A long, cold stint

PERTH’S Milly Formby is planning to brave the chills of Siberia by following the migratory route of the red-necked stint in a ultralight aircraft to highlight the birds’ vulnerability.

The stints are the smallest of 36 Australian migratory shorebird species and weighs about as much as a Tim-Tam.

Every six months they embark on the longest known migration in the natural world, flying 25,000km from WA to breeding grounds in the Arctic Tundra and back.

They follow the East Asian-Australasian Flyway (EAAF), the largest of eight global airborne highways.  Due to habitat loss along the EAAF, the ancient migratory phenomenon is now under threat.

• Milly Formby’s heading to Russia in an ultralight.

Throughout the flight, Formby will collect research data for UWA and study the behavioural ecology of shorebird migration using geolocators and satellite technology.

The project is called Wing Threads: Flight to Tundra, and aims to collaborate with people from science, aviation and arts to conduct a research project and produce a documentary film to raise awareness of migratory birds declining numbers.

To celebrate National Science Week, the Swan Estuary Reserves Action Group is hosting an event at Point Walter on Sunday August 6, educating the community on the significance of the Swan River Estuary and the pressure the ecosystem is under from urban development and recreation.

Formby will present at the event, as will local bird expert Mike Bamford and respected elder Noel Nannup.

SERAG member Catherine O’Neill says Perth is in the middle of a biodiversity hotspot and of international significance: “We still have an opportunity to protect the small amount of habitat remaining.”


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