Nightcliff twitchers tot-up tourists

Migratory shorebirds making a Darwin stopover are the focus of a scientific study by Nightcliff Primary School students. The long-distance refugees from above the Arctic Circle have paused in their seasonal movement along the East Asian-Australasian Flyway to rest and recuperate locally.

The students joined the Welcome to the Waders project—observing and counting bird species that feed and fatten ahead of their northbound return trip.

Assistant principal Jill Finch said the school’s proximity to Nightcliff Reef provided students with an opportunity to “examine birds from a scientific perspective” during National Bird Week in October.

“It’s the first time the school has participated in the waders’ program and the Aussie Backyard Bird Count run during National Bird Week,” she said. “About 120 students from years 2 to 4 were involved, and recorded more than 10 species of birds in the schoolyard, including magpie geese, glossy and white ibis, curlews, red collared lorikeets, masked finches, magpie larks, blue faced honeyeaters and several species of pigeon.

“Bird themes were reinforced by scientific report writing, art lessons with creative nest making and the production of Origami birds, and by studying Circles—a picture book describing the 20,000-kilometre journey of waders to get to Nightcliff and Lee Point reefs.

Students holding paper birds and nest