|Central coordinates||144o 49.74' East 40o 28.76' South|
|IBA criteria||A1, A2, A3, A4i, A4ii|
|Altitude||0 - 237m|
|Year of IBA assessment||2009|
Summary The IBA supports more than 1% of the world population of Cape Barren Goose, Short-tailed Shearwater, Black-faced Cormorant, Sooty Oystercatcher and Pacific Gull. It also supports the critically endangered Orange-bellied Parrot on migration between Tasmania and mainland south-eastern Australia. Most of Tasmania's endemic forest birds breed in the IBA.
Site description The Hunter Island IBA consists of numerous, varied islands off north-west Tasmania. It abuts the Robbins Passage and Boullanger Bay IBA to the south, which includes the seabird islands of Petrel Islands and Walker Island. Three Hummock Island (6967 ha) has a coastline of exposed granite outcrops interspersed with 10km of sandy beaches and dune areas. Eastern hills border a broad, flat plain in the centre of the island, and it gets its name from the highest three (100m, 160m and 237m). A series of swamps and lagoons have resulted from extensive dune systems blocking drainage from the plain, and thick vegetation with trees as high as 35m is mixed with abandoned pastoral land. Habitat types at Hunter Island (7330 ha) comprise a mix of cattle-grazed paddocks, swamps, heathland, thick scrub and woodland copses, and infrastructure on these larger islands includes settlements, lighthouses and airstrips. The whole of Hunter is taken as an IBA, partly because of its importance for Orange-bellied Parrot. Steep Island (22 ha) west of Hunter is a steep grassy island with very large numbers of shearwaters and penguins. Bird Island (44 ha) south-west of Hunter is rocky and scrubby but has large numbers of penguins and Sooty Oystercatchers. Stack Island (24 ha) is scrubby with Pacific Gull nesting around the edge. Penguin Islet (3 ha) has the largest diversity of breeding seabirds in Tasmania. The somewhat peripheral Trefoil Island (115 ha) is included here, though it could equally well be an IBA in its own right. Trefoil Island is steep and grassy with 698,262 pairs of Short-tailed Shearwater and 40 pairs of Pacific Gull. Little Trefoil (0.6 ha) has 15 pairs Pacific Gull. The spectacular Doughboys (12 ha) have sloping supratidal platforms, vertical cliffs and steeply sloping grassy hills. Other important islets to the south, extending to the far north-west of the Tasmanian mainland, include Henderson, Harbour and Murkay Islets, with 46 pairs of Pacific Gull.
Key Biodiversity Counts of the following species suggest that the whole IBA may support more than 1% of the world population. Common Diving-Petrel (IBA threshold is 70,000 pairs): 23000-25000 pairs on Steep Island and 7000-8000 pairs on the Doughboys. Little Penguin (10,000 pairs): 2000-3000 pairs on Steep Island, 3000 pairs on Bird Island, 2059 pairs on Three Hummock Island and 500 pairs on Trefoil Island. 1000 pairs White-faced Storm-Petrel reported on Penguin Islet. Records of Lewin's Rail at Trefoil and Hunter Islands are noteworthy, when the decline of the endemic Tasmanian race brachipus gives cause for serious concern. Nine pairs of Australian Pelican have bred on Penguin Islet; the islet is one of the few breeding sites for this species in Tasmania. Brothers et al. (2001) recorded small numbers of Fairy Tern, consisting of one pair feeding at Bird Island, one pair breeding at Stack Island and two individuals in flight over Seacrow Islet; and also small numbers of Hooded Plover on Stack Island (pairs and parties of up to five), Three Hummock Island (14 breeding pairs) and Seacrow Islet.
Non-bird biodiversity: Metallic Skink, White's Skink, Water Rat and Tiger Snake (irresponsibly introduced at Trefoil and Steep Islands, where potentially devastating to breeding seabirds).
|Species||Season||Period||Population estimate||Quality of estimate||IBA Criteria||IUCN Category|
|Cape Barren Goose Cereopsis novaehollandiae||resident||1989-2007||500 individuals||-||A4i||Least Concern|
|Short-tailed Shearwater Ardenna tenuirostris||resident||1995||1,309,169-1,343,618 breeding pairs||-||A4ii||Least Concern|
|Black-faced Cormorant Phalacrocorax fuscescens||resident||1999||190 breeding pairs||-||A4i||Least Concern|
|Tasmanian Native-hen Tribonyx mortierii||resident||-||present||-||A2, A3||Least Concern|
|Sooty Oystercatcher Haematopus fuliginosus||resident||1982-1999||202 breeding pairs||-||A4i||Least Concern|
|Pacific Gull Larus pacificus||resident||1995||205 breeding pairs||-||A4i||Least Concern|
|Green Rosella Platycercus caledonicus||resident||-||unknown||-||A2, A3||Least Concern|
|Orange-bellied Parrot Neophema chrysogaster||non-breeding||-||unknown||-||A1, A3||Critically Endangered|
|Yellow-throated Honeyeater Lichenostomus flavicollis||resident||-||unknown||-||A2, A3||Least Concern|
|Black-headed Honeyeater Melithreptus affinis||resident||-||unknown||-||A2, A3||Least Concern|
|Scrubtit Acanthornis magna||resident||-||unknown||-||A2, A3||Least Concern|
|Tasmanian Scrubwren Sericornis humilis||resident||-||unknown||-||A2, A3||Least Concern|
|Tasmanian Thornbill Acanthiza ewingii||resident||-||unknown||-||A2||Least Concern|
|Black Currawong Strepera fuliginosa||resident||-||unknown||-||A2, A3||Least Concern|
|Dusky Robin Melanodryas vittata||resident||-||unknown||-||A2, A3||Least Concern|
|2008||high||not assessed||not assessed|
|Medium - based upon reliable but incomplete / partially representative data|
|Agriculture and aquaculture||livestock farming and ranching (includes forest grazing) - agro-industry grazing, ranching or farmin||happening now||some of area/population (10-49%)||slow but significant deterioration||medium|
|Biological resource use||fishing & harvesting aquatic resources - unintentional effects: large scale||happening now||some of area/population (10-49%)||no or imperceptible deterioration||low|
|Biological resource use||hunting & collecting terrestrial animals - intentional use (species being assessed is the target)||happening now||small area/few individuals (<10%)||no or imperceptible deterioration||low|
|Invasive & other problematic species, genes & diseases||invasive non-native/alien species/diseases - named species||happening now||small area/few individuals (<10%)||slow but significant deterioration||low|
|Natural system modifications||fire & fire suppression - trend unknown/unrecorded||happening now||majority/most of area/population (50-90%)||slow but significant deterioration||high|
|Protected area||Designation||Area (ha)||Relationship with IBA||Overlap with IBA (ha)|
|Bird Island||Game Reserve||65||protected area contained by site||65|
|Hunter Island||Conservation Area||7,330||protected area contained by site||7,330|
|Penguin Islet||Nature Reserve||4||protected area overlaps with site||3|
|Stack Island||Game Reserve||30||protected area contained by site||30|
|Three Hummock Island||State Reserve||7,284||protected area contained by site||7,284|
|IUCN habitat||Habitat detail||Extent (% of site)|
|Artificial - terrestrial||Improved grassland & pasture||major|
|Coastline||Sea cliffs, rocky shores & rocky islets||major|
|Forest||Eucalypt open forests||minor|
|Shrubland||Closed shrublands & low closed woodlands||major|
Land ownership The Doughboys, Three Hummock and Penguin Islands are Nature Reserves; Steep Island and Trefoil Island are owned by the Tasmanian Aboriginal community; Hunter Island is a Conservation Area with a private pastoral lease; Stack Island, Bird Island and others are Game Reserves.
|Land-use||Extent (% of site)|
|nature conservation and research||major|
|Notes: cattle grazing|
Protection status Five - see separate section for details.
Access/Land-Owner requests Permission for access must be sought from the owners or DPIW.
Acknowledgements The nomination was prepared by Peter Britton. Mark Holdsworth, Rachael Alderman and Rosemary Gales of DPIW kindly commented on the nomination.
References Brothers, N., Pemberton, D., Pryor, H. and Halley, V. (2001) Tasmania's Offshore Islands: seabirds and other natural features. Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery: Hobart.
Hocking, G. (2007) Personal communication on Cape Barren Geese at Three Hummock and Hunter Islands, 1989-2007.
Skira, I.J., Brothers, N.P. and Pemberton, D. (1996) Distribution, abundance and conservation status of Short-tailed Shearwaters Puffinus tenuirostris in Tasmania. Marine Ornithology 24: 1-14.
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Recommended citation BirdLife International (2015) Important Bird Areas factsheet: Hunter Island Group. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 24/05/2015
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