Citizen Science Stories Inspire

Seventy-seven practising and potential “Citizen Scientists” attended the Denmark Bird Group’s eighth annual Bird Talks event with the theme of “Citizen Science”. The Shire of Denmark generously supported the event making the reception room available for hosting the talks.

The scene for the event was set by the DBG Convenor, Kirsty Anderson, who recounted how Citizen Science had played an important role in the establishment of the Djerrt Mia Bird Sanctuary and was playing a critical role in the protection of other precious reserves.

Our first Speaker, Dr Bronte Van Helden of UWA, Albany gave a synopsis of her recently completed project on the Biodiversity Benefits of Wildlife Gardening (supported by funding from the Australian Government’s Inspiring Australia Science Engagement Programme). An impressive total of 243 residents in the Southwest of WA contributed to the wildlife monitoring and over an eighteen-month period conducted an amazing 15,795 surveys. There were garden surveys and monitoring of structures (bird baths, bat boxes, frog “hotels” etc.) In all 216 species were recorded using gardens comprising 144 birds, 10 frogs, 43 reptiles and 19 mammal species. A total of 232 wildlife friendly structures were installed with bird baths and ponds being the most popular. Here, Citizen Science helped to highlight the importance of gardens and wildlife-friendly structures in biodiversity conservation.

After Bronte’s talk the room was buzzing as the next segment on local Citizen Science projects was introduced. Six speakers talked on a wide range of topics:

Shaun Ossinger (Executive Officer WICC):  Eungedup wetlands project current and future involvement of Citizen Scientists

Tim Gamblin (Biodiversity Project Officer WICC): Community for Cockies – conservation of Black Cockatoo species in the Wilson Inlet catchment; monitoring of birds, seed collection, planting of food species and installation of nest boxes

Jeff Spencer (Denmark Bird Group): Monitoring of birds in a forest area where a prescribed burn is planned.

Lisa Nicholson (Beach Nesting Birds Project Officer Birdlife Australia): Monitoring and protection of beach nesting birds and raising community awareness of their plight

Steph Tchan (Friends of Mount Hallowell): Report from the Mount Hallowell Bioblitz and the role of the Friends of Mount Hallowell Group to raise awareness of and help protect this special reserve

Fred Pearce (Denmark Environment Centre): The problem of shoreline plastic debris on the South Coast of WA and the difference we can make

For more information on these local projects and how you can get involved, please see https://www.denmarkbirdgroup.org/citizen-science-panel/

After a very chatty morning tea, our final speaker Dr.Boyd Wykes, founding member of “Owl Friendly Margaret River” presented his latest film directed by Sue Taylor “Night Calling” a moving film, centred on his study of Masked Owls in the Margaret River area. This thought provoking film will, at the moment, be screened for the general public through local film festivals. Like the Augusta Margaret River Region, by choosing wildlife-friendly methods of controlling rats and mice, we can make our Denmark region a safe haven for owls and other wildlife from rodenticide poisoning. To find out more about the impacts on owls and other wildlife when using second generation anticoagulant rodenticides and making better choices, head to https://owlfriendly.org.au/

Boyd believes that the Masked Owl is likely to be present throughout the Southwest but the Barking Owl is believed to be on the verge of extinction in the southwest.  If you are hearing or seeing owls on your local area please contact us on enquiries@denmarkbirdgroup.org

Jane Kelsbie MLA for Warren-Blackwood noted “It was great to be part of the original citizen science project and to get to watch the new film Night Calling. I have been a supporter of Dr Boyd Wykes and Karen Majer and their incredible work to protect and better educate the public about our beautiful owl population. I look forward to supporting Owl Friendly Denmark now too.”

The success of the event was evident with many people staying afterwards to find out more about the Citizen Science opportunities. The benefits of Citizen Science were beautifully summed up by Fred in his talk: “Citizen Science is rewarding, contributes to shared knowledge and assists in education, advocacy and campaigns for improvement”.

One of Bronte’s slides showing what can be installed in gardens to promote biodiversity
Questions for the Denmark Panel (left to right) Lisa Nicholson, Steph Tchan, Jeff Spencer, Tim Gamblin, Shaun Ossinger, Fred Pearce
Event attendee Jane Kelsbie MLA for Warren-Blackwood with the team from Owl Friendly Margaret River (left to right) James Bennett, Belinda Bennett, Jane Kelsbie, Dr Boyd Wykes, Judi Cowie (DBG), Kirsty Anderson (DBG), Karen Majer

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