Re: Regent Honeyeater at Newstead, Vic.

Subject: Re: Regent Honeyeater at Newstead, Vic.
Date: Thu, 12 Jun 2003 10:38:48 +1000

Lawrie Conole wrote "Either way, in Newstead it is well and truly lost - though in former Regent Honeyeater haunts"

Now, I know what Lawrie meant so I won't take him to task on this but it offers an opportunity to provide some comments on the distribution and occurrence of Regent Honeyeater in Victoria, at least as we understand it.

Everyone would be aware that Regent Honeyeaters has suffered a dramatic decline in distribution in Victoria (as well as extinction in South Australia).  The majority of records now comes from the north-east of the state (primarily Chiltern) and across the border in the suburbs of Albury.  The number of records in recent years suggests that the decline of the Regent Honeyeater is still happening in Victoria with perhaps only 50-100 birds remaining (closer to 50 than 100??).

This, however, is only a small part of the story.  For a fair proportion of the year Regent Honeyeaters are not at Chiltern which begs the question of just where are they?  Now there's the $64000 question!  The Regent HE and Swift Parrot Recovery Teams hold two annual search weekends a year in May and August in an effort to get as many people out there looking in suitable habitat.  This invariable results in very few Regents being found in Victoria despite the massive effort.

Where do we think they are disappearing to?  Evidence in NSW suggests that they probably move around in small groups only forming larger flocks at favoured sites with high levels of resources.  Bear in mind that the population size in Victoria is probably working against the formation of anything but a small group.  Single Regent Honeyeaters or small groups can be very cryptic.  I've walked around areas where I knew there were Regent Honeyeaters and have had trouble locating them feeding quietly in the upper canopy.  This behaviour works against us locating them.

So where are they?  Sightings in Victoria point towards them moving around the edge of the high country - south to places like Alexandra and in some years further to the Melbourne suburbs.  This past twelve months or so we have even had two records from Gippsland!  Add to this the occasional record from a former stronghold - Lurg near Benalla and then records from late last year from Puckapunyal and we are getting further into territory once used regularly by Regent Honeyeaters.  From Puckapunyal to Newstead is not that great a stretch of the imagination particularly as there are fairly extensive Red Ironbark forests between the two.

So, there are probably Regent Honeyeaters out there (they have to be somewhere) but they are cryptic and in small numbers.  Nevertheless you have to look to find them.  


David Geering
Regent Honeyeater Recovery Coordinator
NSW National Parks & Wildlife Service
P.O. Box 2111
Dubbo  NSW  2830
Ph: 02 6883 5335 or Freecall 1800 621 056
Fax: 02 6884 9382

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