Below you can find information and images of events that KWRP have been involved in throughout 2015.
Vital Hunter bird habitat highlighted by photography competition at Stockton Sandspit:
Amateur photographers were invited to take part in the inaugural Hunter Local Land Services (LLS) Shorebird Snapshot photographic competition that was held in November. The competition, which ran from 15-22 November, asked photographers of all ages to capture images of the shorebirds that visit Stockton Sandspit, a unique sanctuary along the Hunter River in the Hunter Wetlands National Park.
The sandspit is at the northern end of Stockton Bridge and only 12 kilometres from Newcastle. It is a bird watching haven where masses of long-legged migratory shorebirds – often hundreds at a time – gather and feed in the saltmarsh and mud flats of the Hunter Estuary.
Hunter LLS Project Officer, Jane Lloyd-Jones says the photo competition was a fantastic way for budding photographers to highlight the importance of Stockton Sandspit, which provides important habitat for these birds.
‘Stockton Sandspit provides vital habitat for a variety of shorebird species at this time of the year when migratory birds from as far away as the northern hemisphere visit the site to feed and rest before the long journey back to their breeding grounds,’ Ms Lloyd-Jones said.
‘Some 30 species of migratory shorebirds fly more than 20,000 km round trip every year from breeding areas in Siberia, northern Asia and Alaska to spend the summer here in the estuary.’
‘The competition provides budding photographers with an opportunity to photograph, and learn more about, the amazing migratory shorebirds that visit the Hunter each year, why they need to be protected, and how they can be photographed in a way that avoids disturbance to the birds and their habitat,’ Ms Lloyd-Jones said.
The competition was open to amateur photographers of all ages, with categories for ‘open’, ‘school students’ and a ‘people’s choice’ award.
‘In the ‘open’ category, the winner receives a $500 gift voucher. The ‘people’s choice’ winner will receive a $300 voucher, and the ‘school student’ category winner will receive a $150 gift voucher. Runners up in each category will take home a prize pack.’
All photos needed to have a shorebird theme and be taken at Stockton Sandspit between 15-22 November 2015, which is when flocks of migratory birds – such as the endangered Curlew Sandpiper and the Eastern Curlew – arrive at the estuary.
The competition launch day was held on Sunday, 15 November at Stockton Sandspit, with entrants encouraged to attend and photograph the shorebirds on this day so as to limit disturbance to the birds. Images could be of shorebirds, shorebird habitat, evidence of shorebirds such as footprints, their diet, and/or people observing and appreciating shorebirds.
All entries were uploaded to the Hunter LLS Facebook page, with the public able to vote for their favourite snap and determine the winner of the ‘people’s choice’ category. Winning entries will be exhibited on the Hunter Local Land Services website.
Hunter LLS supports the Kooragang Wetlands Rehabilitation Project, a project developed to protect, restore and create habitat for shorebirds, fish, frogs and other wildlife in the Hunter Estuary, including Stockton Sandspit. The Kooragang Wetlands Rehabilitation Project is supported by Hunter LLS through funding from the Hunter Catchment Contribution, a ratepayer levy to provide services in land management and flood mitigation in the Hunter River catchment.
Source: Hunter LLS
Japanese mayor signs historic wetlands agreement:
A mayoral delegation from northern Japan visited Newcastle and Port Stephens in early November to renew a 21-year-old agreement that gives high priority to wetlands conservation. Kushiro Mayor Hiroya Ebina, who is President of the Kushiro International Wetlands Centre in Hokkaido, led a four-person delegation to reaffirm the Sister Wetlands Relationship with Newcastle and Port Stephens Councils.
The renewal of the Sister Wetland Relationship encourages the exchange of experiences, knowledge and skills for the conservation and wise use of wetlands (including cultural elements), exchanging research and information between the wetlands, exchanging delegates for visiting each wetlands at regular intervals, exchanging researchers and trainees studying wetlands, promoting co-research on migratory birds between Australia and Japan including both wetlands, developing the mutual exchange between Kushiro International Wetland Centre and The Wetlands Centre Australia located in Newcastle City and co-operate to promote activities of enlightenment for the Ramsar Convention.
Preservation of wetlands is vital to the continuation of an extraordinary natural phenomenon – annual bird migrations between wetlands of Hokkaido and the Hunter estuary, a non-stop journey of 8,500km. Mayor Ebina, Newcastle City Deputy Lord Mayor Cr Michael Osborne and Port Stephens Mayor Bruce Mackenzie signed the reaffirmation on the 6th November. Cr Osborne and Cr MacKenzie signed on behalf of the wetlands of the Hunter Estuary, while Mr Ebina signed on behalf of Kushiro Marsh, Kiritappu Marsh, Lake Akkeshi and Bekanbeushi Marsh.
The wetlands include areas designated under the Ramsar Convention as Wetlands of International Importance. A shorebird species the municipalities share is the Latham’s Snipe (Gallinago hardwickii). About 30,000 travel between Japan and Australia each year.
“The biggest threat to migratory birds like the Latham’s Snipe is loss of habitat,” Cr Osborne and Cr MacKenzie said in a joint statement. “Thanks to the tireless efforts of volunteers and all levels of Government, remarkable progress has been made in recent years in rehabilitating precious wetlands located within the Newcastle and Port Stephens municipalities. “The Sister Wetlands Relationship will continue to provide a conduit for exchanging experiences, knowledge and skills for the conservation and wise use of wetlands.”
Peggy Svoboda, spokesperson for Hunter Local Land Services at the Kooragang Wetland Rehabilitation Project said wetlands were valued globally because of their biological diversity and high productivity. “With wetlands under continuing pressure from human activity, it’s important that governments at all levels recognize that wetlands are delicate and fragile environments, and support their maintenance for future generations. The Sister Wetlands Relationship helps to increase local awareness of the international significance of the Hunter estuary and encourages community involvement in the exchange of survey results and research activities and information on the wetlands.”
Ash Island managed to survive the April floods that swept across parts of New South Wales and the Hunter Valley. Many great photos were taken during the difficult period, including a few in the aftermath of the storm by staff of KWRP while standing on the Ash Island Bridge.
2015 Estuary Family Festival:
The Family Festival was a great success on the 19th April. Hundreds came out to enjoy themselves and discover the history of Ash Island.
It was an opportunity to get up close and personal with lizards, turtles and crocodiles, visit stalls, enjoy a tour of the Island, learn how the Kooragang Wetland Rehabilitation Project has transformed areas of the Hunter estuary and much more!