Australasian Ornithological Conference held in Auckland in December 2013


Picture 1. Part of the impressive flock of migrants (mostly bar-tailed godwit) in Manukau Harbour. ©Judit Szabo

The Australasian Ornithological Conference is a biennial bird-related conference, including scientists and bird-enthusiasts from Australia and New Zealand. This year it was held in Auckland, New Zealand in 4-7 December, 2013.

Before the conference I spent a day looking at a potential EAAFP site in Manukau Harbour with David Lawrie, from Pukorokoro Miranda Naturalist Trust, and Bruce McKinlay, of the NZ Department of Conservation. We had about 12,000 migratory shorebirds, mostly Bar-tailed Godwits and Great Knots.



Picture 2. The same flock in flight. ©Judit Szabo

On Tuesday the conference started. I led a symposium on the role of Australia and New Zealand in reversing shorebird declines in the East Asian-Australasian Flyway.?I gave the first, introductory talk on the scientific needs for waterbird conservation in the flyway, followed by Jimmy Choi’s (Massey University, NZ) presentation on his work on shorebird numbers, composition and mass gain at two staging sites in China. Danny Rogers, from the Arthur Rylah Institute for Environmental Research, followed up with a talk on the implications of the loss of habitat at Saemangeum on Great Knot, a still very sobering topic, but one that included a silver lining in evidence suggesting a few good breeding years for Great Knot recently.


Picture 3. One of the cute and weird natives, the Wrybill. ©Judit Szabo

Richard Fuller, (University of Queensland, AUS), provided an update on the population trends and tidal flat loss work coming out of the UQ shorebird project, and Rob Clements, (University of Queensland, AUS), finished off the presentations with a talk on modelling inland wetland suitability across Australia. After the symposium we had about an hour long meeting including discussion with the audience. We are writing these ideas up at the moment to form a discussion paper, to be distributed in the not too distant future.


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