Whoops it's been a long time since I wrote anything here! Been very busy with wedding planning, filling in grant applications and writing papers! I'm very excited that the first two papers of my thesis are currently out to review! But more on that another day.
For a long time I've been involved with the Australian Bird Study Association (ABSA). I didn't know it when I met them but the team I learned to band with (8 years ago now!) are all pretty heavily involved in ABSA. In fact one member of the banding team is the president and another, the editor of Corella! I owe them so much as they opened a whole new world of bird research to me while I was still an honours student. I got involved in the committee a few years later (having disappeared overseas for a bit) when my good friend, moved from secretary into the treasurers role, leaving the secretary spot open. I convinced my very patient partner, to take on membership officer and signed myself up as secretary. Later on, as I wasn't able to attend many of the meetings, I passed the role on to the current secretary, and one of the nicest people I know, Katy. I didn't last long as an ordinary committee member and have recently been appointed publicity officer. There has never been an ABSA publicity officer so it's very exciting, although completely terrifying, to start it up!
At first (back in 2007), I wasn't really sure what ABSA was all about. Of course I'd heard of Corella but I'd never thought to look at where it came from. How naïve I was! It turns out that ABSA is so much more than the journal and is such a huge part of bird study in Australia. Incredibly the association was formed in 1962! Under the name Bird Banders Association of NSW (complete history on the ABSA website). Similarly Corella started its life as The Australian Bird Bander. Especially now when we are just beginning to appreciate how essential long term banding projects are, ABSA is more important than ever! My favourite part of Corella is recovery round up. It really reminds me of why these studies are so important.
Times are changing and ABSA is trying to keep up. In addition to the new publicity officer role, the committee also appointed a conservation officer (current secretary Katy Wilkins). We have started sending the quarterly newsletter via email instead of post and moved to a quarterly online edition of Corella, with just one printed copy annually. Amy Greenwood is doing an amazing job on Facebook ('like' us here!) and you can follow me on Twitter @ABSAbirds.
It's been a great experience being part of the committee so far and I hope I can continue for a long time to come, despite my work taking me further and further from the committees base in Sydney. Through ABSA I have discovered bird study projects that I never knew existed, met amazing people that I would never normally have come across and renewed my passion for bird study and the Australian bush.
This year, as I'm not away in the field for the first time in almost 10 years, I'm trying to get involved more in some of the long-term banding projects around NSW. So I've been spending many weekends in the bush with people who I didn't know until very recently, sometimes catching birds and sometimes just sitting around waiting, drinking tea and getting to know my fellow banders. It has been amazing! I have learned so much about Australian birds and I am grateful to everyone on these trips. On a trip recently I was amazed and excited to meet three 17 year old boys with a real passion for birds - they absolutely put me to shame with their bird knowledge! This banding site is at least three hours drive from where any of us live so they had to convince a parent to drive down with them for the weekend too. It works both ways, sometimes kids drag their parents and some parents drag their kids! But everyone seems to enjoy the weekends. Don’t get me wrong these trips are not necessarily organised by ABSA but are run by people with a passion for Australian birds (often ABSA members), it is this passion that keeps me going back.
I'm looking forward to Birdfair 2016 and to the ABSA scientific day and AGM next year. I'm hoping to spread some enthusiasm for bird study through Twitter and get on as many bird banding trips as my schedule will allow (if you live in Sydney and want to join a trip click here). I might even confront my seasickness and go on a pelagic trip later this year! If you haven't already please visit the ABSA website, send us an email/facebook message/tweet or start up a conversation on our forum. We would love to hear from you!