Curtis Hayne is a young photographer and passionate birdwatcher in the Gwydir valley, home to wetlands that extend from the Northern Tablelands to the Northern Plains region of NSW. Curtis is on a mission to raise awareness of Australia’s native birds and capture their beauty.
He is an official Department of Planning, Industry and Environment volunteer, doing his bit to conserve local birdlife and encourage others to do the same. Curtis’s main role is conducting wetland bird surveys in the Gwydir Wetlands. He has gone into remote sites and waded into wetlands through knee-deep water to count nesting waterbirds. He was also a volunteer guide when the Gwydir Wetlands State Conservation Area was first opened to the public.
Along the way, Curtis has taken some stunning photographs of native birdlife
“I began birding at the age of 9 when I got in touch with another passionate local birdwatcher. We have gone birding regularly ever since. Birds are beautiful, interesting and inspiring. They have beautiful calls and songs.
It’s a great hobby. It gets me outdoors and it can be very challenging to identify the different species of birds. I meet lovely people along the way and my contribution is helping some of these species to survive.
Birds are a highly visible, no-cost indicator of ecosystem health. Changes in bird species or numbers can signal issues in the environment. I am a major contributor to Birdline NSW and to Eremaea eBird submitting observation and survey lists for observation sites and extensive, detailed reports of rare and unusual sightings.
These eBird lists can then be used by researchers, academics and conservation biologists to answer questions about bird behaviour and distribution.
I also compile cotton farm irrigation dam survey lists in the hope that one day they will be used towards the 'Waterbirds on Cotton Farms' project (at University of New England, Armidale) which investigates waterbird communities on cotton storages in the Gwydir valley.
I also regularly guide several birders and ecologists from throughout Australia.
I hope to use my birdwatching and photography skills in the future by launching my own website where I can educate people about Australian birds and the natural environment with a focus on my local area. I'd also like to create my own calendars and postcards featuring my photos. Another long-term goal is to be a professional wildlife guide. However, my ultimate career path is to become an environmental scientist/conservationist.”