Hunter Region Birds

Subject: Hunter Region Birds
Date: Thu, 17 Nov 2005 16:12:54 -0800
Hi Birders,

I read with interest an article written by Mick Roderick of Harper Somers
O?Sullivan in the Newcastle Herald (14/11/2005).  In the article it was claimed
that ?more than 400 [bird] species have been recorded in the region ? about
half of Australia?s bird species?.  

The data source to substantiate this claim is unknown.  According to data
from the 1st and 2nd Birds Australia Atlas, and the Australian Bird Count
the total number of bird species for the entire Sydney Basion Bioregion is
just over 400.  Data from the aforementioned sources as well as from the
Hunter Bird Observers Club Annual Reports puts the total number of bird species
in the Hunter Region at 360.  This means that the total number of species
in the Hunter region is less than 400 and represents less than half of 
bird species.

The article also claimed that the Hunter Region supports ?100-plus more bird
species than Kakadu, which is an incredible fact.?  The Department of 
(DEH) website puts the total number of bird species in Kakadu at ?more than
280 species of birds?.  This means that the Hunter is more likely to support
<80 bird species than Kakadu. 

There is no doubt that the Hunter Region supports a high diversity of bird
species, and by virtue of its size, geographical location and landscape 
(e.g. Great Divide, Hunter River Estuary) however, it is not that unbelievable
that it supports more bird species than Kakadu.  For instance, the Hunter
Region occupies an area of 37,000 square kilometres much larger than the
19,804 square kilometres of Kakadu NP.  The Hunter Region is situated within
the Sydney Basin Bioregion, and abutts two other bioregions, the Brigalow
Belt South and NSW North Coast.  The close proximity of the Hunter Region
to these two biorgeions and similar patches of habitat across the three 
facilitates the presence and movement of many bird species between the 
 Moreover, the Hunter region supports a much larger extent of most habitat
types including marine, coastal, grassland, freshwater, rainforest (dry,
cool temperate, sub-tropical, warm temperate), temperate forests and woodland
than Kakadu.  

By comparison, the Liverpool Plains (an area west of the Hunter) occupies
an area of only 11,000 square kilometres (30% of the size of the Hunter Region).
 The Plains supports fewer potential habitat types than both Kakadu and the
Hunter, predominately temperate woodland, grassland, with very small patches
of temperate forest and some freshwater habitats.  There are no National
Parks in the Liverpool Plains, and most of the larger tracts of vegetation
are State Forests, which vary in their quality of habitat for birds.  Despite
this, data from the BA Atlas Projects, Liverpool Plains projects (1 and 2),
collected by volunteers, reveal that the Liverpool Plains supports 280 species
of birds, which is only 22% less bird species than the much larger and diverse
Hunter Region and only slightly less than Kakadu.  



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