Rainbow Bee-eater

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hakeae's picture
Rainbow Bee-eater

I recently saw my first-ever Rainbow Bee-eater. I thought it was pretty exciting :). A local birder then told me where to find a whole colony of them, but added that their terriory was really degraded and right next to a 4WD track. He has made approaches to the Council to get some improvement/ protection for them but had not had any success. I went to check it out today and sure enough, as soon as I got there I saw 2 & I could hear others around. The 2 were just sitting on the branch of a leafless stick-tree of unknown type, in a barren wasteland. It looks like they've done some grading or reshaping of the frontal dune. I've attached a pic but not sure whether it shows how desolate it looked. Any ideas on whether we can do anything to improve the situation?

Location: Hat head NSW.

Woko's picture

The rainbow bee eater is a stunning bird, hakeae, & many years ago I experienced the same sense of excitement at seeing my first one. Two, actually.

I'm not sure what you mean by improving the situation, hakeae. The sand hill looks like excellent rainbow bee eater nesting territory to me, one drawback being the proximity to 4 wheel drivers & their chariots of fire. Did you mean improve by protecting the area from 4 wheel drivers or did you mean that the area has been degraded & is in need of ecological restoration?  Or both?

If the former then perhaps a joint approach by you & the local birder to council might have greater impact. A joint approach to the local newspaper might also highlight the predicament of the rainbow bee eaters & put pressure on council to ensure that the birds receive protection. As well, if there's a 4 wheel drive club behind the threat to the birds then an approach to the executive of the club would be in order. I'm aware that 4 wheel drive clubs, in general, are somewhat careful about how they're perceived in the community. A number are keen to be seen as environmentally friendly & the issue of the rainbow bee eaters might be something they'd like to get their gear teeth into.

There's no harm at all in adopting a multi-pronged approach so that pressure to protect the rainbow bee eaters comes from all directions at once & so quickly they'll think they're surrounded.

If by improving the situation you mean restoring the environment then approaches could be made by you & the birder (always better in numbers) to the Department of Environment (or whatever it's called today in NSW), local environmental group or groups & the local landcare group. Given the state of God's Earth I've even wondered lately whether some churches might be prepared to take up arms in the fight to preserve His/Her creation. Of course, if you're a visitor rather than a local then there's not a lot you can do other than bring the problem to the attention of the local media & hope that someone will pick up the baton & run with it.

In your photo I think I spy hoof or foot prints. Foot prints I suspect as Google Earth places Hat Head on the NSW coast. Those prints plus the dead trees & relatively low degree of vegetation cover are indicators of a disturbed natural environment in need of rehabilitation. I'm not sure what the green vegetation is but its brightness might mean a weed infestation. If so, then that's another indicator of environmental disturbance which needs lots of attention. Is there a coastal protection group at Hat Head or nearby who might be interested in protecting & restoring the area?

Actions to protect birds & the environment can be very draining & frustrating as bureaucrats will stall & shilly shally in their efforts to avoid upsetting anyone & thereby preserve their power & positions. So much depends on the pressure they feel to do something. You might be fortunate & enlist the collaboration of environmentally motivated people. If you're a Hat Head local hope for, even assume the best in the nature of people but be prepared for the long haul.  

Night Parrot
Night Parrot's picture

Had a look at Hat Head on Google Maps and it appears it is within a National Park. Doesn't look like a national park. Should make it easier for voices to be heard from an environmental viewpoint.

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