Pilot to spread her wings around Australia to support bird conservation

Travelling 20,000km over six months, SAFA member and microlight pilot, Amellia Formby from Perth is planning to embark on an Australian-first expedition for a female pilot, flying her microlight around the country to support shorebird conservation.


Commencing her flight from Broome in 2021, Amellia, a former zoologist, will be stopping at major shorebird sites along the Australian coastline, collaborating with Birdlife Australia to introduce and educate school students on the incredible life and journey of these remarkable birds- the world’s most endangered group of bird species.

Only learning to fly a microlight three years ago, Amellia will lap around the continent in the same amount of time it takes a group of shorebirds that are fitted with satellite transmitters, to migrate to Arctic Circle and back.

Every year, about 6 million shorebirds are estimated to use the East Asian-Australasian Flyway to migrate.

“The experience of looking out over vast flocks of thousands of shorebirds settling on the beach cannot help but instil awe at the distance these far-travelled birds have come, the endurance of their small, vulnerable bodies, their fight for survival and give life to imaginings of the many places and sights they have seen. This is where I fell in love with shorebirds,” she said.

“On my travels, the birds will be fitted with a satellite transmitter as will my microlight, so I can provide updates on where I am in relation to the birds.

“This trip is very important to me, as there has been a big population crash in this species due to their habitat loss. The wetlands and mudflats that they feed from, are being reclaimed for development.”

“My big message I want to convey to students is that we are all part of nature and that we are all connected to an ecological system,” she said.

“The shorebirds are a great example of this as they are connected to other places in the world. By damaging their habitat and our eco system doesn’t just have an effect on these birds but it also has negative consequences to our own health and wellbeing.”

Amellia is currently visiting West Australian school students as part of the Flock Oz program. It is a fun, creative project where students can paint, decorate and create their own flock- increasing the awareness of these endangered species to the younger generation.

“I’ll be heading back to Newcastle to work at Airborne for the next year before going on the road to do a recce trip around Australia with the microlight in tow, visiting schools along the way to trail the Flock Oz in schools,” she said.

The learn more about Flock Oz or Amellia’s current preparations for her Australia-first microlight expedition, visit wing threads.

Shorebirds are a group of bird species that can’t land on water and are often seen wading around wetlands and mudflats to feed. In Australia there are over 50 species of shorebirds and 36 of these are migratory.

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