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Birds of Woodlands, Parks and Gardens in Port Stephens

Birds of Woodlands, Parks and Gardens in Port Stephens

– a forum for new enthusiasts!

Bird Calendars by Mat Spillard Photography

For those of you who came to our woodland bird forum in August or Walter Lamond’s book launch in September, you will have enjoyed Mat Spillard’s presentation of his stunning nature photography from around Port Stephens.

Now you can own a calendar of Mat’s beautiful images or buy one as a gift for someone special this festive season. There is a choice of 2 calendars:

The A3 calendar is a collection of Mat’s favourite shots from the past year, and costs $30.

The A4 is a little side project of Mat’s – The Nutmen – which you may have seen on the large screen at one of our above events. Cost is $25. Deliveries can be organised around the Port Stephens area.

Contact Mat by email or via his facebook page @MatSpillardPhotography

Birds of Woodlands, Parks and Gardens in Port Stephens

– a forum for new enthusiasts!

It was a packed house for EcoNetwork’s first ever Woodland Bird Forum on 20 August at Tomaree Community Centre. We are very grateful to our wonderful presenters who shared their knowledge, expertise and stunning bird photography with over 70 attendees. Many thanks to Neil Fraser, Louise Williams and Mat Spillard – you were all fantastic, and the feedback we have received has all been really positive.

Wegde Tailed Eagle – Photo © Mat Spillard
Here are some comments from the participants:

‘A lovely friendly atmosphere, great speakers, excellent co-ordination and all the sound and digital technology so professional!’

‘I am very new to birdwatching and despite having a bird guide I wasn’t sure if my identifications of birds just around my house/local parks etc were correct so it was nice to get a lesson on what the likely candidates are! The talk on endangered birds was fabulous too. I feel like I’ll be obsessively looking for regent honeyeaters now.’

‘Thank You for organising such a great event last Sunday. So much information and so well attended. I thoroughly enjoyed the whole morning and learnt a lot.’

‘Wishing you all best of luck in spotting our beautiful bird life in the area.’

Nature photographer Mat Spillard called it the ‘Hottest ticket in town! Thank you for inviting me along for the Woodland Birds event, I had a fantastic time and was very honoured to share the stage with Neil and Louise who spoke exceptionally. You created a first class event which was well received by all who attended.’

Neil Fraser said ‘Congratulations on organising an excellent workshop last weekend, The numbers attending were way more than I would have anticipated. A lot of hard work with an outstanding outcome. Well done!’

‘Neil’s bird walk: ‘We saw a good selection of birds and the highlight was seeing the Nankeen Night-Heron in breeding plumage. We also found some spoonbills as well as White Ibis and Little Pied Cormorant which are nesting in the melaleuca round the north pond. White-breasted Woodswallows have arrived and are roosting around the southern pond. Also found some excellent examples of flowering mistletoe with lorikeets feeding.’

Next Bird event

If you missed the forum or the 2 bird walks and you’d like to come to our next one, we have a special Walk’n’Talk during Aussie Bird Week in October. On the morning of Monday 16 October, we will again be visiting the Salamander Wetlands. Your experienced guide will be Graeme Stevens, Hunter Bird Observer and co-author of ‘Salamander Waters Estate: biodiversity of a highly modified environment’ published in The Whistler Volume 18, 2023. Read this excellent article here and Graeme will answer any questions you may have about the study on 16 October.

More details and to reserve your place, please email Ewa.

Some of the information and resources mentioned during the forum, more coming soon:

Why Your Garden Matters – Join the Plots by EcoNetwork

My favourite birding spots in Port Stephens by Neil Fraser

Mat Spillard Photography – Mat Spillard!

Regent Honeyeater captive release program – Mick Roderick

Stop poisoning our wildlife – EcoNetwork website

Hands up if you feed wild birds in your garden

Join EcoNetwork on Sunday 20 August 2023 for a morning of engaging presentations and panel discussions about the incredible diversity of woodland birds in beautiful Port Stephens.

The aim of our forum is to inform and excite novice bird enthusiasts, and to supply you with some basic knowledge to identify bird species, observe their behaviours and above all, appreciate their existence.

Who is invited?

Anyone curious to discover more about the birds in their neighbourhood. No prior knowledge of birds is required – we particularly encourage birdwatching beginners, those wishing to attract birds to their garden or keen to participate in local bird walks and surveys.

Sunday 20 August program

9.30am: Introduction to local birds and where to see them: Presented by Neil Fraser.

Ever wondered what that strange sound is coming from the bushes? Or whether that LBT (‘little brown thing’) might be more important to local biodiversity than meets the eye? Neil will give us the lowdown on what birds we have living amongst us and where the best spots are for a sneak peek!

10.15am: Threatened birds of Port Stephens and surrounds: Presented by Louise Williams.

Louise will introduce us to five of our threatened species, the processes putting them at risk and outline recovery actions underway to halt their declining populations.

11.00am: Tea Break

11.30am: Bird Talk with Mat

Local nature photographer, Mat Spillard will share some tips and techniques he uses when out in the field and he’ll let us into his secret spots for great bird photography! We will also get to see many of Mat’s stunning images, both in print and on the screen.

12.00pm: Spreading your Wings – panel discussion and Q&A session

How to be a birdwatcher … and why

  • Practical birdwatching tips
  • The benefits of recording and sharing bird observations
  • Using bird apps and bird guides.

Why your garden matters

  • Creating a wildlife-friendly space on your patch
  • Connections in your community
  • Importance of nature in your everyday life.

How to get involved

  • What to expect if you join a bird group
  • Aussie Backyard Bird Count 16-23 October 2023
  • Join our new Bird Lovers Book Club
  • Share your bird stories and experiences in EcoUpdate
  • Volunteering opportunities.

1pm Finish

We are hoping that these sessions will:

  • Improve your knowledge and understanding of local birds and their habitats.
  • Increase participation in future bird watching and projects in Port Stephens.
  • Provide opportunities for you to relax and enjoy your time in nature.

Optional Field Outing

In addition, there will be two woodland bird field outings led by Neil Fraser at the Salamander Wetlands on the mornings of Wednesday 23 August and Sunday 27 August.

The walks will take around 2.5 hours and will provide attendees the opportunity to see a variety of local woodland and wetlands birds in their natural habitat, as well as brush up on the bird ID skills they picked up at the forum. A check list of local species will be provided and we pretty sure some birds will be nesting at that time.

Once you have booked for the Forum, we will take your names if you’re interested in coming on one of the walks and then confirm attendance before or during the forum on 20 August, depending on numbers.

Our Presenters

Neil Fraser

Neil Fraser is a retired geologist who has a passion for studying and documenting avian activity in and around Port Stephens. He has been actively monitoring species populations in Mambo-Wanda Wetlands Reserve, Worimi Conservation Lands at Stockton Beach, Swan Bay and Broughton Island for many years, and has published a number of related research articles.

Neil has been a member of Hunter Bird Observers Club for over 20 years and is a joint-editor of the Club’s journal, The Whistler. As a member of the Tomaree Birdwatchers (a branch of NSW Bird Atlassers), Neil is our local ‘go to man’ for all things BIRD!

Louise Williams

Louise with Green Catbird. Photo (c) Rob Kyte.

Louise Williams is a self-confessed bird nerd and an active member of BirdLife Australia, Hunter Bird Observers Club as well as the Australian Bird Study Association.

Louise holds degrees in Biodiversity and Conservation as well as in Education which led to her to teach Earth and Environmental Science, Biology and Physics at NSW secondary schools for many years. In 2018, she obtained a Graduate Diploma of Ornithology and is currently studying threatened shorebirds in the Hunter region as part of her PhD program at the University of Newcastle.

Louise studied the distribution and abundance of the Rufous Scrub-bird in north-eastern NSW for her honours degree. She holds an A-class Bird Banding Authority issued by the Australian Bird and Bat Banding Scheme, and assists with various bush bird projects in the Hunter region.

Mathew Spillard

Since moving to Port Stephens 12 years ago, photography became a great form of escapism for Mat and the perfect way to explore the local area. Enjoying the beautiful landscapes, Mat soon found himself drawn to the bush and lagoon systems throughout the area, where he got to observe a large variety of birdlife, many species for the first time. Over the past few years he has photographed many of our regular Port Stephens birds as well as our seasonal visitors.

Mat believes that ‘spending time in the bush you really get to appreciate to importance of conserving and protecting our local habitats to safeguard them for the wildlife’s future. I often think when I have photographed a new species to me, that I really hope I see that again. The more interest we get in the ecosystem the better it will be for our future generations.’

This is a free event and places are limited, so Book NOW

A gold coin donation towards bird resource materials and refreshments would be much appreciated!

For all enquiries, contact Ewa.

This event is organised by EcoNetwork Port Stephens with the kind support from members of Hunter Bird Observers Club and BirdLife Australia.

Published: 22 Jun 2023