Flyways: The Untold Journey of Migratory Shorebirds

Director: Randall Wood
Starring: Narrated by Mia Wasikowska
Distributor: Antidote Films
Runtime: 86 mins. Reviewed in May 2023
Reviewer: Fr Peter Malone msc
| JustWatch |
Rating notes: None.

Flyways follows endangered migratory shorebirds as they travel their ancient migration routes around the planet. 

Australia’s Radio National with its weekly Sunday program, Tweet of the Week, reminds us that many, many of us enjoy the hobby of bird-watching. But, not so many of us have the opportunity to watch the birds in their natural habitat. This beautiful documentary offers something of a pleasing supplement to birdwatching, especially for those who are not regulars.

While this is an Australian production, there are sequences in Mauritania as well is in Chile – and some stops for the migrating birds in the US. But it begins in Moreton Bay, offering a caution about the dangers for the birds and the environment in changing wetlands into housing developments.

In Australia, Mauritania and Chile, we are introduced to scientists who are strongly committed to the survival of the shorebirds who settle in the respective countries but who migrate to Siberia or Alaska. The scientists speak to camera, explaining about the birds they observe. They visit wetlands so that they can tag some birds, track the migrations, and, even though some of them can fly seven days without stopping, the scientists want to find where they do come down for food, refuelling and replenishment of strength.

The curlews who settle in Moreton Bay are the focus of the Australian investigation. The Red Knots of north-western Africa who fly north-east to Siberia from Mauritania are the second focus. Then there are the birds who fly from Chile to Alaska.

 For audiences interested in, and concerned, about the environment, the survival and development of species, there is much to learn. And it is all helped by almost 90 minutes of beautiful photography – birds on the ground, flocks and gatherings, but, most especially, wonderful vistas of birds on the wing, flying, the patterns of formation, the bird instinct for migration and survival.

With the development of cameras over the decades, audiences have become spoilt in having so many wonderful cinema opportunities for close-ups of birdwatching.

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