Shorelines

I was pleased to be invited to exhibit in Shorelines presented by Thumb Print Workshop Inc. & Friends, at Riddoch Gallery, Mt. Gambier, then in Port MacDonnell.

 ‘Instigated by Thumb Print Workshop artists, Shorelines draws inspiration from the fragile and exquisite ecosystems that support the phenomenal lives and journeys of migratory shorebirds. These intrepid travellers fly from Australia and New Zealand, to raise their young above the Arctic Circle, crossing 23 countries, in an annual circuit called the East Asian-Australasian Flyway.

Inspired by Kate Gorringe-Smith’s The Overwintering Project, which focused on migratory shorebirds and their extraordinary lives. Shorelines is a result of a field trip to the Coorong and Port MacDonnell. Printmakers from SA and Victoria met up to explore and document these vulnerable, yet vital ecosystems.

The culmination of this trip is Shorelines, an exhibition located somewhere between the land, sea and sky, and in the flight path of these incredible migratory birds.’

This exhibition features the work of Libby Altschwager, Julie Bignell, Kate Gorringe-Smith, Jean McArthur, Bronwyn Mibus, Anne Miles, Sally O’Connor, Mary Pulford, Bronwyn Rees, Ruth Schubert, Bob Stone, Trudy Tandberg, Diana Wiseman and Stephanie Yoannidis.

Images include Ruddy Turnstone by Mary Pulford, Godwit Habitat Western Port by Kate Gorringe-Smith, Recycled - Flotsam and Jetsam by Julie Bignell, Frequent Flyer by Jean McArthur, Red Crab, Scurrying crabs and Shoreline by Anne Miles, Woman of the Coorong (in collaboration with Richard Sullivan) by Bronwyn Rees, Ruddy Turnstone by Bob Stone, Shoreline 2 by Diana Wiseman and Grazing the Tide 1 by Bronwyn Mibus.

The Overwintering Project - Six Degrees.

After several experiments, I have revised and amended ‘The Overwintering Project – Six Degrees.’ The core concept is still the same, as is using migratory shorebirds represented by postcards. The big change is to the way the postcards are sent out. All returned postcards will be exhibited.

What is The Overwintering Project – Six Degrees?

Inspired Kate Gorringe-Smith and The Overwintering Project: Mapping Sanctuary, my work The Overwintering Project: Six Degrees is also about raising awareness about migratory shorebirds. Small changes in climate and loss of habitat are impacting on the survival of these species.

Linking up the ideas of migratory shorebirds, six degrees of separation and climate change; the estimated temperature rise by 2100 is nearly 6 degrees.

Influenced by “The Small World Problem”[1]  Six Degrees is a chance to experiment with social connections; finding out how small and precious our Earth is, and inspire recipients to become aware of the environmental impacts we humans are having on migratory shorebirds. Are there just six steps between survival and extinction of a species?

[1] A thought provoking experiment carried out by Milgram and Travers in 1969. The results of this experiment introduced the phrase ‘six degrees of separation.’

 

So, here are the details:

The Overwintering Project – Six Degrees.

In the initial part of the project, I will be creating migratory shorebird postcards via printmaking processes, in editions of twelve. Each set will contain six thank you cards, and six ‘return to sender’ cards. I will be sending out my migratory shorebird postcards, to people I know on a first name basis, with the aim being that the recipient takes a thank you card to keep (one of the edition of 12), sends back one of the return address postcards – adding their name, location and date, then placing all remaining cards in an envelope and giving/posting them to someone they know on a first name basis. This includes trying to send your postcard migratory shorebirds as close to their target destination by travelling along the East Asian-Australian Flyway to Siberia/Russia/Alaska or the Arctic Circle.

If the recipient cannot give/post the cards to someone else, I am asking that all remaining cards be sent back to the return address in Australia. All returned postcards will be exhibited.

 

 

 

Can anyone else participate?

Yes. To keep things simple, I am asking that people interested in this project, and starting links of their own, create an edition of three postcards. The postcard size must be 10cm x 15cm, and feature a migratory shorebird, this could also include their habitat, or the effects of habitat loss and climate change. Printmaking is encouraged for this, however reproduction of other art media is acceptable, particularly for school students. Please include your name, location and date on the back of the postcard.

·         One to keep.

·         One to send to someone they know on a first name basis.

·         One to be exhibited and sent to:

The Overwintering Project – Six Degrees

C/- 18 Torridon Court,

Huntfield Heights

South Australia 5163

I have received a postcard from my friend –what do I do?

If you receive a postcard from a friend, you are invited to keep the postcard links going, and create an edition of four:

·         One to send back to your friend as a thank you.

·         One to send to another person you know on a first name basis.

·         One to keep.

·         One to send to The Overwintering Project – Six Degrees address in Australia to be exhibited.

What is a migratory shorebird?

Shorebirds are also known as Waders, and usually have long legs in relation to the size of their bodies. They gather on foreshores or on the fringes of wetlands. As their feet have no webbing, they are not swimmers.

Shorebird migration is a natural occurrence, where different species of birds fly thousands of kilometres in order to find the best ecological conditions and habitats for feeding, breeding and raising their young.

Our migratory shorebirds travel to their Arctic breeding grounds in the Northern Hemisphere summer as the melting snow signals an abundance of food for the birds. As winter returns to these areas, the birds chase their endless summer by flying to the Southern Hemisphere, where temperatures are warmer, and food supply should be plentiful.

Stopover sites are places where the migrating birds stop to rest and refuel, along the East Asian – Australian Flyway. Habitat changes to any of these sites pose an enormous threat to the survival of these birds, and has a critical impact on the success of their migratory journey.

These birds migrate either via short distance ‘hopping’, medium distance flights ‘skipping’ or long distance non-stop flights. These birds are vulnerable to habitat loss, and changing climate conditions.

Where is the East Asian-Australian Flyway?

The East Asian-Australasian Flyway is the name given to the route flown annually by Australia’s migratory shorebirds to and from their breeding grounds above the Arctic Circle in Alaska and Siberia, and it extends from Arctic Russia and North America to New Zealand. The twenty-three countries that comprise the East Asian-Australasian Flyway (i.e. are countries in which the birds have been recorded during their migrations) are: the USA (Alaska); Russia (Siberia); Mongolia; China; North Korea; South Korea; Japan; the Philippines; Vietnam; Laos; Thailand; Cambodia; Myanmar; Bangladesh; India; Malaysia; Singapore; Brunei; Indonesia; Timor; Papua New Guinea; Australia and New Zealand.

Some five million migratory shorebirds spend the warmer months of the year on the productive shores of Australia and New Zealand. Come May they sense the shift toward cooler days and prepare for their long migration which takes them up the eastern seaboard of Asia to their breeding grounds in Alaska and Siberia. This preparation involves eating to the point where they almost double their body weight. This is literally the fuel that will take them the thousands of miles they need to go to reach their breeding grounds. As they prepare for the migrations their bodies will also make the most amazing adaptations. For instance, to reduce weight, and in anticipation of long-distance stretches of non-stop flight, their digestive tract will temporarily atrophy. 

No-one knows precisely how they find their way, but we do know that migratory shorebirds can sense the earth's magnetic field to discern a northward route from a southward one, and it is believed that they can use markers such as stars and mountain ranges to map their migrations.

Above the Arctic Circle, for about ten months of the year, the ground of Siberia and Alaska is frozen solid. But the 24-hour summer sun brings with it a brief thawing of the permafrost, resulting in the formation pools of meltwater teeming with insect life. The shorebirds arrive into this abundance of food and light, and in the brief six to eight weeks of the arctic summer they mate, lay eggs and hatch their young. Shorebird chicks, perfectly camouflaged against the sedges and pebbles of the tundra, are precocial which means they are born with the ability to feed themselves. This is just as well, as within weeks of their hatching their mothers will take flight on the long journey southward, only to be followed also by their fathers. The newly-hatched juvenile shorebirds are left to negotiate the onerous flight to the southern hemisphere on their own.
 
On the way to and from their breeding grounds, the birds may make stopovers to rest and refuel. Of all the places where the birds take their rest, the most important is the Yellow Sea. Bordered by North and South Korea and China, this is a bottleneck of fertile shorebird habitat through which thousands of shorebirds will pass annually on their migrations.

To ensure the survival of these amazing travellers, every Flyway country has an important role to play in preserving the wetland habitats they use during their migration. Australia and New Zealand, however, have a particularly important role in terms of looking after our migratory shorebird habitat as it is on our shores that the birds spend the longest period of their migratory cycle from October to May every year.
 
The shorebirds’ annual migration, and their dependence on international wetlands, illustrates how habitats around the world are connected, and how important it is to protect them. 

 

List of Migratory Shorebird species visiting Australia.

The 37 species of migratory shorebirds that make this journey annually from the shores of Australia and New Zealand are as follows:

Pacific Golden Plover

Common Greenshank

Asian Dowitcher

Grey Plover

Marsh Sandpiper

Great Knot

Little Ringed Plover

Common Redshank (rare)

Red Knot

Lesser Sand Plover

Wood Sandpiper

Sanderling

Greater Sand Plover (Vulnerable)

Red-necked Phalarope

 

Red-necked Stint

Oriental Plover

Oriental Pratincole

 

Long-toed Stint (rare)

Latham’s Snipe

Broad-billed Sandpiper

 

Pectoral Sandpiper (rare)

Pin-tailed Snipe

Wandering Tattler

 

Sharp-tailed Sandpiper

Swinhoe’s Snipe

Eastern Curlew (Critically Endangered)

Curlew Sandpiper

Black-tailed Godwit

Terek Sandpiper

Ruff

Bar-tailed Godwit (Vulnerable)

Common Sandpiper

Double-banded Plover (the only one to migrate New Zealand to Australia)

Little Curlew

Grey-tailed Tattler

 

Whimbrel

Ruddy Turnstone

 


 

InkMasters, Cairns 2018

InkMasters Print Exhibition, Cairns.

InkMasters Print Exhibition is part of InkFest, a biennial festival of printmaking. I was lucky enough to have one of my works selected as a finalist this year.

I travelled up to Cairns for the Friday evening opening at Tanks Arts Centre. Simon Wright from Queensland Art Gallery gave a talk titled “What keeps me awake at night” in a talk on why art matters to us, and what art issues should matters to everyone. This was followed by the exhibition launch, and the announcement of prize winners. Glenda Orr won the main printmaking award with her etching with aquatint and spit-bite ‘Offsetting.’ Daniel O’Shane took the Indigenous award with his impressive (22cm x 120cm) and incredibly detailed vinylcut ‘ii ra mere ne Gawei (the sounds of tears and Gawei). The artists book award was given to a local Cairns artist Hannah Parker for her 8 metre long screenprint on fabric ‘Through Squid Eyes.’

Fellow Bittondi member, Elizabeth Banfield was also a finalist in the artists book section, with Bittondi workshop presenters Terry McKenna and Bronwyn Rees also being finalists.

Sunday morning was the day of The Big Print. Local schools and colleges had been involved in carving vinyl (yes vinyl– it seemed to be common practice for Cairns printmakers to use this instead of lino), ready for The Big Print day. I was able to watch the final stages of inking up of about 20 metres of plates. Fabric was carefully laid over the top of the plates, followed by boards. Then, with the aid of a steel pan band, and a couple of belly dancers, we were all invited to dance the length of the print. This continued for around 20 minutes. Then the big reveal…..the boards removed, and a team of volunteers lifted the fabric. Success! The Big Print was shown to all.

I’d like to finish with a quote from Margaret Genever (from InkMasters, Cairns) “Printmaking artists astound with their dedication to continuing – and pushing the boundaries of age-old print media. They also discover and augment new technologies, and often inventively meld traditional with newer means of creating images on paper and other surfaces. Most importantly, they use these materials and techniques to articulate conceptual interests that range from quiet, contemplative reflection to critical commentary and activism. The works on exhibition in the InkMasters Print Exhibition 2018 provide evidence of all of these qualities and more, expanding our perceptions of the world and assuring us of a vibrant printmaking future.”

The images show artists books ‘Pteridomania’ by Molly Bosworth, ‘Bird.Watching’ by Mary Pulford, ‘A Stitch in Time’ by Penny Hudson, ‘Herewith (Worry Box) by Elizabeth Banfield, ‘Through Squid Eyes’ by Hannah Parker, ‘Out of the Box, WHY’ by Catherine McCue, ‘Family Portraits’ by Jenny Kitchener, ‘Sections (quintet of artists books) by Belinda Curry. The remaining images show the creation of The Big Print.

The Overwintering Project: Port Macdonnell Site Visit. April 2018.

The Overwintering Project: Day 2. Mt. Gambier/Port MacDonnell.

The day started bird spotting along the Port MacDonnell foreshore. With the tide out, we were able to walk both the beach and intertidal zones. There were a lot of ducks including Chestnut Teal and Pacific Black Ducks, and the comment was ‘Who knew that ducks liked salt water?’ Other than ducks, we managed to see a good variety of shorebirds including

·         Red-necked Stints – one of which had been banded with a coloured flag. The Shorebirds Identification booklet (second edition) contains information from the Australasian Wader Studies Group (AWSG), and the flag combinations. The bird I photographed had an orange flag on the upper leg, yellow flag on the lower leg, meaning it was first banded in South Australia. For those of you who are keen, flagged shorebird sightings can be recorded at the AWSG webpage. This webpage also contains information about flyways, migration, plus publications on research of shorebirds/the environment. Webpage is awsg.org.au

·          Ruddy Turnstones (with breeding plumage – this means that they showed bold black, red and brown markings, compared with the dull non-breeding plumage of white, grey and brownish-grey). Ruddy Turnstones have been observed sticking to their place as the tide comes in, and bobbing up again as the wave passes.

·         Black Swans.

·         Straw-necked Ibis

·         Australian White Ibis

·         Double-banded Plovers – these are the only migratory shorebirds to complete an east-west migration. Those present in Port MacDonnell are likely to have flown from the south island of New Zealand. Research suggests that the North Island birds stay for the New Zealand winter.

·         Crested Terns

·         Seagulls

·         Pelicans

Lunch was held at the delicious Periwinkle Café, and we had a chance to meet more members of Mt. Gambier’s Thumbprint Studio (more information about this at https://www.facebook.com/printchapel/), including Anne and Jo, plus Bob and Rosemary from Portland Bay Press (information at https://www.facebook.com/Portland-Bay-Press-721969271246653/ and  http://imprint.org.au/postcards/portland-bay-press-a-postcard-by-kate-gorringe-smith/) Portland Bay Press also have a residency option at June Hedditch Apartment, with some information at https://www.facebook.com/junehedditchresidency/

Guest of honour and guide for the afternoon was Maureen Christie, local bird expert and involved with bird banding. Maureen recommends shorebird watching when the tide is in, as the birds are likely to be roosting near the shore, rather than wading far out on mud flats or intertidal zones.

During the lunch, we were able to read an article on a banded bird ‘ATZ: Mini Bird, Mega Voyage.’

 

Maureen took the group to Frenchman’s Point, located to the east of Port MacDonnell. This was a rocky beach area, with the main rocks being chalcedony – the black stone within limestone, and is a very hard stone. This has previously been exported to Broken Hill, to assist with crushing ore. Maureen pointed out Sea Rocket, which had purple flowers. The seeds are food for the Orange-bellied parrot. Maureen reported that there had been debate over whether this plant had been imported from South Africa, but the conclusion was that the plant had arrived in Australia naturally.

Migratory shorebirds which travel the furthest north, have to wait for the thaw, and leave Australia the latest. Those birds which breed in other countries along the flyway (for example, Japan) can leave earlier, as weather conditions should be suitable when they arrive.

The Red Knot, has been banded and studied. So far it has been found that Red Knot populations east of Melbourne travel to Alaska. Populations in the North-west of Western Australia travel to Siberia. It is not know where the population of St. Vincent Gulf travel to, and banding is/will be carried out to find out their overwintering destination.

We observed:

·         Red-necked Stints

·         Ruddy Turnstones

·         Double-banded plovers

·         Red-capped Plover

·         Sooty Oystercatchers

·         Pied Oystercatchers

·         Grey-tailed Tattler

·         Golden Plover

We then moved on to Stony Point, just past Racecourse Bay to the east of Port MacDonnell. Bronwyn found the remains of a weedy seadragon. Diana reported that quite a few of these wash up on these southern beaches. Maureen said that there are up to five types of cormorants found here (Little Pied – yellow beak with white chest, Little Black- black all over, Great – nearly all black with yellow on beak, Pied – yellow on face and wears black trousers and Black-faced Cormorants- wears black trousers and no yellow on face).

We observed:

·         Black-faced Cormorant

·         Little Pied Cormorant

·         Royal Spoonbill

·         Pelicans

·         White-faced Heron

·         Australian Ibis

·         Oystercatchers

·         Ducks, and a ‘freckledy’ duck according to Kate.

·         Masked lapwing

This ended the main part of the weekend. I’d like to thank Kate for coming up with this fabulous project. Not only does it raise awareness about migratory shorebirds, but also threats to the vulnerable environment they rely on. This was also a chance for printmakers (often solitary creatures) to come together, with members from Firestation Studio, Portland Bay Press, Thumbprint Workshop and Bittondi Printmakers Association joining in for the weekend. I’d also like to thank Diana Wiseman from Thumbprint for helping to organise the Mt. Gambier section of the weekend. If you haven’t made a print for The Overwintering Project core exhibitions, there is still time, and details can be found at https://www.theoverwinteringproject.com

Ruddy Turnstone with breeding plummage. 

Ruddy Turnstone with breeding plummage. 

Red-necked stint, showing 'fla. This combination shows the bird was first banded in South Australia.

Red-necked stint, showing 'fla. This combination shows the bird was first banded in South Australia.

Incredible journey from such a small bird!

Incredible journey from such a small bird!

Red- necked stint and Double-banded Plover.

Red- necked stint and Double-banded Plover.

Port MacDonnell crested terns.jpg

The Overwintering Project: Coorong Site Visit, April 2018.

The Overwintering Project: Coorong Site Visit. Saturday 7th April.

The Coorong visit started early, with the group converging near Parnka Point. Comprising of Kate, Bronwyn and Judy from Melbourne, Ro and Robyn from Creswick, Diana from Mt. Gambier and Mary from Adelaide, we met the local parks ranger Chris and his partner Corinda. Refreshed with tea and Anzac biscuits, Chris introduced us to the Coorong.

. ‘Kurangk’ (meaning ‘long narrow neck’) is the name given to the area by the Ngarrindjeri people. The Coorong is a wetland of international importance, and is made up of a north and south lagoon, with associated sand dunes. Water flows into this area, which is located at the end of the Murray-Darling system, and therefore reliant on water flowing in from this system. Chris reported that the Coorong had been badly affected by low flows from the Murray. The salinity in North lagoon has been recorded at twice the salinity of seawater, with the South Lagoon 5 times saltier.

These low flows impacts on the growth of Ruppia tuberosa, a submerged aquatic plant. This plant provides resources for the Coorong ecosystem including habitat, foraging substrates and food for herbivorous birds plus aquatic invertebrates and fish (which in turn become food for many of the migratory waders). Ruppia reproduces by both seeds and asexually by turions – a stalk part of the plant. Chris reported that the seed count from Ruppia was less than 20% in the South lagoon.It is thought that algae may also affect the growth of Ruppia, which would then affect the waders feeding. Chris reported that local fishing had been badly affected by the environmental condition of the Coorong. Also that by observation, the bird population had reduced significantly over the last 30 years, and noticeably over the millennial drought years that we had recently.

Parnka Point is a unique junction between the north and south lagoon areas of the Coorong. Needle, Rabbit, Goat and Snake Islands provide habitat for a wide range of birds. This area is within the range of the endangered orange-bellied parrot (about 25 birds in the total wild population), emu wrens, firetails, elegant parrots and wedge-tailed eagles. From the balcony, we were lucky enough to spot a flock of Red-necked Stints (217 apparently!), and probably some red-capped plovers, as well as a fabulous view of the North Lagoon and Islands.

There is indigenous co-management of the park, which has been in place for about 5-6 years. Native title is in place from Salt Creek to Murray Bridge (Zone A), with the remaining area from salt Creek to be finalised, once zones have been confirmed.

Chris said that Avocet could usually be spotted at Villa dei Yumpa, and Pelicans at Jacks Point.

There was some discussion about The Overwintering Project, which aims to raise awareness about the value of land and the environment – especially land which is seen as not being ‘pretty’, and the migratory birds which are ‘invisible.’

There are studies of these migratory birds happening, with some birds being tagged and/or fitted with geo-locaters. The initial size of the geo-locater was 0.6g which has been reduced to 0.3g.

 The Convention on Wetlands, called the Ramsar Convention, is an intergovernmental treaty that provides the framework for national action and international cooperation for the conservation and wise use of wetlands and their resources. Ramsar works to protect wetlands of international significance, which is important for all migratory shorebirds. Information on this can be found at https://www.ramsar.org Australia has 65 Ramsar sites, with the Coorong/Lake Alexandrina/Lake Albert wetland listed as being one of them.

Taking the dirt road, with ripples shaped like a fish’s backbone, Chris introduced the group to Parnka Point. From the lookout area, we were lucky enough to spot pelicans in flight, soaring above us in the thermals. We also saw Lapwing, terns, black swans and assorted ducks. There were many edible native plants in the area including:

·         Kunzia (also known as Muntries) – berries.

·         Native pigface – the fruits were dried and eaten

·         Acacia – seeds crushed and made into cakes, sometimes with added berries, and used as a food source in hard times.

·         Leucopogon parviflorus -fruits

·         Creeper vine – leaves are peppery, and used medicinally – when have a cold, this is hung around the neck.

Further information about South Australian Bush Tucker plants can be found at http://www.australianplantssa.asn.au/pages/australian-plants/general-articles/bush-tucker.php

There were no birds to be seen at the boat ramp area, excepting two emus walking along the base of the dunes opposite the ramp. Chris said that there is a fresh water soak at the base of these dunes opposite Parnka Point, and the emus and other wildlife will go there to drink. There were also the remains of 2 stumpy lizards.

Opposite the lookout area, to the south, there were Avocet, a pair of Greenshanks, Gulls, White-faced Herons and Pied Oystercatchers. Moving along, we had a brief stop near Woods Well on the Old Coorong Road, observing a flock of Avocet. Chris said that there used to be a round stone marked ‘good water here’, but that it had been removed.  At this stage the group thanked Chris for his time and very informative tour.

The group drove to Jack’s Point for a scenic well-earned lunch break. Lugging the esky of supplies over a path winding along the edge of the Coorong to the shelter and observation area, we then admired craftsmanship of both the seating and a cobweb. During this break we saw a White-faced Heron, Red-necked Stints and a Godwit. We had a brief stop at Chinaman’s Well, then Robe taking in the lovely Wilson’s Gallery, and The Obelisk, before heading on to Mt. Gambier for a well-earned nap.

 

 

 

Pelicans at Parnka Point.

Pelicans at Parnka Point.

Bar-tailed Godwit at Jack's Point.

Bar-tailed Godwit at Jack's Point.

 

Footnotes.

Ruppia tuberosa.

There are several good articles about the ecology and monitoring of this species. Paton, Paton and Bailey have found that “In the last 40 or so years volumes of water reaching Murray mouth drastically reduced and the usual sprint peaks infrequent or non-existent.”

Ecological character description for Ruppia tuberosa in the Coorong by David C. Paton, Fiona L. Paton and Colin P.Bailey (2015)

https://data.environment.sa.gov.au/Content/Publications/CLLMM_220_ECD%20for%20Ruppia%20Tuberosa_2015.pdf

Annual winter monitoring of Ruppia tuberosa in the Coorong region of SA. July 2016. David C. Paton, Fiona L. Paton and Colin P. Bailey. https://data.gov.au/dataset/9c0f3a2a-c9b9-43a3-9edf-9d198c87e6e0/resource/2b5189b3-6a02-45b7-9e14-37c8458d6094/download/milestone-1-ruppia-tuberosa-in-the-southern-coorong-summer--2015---2016.pdf

Information on birds of the Coorong:

www.environment.sa.gov.au/.../BROCHURE_COORONG_WADERS.pdf 

 

The Ramsar listing for the Coorong site is as follows:

the Coorong, Lake Alexandrina & Albert Wetland

The Coorong, and Lakes Alexandrina & Albert Wetland. 01/11/85; South Australia; 142,530 ha; 35°56’S 139°18’E. National Park, Game Reserves and Crown Land; Shorebird Network Site. The site is located at the mouth of the River Murray, south east of the city of Adelaide. It consists of two lakes forming a wetland system at the river’s mouth and a long, shallow brackish-to-hypersaline lagoon which they feed into, separated from the ocean by a narrow sand dune peninsula. The lakes contain water of varying salinity and include a unique mosaic of 23 wetland types including intertidal mud, sand and salt flats, coastal brackish/saline lagoons and permanent freshwater lakes. The site is of international importance for migratory waterbirds and supports the greatest wealth of waterbird species in the Murray-Darling Basin. It hosts important nesting colonies of cormorants, plovers, ibises and terns, and also supports globally endangered species such as the Orange-bellied Parrot (Neophema chrysogaster) and the Murray Cod (Maccullochella peelii peelii). The site is popular for recreation activities include camping, boating, regulated duck hunting, and supports a range of commercial activities related to tourism, irrigated agriculture, and commercial fishing. The area is central to aboriginal culture and spiritual beliefs, and it is noted for its extensive sites of historic and geological importance. Ramsar site no. 321. Most recent RIS information: 201

Information on plants of the Coorong area can be found in:

Common Native Plants of the Coorong Region

by Neville Bonney

Published by Australian Plants Society (SA Region) Inc.

Soft cover, full colour, 103 pages

Reviewed by Jan Sked

The Coorong area of South Australia has sustained many species, year after year, endured season after season, for how long no one really knows. For many centuries the aboriginal people lived on its resources. The Coorong, in its many moods, has been an inspiration for many people - artists, photographers, bird watchers, plant enthusiasts.

At the western end of the Coorong are Lakes Albert and Alexandrina, where the waters of the mighty Murray River spill out into the Great Southern Ocean. From there the Coorong extends south east as a 150 kilometre long narrow waterway. In 1972 a major area of the Coorong was declared a National Park.

In this new book Neville Bonney shows us some of the most common plants of this fascinating region. Combinations of features and characteristics have been chosen to aid in the identification of 70 species found in the Coorong. Colour photographs are used throughout to illustrate the plants with several photos per plant showing the most distinctive features.

Plants are grouped according to height or habit in the following order: Herbs, Grasses and Reeds, Creepers and Climbers, Small Shrubs, Medium and Tall Shrubs, Trees. Plants are arranged alphabetically by botanical name within their group, with common names provided where known and the plant family to which each belongs. As well, Neville has included the meaning of each botanical name.

The locality and/or type of plant association where each plant occurs are given. Descriptions cover habit of growth, flowers, fruit, etc. Seed collecting and propagation methods are also discussed, and historical uses by aboriginal people and early settlers are included. Characteristics which help differentiate between similar plants are also recorded.

This richly illustrated small book captures the natural beauty of the Coorong. Whether you use it is as a guide to explore the region or as a reminder after a visit or just to dream about a place far away, it evokes the spirit of this wonderful place.

For availability and price:

Email: books@australianplantssa.asn.au

 

Information on South Australian Bush Tucker plants can be found at www.australianplantssa.asn.au/pages/australian.../bush-tucker.php

The Bulrush Paper Making Adventure

The Bulrush Paper Making Adventure.

In a galaxy far, far away…….well, actually, not so far away, this adventure started with an excited message from paper maker Cher McGrath. ‘Someone has cut down a heap of bulrushes, on the side of a wetland area in Moana!’ After debating if these had been cut down to improve the view for the resident ducks, then seeking council approval to remove some of the cut bulrushes, we were allowed to collect them. Why so excited over some water reeds? Well, these are full of fibre, and fibre is fabulous for papermaking.  A retrieval team was formed with Cher (studio assistants Scooter and Nashi), artist Joanne Mildenhall, Pete and myself.

We collected a lot of bulrushes, and unloaded some at Cher’s place, the rest made it to my place. The bulrushes were then snipped into smallish pieces and allowed to soak for several months.

The pieces were then boiled, and beaten, by the indefatigable Cher.

Finally, it was papermaking day. The team reassembled to use not only the bulrush fibre for paper, but recycled paper, and aloe fibres. Initially, we have made about 60 sheets of paper each.

Now I am working on the next step, of what to print on this wonderful paper.

Web shop open!

To celebrate my web shop opening, I have a small range of handmade prints and cards available. For a short time only, there will be free shipping on all items. To get free shipping, add the promo code CHRISTMAS. I will be adding more prints gradually, with the next being my new series "Antipodean Alphabet."

If you are in South Australia, I'll have my artwork at Aldinga Arts and Eco Village this Sunday 26th November. In December, you can find my artwork at Mrs. Harris' Shop, Willunga Artisans and Handmade Market, and Hahndorf Academy Night Market.

Shorebirds and Stencils Workshop with Kate Gorringe-Smith.

Shorebirds and Stencils: Workshop with Kate Gorringe-Smith.

This weekend workshop started with a field trip to the Onkaparinga estuary at Port Noarlunga. With locals intent on the football game playing on the adjacent oval, our group of ‘twitchers’ and artists gathered in the mid-morning sunshine. Tony Flaherty from DEWNR had set up a bird watching area – banded stilts, both adult and juvenile, a pied cormorant, ibis and a greenshank were amongst the birds spotted.

Tony gave us a comprehensive introduction to shorebirds. Firstly, shorebirds are birds are those that live on or near the shore – a different category to seabirds.

The Onkaparinga is an important estuarine environment, made up of dunes, tidal flats and the samphire/salt marsh areas. The area is managed by a number of different agencies; and since 2009, with the housing developments nearby they are trying to manage the ecosystem in a more natural way, with a coherent plan. Weed control and revegetation are the priorities. This is following well-meaning revegetation efforts in the 1970s, where introduced species such as Casuarina glauca and Tea-tree were planted. These have reduced the areas of tidal flats, and shorebirds need open space. The saltmarsh areas are also important for the shorebirds, and for fish. When the area floods, this marsh area provides an important foraging ground for fish. South Australia has about 6 species of saltmarsh, which is a good diversity. Mangroves can encroach on saltmarsh areas, and reduce diversity. There was also an attempt to plant mangroves in the estuary – however, there is no record that the Onkaparinga was ever a habitat for mangroves; and if they had taken hold, this would have led to an increase in flooding of Port Noarlunga.

Prior to the reservoirs and weirs, the Onkaparinga used to be the second biggest estuary in South Australia. Environmental flows are vital to the continued health of the river and its inhabitants. There needs to be fresh water coming down to trigger the breeding of some fish – for example bream and black bream.

Shorebirds are found in about 70 sites on Gulf St Vincent from the proof range to Goolwa. Younger migratory shorebirds, though hatched in the Tundra, and making their first flight to SA at about 6 weeks of age, may spend their first winter here. Studies conducted have included the winter count of shorebirds. Studies in South Australia have focussed on the Grey Plover, a migratory bird from one section of Thompsons Beach (north of St. Kilda), with some birds banded and satellite tracked. Interestingly, it was found that these mighty travellers head north via Taiwan/China and the Yellow Sea, resting and feeding here before the final leg to Siberia. The tidal variations in both China and Northern Australia form the right conditions for ‘shorebird supermarkets’, and it is extremely important to protect these areas, for the continued survival of these species migration. The birds have to time their arrival with the melting of the snow. The South Australian birds ended up on Wrangel Island, which is located in the Arctic Ocean between Chukchi Sea and East Siberian Sea. Grey Plovers from Western Australia have been found to travel to mainland Russia. Migratory shorebirds rely on big high pressure systems that usually occur at this time of the year (March), as these set up south easterly winds blowing over the deserts, and this is thought to assist the birds’ migration. Weather is important to these birds with weather events e.g. typhoons possibly affecting flights. Once in Siberia, the shorebirds have 24 hours of sunlight, and massive Arctic tidal mudflats which can be accessed over the short summer. Courtship, nesting, with about 4 eggs laid and chicks (not all of these survive) have to occur within 8 weeks. The adults leave first, followed by the juveniles.

There are 8 known flyways across the world, including from Africa through the middle east and then north; South America to the Tundra and Australia/New Zealand to Siberia/Alaska.

To increase knowledge of these flyways and migratory birds, banding has been carried out. The Victorian Wader study, Friends of Shorebirds SE are examples of the conservation efforts. On Facebook, there is the page Grey Plover, where you can follow the migration online, with a satellite tracked bird (On Facebook look for the grey plover linocut style image in red and white).

Tony recommended further bird watching at Magazine Road wetlands – a range of birds. Snapper Point – Hooded plovers nesting, and these birds like the southern surf dominated beaches. If areas were permanently fenced to protect these breeding birds, it has been found that birds of prey can perch, so a rope fence offers better protection. Young birds can also be subject to raven and silver gull predation. Also, it has been found that if dogs are restrained on a leash, they have a less erratic movement, and the nesting birds fell less threatened. Back to bird watching locations, Thompsons Beach, the vernal pools at Parafield recommended. The Price/Dry Creek salt fields provide artificial conditions for the shorebirds and with their closure, this will disturb the birds and may have long term affects. There is estimated to be between 15 000 and 25000 shorebirds in SA, though the numbers has decreased in recent years. Shorebirds have a lifespan of 25-30 years.

Shearwaters (seabirds not shorebirds) migrate to Alaska/Aleutians, and used to migrate every 10 years. They are now arriving every 2-5 years and there is not enough food, leading to mass starvation events.

 

At the conclusion of the talk, we collected a variety of materials to use in printing. We headed up to the Bittondi Studio for the afternoon session of the workshop. Kate talked about her interest in shorebirds, and her ‘special’ bird the bar-tailed godwit. Kate then showed examples of her printmaking, followed by a demonstration of the printing, stencilling and overprinting techniques. This included linoprints being overprinted, ghost prints, using laser cut stencils, and hand cut stencils etching plates printed in relief, printing from plywood, and using some of the found plant materials as stencils.

Day two was back at the studio, experimenting with the range of materials on offer to produce a range of layered prints. From printing with seaweed to form works evocative of whales, to reusing plates to print and layer works in relief. The creativity of all participants was inspiring – all producing gorgeous experimental pieces.

Kate introduced us to her ‘Overwintering Project – Mapping Sanctuary’ and invited workshop participants to take part, at a reduced fee. (Further information on this project below).

Thank you to Tony for giving us such an interesting insight into the lives of shorebirds.

I’d also like to thank Kate for travelling to SA to give this workshop. Kate was incredibly generous with both her time and knowledge. This was an inspiring weekend, and I would recommend it to both experienced and beginner printmakers.

 

 

The Overwintering Project: Mapping Sanctuary

 

Invitation for Expressions of Interest, December 2016

 

‘Overwintering’: to spend the winter; e.g.: ‘many birds overwinter in equatorial regions’

 

INTRODUCTION

 

The Overwintering Project is an environmental art project inviting artists from Australia and New Zealand to respond to the unique nature of their local migratory shorebird habitat. Australia and New Zealand have over 100* internationally important shorebird overwintering sites. These sites are not interchangeable: they each possess a unique combination of physical and biological features that make it the perfect sanctuary for migratory shorebirds to return to, year after year.

 

 

PROJECT AIMS

 

·         to raise awareness of Australia and New Zealand as the major destination for migratory shorebirds of the East Asian-Australasian Flyway, as they spend the most time in their migratory cycle on our shores

·         to raise community and individual awareness of the intrinsic value and uniqueness of local shorebird habitat

·         to map a personal response to the richness of our shores

·         to link artists around Australia and New Zealand

 

 

‘Knowledge bestows ownership; uniqueness bestows value.’

 

 

THE PRINT PROJECT

 

Printmakers are invited to contribute one print created in response to the unique nature of their local environment. In pondering how their local habitat is precious to shorebirds, artists are also invited to reveal how it is precious to them. Migratory shorebirds provide the focus for the project, but artists can respond to any aspect that they perceive as rendering the area unique e.g. the geology, prey species, tidal patterns, flora etc.

 

Artists can ask for a list of sites in their vicinity or, if they are already aware of their local shorebird habitat, they can add their area to the list.

 

I am planning to organise events in each state inviting interested artists to attend talks by shorebird experts in or near their local habitat. If artists would like an event at their site, please contact me and I will try and organise one or put you in touch with a local expert.

 

The prints will become part of a unique print folio that will provide an in-depth personal response to our unique coast and the sites that our migratory shorebirds depend on in order to survive. I intend to find a permanent home for the folio in a state or national collection.

 

To be part of the Overwintering Project printmakers are asked to

 

·         submit two copies of the print made for the project to the co-ordinator: one to exhibit and one to sell to raise funds for shorebird research. Any form of original print is accepted. Paper size: 28 x 28cm.

·         submit a good-quality image of the print to the project, title and medium, a 100 words artist statement and a precise description of the location of your site

·         pay an administrative charge of $25***

 

This project is expected to continue for up to three years. It will be supported by a website that will list Overwintering Project exhibitions and display images of the art generated in response to each site. The final manifestation of the Overwintering Project will be an exhibition or exhibitions of the entire Overwintering Project print folio.

 

The Print Project provides both the fundraising aspect of the Overwintering Project, and the enduring core of work that can be exhibited at any time to aid shorebird or coastal conservation.

 

 

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION

 

For further information including a map of sites, or to enquire about joining the project, please contact Kate Gorringe-Smith, Overwintering Project Co-ordinator.

0432 322 408

kategorringesmith@gmail.com

www.kategorringesmith.com.au