Conservation - Kooragang Island

Subject: Conservation - Kooragang Island
From: "David Geering"<>
Date: Mon, 22 Jun 1998 08:33:12 +1000
I would like to whole-heartedly support Alan's request for assistance
regarding the conservation of "The Big Pond", Kooragang Island, Newcastle.

There are now almost no freshwater wetlands remaining in the Hunter River
estuary system, the closest being that bit further upstream at Shortland.
Many were destroyed for reclamation for industrial land or by the incursion
of salt water due to changes in hydrology bought about by construction of
the industrial infrastructure on the island, or islands as they once were.
The importance of The Big Pond is clear when one compares the usage by
waders of this wetland with the Shortland wetlands system.  Small numbers
of the smaller waders do get to Shortland but this pales into
insignificance with the number that regularly used The Big Pond when it had
suitable water levels.  What many birders would be unaware of was its
importance as a night roost.  I often looked at the pond at night and, if
the tide was high, would find large numbers of knot, sandpipers, godwit,
avocet and plover.  Interestingly, Lesser Golden Plover were often there
regardless of the tide, feeding on the mud.

Birders to Kooragang last summer would have been appalled at the state of
The Big Pond.  It contained very shallow water after rain but this very
quickly evaporated leaving nothing but a large expanse of dry mud.  If we
are serious about conserving this estuary for shorebirds we can't afford to
lose this wetland.  Long time visitors to the island would lament the
almost total disappearance of some of the smaller waders: Broad-billed
Sandpiper, once regular in good numbers, are down to one or two birds a
year; Lesser Sand Plover, Double-banded Plover and Lesser Golden Plover
have all decreased in number over the past three decades.

Please support the Hunter Bird Observers Club on this one.

David Geering

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