Left to right: Ian Sinclair (NQ Dry Tropics Senior Project Officer), Gudjuda Rangers Ben Devow, Di Smallwood, Tracey Solomon & Jim Gaston, Simon Kennedy BirdLife Australia & NQ Dry Tropics Project Officer Olivia Penman.

Gudjuda Rangers at Wunjunga with Simon Kennedy

Workshop helps Gudjuda Rangers improve bird ID and monitoring skills

A group of Gudjuda Rangers are now better able to identify and monitor endangered migratory shore birds thanks to a joint initiative with NQ Dry Tropics and Birdlife Australia.

BirdLife Australia funded and delivered a two-day workshop, held at Wunjunga and Alva Beach earlier this year, during which Gudjuda members learned about the theory and practice of shorebird identification.

NQ Dry Tropics, through funding from the Australian Government’s National Landcare Program, helped connect the two groups and arrange for the workshop to take place.

NQ Dry Tropics Senior Project Officer Ian Sinclair said the training opportunity would support Gudjuda Rangers to more effectively monitor the success of efforts to improve and conserve bird habitat

“At NQ Dry Tropics one of our priorities is to build the capacity of Indigenous peoples to participate in caring for country,” Mr Sinclair said.

“Initiatives such as these provide opportunities for Traditional Owners to share knowledge and build lasting relationships with key science and environmental groups such as BirdLife Australia.

“Many of our wetland projects aim to improve migratory shorebird habitat, so having Gudjuda Rangers on the ground and able to carry out monitoring will be invaluable,” he said.

Gudjuda Ranger Jim Gaston

Gudjuda Ranger James Gaston said the training helped to build upon the group’s traditional knowledge:

“We gained important shorebird identification skills, and learned about the importance of entering the data in the Birdlife Australia Birdata database,” Mr Gaston said. 

“This knowledge will assist us to participate in a range of projects in partnership with NQ Dry Tropics, Marine Parks and the Townsville branch of Birdlife Australia.”

BirdLife Australia Scientist Simon Kennedy, who delivered the workshop, said many of the world’s migratory shorebirds were in trouble and needed protection: 

“Bindal and Juru country has some of the most important seasonal homes in the world for birds such as the Great Knot and Lesser Sand Plover, that migrate more than 10,000 kilometres to Australia every year from their breeding grounds in Russia and Mongolia,” Mr Kennedy said.

“Birdlife Australia’s Shorebird Monitoring Program needs support and coverage in northern Australia.  Regular surveys here by the Gudjuda Rangers will give us vital and unprecedented information on where large groups of shorebirds live during their stay in Australia.  

“They will be part of an international survey and management effort to protect these species,” he said.

Gudjuda Rangers look for shorebirds