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The Graham Harrington Student Research Scholarship

Peter Valentine | Conservation Officer

Applications for the 2023 Scholarship are NOW OPEN

BirdLife Northern Queensland has a strong commitment to conservation action for our many bird species. The Branch has been involved with many projects that seek to contribute knowledge and enthusiasm for conservation and a few years ago the Committee decided that sponsoring a student scholarship might be another way to get better conservation outcomes. In doing so the Committee decided to honour the founding Convenor and long time science and conservation supporter Dr Graham Harrington. This was a perfect fit. Not only was Graham a scientist of considerable note, having worked with CSIRO in Atherton for many years, but he had also led several of our research projects. He initiated and led for many years the annual surveys of grasswrens, notably the Carpentarian Grasswren and the Kalkadoon Grasswren. This work has helped understand the factors affecting their status but also the role of fire within their habitats. An ongoing partnership with Southern Gulf NRM has proved very successful in improving fire management on the cooperating grazing properties. This important collaboration for conservation operates across some 700,000 ha. The annual monitoring continues and involves many volunteer birders from across the country who give two or more weeks of their time to complete the monitoring work each May.

Graham also commenced the BLNQ regular monitoring of high altitude bowerbirds, specifically Golden Bowerbirds and Tooth-billed Bowerbirds, as a possible means to establish baseline data to help monitor possible impacts from climate change. This work continues each year. In addition, Graham also had significant roles in the annual Crane Count, another long-running project to monitor a bird population in our region.

Throughout his work with BLNQ, Graham has always urged the use of science, including citizen-science, to help improve conservation outcomes for our birds. While Graham has received National recognition for his work, the Committee felt it was entirely appropriate that this scholarship fund continue to honour Graham in our region.

Henry Stoetzel and Graham at the 2012 Grasswren Survey

Already there have been four scholarships awarded and each has been very worthwhile in highlighting one or more of our regional bird species by supporting young researchers in their studies. Previous recipients include Patrick Webster (working on button-quail); Henry Stoetzel (projects on grasswrens) and Nigel Jackett (northern masked owl).

In 2023 the Committee has agreed to a $3,000 scholarship with some additional financial support from Graham Harrington.

Thank you again Graham and we hope we get some fine applicants. The details of how to apply are on our website. Please pass on the information to potential applicants.

Patrick Webster was awarded the 2019 Scholarship recipient for his Buff-Breasted Buttonquail PhD Research Program

Martin Willis, Graham Harrington, Patrick Webster, and Peter Valentine


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