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Photography competition to highlight vital Hunter bird habitat

Amateur photographers are invited to take part in the inaugural Hunter Local Land Services (LLS) Shorebird Snapshot photographic competition next month.

The competition, which runs from 15-22 November, asks photographers of all ages to capture images of the shorebirds that visit Stockton Sandspit, a unique sanctuary along the Hunter River in the Hunter Wetlands National Park.

The sandspit, at the northern end of Stockton Bridge and only 12 kilometres from Newcastle, is a bird watching haven where masses of long-legged migratory shore birds - often hundreds at a time - gather and feed in the mangrove-ringed mud flats of the Hunter Estuary. 

Hunter LLS Project Officer, Jane Lloyd-Jones says the photo competition is a fantastic way for budding photographers to highlight the importance of Stockton Sandspit, which provides important habitat for these birds.

'Stockton Sandspit provides vital 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,' Ms Lloyd-Jones said.

'Some 30 species of migratory shorebirds fly more than 20,000 km round trip every year from breeding areas in Siberia, northern Asia and Alaska to spend the summer here in the estuary.'

'The competition provides budding photographers with an opportunity to photograph, and learn more about, the amazing migratory shorebirds that visit the Hunter each year, why they need to be protected, and how they can be photographed in a way that minimises disturbance to the birds and their habitat,' Ms Lloyd-Jones said.

The competition is open to amateur photographers of all ages, with categories for 'open', 'school students' and a 'people's choice' award.

In the 'open' category, the winner receives a $500 gift voucher. The 'people's choice' winner will receive a $300 voucher, and the 'school student' category winner will receive a $150 gift voucher. Runners up in each category will take home a prize pack.

All photos must have a shorebird theme and be taken at Stockton Sandspit between 15-22 November 2015, which is when flocks of migratory birds – such as the endangered Curlew Sandpiper and the Eastern Curlew - arrive at the estuary.

A competition launch day will be held from 10am – 3pm on Sunday, 15 November at the sandspit, with entrants encouraged to attend and photograph the shorebirds on this day so as to limit disturbance to the birds.

Images can be of shorebirds, shorebird habitat, evidence of shorebirds such as footprints, their diet, and/or people observing and appreciating shorebirds.

All entries will be uploaded to the Hunter LLS Facebook page, with the public able to vote for their favourite snap and determine the winner of the 'people's choice' category.

Winning entries will be exhibited on the Hunter Local Land Services website.

Entry is free. Entries close at midnight on Sunday, 22 November 2015.

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, including Stockton Sandspit. The Kooragang Wetlands Rehabilitation Project is supported by Hunter LLS through funding from the Hunter Catchment Contribution, a ratepayer levy to provide services in land management and flood mitigation in the Hunter River catchment. 

For more information and an entry form visit the Hunter LLS website at www.hunter.lls.nsw.gov.au or telephone Jane Lloyd-Jones on 4938 4958.

ENDS

Media contact: Hunter LLS Communications Officer Jillian Ayre - tel 02 4938 4932.