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Welcoming Shorebirds to the Hunter

The community is invited to Stockton Sandspit in the Hunter River estuary from 10am to 2pm on Sunday 9 November to welcome some special shorebirds to town and learn more about this important bird habitat.

The annual Welcome Shorebirds Community Day, coordinated by Hunter Local Land Services (LLS), allows the community to observe some 30 species of migratory shorebirds who fly more than 20,000 km round trip every year from breeding areas in Siberia, northern Asia and Alaska to spend the summer in the estuary.

Previous community days have attracted hundreds of visitors, many visiting Stockton Sandspit just north of Stockton Bridge in the Hunter Wetlands National Park, for the first time.

Hunter LLS Senior Land Services Officer, Peggy Svoboda, said the event celebrates the importance of the Hunter estuary and the Kooragang Wetlands, an important habitat for these birds.

'There will be hands-on activities for all ages including bird observing, tree planting, kids' craft activities, and Aboriginal culture activities with the NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service, plus lots more,' Ms Svoboda said.

'Members of the Hunter Bird Observers Club will be conducting guided walks around the site and will have spotting scopes on hand for the public to use to view the many shorebirds.'

Ms Svoboda said the sandspit provides important habitat for a variety of shorebird species, especially at this time of the year when migratory birds from as far away as the northern hemisphere visit the site to feed and rest before embarking on their long journey back to their breeding grounds.

'Attendees can expect to see Eastern Curlew (largest of the waders) Bar-tailed and Black-tailed godwits (longest non-stop fliers) and Sharp-tailed Sandpiper (most abundant in the estuary at present) along with spectacular local species such as Red-necked Avocet,' Ms Svoboda said.

'The Bar-tailed Godwit breeds on the Arctic coasts and makes the longest known non-stop flight of any land bird flying some 11,000 km non-stop for nine days along a route from Alaska to the east coast of Australia.'

Bike enthusiasts are welcome to join Newcastle Cycleways Movement Inc in a group ride to the event along the Stockton Foreshore cycleway, a self-guided scenic ride along coast, wetlands and harbour foreshore, which is part of the NSW Coastal Cycleway route.

The bicycle ride will depart Stockton Ferry Terminal at 9.30 am. For more information about the ride call 0408 636 437.

Hunter LLS supports the Kooragang Wetlands Rehabilitation Project, a project developed to protect, restore and create habitat for shorebirds, fish, frogs and other wildlife in the Hunter estuary.

Check events for more details about this and other LLS events and workshops.

Contact Jillian Ayre (Mon, Tues, Wed) Phone (02) 4938 4932 or Maree Whelan (Thurs, Fri) Phone (02) 4938 4932 or Mobile 0418 960 817.