Shorebirds a Sure Thing in Western Australia

Shorebirds come in many shapes and sizes, but all of them share certain characteristics, including physically round heads and very useful bills to probe for food in the sand, gravel and water; and  a preference for wet habitats and shorelines.

Because of the similarities between many shorebird species, they can be challenging to identify. A combination of field marks, behaviour and geographic distribution is necessary for proper shorebird identification.

Sadly, these beautiful birds and their coastal habitats are under pressure in Australia and overseas. For this reason BirdLife Australia runs a community conservation project called Shorebirds 2020 to monitor populations and to stop their decline.

The Shorebird 2020 Program raises awareness of how incredible shorebirds are, and actively engages the community to participate in gathering information needed to conserve shorebirds.

For the the past eight years, Kim Onton has been turning heads as the WA Coordinator of Shorebirds 2020. During this time Kim has presented workshops, led expeditions, developed a strategic plan, been involved in shorebird conservation actions and campaigns, and promoted shorebirds and the program at conferences and forums.

Ms Onton said she is especially pleased with the expansion of the monitoring program to include new sites across WA, the recruitment of new birders to the Shorebirds 2020 community, and the collaborations with many organisations, especially NACC.

According to her, the opportunity to work with an inspiring group of passionate shorebirders across WA, to visit their local sites and to assist in increasing awareness of the plight of shorebirds, have been among her greatest highlights.

This July marks the end Ms Onton’s official time leading Shorebirds 2020 in WA as she has stepped down from the Coordinator’s role and has passed the baton on to Bruce Greatwich.

“Bruce’s local experience, enthusiasm and new ideas are really impressive, and I am confident that the program is in very good hands,” said Ms Onton.

“The conservation of threatened species is something that has become a growing passion for me, hence when I saw this role I immediately jumped at it,” said Mr Greatwich.

“I would like to thank Kim for all the hard work she has put in over the last eight years. It’s certainly large shoes to fill; so I hope I can continue to grow the Shorebird 2020 project,” he said.

NACC congratulates both Kim and Bruce for their dedication and passion for shorebirds and looks forward to furthering our relationship with BirdLife Australia and Shorebirds 2020.

For more information about Shorebirds 2020 please visit



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1 comment

Philippa Schmucker

I am happy to see this post! As a local volunteer I set up seven new Shorebird 2020 sites in the southern NAR for the last summer counts. Myself and three other volunteers surveyed each of the sites and look forward to doing it again in the summer of 2016! Information gathered from the surveys has assisted me in my role as NRM Officer to look at visitor management and education opportunities at shorebird sites of significance in along the Turquoise Coast.

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