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          Member | Join now

          By joining the biggest community of bird lovers in Australia, you can help us make a positive impact on the future of our native birdlife. The members of BirdLife Australia, along with our supporters and partners, have been powerful advocates for native birds and the conservation of their habitats since 1901.

          We are also the meeting ground for everyone with an interest in birds from the curious backyard observer to the dedicated research scientist. It doesn’t matter what your interest in birds is or how much you know about them, your membership will offer you the opportunity to increase your awareness and enjoyment.

          Birdlife Australia would be delighted to welcome you as a new member and we look forward to sharing our news and achievements with you throughout the coming year.

          Our Programs

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          Congress & Campout

          The BirdLife Australia Congress and Campout is held biennially at different ornithologically interesting and beautiful destinations around the country. Generally, Congresses are held in more central destinations showcasing key speakers of interest with the campout following, the campout is assisted by local birdwatchers, scientists and BirdLife staff to insure we see local specialties, can participate in conservation projects, and enjoy a relaxing few days with like-minded folk in some of Australia’s best birding locations. If camping is not your style, comfortable alternative accommodation is generally available nearby.

          2018 Congress and Campout – Broome’s 30th Anniversary

          The Broome Bird Observatory is honoured to be the 2018 host for the BirdLife Australia 'Congress and Campout’

          http://www.broomebirdobservatory.com/anniversaryevents/2018/9/8/congress-and-campout

          2016 Conference and Campout

          The 2016 Queensland Ornithological Conference 9 July 2016

          The Conference was held at the University of Queensland on July 9. Over 200 registrants
          enjoyed a full day of lectures and presentations from world renowned experts in their particular field of study. One of the main highlights of the day was Dr Steve Murphy sharing his latest discoveries on the Night Parrot.

          As has been the tradition of all Queensland Ornithological Conferences a separate section was devoted once again to hearing from current PhD student’s outcomes from their
          research. This year over half the students came from outside Australia.

          In conjunction with the Conference a Photographic Competition was held. Over 174 photographs from across mainland Australia, Tasmania, Antarctica and Australian Islands were received. There were many stunning entries with a total of 54 photographs being short-listed across two different categories – Best Rare Bird Photo and Overall Best Photo. Shortlisting and judging for both categories was done
          by a panel of respected avian photographers, The 54 shortlisted entries, as well as details about the photograph such as location, date and photographer, were printed and displayed at the Queensland Ornithological Conference. This allowed conference participants the opportunity to vote for their favourite in the People’s Choice category. Winning photographs will be displayed over the coming weeks on the Birds Queensland and BirdLife Southern Queensland websites &/or Facebook pages.

          Evaluation feedback from the 200 delegates exceeded the Conference Committee’s expectations. With over a years planning and a very hardworking organizing committee the Conference became the largest and most successful ornithological conference ever held in Queensland. Special thanks are extended to our sponsors. David Exton for the Organising Committee

          For a more detailed account of the conference please follow this link to the
          Southern QLD newsletter The Warbler.

          BirdLife Australia’s National Campout 10 – 14 July 2016

          The Queensland Ornithological Conference was over, the AGM was done and dusted, and Conference walks on the Sunday had been and gone. All were a great success and a credit to the organisers of each event. But Sheena Gillman and I had other duties to attend to as we had agreed to coordinate and lead BirdLife Australia’s National Campout in the Lockyer Valley.

          We had chosen Murphy’s Creek Escape for the campout. In the two weeks prior we had done our reccies, with the help of locals Mick Atzini from the Toowoomba Bird Observers, Rod Hobson from Queensland National Parks Service, and Jocelyn and Robert Wilson from ‘Friends of Lake Apex’, with some sound advice from Grahame Rogers for good measure.

          I will admit that we were both on tenterhooks.  I had never organised a campout before and Sheena’s experience was limited to a grand total of one! Plus, summer rains in the valley had been scant, and the drenching that came with both ‘East Coast Lows’ to other parts of SEQ in June produced just the odd splot in the Lockyer Valley!  All our beautiful ephemeral lakes – Seven Mile Lagoon, Janke’s Lagoon, Pechey’s Lagoon – were weed covered wildernesses.  Fears that the dry spell would end just in time for the camp also pervaded our dreams.

          Fast forward to the actual event…we had a wonderful time and the birding was excellent!  This was a small affair when compared with the hugely popular Byfield campout organised by our Capricornia cousins, but it made for a most enjoyable event, and all of us came away knowing that friendship bonds had been forged. A total of 31 people participated in the event with 21 staunch birders prepared to brave the cold nights in tents at MCE. Well, maybe we should make that 19. Sheena and I shared one of the lovely on site ‘glamps’ with a heater, hot showers, feather doonas and electric blankets. No, make that 17 because two others had the same idea!

          Some of our group braving a cold Lockyer night

          The joint facilities were very good and made an ideal gathering place for the nightly bird call, and the camp site was well laid out and spacious.  Should I mention that MCE happens to be on the main Toowoomba -Brisbane train line and that coal trucks traversed close by in an unseen gully at all hours of the day and night?  Maybe not, but had we known a bigger supply of ear plugs would have come in handy!
          On the Monday the entire group went to Cooby Dam, Crows Nest and Ravensbourne National Park, being ably assisted by co-leaders Mick Atzini and Gavin O’Meara.  Cooby Dam produced a pair of Must Duck – always the target species for this site. Nesting Grey-crowned Babblers, Striped Honeyeaters, Brown Quail, and a variety of other waterbirds. On the way out to the main road searches for recently sighted Ground Cuckoo-shrikes and a Diamond Firetail proved unsuccessful.
          Crows Nest National Park was jumping with birds. Phew!  Our reccie had produced very few, but now flowering spotted gums were dripping with birds: Yellow-faced, White-naped, White-throated and (a single) Tufted Honeyeater were present near the car park. Striated Pardalotes were nesting in the creek bank. The circuit track was just as productive with large numbers of Silvereye and, in an ideal rocky section, we all got great views of the SEQ race of the very yellow Buff-rumped Thornbill.  However, the ‘spot’ of the day went to Joel when he found a very confiding Brush-tailed Rock Wallaby on the cliffs opposite the track. This mammal is now considered uncommon in the park and was a mammal ‘tick’ for just about everyone on the outing!
           

          The group gets excited about…..

          A Brush-tailed Rock Wallaby    Photos courtesy Eric Wheeler

          We then high-tailed it up to Beutel’s Lookout at Ravensbourne National Park. This is a small but often very productive patch of remnant rainforest.  One Green Catbird showed for some. Gavin then found a male Paradise Riflebird foraging low in the trees.  Again, everyone was able to get good views of this often elusive bird, voted by many as the number one sighting of the campout. Everyone, of course, immediately forgot about the Rock Wallaby – what Rock Wallaby??  

          We had lunch and spent some time willing a Red Goshawk to sail past the lookout!  But we had to be happy with great views of very cute Brown Gerygones – a bird that some had not seen before and many had not had close up views.

          Day one ended with a gentle journey back to the campground via 17 Mile Road, spotting Striated Thornbills and White-bellied Cuckoo-shrikes along the way.  The tally called out that evening came to a respectable total of 101 species.

          Day two and day three saw the group split up into two. On day 2 Margaret Cameron joined my group and off we went to northern and central parts of the valley, including Adare Road, Lockyer National Park, Lake Clarendon and the usual spot for Banded Lapwings. Sheena, joined by Neil Humphris and Jocelyn and Robert Wilson headed off to Glenrock National Park, which lies in the southern-most part of the valley at the foot of the Main Range National Park. The next day, everyone swapped around. Mick Atzini joined us again for the northern and central section, and Nerida Wardrope assisted Sheena for the Glenrock excursion.

          In the northern and central part of the valley, both days produced some cracking birds.  Ground Cuckoo-shrikes were found on consecutive days on Haslingden and Boyce’s Road – almost certainly the same pair.  Great views for everyone!
           
          Ground Cuckoo-shrike – such smart birds!            Photo courtesy Eric Wheeler
          Honeyeaters were in plentiful supply. We saw a total of 17 species over the two days – not a bad effort! Black-chinned, White-naped, White-throated, Scarlet, Brown and Yellow-faced honeyeaters were seen at Adare.  On a track off Redbank Creek Road we were surprised to find a small flock of Spiny-cheeked Honeyeaters. Other bird seen included the most confiding Rose Robin that any of us had ever seen!  

           
          Male Rose Robin, Adare Road            Photo courtesy Jeni Mackenzie

          A low Little Lorikeet inspecting a nest hollow also gave some of us the thrill of a fantastic view of this species that normally remains well hidden.  A flock of Red-tailed Black Cockatoos were feeding by the road not far from the paddock where Banded Lapwings were back in residence after an absence of a couple of months.  A pair of White-backed Swallows, a real rarity in the valley these days, showed well for a couple of the group at Lake Clarendon.  Birds of prey were few on the ground but good views were had of both species of harriers, White-bellied Sea-Eagles soared overhead and the usual Black and Whistling Kites were seen at a variety of locations. Lockyer National Park gave our nostrils a run for our money with the wind wafting strong scents of the chicken farm over us.  We toughed it out and saw Crested Shrike-tit, Speckled Warblers and Fuscous Honeyeaters for our troubles.
           
          Feeding Red-tailed Black Cockatoos        Photo courtesy Jeni Mackenzie
          Late in the afternoon on both days we found a small group of Yellow Thornbills – again uncommon in the Lockyer. Thousands of Plumed Whistling Ducks with four Wandering Whistling-Duck hiding in the middle of the flock were given a fright by a fast flying Black Falcon and were a sight to behold!  
           
          Plumed Whistling-Ducks                Photo courtesy Jeni Mackenzie

          But the Pink-eared Ducks stole the ‘duck’ show!
           
          Photo courtesy Eric Wheeler
          Another fabulous treat was watching thousands of corellas coming in to roost.  We stuck a scope on them which soon revealed the odd Long-billed Corella amongst the flock. A ‘lifer’ for many.  
           
          An iridescent male Red-backed Fairy-wren        Photo courtesy Jeni Mackenzie
          Meanwhile the Glenrock teams also had great highlights. Plenty of honeyeaters and all three local species of Fairy-wrens were seen – Superb, Red-backed and Variegated.
           
          Brown Honeyeater             Photo courtesy Jeni Mackenzie
          The road south of Gatton to Glen Rock National Park, crosses Tenthill Creek many times. The route follows the most beautiful valley supporting highly productive vegetable farms and certainly the group amused one farmer loading lettuce for the market, when they stopped to view a flock of Welcome Swallows skimming the water surface on his farm dam. Tenthill Creek was running and provided pools along the way.
          Where there was a flush of birds the group stopped and were rewarded with beautiful Azure Kingfisher, Rose Robin, Tawny Grassbird and, most reliably, Double-barred Finches in abundance.  A lone Restless Flycatcher was heard, and finally tracked down, by Sheena. Red-rumped Parrots were another highlight.  As were great views of Spotted and Swamp Harriers. But everyone’s favourite seemed to be the Chestnut-breasted Mannikins. Missing from the tick list was Brown Falcon which became the priority species for Wednesday and to Sheena’s relief, three obligingly soared over the rock art site, providing joy to all. Apparently they live there!

           
          Indigenous rock art/petroglyphs                Photo courtesy Eric Wheeler
          Two non-birding events on these trips were highlights for all involved. The first was a visit to view some wonderful indigenous rock art and petroglyphs near Mt Sylvia.
           
          Photo courtesy Sheena Gillman
          The second occurred after a chance encounter with a local landholder, Guy, who mines an unusual and uncommon mineral Diatomite; a fine white chalky substance proving beneficial as a soil additive. Guy was amused to discover the group were bird-watchers, as he himself loves watching birds and kindly invited us to walk up his hill. Good views of the mine were enjoyed by all as well as a very learned introduction to the story of the mine, diatomite and the geology of the Lockyer Valley.  That truly added to the fun of the day, and even Grahame and Donalda made the hill top!!
           
          Photo courtesy Sheena Gillman
          The total species tally for the three days of birding was 156. For winter, this was an excellent number. To put it into perspective the Toowoomba Bird Observers Club does an annual bird census in the Lockyer during the peak season of September.  Their tally over a four or five-day period is approximately 160 species. What it would have been if we had had good rainfall with full ephemeral bodies and running creeks – who knows!  But our winter tally holds up very nicely. Just about everyone got new species and one, Michael Day got over 30 lifers!
          This campout would not have happened without the support of many. Thanks to Gavin O’Meara, Mick Atzini, Margaret Cameron, Jocelyn and Robert Wilson, and Neil Humphris for assisting with ‘leader duties’. Thanks to Rod Hodson for helping with the reccie of the Crows Nest and Ravensbourne areas; Judi Gray for helping at Cooby Dam and Crows Nest; the staff at BirdLife Australia; and the editorial team of the BirdLife Magazine.  A HUGE thank you to my ‘partner in crime’, Sheena Gillman –  I do not know how I would manage without her across so many domains!
          But the biggest thanks goes to the people who joined us:
          Pam Kenway                Julie Kennelly        Eric and Margaret Wheeler
          Jeff Petifer                Sue Burgess        Ros and John Beeston
          Jeni Mackenzie                Michael Day        Chris and Andrew Galbraith
          Kathryn Kelly                Nerida Wardrope    Faye Smith
          Faye Smith                Sarah Phillips        Grahame and Donalda Rogers
          Joel Connell                Cynthia Jones        Steven and Dayana Barker
          To each and every one of you: THANK YOU for sharing the experience!
          Judith Hoyle and Sheena Gillman, July 2016

          2014 Congress and Campout wrap up

          The Rufous Bristlebird, Bob Brown, the cape gannet and Richard Loyn’s excitement in receiving the Serventy medal were just a few of the highlights at this year’s Congress and campout in Portland and Nelson. 

          At this year's event, the Congress was a buzz of excitement at hearing from speakers across a range of topics within the parameters of the congress theme, Birds of the waves, wetlands and waterways.  Local, national and international speakers from Citizen Science, community lead and BirdLife Australia projects presented of a range conservation successes and efforts.

          The blustery, sunny, rainy expansive beaches of Discovery Bay and the aqua clear estuary at the mouth of the Glenelg River where iconic at the Campout. I knew when I heard a member comment that they felt spoilt with all the birding and tripping around that it was a hit.  I was lucky to be able to stay on to meet some of our fantastic members who are fiercely passionate about BirdLife Australia. One member even bought a van especially for the trip!

          Thank you to Peter and Rhonda Barrand from the Warrnambool branch and Allan Briggs from the National Education committee for their work resulting in a successful event.  

          Fiona Blandford
          Network Development Coordinator

          Organisers Allan Briggs and Peter Barrand

          Discovery Bay Coastal Park, Nelson

          Bob Brown meets members at the Gannet colony

          Campout attendees, Rhonda Barrand in Centre

          Peter Barrand leads an outing to Lower Glenelg National park

          Gannet Colony Point Danger

          BACK IN THE DAY

          Trouble at Bird Lovers’ Camp

          Donald McDonald telling campfire stories 1935, Photographer unknown

          A sleepy little town nestled on the mouth of the Snowy River in far-eastern Victoria is hardly the place you would choose for one of the most tumultuous events in the nation’s ornithological history. But on one October morning in Marlo, 78 years ago, something happened that changed Australian birding forever.

          Throughout the 1920s and early 1930s trouble had been brewing in the birding community about the ongoing scientific value of collecting bird eggs and skins. At the RAOU’s annual campout at Marlo in 1935, the tension between what Libby Robin described in her book, The Flight of the Emu, as the sentimental amateurs and an irresponsible element in the scientific community finally came to a head.

          As the 18 campers breakfasted together one morning, watching a Scarlet Robin tend its nest in a tree, George Mack, then curator of the National Museum of Victoria, took out his gun and shot the bird.

          The ‘Marlo incident’, as it came to be known, caused instant uproar, with ten members, including well-known journalist Michael Sharland, abandoning the camp in protest. The shooting even garnered press attention in several states, with the Argus in Melbourne, the Sydney Morning Herald and the Tasmanian Mercury, among others, all covering the story.

          “Trouble at Bird Lovers’ Camp,” trumpeted the Sydney Morning Herald, going on to report that, “Efforts had been made to settle the trouble amicably, but when the 17 members from New South Wales, Victoria, and Queensland requested the one collector to refrain from shooting, and he refused, claiming that he had a perfect right to collect for Museum purposes, the New South Wales delegates had no choice but to withdraw.” To rub salt into the wound, there is no record of Mack, a licensed collector, ever lodging the specimen with the Museum.

          At the 1935 RAOU Congress, held in Melbourne just two days after the end of the campout, debate raged. Mrs W. M. Mayo of Queensland, who had been at Marlo before leaving in disgust at Mack’s actions, put forward a motion that “no collecting be permitted at Camp-outs and that any member disregarding the rule be not permitted to remain in camp.”

          The motion, slightly amended by Alec Chisholm to exclude “supposedly new birds” from the blanket ban on collecting, passed, ushering in a new era in which the science of birds was divorced from their destruction. As Chisholm remarked, “Nearly one hundred years after the time of John Gould, the day of the individual collector has passed.”

          Yet though the deep divide that appeared that day in Marlo was gradually papered over, similar cracks have sporadically reappeared in the decades since. Even today, there are competing views on the role that BirdLife Australia should play. Should our focus be on enjoying birds or protecting them? Should our priorities lie with science or with conservation or with engaging more people in the joys of birdwatching? With funding scarce, these questions become more pressing. What does the future hold for BirdLife Australia? Will we have another Scarlet Robin moment?

          The Night Parrot

          Since then, Night Parrots have been few and far between, though those seeking them have become more numerous and unlucky. Melbourne’s Argus and Adelaide’s Advertiser newspapers both reported on former RAOU President Gordon Binns’ fall from a cliff during some night birdwatching on a RAOU campout near Alice Springs in 1952. The Emu trip report of the camp notes that the company had “constant recourse” to Whitlock’s notes on his successful search for the Night Parrot on his trip to the area in 1923, so perhaps poor Mr Binns had his nose in these (or had a Night Parrot in his sights!) when he so unfortunately walked off the cliff.

          BOC on the Bus

          Birdwatching in Australia’s more remote areas has never been a walk in the park. Our vast distances pose difficulties for the traveller, as do the hot weather, lack of water and the rough roads (when a road actually exists). And the Outback is tough on cars. As birder Claude Austin reported in 1967 of his trip into Central Australia, when it came to crossing water it was either get bogged in a sandy creek and carry an entire carload for 100 yards or “cross at great speed and mostly through the air.” It’s not cheap either—travelling for thousands of kilometres is a drain on both the fuel tank and the wallet.

          NT Border 1966, Photographer unknown

          In June 1966, the Bird Observers Club came up with a novel solution to these problems by organising a 66-person coach trip, the “BOC Holiday Safari Tour,” to the Northern Territory and the East Kimberleys.

          Labelled the “most ambitious bird watching tour ever attempted in Australia,” the tour cost members just $6.50 per day (excluding travel to and from Alice Springs) and included “All meals ... provided and prepared by a cook and kitchen staff.” Hot breakfasts, picnic lunches with billy tea and three course meals at night were laid on and the bus was accompanied by “a supply truck carrying water, refrigerated provisions, with port-a-gas cooking and electric lighting facilities”—hardly roughing it!

          The camp was organised with military precision, each piece of luggage marked with a “bright colour in the form of a star, large dot, line or lines, a ring etc., so that it can be recognised immediately by the owner,” and the campers gathered together to complete the 1966 national census on June 30, ensuring their number was not excluded from Australia’s then population of 11,599,498 people.

          The planning paid off and as Essie Green of Queensland said: “it was an unforgettable experience and enjoyed by everyone.” The trip report details that good rain after years of drought meant that the “whole countryside abounded in bird life,” with the campers seeing some 220 species and many areas carpeted with miles of wildflowers.

          Pictured above at the dusty border of Western Australia and the Northern Territory, the campers enjoyed the lush riversides and thermal pools at Mataranka, with its Shining Flycatchers and Buff-sided Robins, saw seven types of finches (including the “lovely Gouldian”) at Red Lily Lagoon and delighted in the Rainbow Pitta and Rose-crowned Fruit-Dove at Howard Springs. At El Sharana, 60 people sat and waited in silence for over two hours as a Banded Fruit-Doves, Partridge Pigeons and Chestnut-quilled Rock-Pigeons came down to drink at the pool.

          In the days when travel was more expensive, time-consuming and difficult than it is today, a group safari proved to be the best way to experience the birds of a remote area—and what’s more, everybody had a ball! Today, BirdLife Australia continues to run campouts and events across the country and birding with your fellow members can be a great way to get out and about. To see what campouts are happening in your area, go to http://www.bianchun.tw/events/

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