Bird Spotting Morning with Ross Crates

02nd Oct 2019

The arrival of spring brings with it exciting times in the calendars of local bird watching folk. Next month, twitchers from across the region are invited to a morning of bird spotting at the bushland property of “Wattlebend”, near Emmaville, followed by a presentation from regent honeyeater expert, Ross Crates.

This event is part of a road show with Ross Crates starting in Armidale on Tues 22nd, Glen Innes 23rd, Tenterfield on the 24th and Inverell on the Friday 25th. Please contact your local Landcare network for more details.

A post doctorate fellow at the Australian National University, Ross and his team from ANU’s Difficult Bird Research Group are working hard to save the once-common regent honeyeater from extinction. Although widely reported across parts of Australia as late as the 1970s, habitat degradation, predators and lower nest success rates have caused a rapid decline in species numbers, with only 300-500 regent honeyeaters predicted to survive in the wild today.

Mr. Crates and his team at the ANU have embarked on an ambitious tracking program over the last three years, climbing trees and installing surveillance to successfully locate 100-150 live adult regent honeyeaters each year.

“We found birds in the Capertee and Goulburn River valleys near Mudgee, the lower Hunter Valley near Cessnock and near Barraba in the Northern Tablelands,” said Mr Crates. “We also found important new breeding areas in the Severn River in Northern New South Wales and the Burragorang Valley in the Southern Blue Mountains, south-east of Sydney.”

The team’s groundbreaking observational discoveries, such as the overpopulation of male to female honeyeaters at a rate of six to one, and the successful production of offspring from only one in three nests, will be vital in assisting recovery teams like the ANU, BirdLife Australia and the Taronga Zoo, in improving their methods to save the regent honeyeater from extinction.

“Although breeding success appears to have declined, we found the survival of nests varied dramatically among sites. In some areas, 80 per cent were successful. In others, less than 20 per cent fledged young, with predators being the main cause of failure.” Mr. Crates said.

“There are birds still out in the wild trying to breed every year. We now have a much better idea of where they are trying to nest and so we can focus on protecting and restoring the breeding habitat in critical places to directly benefit the birds.

“If we are to have any chance of saving regent honeyeaters from extinction, we must act now. We must protect all existing breeding habitat, restore lost breeding habitat and protect nests.”

This free event is jointly funded through the Northern Tablelands Local Land Services and the Australian Government's National Landcare Program, as part of GLENRAC’s Regional Land Partnerships joint Project with the Northern Tablelands Local Land services.

Bird Spotting Morning with Ross Crates. Wednesday, 23rd October, “Wattlebend”, Emmaville, bird watching from 8:30am.

Please RSVP by October 18th by email: glenrac@glenrac.org.au, or phone: 02 6732 3443.

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