance of the Eastern Curlew extinction is to be encouraged and applauded.”

“Easy to join, friendly staff, visible outcomes and education at the front.”

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Clean-up at Quibray Bay












Photo: CVA project team planning the clean-up at Quibray Bay, NSW. Community volunteers removed 0.5 tonnes of debris, mainly plastics.