I was recently able to attend the 2023 Australasian Ornithological Conference thanks to a BOU Member Conference Attendance Award. This year, over 400 ornithologists gathered in Brisbane to meet and talk all things birds. While I did attend the 2022 AOC online, and present work conducted during my masters, this was the first in-person AOC that I had been to. Being able to meet and talk to researchers from around Australia, as well as BirdLife representatives, was a fantastic experience and opportunity, and I really appreciate the BOU for helping to fund my attendance of this conference.

I presented work from one of my PhD chapters, investigating how the simultaneous occurrence of multiple anthropogenic stressors affects behaviour in Western Australian magpies. While presenting was a nerve-racking experience, as this was only the second in-person conference I had ever attended, I was really pleased with the experience, and received great feedback from people in the audience. I also received some fantastic and thoughtful questions that helped to stimulate ideas for future work in this area.

Given that my PhD is focused on the effects of anthropogenic noise, my favourite symposium to attend was the ‘Birds and transportation activities’ symposium. It was really interesting to hear about the work going on at airports to deter birds and reduce bird strikes, as well as learning about the effects of drone home delivery services on avian abundance. I was also able to chat with some of the speakers from this session afterward and talk about their work, which was a great networking opportunity and hopefully will lead to some collaborations in the future.

Figure 1. Grace Blackburn, Assoc/Prof Mandy Ridley, and Lizzie Speechley (left to right) at the 2023 AOC.

The organising committee for the 2023 AOC did an amazing job. There were fantastic plenaries, a good amount of talk sessions and workshops, great food, and free coffee – everything you need for a great conference. I am very grateful I was able to attend the 2023 AOC and came away from it with lots of inspiration for future work and collaborations with other amazing researchers and ornithologists around Australia.

The next AOC will be held in Perth in 2025 and is already being organised by a fabulous team of Western Australian researchers, including my PhD supervisor Mandy Ridley. I look forward to seeing even more ornithologists and researchers gather in Perth to discuss birds and science!