Contributing to conservation of migratory shorebirds

Australia’s migratory shorebirds achieve astonishing feats of flight and navigation, with many species flying to and from the Northern Hemisphere every year.

The Bar-tailed Godwit is a famous example, holding the record for the longest non-stop flight of any bird, with a satellite tagged juvenile recording an astounding 13,560km journey from Alaska to Australia.

The 37 migratory shorebird species visiting Australia each year are recognised as being of national significance under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999.

To gain sufficient energy to sustain them on their long flights, migratory shorebirds must feed on coastal mudflats and other wetlands to increase their body mass by up to 70 per cent. Sadly, though, because of habitat destruction, hunting and disturbance, the number of our migratory shorebirds has declined greatly.

To combat this loss, BirdLife Australia is leading the national shorebird population monitoring in Australia, educating stakeholders on how and why shorebird populations are changing and working with communities to raise awareness of migratory shorebirds and their habitats in our region.

Kwoorabup Habitat, drypoint etching by Michelle Moore for the Overwintering Project. Image credit | Michelle Moore, Overwintering Project

Contributing to this awareness raising with a thoughtful and creative approach is The Overwintering Project, a long-term environmental art initiative involving printmakers throughout Australia and New Zealand.

This environmental and fundraising art endeavour was originated by Melbourne-based artist, Kate Gorringe-Smith. Prints contributed by participating artists have been shown in exhibitions across the nation, including six such events in Western Australia.

Overwintering over Winter: a Visual Story of Migratory Birds was the title of the most recent. This highlighted the works of printmaking and art students and lecturers from South Regional TAFE and North Metropolitan TAFE, including campuses in Margaret River, Busselton, Bunbury, Denmark and Perth Metro.

These new works were exhibited with selected works from the Overwintering Project Print Portfolio, highlighting WA printmakers.

“An exciting aspect of this WA exhibition was that it was the  first time the Overwintering Project had been taken on by an institution in such a broad and inclusive way,” Kate Gorringe-Smith said.