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“Beako” flys in to Bribie to meet Milly – with calls for urgent action on shorebird protection

Updated: May 12, 2023

Bribie greeted two special visitors yesterday, when “Beako” the Far Eastern Curlew flew in for a special guest appearance at events with adventurer Milly Formby. Conservationist, artist, zoologist, and pilot Milly Formby is flying around Australia in her microlight aircraft under the banner Wing Threads, and stopped-in to help build awareness of the plight of endangered migratory shorebirds, like those that over-summer on Bribie’s Ramsar-listed beaches and tidal flats. Organised by BIEPA's Securing Shorebirds Project, the day's events included a free art+nature+science workshop for primary-school aged kids in the morning, followed by a fundraiser to support Milly's continued quest to fly around Australia in the afternoon.

Kids learn the art of identifying shorebirds

Milly shared wonderful stories of her shorebird flying adventure with kids, who learned why these birds are so special and how they make 25,000km round trip to and from Bribie to their Arctic breeding grounds each year. Milly then taught the kids how to identify some of the birds’ unique characteristics by drawing them.

"Beako" entertains

The kids were farewelled with a surprise guest appearance from “Beako” the giant Far Eastern Curlew puppet, who’s helpers led a special song about "Milly and her microlight" accompanied by the kids on drums!

Afternoon Fundraiser

A great crowd gathered for Milly's afternoon fundraiser, with people coming from as far away as the Redlands in the south and the Sunshine Coast in the north! Milly detailed her adventure so far – explaining how the project came to life, the trials and tribulations of learning to fly, how she built her own microlight, and how she gained the experience she needed before she set out on her epic adventure.

Milly is passionate about migratory shorebirds and explained in detail the fascinating life of these plucky little birds, and the need to protect habitats all along the East Asian-Australian Flyway. This includes Moreton Bay's own Ramsar-listed roosting sites, which are a critical link in their chain of survival but continue to be threatened by human-preventable disturbances.

Human-preventable disturbances on our doorstep – action needed

Bribie's own critical links in shorebird migration centre on the Kakadu Beach Roost at Banksia Beach, the shoreline of Buckley's Hole, and extend across the passage to the Toorbul Roost. The Pumicestone Passage shoreline and adjacent tidal flats are important resting and feeding sites for migratory shorebirds over the Australian summer. The birds use these sites to recover from their southward migration, and then build up condition before they leave in April on the epic 12,000km return flight, north to their Arctic breeding grounds in Russia and Alaska.

Human-preventable disturbances are affecting their opportunities to recover at these sites. Off-leash dogs, feral cats and foxes, beach walkers ignoring no-go areas of beach, and recreational vessels coming too close to shore, all cause the birds to unnecessarily take flight, wasting the vital energy stores they require. Astonishingly, Moreton Bay's internationally protected sites are under increased threats from development, with the proposed Toondah Harbour development at Cleveland one current case in point. The fight to save Toondah Harbour's roosting sites from residential and commercial development is happening right now – already green-lit by the State Government, if approved by the federal government Australia will officially become the first signatory country to the UN's Ramsar convention that has failed to meet their obligations to protect listed sites – an international tragedy and another blight on Australia's poor conservation record. BIEPA calls for action from all levels of government to protect threatened migratory shorebirds and their habitats. In particular BIEPA asks Moreton Bay Regional Council (MBRC) to work closely with the community and other stakeholders to ensure best-practice conservation principles are applied to the management of the Kakadu Beach Roost, Buckley's Hole, and the Toorbul roost, with the objective of reducing shorebird disturbances, and the restoration and improvement of each area's conservation values. YOU CAN HELP

  • Support calls for best-practice conservation management at Kakadu Roost and other key sites on Bribie and surrounds, including Buckley's Hole and Toorbul.

  • Support activities around World Migratory Bird Day on May 13

  • Join the Toondah Harbour Walk on May 14 to protest the habitat imminent habitat destruction.

  • Join BEIPA's Wildlife Team and assist with the Securing Shorebird Project.

  • Introduce the kids in your life to Milly's Shorebird Flying Adventure through her illustrated children's book.


BIEPA thanks Milly Formby for her advocacy for shorebird protection, and for joining us on Bribie. Also a huge shout-out to Rob and the team from Upatree Arts for "flying" Beako in to our events. We'd also like to thank Bribie Island Butterfly House for welcoming Milly with an impromptu visit of their great local attraction. BIEPA is also grateful to our event venue, the Orchid House. This event would not have been possible without the dedicated work of BIEPA's volunteers, led by the Wildlife Team's Securing Shorebirds Project.

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