Steve Happ Photography Ramblings and dissertations

January 16, 2009

Ash Island Wader Bird Survey

Filed under: Birds — admin @ 1:56 am

Ash Island, Hunter River, Newcastle

Saturday, January 10th, 2009
I went to an Ash Island Wader Survey with the local bird group. Alan and Neville were very kind to let me tag along and took me to some great places on Ash Island that I had never seen. We first went to Scotts Point where we saw a Baillons Crake near the She Oaks. Along the river a grand White-bellied Sea-eagle was fishing and then flew past us.

white-bellied sea-eagle
White-bellied Sea-eagle

Then we went down to Milhams Pond where there were a bunch of red-kneed dotterels hanging out with some sharp-tailed sandpipers. I also spotted a hare down there. Some Royal Spoonbills were there and this one flew past

royal spoonbill
Royal Spoonbill

Further along down Ramsar Road we spotted a Buff-banded Rail on the track.

buff-banded rail
Buff-banded Rail

Around the Wader Pond area we spotted heaps of waders and this Australian Pipit.

australian pipit
Australian Pipit

Off in the distance near the train line a pair of masked lapwings were harrassing a raptor, but it was too hard to identify what it was. We circled around the Swan pond past the railway line and back to the main tracks.

common greenshank
Common Greenshank

Whistling Kite
Whistling Kite

australian white ibis
Australian White Ibis

Ash Island Bird Species List

  • Darter
  • Baillons Crake
  • Buff-banded Rail
  • White-bellied Sea-eagle
  • Swamp Harrier
  • Whistling Kite
  • Dusky Moorhen
  • Purple Swamphen
  • Red-kneed Dotterel
  • Sharp-tailed Sandpiper
  • Common Greenshank
  • White-fronted Chat
  • Australian White Ibis
  • White-faced Heron
  • Royal Spoonbill
  • Cattle Egret
  • Chestnut Teal
  • Welcome Swallow
  • Masked Lapwing
  • Australian Pelican
  • Black Swan


  1. I don’t know how much you know about the Murray/Darling River System in Australia, but it is the longest and biggest river system we have in this very dry country of ours. It is very important economically and environmentally but due to over 6 years of severe drought it is under a lot of stress. Humans have dammed it up and are taking too much water from it for farming using inefficient methods.

    The Federal Government has been making noises (spoken and written words) for many years about fixing up the situation but it is just getting worse by the minute – I use minute because things are so critical for the environment at the moment that that is the only expression to use.

    Please write letters/emails and do all you can to highlight this issue overseas as this may be the only way we can get the Federal Government to actually do anything about it – it is that critical.

    Jenni van Rooyen

    Vale the Fairy Tern
    Sterna nereis

    Why should you be concerned about the extinction of this pretty little bird you may say? Well the reason is that this bird relies largely on the area near the mouth of the “mighty” Murray River to feed and breed and this area is dying rapidly as I write this. The Murray/Darling River System is the longest/largest and most important economically in Australia.

    I have heard and read about the very bad state that the Murray River is in yet until I visited the area known as the Coorong this week (Monday – 12 Jan 2009) I had no idea just how serious the situation is.

    It is dying, and rapidly, and along with it all the birds, crustaceans, fish etc which rely on it for their very life.

    This Fairy Tern is just one of the many forms of wildlife which rely on the Murray River system for their very survival. In the last few years these little birds have not been able to breed at all in this very important RAMSAR(internationally recognised) wetland. Go and see the video clip on this site: murraydarling/catalyst/ if you want to hear first hand about this little bird’s fate. When you get to this site click on: Coorong: End of the line.{thanks to Catalyst and ABC Television for having this wonderful site available}

    Many migratory wader birds, which have flown all the way from Siberia via Australia and New Zealand and need to return to the Northern Hemisphere to breed, are also under threat as many of them use the Coorong wetlands as an essential staging and feeding stopover in their incredible annual migration. See the map below for their Flyway:

    And now, despite the previous John Howard Liberal/National Government and now the present Kevin Rudd Labor Government, having tons of reports and studies to make a decision on they are still pussy footing around and not doing anything about fixing the problem.

    Sure, there is drought, but that is not the main problem, the main problem is human made i.e. we are taking too much water from the system and as a result allowing the whole river system to die.

    Something MUST be done RIGHT NOW if the river system is to have any hope of continuing to support any wildlife and ultimately human life along the Murray-Darling River System.

    I liken what the Federal and State Governments are doing as having someone in the Intensive Care Ward in a hospital with the main artery to the heart blocked but refusing to do anything to fix the problem until yet another study is undertaken and yet another report written to prove that putting a ‘stint’ in will unblock the artery and save the persons life because putting a stint in cannot be guaranteed to save the person’s life in the long term. That would be madness yet that is exactly what all the governments involved are doing – these include the Queensland, NSW, Victorian and South Australian state governments whose policies affect the use of the water from the Murray/Darling River System.

    So, please, please, please use the letter below to send an email or a letter to the prime minister of Australia and the premiers of the four states who have a say in what happens to this river system. You can change the letter in any way you want but whatever you do please send it. Also please send letters to your local newspapers as well as national papers to alert the people of your country to how serious this problem is.

    Jenni van Rooyen
    15 January 2009

    [Sample letter]

    {Your address}

    {Politicians Address}

    The Hon Kevin Rudd MP
    Prime Minister of Australia
    Parliament House



    Honourable Anna Bligh MP
    Premier of Queensland
    PO Box 5822, West End Qld 4101


    Hon Nathan Rees MP
    GPO Box 5341
    SYDNEY NSW 2001


    The Hon. John Brumby MP
    GPO Box 4912
    Melbourne Vic 3001

    He does not give out his email address either so you will have to go to this web site to contact him:,com_forme/fid,2/Itemid,61/


    Hon Mike Rann MP
    GPO Box 2343
    ADELAIDE SA 5001


    Dear ?


    I live in …………….. and have recently become aware of just how serious the environmental problems are in the Murray/Darling River System in Australia are.

    I know that this is an issue which the previous John Howard Federal government said that they were trying to do something about and despite millions of dollars being thrown at the problem nothing much has happened to actually fix it.

    Too many studies have been done and tons of reports have been written on how to fix this problem and now what is needed is the political will to do something about it and it can’t wait any longer.

    This poor river system is in the intensive care ward and if nothing is done now then it will die. I therefore call on the Australian Federal Government and the Queensland, NSW, Victorian and South Australian State governments to take action NOW.

    I would like your response to this email/letter ASAP as I know that the river system cannot wait any longer for something drastic and practical to be done right now.

    Yours faithfully

    {your name}

    Comment by Jenni van Rooyen — January 17, 2009 @ 2:01 am

  2. Hello there I am so happy I found your site, I really found you by accident, while I was searching on Bing for something else, Anyhow I am here now and would just like to say thanks a lot for a fantastic post and a all round exciting blog (I also love the theme/design), I don’t have time to go through it all at the minute but I have book-marked it and also added your RSS feeds, so when I have time I will be back to read a great deal more, Please do keep up the superb job.

    Comment by Elene Beresky — January 30, 2011 @ 12:36 am

  3. Hi Elene.

    thanks for the kind words and come back any time 🙂


    Comment by admin — January 30, 2011 @ 5:27 am

  4. Nice knowledge! I have been seeking for something such as this for a time these days. Many thanks!

    Comment by Ty — December 10, 2011 @ 2:21 pm

  5. Macht nichts.


    Comment by admin — December 12, 2011 @ 8:10 am

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