7th Beach-nesting Birds Conference - thanks from the team

Over 150 beach-nesting bird lovers convened at the small Victorian town of Inverloch, near the picturesque Anderson’s inlet, for the 2019 Beach-nesting Birds Conference, hosted by BirdLife Australia’s Beach-nesting Birds Program team.

Almost every state and territory were represented and there was even an international presence, with the keynote speaker Dr Mark Brown coming from Nature’s Valley Trust, South Africa, to discuss his organisation’s efforts to engage with the local community on Beach-nesting bird conservation.

The diversity of presentations was rich and inspired great break conversations. From a talk on the pre-natal acoustics to creating a Tinder profile for plovers to engage with the community, each presentation kept attendees on the edges of their seats.

BirdLife Northern Rivers gave a talk about their efforts to help the Beach Stone-curlew and the collaborative efforts between volunteers, local council and the BNB team, and BirdLife Bass Coast members were pivotal to helping the event run, leading field trips and assisting with setting up the hall, washing thousands of dishes, etc. Grainne Maguire and the rest of the conference team are incredibly grateful: “The local branch are absolute gems”, she says!

BirdLife Australia’s campaigns team staff were on hand for the conference with Conservation Campaigner, Andrew Hunter, delivering a joint presentation with Victorian National Parks Association Nature Campaigner Shannon Hurley on a collaborative campaign to save important Hooded Plover habitat at the Belfast Coastal Reserve, near Warrnambool, from an expanded commercial race horse industry that will see over 160 horses racing up and down this habitat each day. The presentation proved that when organisations work together and play to their strengths, they can influence positive change. Currently, there are no legal commercial racehorses training on the beaches at Belfast Coastal Reserve, giving the Vulnerable Hooded Plovers a temporary reprieve.

Andrew also delivered two Advocacy workshops for the conference, putting attendees in the shoes of a campaigner for an hour and providing them with some tools and tactics to develop their own conservation campaigns. Participants were given a quick briefing on the strategy thinking behind BirdLife Australia’s campaign planning and then were asked to develop their own strategies, in small groups, using real life, and in some cases live, conservation campaign scenarios. The workshop was a hit but proved that you cannot develop a successful campaign in less than an hour!

The weekend was a smashing success including presentations, workshops, field trips and even a trivia night. We look forward to the next Beach-nesting Birds Conference in another two years!

Image: The Beach-nesting Birds team with international guests from South Africa, Mark and Brittany.