Birds

 

Tarkine is home, at various times, to more than 130 different species of birds, throughout its variety of habitat types and landscapes. This includes eleven of Tasmania’s twelve endemic birds. The two migratory species that breed only in Tasmania, the Swift Parrot, and the Orange-bellied Parrot, forage in the Tarkine. The latter, a critically endangered species, breeds in south-west Tasmania but migrates along the west coast and forages on coastal plants. Consequently the Tarkine’s coastal vegetation is extremely important habitat. The endangered Swift Parrot breeds predominantly in south-east Tasmania and feeds on the nectar from the Tasmanian Blue Gum, and in the Tarkine, the Swift Parrot forages on these trees during the post-breeding dispersal and migration season.

The Tarkine’s bird species richness is correlated to the Tarkine’s rich habitat diversity; the sea, coastal shores, freshwater wetlands, streams and estuaries, heathland-moorland mosaic of the coastal plains, woodland and open forests, wet eucalypt forests, mixed forest and extensive rainforest.

The rugged, rocky coastline and beaches provide important foraging and resting habitat for migratory shorebirds, particularly for resident beach-nesting birds such as oystercatchers, plovers, dotterals and terns. Many beach-nesting birds such as the Pied Oystercatcher, Hooded Plover and Fairy Tern are declining and threatened by the use of off-road vehicles, and by disturbance and interference by people and domestic pets.

The intertidal estuaries and freshwater lagoons, rivers, streams and marshes that drain the Norfolk Ranges are significant habitat for waterbirds such as Black Swans, ducks, grebes, rails, herons, egrets and marsh-nesting birds such as the ground-nesting, migratory Swamp Harrier. The lower stretches of some rivers and streams are home to the magical but threatened Tasmanian subspecies of the Azure Kingfisher.

The mosaic of heath and moorland vegetation in the western Tarkine provides habitat to a range of bird species, including the Beautiful Firetail, Horsefield’s Bronze cuckoo, the Tawny-crowned Honeyeater, the Ground Parrot, the Southern Emu-wren, Striated Fieldwren, Richard’s pipit, Brown Quail, Blue-winged parrot, little wattlebird, and a number of common species such as honeyeaters. The coastal eucalypt forests and the rich tapestry of wilderness rainforest and other wet forests east of the Norfolk Ranges are home to most of Tasmania’s sixty-eight native birds that breed in forests and woodlands.

The presence of bird predators is generally regarded as a key indicator of a healthy ecosystem, and the Tarkine is home to all nine diurnal raptors and two nocturnal found in Tasmania. Tasmania’s largest diurnal raptors are the Tasmanian subspecies of the Wedge-tailed Eagle, and the White-bellied Sea-Eagle, with the Masked Owl the largest nocturnal predator. All three species are threatened with extinction and are considered endangered. The Tarkine provides significant habitat for some fifteen to twenty pairs of the Wedge-tailed Eagle and six pairs of White-bellied Sea-Eagle, and the Grey Goshawk as well as habitat for the Masked owl. The Tarkine is also significant habitat for the large, majestic Yellow-tailed Black Cockatoo, and is the global stronghold for two small rainforest specialists, the Pink Robin and the endemic Scrubtit.

Because much of the Tarkine’s forests are old-growth, they contain crucial feeding, nesting and roosting habitat such as tree-hollows and cavities, large logs and litter on the forest floor, standing dead trees and diverse forest structure. Large, old trees, particularly those with hollows, are a diminishing and irreplaceable resource for hollow-dependent animals.

A refuge for the Devil

The Tarkine is the home to the last disease free population of the Tasmanian Devil. The Tasmanaian Devil is being pushed to extinction by the fatal Devil Facial Tumour Disease. This disease has been estimated to have killed 80% of the Tasmanian Devil population in the past decade. As such the habitat of the Tarkine is critical to survival of this iconic species in the wild. Threats such as mining, logging and roading place the future of the Devil at risk.

Ten new mines for the Tarkine?

There are now ten new mines proposed for the Tarkine over the next five years, and the campaign to prevent this onslaught of destruction is heating up. Nine of these mines are Pilbara style open cut mines. The first two companies to submit for permits are Venture Minerals for their three proposed tin and iron ore mines at Mt Lindsay, and Shree Minerals for their proposed Nelson Bay River iron ore mine.