Thinking About Birds

The Manning River flows through Taree then splits into a large delta with two entrances to the Pacific Ocean, one near Old Bar and the other at Harrington. The Manning Estuary has lots of shorebirds especially in summer and I have done monthly surveys there since 2008. In subsequent years I've expanded my survey effort to include several other sites in the lower Manning Valley.

I had visited Harrington occasionally in the 1990s and 2000s and I had seen shorebirds during my visits. In 2002 a very rare bird for Australia, the Kentish Plover, turned up at Old Bar and I made my first ever visit there. I discovered there were lots of “common” shorebirds there that day too.

Over subsequent years, I came to realise that nobody took the Manning Estuary seriously! I noticed that birdwatchers would sometimes visit but not to do any systematic surveying, and there seemed never to be any winter visits.

Towards the end of 2007, I decided it was time for action. My first survey was done in January 2008. Over 2008-2015 I only missed three months – and one of those times was because storms and floodwaters prevented me from getting to my sites; another was when an injury temporarily prevented me from driving. However, I dropped the ball in 2016, with only four visits over the year. I was doing a bit better in 2017, but not since mid year.

Papers

Stuart, A. (2008). A Preliminary Assessment of the Importance of the Manning River for Shorebirds and Other Waterbirds. The Whistler 2: 13-19

Stuart, A. (2009). Shorebird prey item for Eastern Osprey. The Whistler 3: 57

Stuart, A. (2011). Robbing behaviour by Australian Pelicans. The Whistler 5: 58

Stuart, A. (2014). Manning Estuary Population Counts 2008-2013. Stilt  65: 38-40

Stuart, A. (2017). Comparison of two ephemeral wetlands in the lower Manning Valley. The Whistler 11: 54-56.


Other

Birds of the Manning (a talk to the July 2014 HBOC meeting)


Poems

In Serried Ranks


Latest news

A group of Aleutian Terns was discovered at Mudbishops Point (in Manning Entrance State Park) on 11 Dec (by a clever birder named Liam Murphy). This species has never before been recorded in Australia. Liam found 10 birds; there were at least 14 birds when I visited the site on 15 Dec. There have been lot of visitors since Liam's discovery and many other rarities are being reported (some possibly correctly).


Some recent news

In my trips to the Manning Valley, I often visit two small wetlands in the Harrington / Coopernook area. I've recently analysed the results from four years of surveys at them over 2013-2017 and written a short paper about my findings. It just now has been accepted for The Whistler.