Newsupdate no. 61 – December 2013 Perth Royal Show 2013 – we were there!
by Georgina Steytler
Following on the success of our stand at the 2011 Perth Royal Show, and after being offered a 6x3m stand in this year's Show at no cost, we decided it was an opportunity not to be missed! I naively volunteered to take charge and organise the stand, under the guidance of Brenda Newbey (who was in charge of the 2011 show). It was decided early on to invite BirdLife Australia to join us. We ended up with a massive 9x6 metres area in the Landcare pavilion to share with BirdLife Australia. Unlike previous years, the Landcare pavilion was located near Gate 8, close to the sideshows and sandwiched between sheep dog trials, duck herding and Browne's milking station. With two WGP banners surreptitiously attached to the Landcare one, and a large 'take a photo with Brutus' board out the front of the marquee, we could not be missed. Inside, we arranged several large tables with items for sale, including t-shirts and Western Ground Parrot Show bags containing stickers, cards, bookmarks, a lolly bag and one of our new magnets. On the display boards, we directed people's attention to the fact that there are estimated to be fewer than 110 birds left. This shocked many people, who hadn't even known of the WGP’s existence, and spurred at least 40 people to become members. Other information provided (apart from the BirdLife Australia displays) included the main threats to the WGPs in the wild, where they are located and what people could do to help. We also had a laptop playing a video of a WGP in the wild and its call. A WGP colouring-in competition was run over the course of the Show. We also gave out leaflets advertising our Art Competition (see report by Anne Bondin page 6). Over $1200 was raised and more than 60 people signed up to receive a Teacher's Pack after the Show. Seventeen generous people (BirdLife Australia and WGP members), volunteered to do shifts at the show over the 8 days (28 September to 5 October 2013), including our Chairman Dave Taylor, Michael Walters (committee member) and Steve Waddington (Treasurer). Brenda Newbey and Diana Rose also very kindly did several shifts painting the face (or arm) of anyone willing to sit still for long enough. I would like to thank all the volunteers. In addition to those named above, the volunteers included Amy Prendergast (who prepared beautiful, detailed information sheets to be distributed at the show), Keith Lightbody, Stella Stewart-Wynne, Marcus Singor, Aneta
Creighton, Tegan Douglas, Phyllis Bentley, Marion Massam, Rob & Sue Mather, Rod Smith and Maris Lauva. I should also thank Marcus' wife and son (who helped out on the day), Wendy Binks (for designing and organising the delivery of the fridge magnets), BirdLife Australia (for allowing us to use their displays boards and tables), Abby Berryman (who had to raid the Department of Parks and Wildlife's sheds to retrieve all the things I requested), Stephen Fryc who donated the use of his laptop and Lorraine Parke (mum) and Chris Steytler (husband) who generously (albeit without a choice), helped me set up and take down the display. Personally, I was inspired by the number of people who expressed genuine concern and a desire to help. We are not alone in believing that the Western Ground Parrot is worth fighting for. Our biggest hurdle has been a lack of awareness. The show was a success in raising the profile of Western Australia's most endangered bird, although it also highlighted how much more work still needs to be done. Last, but not least, it gives me great satisfaction to know that somewhere out there are hundreds of people looking at a photo of themselves with a giant green parrot and wondering 'Who the heck is Brutus ?'
Outstanding Service Award for us On 25 November 2013 committee members Michael Walters and Georgina Steytler attended the Department of Parks and Wildlife annual Volunteer of the Year Awards on behalf of the Friends of the Western Ground Parrot (FWGP). Whilst the FWGP did not win overall, we did receive one of 15 Outstanding Service Awards for our commitment to the recovery and conservation of the Western Ground Parrot. This is the first time that a group has been given such an award. The award was presented by WA Environment Minister Albert Jacob, in recognition of the work that the group had done in, among other things, assisting the DPaW with conducting surveys and raising awareness of WGPs. In September, the group also donated $10,000 to DPaW's WGP Recovery Project.
Michael Walters, Georgina Steytler and Environment Minister Albert Jacob
Our Outstanding Service Award is for everyone who has volunteered on behalf of, or donated money to, FWGP’s WGP Recovery Fund. We should all be proud of our contributions. In the words of Helen Keller, “Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much”.
Western Ground Parrot Recovery Project Update Lucy Clausen, Abby Berryman & Sarah Comer
Department of Parks and Wildlife The Integrated Fauna Recovery Project (IFRP) team (Lucy Clausen, Louisa Bell, Jeff Pinder, Abby Berryman, Saul Cowen, Jon Pridham and Sarah Comer) continue to implement key recovery actions for the Western Ground Parrot (WGP), assisted by a large number of volunteers, many of whom are members of the Friends of the Western Ground Parrot. Below is a brief summary of some of the work that has been completed in the last six months.
Spring Western Ground Parrot Surveys The Department of Parks and Wildlife (DPaW) conducted four WGP field trips this spring, two each to Cape Arid and Fitzgerald River National Parks (CANP and FRNP). Each trip had a combination of DPaW staff from Albany and dedicated volunteers that had travelled from as far as Oslo (Norway) to be involved!
supported the teamâ€™s work in the absence of calling WGPs. Several Song Meters were left at strategic locations to see if they could pick up any birds after the departure of the teams. The Units are still in the field and will be assessed once collected in the new year. The work in Cape Arid National Park was a flipside to the FRNP trips with numerous calls recorded across the Pasley area, and WGPs were even heard while the team was back relaxing at camp. The conditions in early October were a bit touch and go with the already saturated ground receiving another 20mm during the week, restricting access to some areas.
The last known record of ground parrots in FRNP was in April 2012 on an Automated Recording Unit (ARU or Song Meter) at Short Road. The two trips to FRNP were run in October and November 2013 at Twertup and Drummond Tracks respectively. Unfortunately there were no WGPs heard on either trip. However the large volume of ARU data has not yet been fully analysed and we are hopeful that some of the units still out in various locations will have recorded a WGP. Despite the lack of calling birds during surveys the participantsâ€™ enthusiasm was not dashed nor diminished as they enjoyed a great week in this amazing area assisting with other fauna monitoring programs. The trips also involved Western Shield fauna trapping which picked up a number of iconic species such as Dibbler and Chuditch and the ever adorable regularly trapped Honey Possums.
The trip to Poison Creek had less rainfall but the spring winds had started making some evening listening sessions quite difficult. Nevertheless, WGPs were heard on Old Poison Creek Road by a number of people but there was no consistency to habitat use from one day to the next. This was quite a different result from earlier in the year where there had been a clear pattern of foraging in the area that had been burnt in 2010/11 fire season. The surveys were supported by DPaW staff and funds to support the surveys provided through DPaW Environmental Community Grant, State Natural Resource Management, Australian Government Biodiversity Fund and the Friends of the Western Ground Parrot Inc.
The use of Song Meters assisted inexperienced observers to gain confidence, should they think they heard a WGP. Assessments of the audio files collected from the week
Michael Walters, Steve Butler, Lucy Clausen, and Barbara Morrell putting out ARUs in Cape Arid National Park (Photo Sarah Comer DPaW)
Update on the captive Western Ground Parrots Over the past two breeding seasons (2011 and 2012), we have had one pair of captive WGPs attempt to breed. In both years the pair (Joy [male 09M04] and Dawn [female 09F04]) has hatched chicks but has not managed to raise them to fledge.
on the food tray and one on the nest box. While it is possible that this pair has been mating for some time, Nellie has not yet gained weight, which she would be expected to do if she was getting ready to lay. Fifi (female 10F05) and Joy (male 09M04) –
This year we rearranged the pairings in the hope that all three females would attempt to breed and would manage to raise chicks. All of the new pairings rapidly became comfortable in each other’s company and spend plenty of time feeding together. For a WGP this is a really positive sign, as observations of birds in captivity show that they tend to prefer their own space.
Fifi and Joy tend to be fairly secretive birds – while some activity was suspected to be happening between them it wasn’t until 4 September that Joy was finally seen feeding her, and not until 9 October that this pair was seen mating. Joy has been carrying out his mate-feeding duties with such efficiency that many days Fifi doesn’t need to come to the food tray herself to feed. At times over the past few months Fifi’s weight has increased and in the past fortnight she has been showing signs of nesting behaviour including spending a lot of time sitting in the nest box, digging a scrape within the nest box and chewing leaves and rearranging them around the scrape. However after a couple of weeks of this behaviour and still no egg, it is thought unlikely that she will now lay, and her weight has dropped back down to normal.
There have been some signs of breeding behaviour between the new pairs this year. Although this behaviour is still being observed, it is becoming less likely that any of the pairs will attempt to breed as it is very late in the season and the birds are now beginning to moult (usually they would breed first, then moult). Some observations on each of the pairings follows: Nellie (female 10F01) and Zephyr (male 09M01) -
Dawn (female 09F04) and Brutus (male 10M03) –
In September Nellie started to appear on the food tray each morning making the clucking noise that female WGPs make when they want to mate. However Zephyr was a bit slow to get the message and would just perch on the edge of the food tray, watch Nellie briefly, eat a few seeds and then leave. After three weeks Nellie was no longer seen clucking on the food tray and it looked as though she had given up on Zephyr, however it soon became apparent that Zephyr had commenced courtship feeding. Nellie was coming to food tray less than normal but she was still maintaining her weight. This, combined with changes in Zephyr’s feeding habits, indicated that Zephyr was feeding Nellie a substantial amount of the food she required each day.
There have been no definite signs of breeding behaviour between this pair but they do get on well and frequently feed together. Commencement of breeding behaviour in general was very late this year – in 2011 Dawn laid the first egg around 23 October, and in 2012 the first egg was laid on 24 or 25 September; and feeding and mating was observed much earlier than this. Whether the lateness of this year’s breeding behaviour has to do with seasonal variation or has been influenced by rearranging the pairs, or by some other factor is unclear. It now appears that the birds may have left it a little too late in the season, but who knows, they could surprise us yet!
To date, Zephyr and Nellie haven’t been observed mating but video surveillance in their aviary is limited to a camera
Future plans for the captive birds The generous donation of $10,000 from the Friends of the Western Ground Parrot has allowed the captive management project to continue. A subsequent application to South Coast NRM was successful and a further $10,000 has been made available to continue to care for the birds. The captive management sub-group of the South Coast Threatened Birds Recovery Team are continuing with their efforts to find a long term funding source to allow development of a captive breeding program. Dawn and Brutus feeding together (Photo Abby Berryman DPaW)
Cat Control Trials Work on determining an effective and efficient feral cat control on the SouthCoast continued in 2013 with a focus on Cape Arid National Park. Early in the year six feral cats were captured and collared with radio transmitters to gain an understanding of their activities and to determine consumption ofEradicat® bait. Five of the six collars were relocated post-baiting with three collars indicating mortality. Two were still attached to cats that had succumbed to baiting, and it is assumed that the third was also a bait victim. The insights gained from the cat collar data are assisting in determining strategic ways in which to tackle the issue of feral cats in high conservation value landscapes. Camera-trap surveys have also been implemented to determine feral cat occupancy of approximately 30,000 ha of the park. This is a second method of establishing how effective the baiting program is. A camera grid set up at Cape Arid detected nine feral cat events pre-baiting and just four after that baits were dropped. This result is consistent with the collars with a minimum of 50% knock down of cats in the area. Although it’s early days, this information is extremely encouraging for the future control of this cunning introduced predator. This work is being
replicated in the Pilbara region for a separate project by the IFRP team with similar results. Eradicat® baiting in the Fitzgerald River National Park is in its second year. There is no direct feral cat monitoring work being conducted in this park but the Western Shield fauna monitoring continues as a long term program to monitor the response of native species to integrated predator control (feral cats and foxes). Further cat monitoring work will be conducted in the new year at Manypeaks, Waychinicup and Two Peoples Bay Reserves with cat collaring and camera grids. This is prior to commencing broadscale cat baiting in this area, which is currently the subject of an application to the Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority (APVMA) to approve the use of the bait. Other trials being conducted for feral cat control include the use of a suspended delivery of the bait on a gantry-style setup, where the bait is suspended over a sandpad for an animal to consume. In principle this minimises the probability of non-target species taking a bait. Non-toxic trials have begun in the Manypeaks reserve with early results suggesting Quokkas don’t mind a bite of a sausage!
Plans for 2014 The team is already making plans for 2014, and will be looking for volunteers to help with ground parrot surveys and monitoring native fauna in Cape Arid and Fitzgerald River National Parks. If you are interested please contact Jeff Pinder (email@example.com) to find out more.
One of the feral cats captured in Cape Arid National Park (photo Louisa Bell DPaW)
WGP Survey, Poison Creek Field Trip Report (28/10/2013 - 1/11/2013) This field trip was combined with Department of Park & Wildlife (DPaW) Western Shield project in the above area. Four volunteer survey hands, Jim Creighton, Carol Trethowan, Michal Walters and Dave Taylor from Friends of the Western Ground Parrot Inc. joined the DPaW team in all aspects of the survey. The weather was kind for early morning rises and evening surveys except for one day which was forecast to be very hot. Western Shield traps were cleared and closed for the day and a rest day allocated. Mike & Dave decided on a spot of fishing that day and were lucky to be able to provide fresh salmon for dinner. Listening sessions were positive in that many calls were heard and a few sightings were recorded during the trip. All in all, a great trip.
Contributed by Dave Taylor
Winner of the Art Competition by Anne Bondin
Bree-arne Chamley from Victoria won our art competition which was held on Facebook in October and received the highest number of “Likes”. Bree-arne shared her prize, a $500 gift voucher which was kindly donated by Michael Booth, and purchased Western Ground Parrot T-shirts for herself and the other top 10 entrants of the competition who had not won anything. Second prize, a Western Ground Parrot T-shirt, went to 8 year-old Lara Culleton from Queensland for the entry below left.
We will feature some of the artwork entered in the competition in future newsletters. Here (above right) is the stunning entry Tegan Hooper created. Having received Tegan's permission, we hope to use her artwork on Western Ground Parrot merchandise to help raise funds for the Recovery Project.
Chair’s Chirpings Well, another year gone and another in front of us. I believe the year just past was successful in raising the awareness of the Western Ground Parrot and am positive that this year will be even better. I would like to welcome three new people to the Friends of the Western Ground Parrot Inc committee in Michael Walters, Peter Stewart and Stephen Waddington (Treasurer). The three have been involved with the Friends in one way or another over a period of time. I am sure their input and professionalism will be beneficial to the committee and the Friends in general. I take this opportunity to wish all members and others involved with the Friends of the WGP a very Happy Christmas and Safe New Year. Thank you all. Dave
Perth Royal Show colouring-in competition Bright, bold and beautiful was the entry of the colouring-in competition winner, 7 year old Tess from Perth. Tess received the book "Invisible Me" which was kindly donated by Wendy Binks, as well as a Western Ground Parrot T-shirt.
History Blog Recent postings in the Western Ground Parrot history blog include records north of Perth; an extract from John Gould’s 1848 work, The Birds of Australia, which includes his impression of the bird’s flavour; the Ground Parrot section from Greene’s Parrots in Captivity 1883 which offers some ill-conceived husbandry hints and intriguing reflections on the looming extinction of the Ground Parrot. westerngroundparrothistory.blogspot.com.au
Contacts: David Taylor (Chair). Phone 0458502836
Anne Bondin (Secretary). Phone (08) 9844 1793
Address: PO Box 5613, Albany, WA 6332
Website: http://www.western-ground-parrot.org.au Archive: Previous issues of our newsletter are available online at http://wgpnewsletters.blogspot.com/
Editor: Stephen Fryc Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Next issue: March 2014