Wing Threads Christmas Wrap Up 2020

A Shorebird Publishing Adventure

Bringing A Children's Book to Life

As it has been for most people this year, 2020 has been a time of uncertainty and slow progress for Wing Threads. The decision to postpone the flight around Australia until 2022 turned out to be a good one with state borders closing around the country.

Working from home slowed down timelines for the children’s book CSIRO Publishing too as approval processes became lengthened with everyone adjusting to new ways of getting things done. Many thanks to author, Jackie Kerin, editor Nan McNab and our publisher, Briana Melideo for your enthusiasm for the book and for guiding me through the publishing process for the first time. It has been so refreshing to work with such experienced and professional women where anything can be put on the table for discussion without fear of stepping on anyone’s toes! 

Thanks to their efforts, contracts have now been signed, final drafts and storyboards approved and we have even settled on a title! The offical book title is A Shorebird Flying Adventure and is due to be released in early 2022. All of us can’t wait to share it with you!

Some of you may have noticed I have been a bit quiet on the social media front. That’s because I’ve been in monk mode while I create illustrations for the book. I’ve thoroughly been enjoying settling in each day with my sketchbook, iPad and a nice cup of tea while tuning into an audiobook or my favourite podcast. Yes, it is an introverts dream! Here is a bit of a sneak peak of my studio with a few sketches of Microlight Milly.

Desk with a sketchbook, iPad and a cup of tea on it.
Workspace in my studio with some progress shots of Microlight Milly for A Shorebird Flying Adventure.


Since the middle of the year, I have been working with animator, Kirsty Heiner, and filmakers from Remember the Wild, Michael Portway and Tim Brown, to create a promotional video for Wing Threads: Flight Around Oz. The video will be used to promote the project on the Wing Threads website and also the upcoming crowdfunding campaign later in 2021. 

Kirsty has used her magic to bring her own and some of my illustrations to life to tell the Wing Threads story in 2 minutes! She has also created three, 5-second animations of shorebirds for the Meet the Shorebirds profiles on the Wing Threads website. Many thanks to Kirsty, Michael and Tim for rising to the challenge and donating their time and efforts! They have done an amazing job!

The video featuring Kirsty’s shorebird animations will be live on the Wing Threads website early in the New Year.


Cartoon map of East Asian-Australasian Flyway with a flock of shorebirds in the background.
Screenshot of East Asian-Australasian Flyway animation by Kirsty Heiner in upcoming Wing Threads promo video.

Promoting Shorebird Conservation

EAAFP World Migratory Bird Day Webinar

World Migratory Bird Day (WMBD) happens twice a year – once in May and again in October – in line with the dates the shorebirds undertake their northward and southward migration journies. COVID-19 led organisers to take an online approach to events and I was chuffed to be asked by the East Asian Australasian Flyway Partnership and BirdLife International to take part in both WMBD events they had planned for this year. 

In May, I took part in a Virtual Fun Day with the theme ‘Birds Connect Our World’ alongside fellow artist Kate Gorringe-Smith, author Jackie Kerin and musicians Simone Slattery and Anthony Albrecht from the Bowerbird Collective. 

Later in October, I was part of their webinar on ‘Inspiring Actions for Migratory Shorebird Conservation’ which saw researchers and conservation advocates from Japan, Thailand, Bhutan, North and South Korea, Bangladesh, Myanmar, Hong Kong, New Zealand and Australia come together to speak about the positive outcomes for shorebirds they have achieved through their projects in the Flyway in recent years. 


Speakers at the Inspiring Actions for Migratory Shorebirds webinar hosted by the East Asian-Australasian Flyway Partnership for World Migratory Bird Day, October 2020.

Almost 300 people attended the webinar and the talks were so inspiring and uplifting. Meeting and connecting with people who have the same passion for shorebirds all throughout the Flyway is my favourite thing about working in migratory shorebird conservation. Both events were run so well and particular thanks must go to Vivian Fu from the EAAFP and Ding Li Yong from BirdLife International for their facilitation. 

Flying High

Aviation Achievements

Thankfully for those of us in New South Wales, COVID-19 didn’t keep us grounded for too long from flying – and what better way to socially distance than getting up in the air!

After a 2 month hiatus, I was able to continue my flight training in May with Phil Unicomb aviation. By July, I sucessfully completed my Recreational Aviation Australia fixed-wing Recreational Pilot Certificate flying their Sirius ultralight aircraft. 

Following that achievement, I learned to fly their Cessna 150 SLL as well and successfully transferred to a General Aviation (GA) Recreational Pilot License (RPL).  Having my RPL will allow me to obtain a controlled airspace endorsement; a qualification that can only be obtained through the GA pathway.  

I will use the scholarship funds I was awarded thanks to Women in Aviation Australia to complete the controlled airspace endorsement with Pan Air Flight Training in Bathurst early in the New Year. 

Many thanks to Phil Unicomb, Andrew Young, Georgia Volschenk, Greg Gibbon and the rest of the team at Phil Unicomb Aviation for helping me realise my aviation goals this year. If you’re looking for  a highly experienced flying school that is also ridiculously fun and good at trivia, I cannot recommend them highly enough! Turns out I love flying fixed-wing just as much as the microlight. Here’s to lots of flying adventures in the New Year!

Selfie of Milly Formby with a Cessna 150
Me taking a selfie with Cessna 150 SLL at Phil Unicomb Aviation, Cessnock.

The COVID-19 pandemic has pushed many of us to our limits in what has been an unprecedented year of uncertainty and isolation for everyone.

Whether you are taking advantage of the opportunity to get out and explore our beautiful country or simply reconnecting with family and friends at home this festive season, I wish you a safe and happy Christmas and hope that you are taking some time for yourself to rest and recover from Zoom fatigue! I’m sure I am not the only one who will breathe a sigh of relief when we say goodbye to 2020. May 2021 bring clearer skies and smooth flying for everyone and may we all be better at riding out the bumps thanks to 2020.

Many thanks to everyone for your continued support and I hope to see more of you face to face in the the New Year!

Milly Formby
Milly Formby is a zoologist, pilot, and illustrator of the children’s book, A Shorebird Flying Adventure She is currently flying her microlight around Australia in 2022/23 to share,A Shorebird Flying Adventure with primary students.
Image credits:
Book cover for A Shorebird Flying Adventure

A Shorebird Flying Adventure

Available Now

Join Milly on her microlight and discover how amazing and awesome migratory shorebirds are!

Milly Formby is a zoologist and illustrator of the children’s book A Shorebird Flying Adventure. Available now through CSIRO Publishing.

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