NPWS celebrates Hunter Bird Observers Club's 20-year contribution to shorebird habitat restoration

The Hunter estuary is one of the most important sites for migratory shorebirds in New South Wales and since 2003, the Hunter Bird Observers Club has dedicated almost 11,000 volunteer hours to its protection.

Hunter Bird Observers Club

NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) Bush Regeneration and Volunteer Officer Boyd Carney sang the praises of the Hunter Bird Observers Club (HBOC), which on Saturday celebrated its members and the group’s 20-year relationship with NPWS and the Hunter estuary.

'Each year, hundreds of migratory shorebirds travel epic distances from as far away as Alaska and Siberia to arrive in Hunter Wetlands National Park around October,' said Mr Carney.

'Without the support of the HBOC, these birds would not have access to the habitat that they need to safely rest and feed before their long flight home to breed around April.

'It was wonderful to spend the day on Saturday celebrating the dedicated members of the HBOC with a lunch at a local birdwatching hotspot, the Stockton sandspit,' said Mr Carney.

Together with NPWS staff, HBOC volunteers have restored strategic sites across 450 hectares of the Hunter estuary.

'This has been a 20-year continuous effort since 2003, during which time more than 480 volunteers have worked with NPWS to clear weeds and restore saltmarsh habitat for a swathe of endangered shorebirds,' said Mr Carney.

HBOC representative Tom Clarke said some of the migratory species benefiting from this 20-year project are the vulnerable Black-tailed Godwit, the endangered Curlew Sandpiper, the Far Eastern curlew and the Pacific Golden Plover.

'Migratory shorebirds are one of the world’s most threatened groups of birds and they are incredibly vulnerable to natural and human-induced changes to their habitats,' said Mr Clarke.

'It’s crucial that we do everything we can to protect these areas, like the Hunter estuary, which provides a safe haven for these incredible birds,' said Mr Clarke.

If you want to help, NPWS and the Hunter Region Landcare Network are looking for volunteers to join shorebird habitat restoration activities coming up in May and June. Contact for more information.

Alternatively, you can learn more about birds and join generations of local birdwatchers in the Hunter Bird Observers Club.

'There are also a number of small things you can do like keeping your dog on a leash and maintaining a distance of at least 100 metres from shorebirds when boating, walking or fishing in coastal estuaries,' said Mr Carney.

Shorebird habitat restoration works in the Hunter estuary are a joint effort between NPWS, the Hunter Bird Observers Club, Birdlife Australia, Hunter Region Landcare Network, NSW Biodiversity and Conservation Division and Hunter Local Land Services, and are supported by funding from the Australian Government’s National Landcare Program and the NSW Government’s Saving our Species program.