Flocking Together – How citizen science volunteers are making a difference in shorebird conservation

Parks Victoria

Every year, huge flocks of shorebirds fly tens of thousands of kilometers from the cold northern reaches of Siberia to spend the summer holidaying in Australia before returning north once more, along one of the world’s longest migratory routes, the East Asian-Australasian Flyway.

Once these migratory birds arrive in Victoria, they’re met by a team of dedicated citizen science volunteers from the Victorian Wader Study Group who have been carefully collecting key bits of information on these impressive birds for nearly half a century.

Steve Atkinson is the chair of the Victorian Wader Study Group and has been volunteering with the group for nearly 30 years doing what he calls “extreme birdwatching”.

“It’s the only way to get to really know shorebirds, as when we see them here they’re in their non-breeding plumage, and it can be hard trying to figure out which bird is which when they’re all sort of uniformly grey,” Steve said.

“But if you’re there, and you’ve got one in your hands and you’ve got a group of experts sitting around you, that’s when you can actually learn what’s what.”

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