Regent Honeyeater – Hunter Economic Zone, New South Wales, 2012
On our recent trip to New South Wales we went several times to bird the incredible habitat of HEZ – Hunter Economic Zone. On our previous visit, in 2012, we’d been lucky enough to see the critically endangered Regent Honeyeater, along with a host of other ‘iron bark’ specialities, like Black-chinned Honeyeater and Brown Treecreeper. This years visits proved equally good but with one notable exception – no Regent Honeyeater, whose dramatic decline continues! Saving this valuable habitat is now considered essential for the long-term survival of the Regent Honeyeater. For more details of how you can help please read this message from Mick Roderick and act now!
‘Please note everyone that this isn’t ‘just another petition’ but relates to a very important parcel of land in the Lower Hunter that is under threat.
Just to give some background to those who are not familiar, the area that the Friends of Tumblebee are proposing be added to national park estate is zoned for industrial development (Hunter Economic Zone, or HEZ). It is a vitally important site for Regent Honeyeaters and Swift Parrots, particularly Regents that are now listed as Critically Endangered in NSW and on the recent Action Plan for Australian Birds. There could be as few as 350-400 adult birds remaining.
Recent work by BirdLife Australia in collaboration with the Regent Honeyeater Recovery Team and other experts has shown that the lowland forests of the Lower Hunter, and in particular those in the Cessnock LGA, are now rightfully recognised as one of the “core” areas for the species, alongside the Capertee Valley, Bundarra-Barraba and Chiltern (Vic). In fact, the Lower Hunter has seen the largest concentration of birds anywhere for several years (in 2009 and 2012) and provided habitat for a significant breeding event in 2007/2008 that happened in HEZ. If you scroll to the back of the document on the Dep’t of Planning website link below you will see a map showing the locations where most of the nests in HEZ were (there were others found but not mapped here, including the birds photographed that appear on the petition website + many other birds found by other observers).
They were also here in 2009 and 2012. Yet the consultants who did the ecological report for a Development Application in HEZ in late 2012 said that Regents occurred only as ‘irregular visitors’ and had never bred there! Council then voted against the advice / assessments of their own ecologist to approve the DA and that matter is now before the Land and Environment Court.
Not only is the area important for Regents (and Swift Parrots, called the “most important Spotted Gum site on the mainland” by the SP Recovery Team), but it is also home to many threatened and declining woodland birds such as Brown Treecreeper, Black-chinned Honeyeater, Speckled Warbler etc. I’m sure many of you voted for it in your ‘top birding sites’ too – it’s an incredibly biodiverse area.
Please sign and share the petition with as many people as you can.
A couple more shots of this fabulous Honeyeater, whose continued existence hangs by a thread..
You can see the damage that has already been done to this critical site from this map. The access roads and the first industrial unit have already been constructed, above the words Lower Hunter National Park!
For further information on HEZ Regent Honeyeaters visit: http://www.friendsoftumblebee.org/regent-honeyeater-national-park/