The adage that birds of a feather flock together is certainly ringing true at Elliott Heads.
Although, in this case, there is little to show in the way of feathers with this group of migratory shorebirds, that does not make their gathering at Elliott Heads beach any less remarkable.
Bundaberg artist Sandy Scarborough’s art installation, titled The Flock Bundaberg, depicts in eye-catching colour the many migratory shorebirds that make yearly visits to our region.
The project has been a labour of love for Sandy with each of the 18 marine ply artworks painted in oil paint to ensure that they survive the elements.
Sandy also had to do hours of research prior to creating the works in order to know which species of migratory birds visited the Bundaberg Region.
“Like most people, I wasn’t really aware of the migratory shorebirds prior to this project,” Sandy said.
“I was looking for reference photos from local bird watchers as, at the time, I was going to paint a series of native birds.”
The focus of Sandy’s work changed when she obtained photos of native birds from Birdlife Bundaberg and noted that one, an image of a Pacific golden plover, was captioned by club member Christopher Paul Barnes with details about the bird’s history of Bundaberg to Alaska round trips.
“Curiosity got the better of me and I wanted to learn more about our shorebirds, particularly the ones that migrate thousands of miles,” Sandy said.
“The photo of the Pacific golden plover was the inspiration for this project and that’s why it features on the accompanying information board.”
Sandy was delighted that her artwork, which is on display until December 24, had drawn a positive public response since its installation.
“During the installation quite a few people, young and old, were taking the time to ask questions and read the information,” she said.
“One regular kite surfer mentioned that kite surfers often see tired birds floating on the water and they take them to Dr Mays Island.”
Given the extent of the journey that migratory birds make to reach Bundaberg, it is little wonder that many are at the point of exhaustion when they arrive, and Sandy hoped her artwork helped to raise public awareness of the issue.
“The aim of the project was to highlight to the public the shorebirds’ existence and to raise awareness of how important it is to keep our distance and let them rest and refuel in time for their migration,” Sandy said.
“I think I have achieved this and hope to develop the project further next year with the involvement of the community.”
Sandy’s concern for the welfare of rare shorebirds is shared by Bundaberg Regional Council.
In 2015 Council officially recognised the value of Dr Mays Island, located in the Elliott River mouth at Elliott Heads, to local and migratory shorebirds, declaring it a shorebird roosting and feeding area.
The island is partially closed from 1 September to 30 April.