The work of a young bird-watching enthusiast was recently recognised at the 2016 NSW Northern Regional Volunteer of the Year Awards. Curtis Hayne from Moree was awarded the NSW Regional Student Volunteer of the Year for his work in bird conservation.
For the past five years, Curtis has volunteered with the NSW Office of Environment and Heritage. He has assisted with bird surveys, field work and office-related tasks. He has also used his photography skills to capture a visual record of the birds he observes during his field work. Much of his volunteering centres around environmental watering – a program that supports wetland health, managed by OEH.
Curtis was presented with his award at a ceremony in Armidale in September.
“It’s a great honour to be recognised in this way,” Curtis said.
“Through my volunteering, I have had the pleasure of working with some amazing and passionate people.
“Jane Humphries, Daryl Albertson and Dr Jennifer Spencer from OEH, along with Dr Stephen Debus, have all been a great inspiration.
“During my volunteering I have seen some amazing sights including two bird species that had not been seen before that time in the survey area.
“In the very hot conditions of the March 2015 surveys we flushed out an Australian Little Bittern from the edge of Old Dromana Dam. And in the November 2015 surveys, Black-chinned honeyeaters were found in abundance in the riparian vegetation around the Gwydir River at Allambie Bridge.
“I was also lucky enough to be part of the survey team when the largest population of Marsh sandpipers ever recorded in inland NSW was sighted in the Gwydir Watercourse in mid-November 2015,” he said.
I hope that my work and contributions in conservation will serve as an encouragement to people of all ages to get involved as environmental volunteers
Senior Wetlands and Conservation Officer Daryl Albertson said one of Curtis’ many volunteering highlights included capturing a photograph of a Comb-crested jacana – or Lotus bird – at Whittaker’s Lagoon.
“This bird is normally a coastal, or northern, species and had not been seen in the area for a long time,” Mr Albertson said.
“It had come to this isolated lagoon that had been filled using environmental water managed by OEH – and Curtis was there to see it.”
Curtis has now booked his seat to attend the NSW state gala awards ceremony in December.
In the meantime, he plans to continue his volunteer work with OEH and other organisations.
“I hope to extend my volunteering to the iconic Macquarie Marshes, near Quambone in NSW,” Curtis said.
“The Macquarie Marshes are home to several waterbird species we don’t see here in the Gwydir along with a range of bush birds like the Mulga parrot, Major Mitchell cockatoo and Crested bellbird.
“In the future I would also like to organise and guide some tours in the Gwydir area for tourists, locals, field naturalists and other interested people.
”I hope that my work and contributions in conservation will serve as an encouragement to people of all ages to get involved as environmental volunteers,” he said.