<h2>Celebrating <strong>Beauty</strong> & Diversity</h2><h3>Superb Fairy-wren</h3> <h2><strong>Bringing Back</strong> Vanishing Species</h2><h3>Regent Honeyeater</h3> <h2><strong>Sharing,</strong> Exploring & Discovering</h2><h3>Discovering Shorebirds outing</h3> <h2><strong>Connecting</strong> with Nature's Wonders</h2><h3>Double-banded Plover</h3> <h2>Sharing Nature's Awesome <strong>Majesty</strong></h2><h3>Yellow-nosed Albatross</h3> <h2>Planting a <strong>future</strong> for threatened species</h2><h3>Capertee Valley tree planting</h3> <h2><strong>Reducing</strong> the Threat of Extinctions</h2><h3>Superb Parrot</h3>

Regent Honeyeater

Regent Honeyeater Survey in the Capertee Valley

September 30 – October 3, 2016

Elisabeth Karplus reports

The Regent Honeyeater surveys together with the twice yearly tree planting in the Capertee Valley are part of a BirdLife Southern NSW project which began in 1993. The project contributes to the Regent Honeyeater Recovery effort which is coordinated by the national Regent Honeyeater Team. Birding NSW carries out this survey annually in October. BirdLife Southern NSW and Cumberland Bird Observers’ Club survey the same sites annually in August and September respectively.

Twenty one people took part in the 2016 survey, which took place on the same weekend at the Birding NSW camp-out in the Capertee National Park. We welcomed Mal Stokes, who lives in Rylstone, to the survey. We divided up into six groups with plans to survey all 12 sites on Saturday. Unfortunately we could not survey on the Huntingdale site as the promised key was not left out for us and the Goolooinboin Station manager was away for the weekend. Alas we saw no Regent Honeyeaters on the survey sites. We recorded 10 nectar-feeding bird species including Musk and Little Lorikeets. Little Lorikeets (listed as Vulnerable under NSW Endangered Species Legislation in the Capertee CMA sub-region – see link at the end of this report) were common around Glen Davis Campground and Glen Davis Pipeline sites where there were flowering trees. The most common honeyeaters seen were White-plumed Honeyeaters, Noisy Friarbirds, Red Wattlebirds and Noisy Miners. Yellow-faced, Fuscous, White-naped and Brown-headed Honeyeaters were seen on three, three, two and one site respectively. We surveyed on the day after a very cold day and our survey day was cool and cloudy.

We also recorded 61 other species on survey sites. Dusky Woodswallows, which have recently been listed as Vulnerable in the Capertee CMA sub-region, were seen on four sites. Other listed species seen during the survey were Turquoise Parrots (one site), Brown Treecreepers (seven sites), Speckled Warblers (one site), Grey-crowned Babblers (one site) and Diamond Firetails (one site).

Although we saw no Regent Honeyeaters on the survey sites, we all went to the Capertee National Park on Saturday afternoon where we saw two Regent Honeyeaters in flowering Ironbarks close to the Homestead and two other birds in flowering trees near the campground.

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Regent Honeyeater in Capertee National Park — Photograph by Jodi Webber

On Sunday morning most of the surveyors walked along a trail into Wollemi National Park. This proved to be very productive with 37 species being sighted. Rock Warbler, White-bellied Cuckoo-Shrike, Black-chinned Honeyeater, Leaden Flycatcher and Varied Sittella were added to the list for the weekend.

Regent Honeyeater in Capertee National Park — Photograph by Jodi Webber

Six members who camped at the campsite in Capertee National Park took park in the survey. They also explored other areas within the park although some places could not be reached because of the wet conditions.
More Regent Honeyeaters were seen including two at the campsite. Allan Richards who lead the campout recorded 142 species for the weekend.

Regent Honeyeater in Capertee National Park – Photograph by Jodi Webber

The next Regent Honeyeater survey will take place in October 2017. I would like to encourage everyone to take part in this survey since Regent Honeyeater numbers have dropped dramatically and the Capertee Valley is one of the most important sites for these critically endangered birds.

(http://www.environment.nsw.gov.au/threatenedSpeciesApp/cmaSearchResults.aspx?SubCmaId=40)

 


Report on Tree-planting – April 2016 – John Rawson

Tree planting in the Capertee Valley to assist Regent Honeyeater April 2016

John Rawson reports

 


Regent Honeyeater Survey in the Capertee Valley

October 3 – 4, 2015

Elisabeth Karplus

 

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One of the three Regent Honeyeaters seen st the Huntingdale site. Photo by Allan Pidgeon

 

The Regent Honeyeater surveys together with the twice yearly tree planting in the Capertee Valley are part of a BirdLife Southern NSW project which began in 1993. The project contributes to the Regent Honeyeater Recovery effort which is coordinated by the national Regent Honeyeater Team. Birding NSW carries out this survey annually in October. BirdLife Southern NSW and Cumberland Bird Observers’ Club survey the same sites annually in August and September respectively.

Capertee surveyors 2015

October 2015 Regent Honeyeater surveyors at Genowlan Bridge – photo by Elisabeth Karplus

 

Sixteen people took part in the 2015 survey. Our survey group included six people, who had done the surveys previously. We were all grateful for their directions both to the 12 sites and around the sites. The sites are surveyed for 45 to 60 minutes depending on the size of the site. We divided up into five groups to survey 10 sites on Saturday. Lori and Max surveyed the Bogee site on Sunday morning while the rest of us went to survey along the Capertee River on the Huntingdale site.

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Seen at the Huntingdale site — -Photo by Allan Pidgeon

 

This is now the most reliable site for Regent Honeyeaters and thanks to Chris and Camila, we found a single Regent Honeyeater feeding in flowering mistletoe and subsequently two other birds were sighted. Only as we were leaving did we notice that there was an orange ribbon on a stick, which marked the area where the Regent Honeyeaters were being seen! These birds chased away several other honeyeaters (White-plumed Honeyeaters, Noisy Friarbirds) and also several Diamond Firetails, which were nesting in one of the trees favoured by the Regent Honeyeaters. Again thanks to Camila, Penny’s group saw another Regent Honeyeater south of Genowlan Bridge. This one was banded so we hope to learn where and when it was banded. Before leaving the valley, Allan and Rosie drove to Capertee National Park, where they saw at least five more Regent Honeyeaters in a large flowering ironbark.

 

As well as Regent Honeyeaters, we recorded the numbers of other nectar-feeding birds, which could compete with Regent Honeyeaters.  We recorded 11 species of honeyeaters overall. Noisy Friarbirds, Red Wattlebirds, Noisy Miners and White-plumed Honeyeaters were seen in large numbers on several sites. Other honeyeaters seen were Striped, Brown-headed, White-naped, Yellow-faced, Fuscous and Eastern Spinebill. Little Lorikeets were seen or heard on seven sites. We also recorded 63 other species during the surveys and another six species outside the survey times or elsewhere in the valley. It was pleasing to see Jacky Winters on eight sites and Brown Treecreepers on 10 sites as numbers of these woodland birds are falling elsewhere. Diamond Firetails were seen on two sites. Up to 25 Diamond Firetails were seen feeding on seeding grasses near the cottage, where we were staying on “Brymair”. Other interesting birds seen during the weekend included Western Gerygones and Speckled Warblers (both seen on “Brymair”) and a Crimson Chat (seen near Glen Davis).

The next Regent Honeyeater survey will take place in October 2016. I would like to encourage people to take part in this survey since Regent Honeyeater numbers have dropped dramatically and the Capertee Valley is one of the most important sites for these critically endangered birds.

 



Valiant volunteers still trying to help the critically endangered Regent Honeyeater

Some of the 15 members of the Dera Sacha Sauda spiritual group from Sydney. They travelled four hours and were at the gate at 7:45.

Some of the 15 members of the Dera Sacha Sauda spiritual group from Sydney. They travelled four hours and were at the gate at 7:45.

It’s 9am and there are about 3000 trees to get in the ground.

 Words and photos by Madeleine Murray

The tree plantings in the Capertee Valley have been going since 1993, and they are just getting better. Support from Taronga Zoo has been excellent, and is growing. This time, Saturday 15 August, there were over 50 youth volunteers and staff from Taronga Zoo and Dubbo Western Plains Zoo.

Unfortunately the numbers have not been swelling for the bird in question. When the plantings began in 1993, there were about 1200 Regent Honeyeaters in the wild. Now there are less than 500. What is going on?

Ross Crates is trying to find the answer to this mysterious decline. Crates has just started a PhD on the spectacular black-and-yellow bird, and his research is outlined on his ANU page:

Jasper Pressley with Ross Crates, whose PhD will research the mysterious decline of Regent Honeyeaters.

Jasper Pressley with Ross Crates, whose PhD will research the mysterious decline of Regent Honeyeaters.

“The Regent Honeyeater population has declined as a result of extensive habitat loss throughout its range, but much more drastically than other species. I aim to identify factors that explain this disproportionate decline, in order to assist the conservation of the Regent Honeyeater and other woodland birds.”

So despite the discouraging data, the plantings continue. The trees still provide good habitat for a range of other birds, including six threatened species.

Don Anderson arrived early with a trailer full of hoses, clamps and pumps.

Don Anderson arrived early with a trailer full of hoses, clamps and pumps.

As usual, there was a convoy of 4WDs from the Land Rover Owners Club. These dedicated volunteers do the logistics, transport the 3000 tubestock to siteThe Land Rover Owners Club supplies and operates all the equipment for the vital watering. and supply portable water tanks with hoses and pumps mounted on trailers for the crucial job of watering.

 

On Friday, 11 volunteers from Greystanes High School in Western Sydney laid out the plants about five metres apart.

And in an unexpected twist, 15 members of an Indian spiritual group dedicated to humanity were waiting at the gate Saturday morning at 7:45am, having gotten up at 4am and driven from Sydney. This was a new and very welcome addition to the plantings.

The Dera Sacha Sauda spiritual group, based in India, has about 1000 members in Sydney.

Some members of the enthusiastic Dera Sacha Sauda spiritual group.

Some members of the enthusiastic Dera Sacha Sauda spiritual group.

Generally they work as engineers, accountants, and in other professions. Part of the philosophy is helping humanity by doing good deeds.

“We are very keen to plant trees,” said Sukhdeeb Insan. “There aren’t too many trees in Sydney, I don’t know why. We have been tree planting for the Parramatta and Blacktown Councils. Mostly we try to find volunteer work on Sunday because we all have jobs. One thousand people are ready for welfare works.”

Capertee Valley is one of the great secrets of Australia. Few people have even heard of or visited this spectacular valley surrounded by towering sandstone cliffs. So isolated but still so close to Lithgow, Mudgee and Sydney.

“This is the first time we are here,” said Insan. “It is very fantastic.”
The movement, based in India, is dedicated to helping humanity. It holds several Guinness World Records for the most trees planted simultaneously!

The movement, based in India, is dedicated to helping humanity. It holds several Guinness World Records for the most trees planted simultaneously!

The group holds the Guinness World Record for the most number of trees (1,945,535) planted simultaneously at multiple locations across India in a day, as well as a world record for the most blood donors in a day (15,432).

“Last Thursday we all donated blood, because this month is our guru’s birthday,” Insan said. “We celebrate our teacher’s birthday by doing things like planting trees and giving blood.”

Further up the paddock a little boy was digging away beside his grandmother. “I’m planting trees to help the honey plant…I mean the honey bee…what?!” Charlie Pressley, 3, blurted out.

 

Diane Rawson with two grandsons, Charley, 3, and Mer, 8.

Diane Rawson with two grandsons, Charley, 3, and Mer, 8.

Charley Pressley, 3, said, “I’m planting trees to help the honey plant…I mean the honey bee…what?!”

Charley Pressley, 3, said, “I’m planting trees to help the honey plant…I mean the honey bee…what?!”

Diane Rawson and her husband were looking after their grandchildren for 10 days while the parents were overseas. She explained:

“We showed them a picture of the Regent Honeyeater, and told them there were only about 400 left in the world, so it’s a good idea for everybody to help them, even little people who are only three years old!”

Around 11am, the big Taronga Zoo bus arrived from Sydney. Regent Honeyeater Education Project in situ Coordinator Kerry Staker explained there would be three different groups arriving this time: some from Dubbo Zoo Western Plains, some from Taronga Zoo via Dubbo where they had been on a camp-out, and others from Taronga Zoo direct.

“All in all we have more than 50 people today coming from three different meeting points,” Staker said. “The YATZ love coming tree planting. They’re the biggest drivers of it. If there weren’t the numbers behind it, we couldn’t afford to do it, to bring the big bus. It’s really heartening to see the young people get into it.”

Taronga’s YATZ program has attracted about 400 young people who are passionate about animals and conservation. They do all sorts of interesting things, like zoo campouts, bird release, and work at the zoo.

YATZ Tess Jones, Hughie Taylor and Freya Overton

YATZ Tess Jones, Hughie Taylor and Freya Overton

Christine Biela is researching Taronga Zoo’s innovative in situ programs, which comprise practical work such as tree planting or captive-bred bird release, with local school education about the environment.

“Taronga does amazing work,” Biela said. “I moved here from the United States on the Australian Endeavour Scholarship to research Taronga Zoo’s in situ programs, which are great education models that combine community engagement with endangered species conservation.”

The zoo volunteers poured off the bus, grabbed some tools and headed out to the paddock where Jenny Schabel showed them how to plant a tree properly.

With panoramic views towards the cliffs, the site was beautiful but the clay soil was very hard. A tractor had ripped rows in the paddock a few weeks before but for some reason the rips were too deep so the volunteers had to dig a hole from scratch beside the rip. This was very difficult and made the planting slow.

In her demonstration, Schabel emphasised that quality was more

Jenny Schabel shows the Taronga Zoo volunteers how to plant a tree properly.

Jenny Schabel shows the Taronga Zoo volunteers how to plant a tree properly.

IMG_8267important than quantity. The tree has to be planted below the field level, in a slight depression. If it sticks up, the water will wash away the soil and expose the roots ­– the tree won’t survive. The soil has to be broken up as much as possible so there are no big air pockets.

After vetting the list of applicants for a planting, retired forester Dick Turner meets the landowner who has been chosen, and they work together. But not this time.

Turner said: “It was all done by phone or email, which is not the way I like to work. The landowner Jean Findlay and I were on the property at different times. But to her enormous credit, as we discussed on the phone last week, she told both neighbours there would be a mob of tree planters on the property today. That’s good that she did that.”

The owners have an obligation to maintain the fence between the properties.

“We don’t really want to fence off this six hectares, though we thought of a temporary electric fence,” said Turner. “There were 32 kangaroos around most of the morning. One of the things kangaroos and other mammals are interested in is the fresh soil. They come around looking at that and see the fresh shoot coming up and nip it off. That may not kill the plant, but if they do it two or three times, it may be the end of the plant.”

In spite of the problems, there has been an 80% success rate over the 22 years.

The trees are grown from seeds taken from the immediate area of each planting. This time, it was 600 White Box, a few Mugga Ironbark, some Blakeley’s Red Gum and the nectar-bearing Yellow Box. For every tree, there is a shrub on either side.

At noon, there were still about 2000 trees left to plant.

At noon, there were still about 2000 trees left to plant.

The seeds were gathered in the valley, and grown to tubestock by locals Kerry Cooke and Dominique della Libera.

The Capertee Valley Regent Honeyeater Recovery Project is funded by the Federal Government, through the Central Tablelands Local Land Services. Volunteers have planted over 118,000 trees in the valley since the project started in 1993.

High school student Freya Overton, 17, was planting trees and also running behind a Land Rover with a yellow hose to water the plants. Overton has been in YATZ for about four years.

Peter van Winden from the LROC, and YATZ volunteer Freya Overton run behind the vehicle to water the plants.

Peter van Winden from the LROC, and YATZ volunteer Freya Overton run behind the vehicle to water the plants.

“I have a passion for animals,” she said. “I started riding horses when I was four years old and that was the starting point. I’ve done many things with YATZ: tree planting of course, releasing 71 captive-bred Regent Honeyeaters into Chiltern Forest in Victoria.
“I went to Nepal last year for three weeks to do conservation for Red Pandas. We went searching for scat, looking for Red Pandas and found two in the wild – a brother and sister! We went to a school to educate the kids about Red Pandas. It was an amazing trip.”

It’s very impressive to meet young people who are already so clear and committed. YATZ volunteer Mia Yaffe said,

YATZ volunteers Mia Yaffe, 16 and Tyra Bowers, 15.

YATZ volunteers Mia Yaffe, 16 and Tyra Bowers, 15.

“Ever since can remember I’ve been interested in animals. Then I heard about this program and really wanted to join. Since then, I’ve become more and more passionate about conservation and about what I and other people my age can do to help preserve the amazing wildlife in this country.”

Debbie de Groot and Rod Smith came from Mudgee for the weekend and were camping at Glen Davis with their two-and-a-half-year-old twins, Lou and Scout. “One of them started to get a cold in the middle of the night so it was pretty hard,” said de Groot.

“Tonight will be better,” Smith said optimistically.

Ross Crates has come from England to work on his PhD in Regent Honeyeaters: “I started about six months ago at ANU. I just came up here to do my first bit of field work. I’ve been in the Capertee for the last six days and I’ve already found some Regents. They were just out this afternoon down by the tree planting.

“Regent Honeyeaters are fascinating birds, in how they move around the landscape. There’s so much we need to find out about them. They’re a very challenging species to study as well. They are very rare and they don’t always turn up in the same spot. So hopefully I can help out with the project in the next four years.”

The planting and watering didn’t finish until 4pm, at which point the Zoo people, and the Indian group headed back to Sydney. The rest got ready for the delicious dinner prepared by locals in the Glen Alice hall that evening.

Although there are less than 500 Regent Honeyeaters left, different survey groups found nine in the valley on Sunday morning. Perhaps there is still hope for this beautiful, critically endangered bird.