Every festival we have a fabulous line up of speakers and we are so grateful for the commitment of time and expertise and generosity of spirit from these wonderful people. Below are details of the presenters and their topics from 2018 to give you a taste of the lecture topics
Peter Puskic & Megan Grant
Title: Seabirds Sentinels of Marine Debris
Summary: Plastic pollution is one of the most recognised and pervasive environmental issues affecting marine ecosystems worldwide, with many negative implications for marine life, particularly seabirds. We will discuss how our plastic debris, once thrown 'away' can be transported around the globe via ocean currents ending up in the most unlikely of places, seabird nests, posing risks for chicks and adult birds alike. Whilst the entanglement of animals in debris is very visual and distressing plastics have secret impacts and when ingested, may affect animals in ways we are still discovering. Join us as we look to Tasmanian seabirds and abroad as our sentinels of marine plastic debris.
Both speakers are post grad-students under the supervision of Dr Jennifer Lavers from the Institute for Marine and Antarctic Studies, UTAS and Dr Alexander Bond from the Natural History Museum, UK.
Title: Ravens, roadkill and land-use change
Summary: Future land-use and climate change could enhance populations of resourceful birds, such as forest ravens. This could result in increased predation and competition pressure for populations of small songbirds. This talk will provide an overview of a recent study on the response of forest raven (Corvus tasmanicus) populations to human-modified landscapes and areas of high roadkill density in south-eastern Tasmania. Using fieldwork and modelling techniques, it was found that forest ravens were more common in areas of high roadkill density and in agricultural areas, in comparison to forests and urban areas. However, there was no observed effect of forest ravens on the abundance of smaller songbirds.
Title: Spots or Stripes, Staccato or Shriek? Handy hints on how to become a better bird spotter.
Summary: On your first day at the festival, come to this short and sweet lecture from an experienced Tasmanian birder who will give you a selection of very useful tips that you will use throughout the festival and far beyond in all your birding adventures. From the gear you need and how to use it... to memory techniques to help you remember bird species and their calls.
Title: Making the Midlands great again: restoring habitat for the unique woodland bird community of Tasmania
Summary: The Tasmanian Midlands is an Australian Biodiversity Hotspot and one of Australia’s oldest agricultural landscapes. Deforestation and a very high number of feral cats increasingly threaten the local bird community. In response, Greening Australia has partnered with the University of Tasmania on an ambitious program to restore habitat for birds and other vulnerable wildlife in this region. I will present some of the results of my PhD research and do my best to answer three main questions: (1) How has the bird community of the Midlands changed over the last 20 years? (2) What features of habitat should we restore first? (3) Does aggression from the original ‘angry bird’, the noisy miner, cause chronic stress in smaller species? I’ll discuss how all this is relevant to the restoration program and, if that’s not enough, there will also be cool videos of nest predators and a discussion of blood parasites in superb fairy-wrens.Restoration Project.
Dr Tonia Cochran
Title: What really happens at Inala as told by the ‘bird lady’ of Bruny.
Summary: Have you ever wondered exactly what goes on at Inala and what the Bruny Islanders do that work there? Tonia will chat about the importance of wildlife tourism to her conservation efforts over a 30 year period at the Inala property and how this has evolved into the Bruny tourism business that is Inala Nature Tours. The talk will include research done on the property, the protection of threatened species there including the Forty-spotted Pardalote, Swift Parrot and several threatened raptor species, the involvement of the community including school groups in the success of the program and the latest Inala news in terms of conservation and tour programs.
Title: The nature writer flies high
Summary: Don Knowler is the ‘On the wing columnist’ for the Mercury, Hobart, and author of "The Shy Mountain", a natural history of Kunanyi / Mt Wellington. He has been a great supporter of the bird festival and a champion of many conservation projects through his work. His lecture will discuss the role of the newspaper nature writer in the present, and the past.
Angela Hansen, MSc.
Title: Quackipedia: What we can learn from ducks
Summary: Why are ducks and other waterfowl important for wetlands? What can ducks tell us about their environment? Join us for a visually stunning presentation on the waterfowl species of Tasmania, and the importance of ducks as indicator species, with a discussion of recent research into litter ingestion and pollution concentrations in ducks and environmental samples at Moulting Lagoon Ramsar wetland, Coles Bay.
Title: An Introduction to Masked Owl Research
Summary: The Tasmanian Masked Owl is listed as endangered, in part, due to sustained habitat loss, and yet we know very little about the species' habitat choices. Masked Owl research is hindered by problems with detection, resulting in small samples sizes and only weak inferences about habitat choices at fine scales. In this talk I will introduce my research methods, aimed at overcoming low detection probabilities and getting us closer to understanding masked owl habitat requirements.
Title: Saving the Orange-bellied Parrot: Outcomes of management actions to recover the last remaining wild breeding population
Summary: The Orange-bellied Parrot is one of the world's most endangered birds, and now breeds only at Melaleuca in the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area. Conservation management actions to recover the species last remaining breeding population include release of captive-bred birds, eggs and nestling to the wild, habitat management through ecological burning, management of predators and competitors, limiting opportunities for disease spread, and monitoring reproduction and survival to evaluate the success of these actions. This talk will outline the current status of the Orange-bellied Parrot, detail management actions aimed at recovery and their outcomes, and future plans for Orange-bellied Parrot management in Tasmania.
Title: Nature as Medicine- How birdsong helps beat the blues
Summary:Jane Dudley- Author of Faunaverse wildlife in poetry- Tasmania, shares her experience of how nature plays an essential role in maintaining her mental health whilst living with Bipolar disorder and explores the scientific research that aims to quantify the positive effects nature has on human physical and mental health.
Title: Raptor Refuge Rehab - Get em in, get em out
Summary: Craig Webb owns and runs the Raptor Refuge in Kettering. He has built what is now the only dedicated facility in Tasmania for the rehabilitation of raptors and constructed the largest flight aviaries in Australia. Craig will talk about the inner workings of a refuge that cares for and rehabilitates injured raptors, so that they can be released back into the wild.
Sarah Lloyd and Ron Nagorcka
Title: Sex and the spring dawn chorus
Summary: This audio visual presentation describes Sarah's year-long study of the dawn chorus in northern Tasmania and various aspects of the Sound Idea project. The talk includes recordings that demonstrate the dialects and extensive repertoires of some of Tasmania's common birds, as well as examples of mimicry in local and mainland species.
Title: Dark past, bright future - The resurgence of the Turquoise Parrot
Summary: Considered extinct in the early 1900s, the story of the Turquoise Parrot and its gradual resurgence since then is quite remarkable and provides hope for the recovery of other threatened species. However, the parrot is not out of the woods yet and an ongoing conservation program across the southern part of its range is further promoting the species recovery and involving local communities.
First Dog On The Moon
Prior to opening the Bird Festival Art Exhibition, First Dog will be presenting a short lecture on a topic of his choosing. It may or may not have anything to do with birds and he says “I should warn you, it will not be very good”
Title: Flat out: a year in the life of the short tailed shearwater
Summary: As global temperatures continue to rise and the seas warm, how will one of the world's most successful seabirds navigate through such troubled waters? Natalie will present findings from her PhD detailing how shearwaters from Wedge Island, Tasmania, respond to climate variability throughout their annual life cycle.
Bio: Natalie spends as much time as she can in nature. Her pursuit of the wild led her to work with primates, sea turtles, seals, whales and seabirds. Most recently she became star struck by the unassuming battler, the short-tailed shearwater. She likes to think that she is their biggest fan.
Title: Cats On Bruny Island
Summary: Cats on islands pose a significant threat to native fauna, including of course the birdlife. Come along and find from Kaylene the Cat Management Officer with Kingborough Council about about the programs and partnerships working to manage the impacts of domestic, stray and feral cats on Bruny Island. This is a conversation that is currently happening nationally and internationally, and one that stirs up a great deal of passion, this is an excellent opportunity for you to discover more and contribute to the discussion.
Title: Bird Belief: Human-Bird Relations in Art and Myth
Summary: This talk explores some of the many ways that humans have understood birds, and their relationship with them. This includes as symbols, signs and portents. A fascinating range of examples from the ancient to contemporary will be discussed.
Michael Charleston and Scott Whitemore
Title: Using humans and machines to identify bird species from environmental audio recordings
Summary: Monitoring our managed forest landscapes is crucial for informing effective conservation efforts.
Our particular interest is in the bird populations of forests, as knowledge of which birds are present provides valuable information about the health of these environments. Birds are difficult to detect visually, because foliage blocks line of sight – however, sound is less affected by such obstructions, and so is a better medium through which to observe bird species in a surveyed region. Modern acoustic recording units allow us to passively capture the sounds in an environment, including bird calls, over long durations, rain or shine. Unfortunately, we don’t necessarily know when in the recordings each bird is vocalising, or what species it is. Traditionally we might turn to bird experts to perform this task, but this is not feasible at the scale of the available data, which has been collected over many years, multiple times a day, amounting to thousands of hours of recordings. Modern approaches to tackling problems of this kind involve either automatic methods using cutting-edge computational techniques, or perhaps just as effectively, sharing the task among a large community of engaged Citizen Scientists. In our opinion, these are complementary – so we’re doing both.
In our talk we will describe some of the methods that are being developed to identify bird species from recordings taken in Tasmanian and Victorian eucalypt forests. We will briefly discuss the ideas behind the computational approaches and introduce our Citizen Science initiative, “BirdSong,” that enables bird enthusiasts (like you) to make valuable contributions to this important project.
Nick Mooney & Clare Hawkins
Title: Where Where Wedgie
Summary: Raptor Specialist Nick Mooney and survey coordinator Clare Hawkins will present the results of the first ever Where? Where? Wedgie! Survey undertaken in May 2018, and will outline future plans for the project. The citizen science event involved the general public, who formed more than 300 teams to survey for wedge-tailed eagles - together with other raptors, sulphur-crested cockatoos and corellas - across Tasmania. Coordinated by the Bookend Trust, the long term aim of this project is to monitor the overall population sizes of these species. Are our conservation efforts effective? Come with your questions and ideas, and discover how you can be a part of this work in future.
Title: Birdwoman: Elizabeth Gould and the Birds of Australia.
Summary: Ruth will present illustrations from John Gould’s Birds of Australia books, and discuss the pivotal role his wife Elizabeth Gould had in creating these beautiful images. This talk is based on the recent Allport Library and Museum of fine art’s exhibition titled Bird Woman: Elizabeth Gould and the Birds of Australia Exhibition’. Ruth’s talk follows the trail of evidence that shines a light on Elizabeth’s contribution to John Gould’s much loved natural history portfolios.
Title: Swift Parrots and invasive species
Summary: The Swift Parrot has recently been listed as Critically Endangered because modelling predicts that its population will decline by around 90% within 15 years because of predation by invasive Sugar Gliders. This talk presents data from field observations that support this prediction, and also discusses the potential for other invasive species to have additional impacts on Swift Parrots through competition for food and nest hollows.