Page 1

Newsupdate no. 67 – June 2015 Update from Perth Zoo - Abridged by B. Newbey with input from Perth Zoo’s Media Relations Officer, Danielle Henry. It has become clear that keeping Western Ground Parrots (WGPs) in human care is a real challenge. The birds are being cared for by a very experienced team (Arthur Ferguson, Simone Vitali, Matt Ricci and Duncan Haliburton) at Perth Zoo. The team prepared a report for the WGP Recovery Team back in March 2015. Below is an abbreviated adaptation of that report. First, the sad news: two of the seven birds transported to the Perth Zoo have now died, leaving five birds, three males and two females. Soon after the second death, a female, Fifi, showed early symptoms of the same illness which was a fungal infection. A course of treatment was begun, and the remaining four healthy birds were also taken to the Zoo’s vet department for intensive monitoring and health screenings. They were all thoroughly checked for the same infection and came up negative. While the birds were being cared for at the veterinary hospital, the aviary substrate was completely changed

Temporary holding enclosure.

so as to offer fewer opportunities for the common fungus to thrive. Leaf litter was replaced with clean white sand and low plants for roosting were provided. Due to the expert veterinary attention, Fifi’s treatment was successful and after a period of observation, she was returned to the aviary. The birds continue to be monitored by the keepers and 24/7 CCTV system which allows the staff to detect any behavioural change which could be associated with early signs of the fungal infection. Friends of the Western Ground Parrot have provided funds for temporary holding enclosures which will be invaluable when it is necessary to move birds from their permanent aviaries. Despite the depleted number of birds, there remains the possibility of breeding this year. Joy and Dawn, the pair that have in the past produced eggs and chicks, are now housed together again. Fifi is partnered with Zephyr and Brutus is on his own.

Refurbished habitat within aviaries

Additional note: The call for volunteers to help monitor WGPs on the new CCTV system was responded to very well: there were more volunteers than places for them.


Secrets at Sunrise

by Brenda Newbey Jennene (R) setting up a scene. Photo: Allan Burbidge

In Fitzgerald River National Park at sunset. Allan Burbidge, Anna Morcombe (Jennene’s assistant and sound recordist), Jennene Riggs, Brenda Newbey. (Time exposure by Anna.)


Filming for the documentary “Secrets at Sunrise” by Jennene Riggs continues. The film is to be about bringing back Western Australia’s rarest bird from the brink of extinction. Jennene has extensive footage about the current rescue actions and the people involved. The outline of the proposed film included a segment on the history of ground parrot conservation. In April Allan Burbidge and I were invited to Ravensthorpe with the specific goal of filling in a little of the story as it played out in the 1980s and 1990s. My late husband Ken and I raised awareness of the Western Ground Parrot and its restricted distribution. We learnt how to survey by listening, and we worked to prevent ground parrot habitat in land north of the then Fitzgerald River National Park from being opened up as new farmland. Allan made ground parrots a priority when he took up his research position in the Department of Conservation and Land Management (now DPaW) in the late 1980s. A research project designed by Allan and Doug Watkins and begun in 1988, yielded new information about the ecology of the birds and the first colour photos of Western Ground Parrots. Later, in the 1990s, Allan and I, with help from others, built on this early experience to bring about further developments in monitoring protocols for ground parrots. I am not used to being filmed and I have to take Jennene’s word for it that she was pleased with what she got. We had excellent weather conditions for sequences that were filmed in the park (i.e. in the area that was north of the park until included in the park about 1987.) Jennene still has some filming ahead which she hopes to complete this year – at the zoo and in the field. After that will come the enormous task of post-production which includes writing the script, editing all the footage together

into a compelling and coherent story, mixing the audio and laying down music, generating titles and graphic maps, colour grading all the vision, then fine cutting, and mastering to DVD. All up this will take at least two months to complete once all the filming is finished. The $20 000+ crowd funding that was sourced a few months ago has been used to cover some production expenses, but a further $30 000 (minimum) will be needed to cover expenses from now on. To this end, Jennene has established a webpage with the Documentary Australia Foundation for donations and/or philanthropic support. The address is ets-at-sunrise You may notice that the total budget on the Documentary Australia page is set at $250,000 which would have ensured production of the film involved a lot more personnel and specialist equipment, and the film would be polished to an extremely high standard. But, despite trying her hardest to attract an Australian broadcaster pre-sale, this is not an easy thing to do and has not happened, yet… Once the film is complete, Jennene plans on distributing it to as many film festivals and markets as possible, and hopes to attract interest from international broadcasters. This will raise awareness of the plight of the Western Ground Parrot and the recovery efforts, and get the message about conservation out there to as broad a demographic as possible.

History Blog Much of the 1980s history may be reviewed by checking out the ongoing Western Ground Parrot history blog. Almost all of the 2015 postings until the end of May deal with the 1980s, and there are also several entries in 2014 that deal with this period.


Western Ground Parrot Recovery By the IFRP project team

Where’s the Parrot ? photo: Lucy Clausen

Parks and Wildlife staff coordinated autumn ground parrot monitoring and surveys between February and March in both Cape Arid National Park and the Fitzgerald River National Park. Volunteers assisted with these surveys. The Cape Arid Poison Creek survey had much better conditions than the previous squally spring but observed calls were low compared to the last few autumn sessions. This is most likely an artefact of the timing (late February) rather than a lack of birds. The Pasley autumn trip had fantastic listening conditions with every evening session having little to no wind.

This is a reminder that the 2015/16 membership fee becomes due on 1st July. The membership fee is $10. You can pay by direct deposit into our Westpac account. A/C name: Friends of the Western Ground Parrot. BSB 036168 Account no. 298423. It's a very good idea to email your details (and time of deposit) to (if you make a direct deposit) as our bank statements don’t always show enough depositor details. Alternatively, pay by cheque made out to the Friends of the Western Ground Parrot and send it to: The Treasurer, Friends of the Western Ground Parrot, PO Box 5613, Albany WA 6332.We thank you for your ongoing support because a strong membership base helps enormously in the fight to save the Western Ground Parrot.

Not yet a member ? Get a membership form from : 20form.pdf

There were large variations in the number of calls recorded from as few as 2 and up to 40 over the space of just several kilometres. Four sightings (flushings) were a highlight of the Pasley week. A couple of evening surveys were also conducted at Point Malcolm Track in Nuytsland Nature Reserve in December. No birds were heard. Feral cat trapping work conducted in Nuytsland Nature Reserve and Cape Arid National Park last December had produced daily sightings of Western Ground Parrots. No calls were recorded in the Fitzgerald River National Park surveys despite a large area being covered between Drummond triangle and Short Rd and the Southern firebreak through to the east side of Hamersley Drive. Fauna monitoring on this trip was successful, with chuditch and dibbler highlights of the week. A large contingent of Songmeters (ARUs) were used during summer and autumn with a backlog of data now to be downloaded and analysed. An exciting opportunity was to fly 19 units into the Fitz Wilderness for a six week survey in tandem with monitoring of radio-collared feral cats. Filmmaker Jennene Riggs continues to document the Western Ground Parrot recovery efforts, and joined the IFRP team for some of the feral cat monitoring in the FRNP. Jennene was also able to get some good footage from the helicopter when the team were collected the ARUs and feral collar data from the Wilderness. A large contingent of volunteers assisted with all of the monitoring and surveys including people from as far away as Queensland and the UK. All were made more comfortable with the new camping gear purchased by the Friends group from the State NRM grant funding.



Breaking news is that Gregory Hunt, the Federal Minister for Environment, has announced a grant of $525000 to help the Orange-bellied Parrot. I have now lobbied him for similar assistance for the WGP. Following shoulder surgery, chairman Dave now knows what it is like to be a bird with clipped wings, particularly when it is the primary one. Like a lot of the migratory water birds, it appears many members have headed north to warmer climes for the winter. We are now in the process of finding another costume/mascot maker having being let down by the original person.

Update from the Acting Secretary, Deon Utber Hi All, Deon here as the acting secretary for the Friends while Anne is away overseas for her annual trip to northern Europe. Fortunately I am mainly just minding the fort as don't know if I would be able to live up to the effort that Anne puts in as the secretary :). Notwithstanding my temporary role, I thought that I would highlight a couple of exciting things that have been happening with the Friends of late. Firstly, in case you haven't visited our website lately, you may not have noticed that we have updated our site. Thanks to support from Coca-Cola Amatil and Modron Web Design the site has a new contemporary feel with a superb piece of artwork from Angus Fisher as the background. While there is still more work to be done to add some more information about the friends group, it brings a slick and modern character to the efforts of the Friends. The Friends have also been working closely with Parks and Wildlife and the Perth Zoo with implementation of recovery actions in the field and with the captive breeding population respectively. The Friends earlier in the year were successful in their application to the State NRM Community Action grants, through which they have purchased equipment for use by volunteers participating on Parks and Wildlife Western Ground Parrot Surveys in areas such as Cape Arid and Fitzgerald River National Parks, as well as meeting some of the costs for accommodation. Additionally the Friends have provided funding to the Perth Zoo for the construction of temporary holding boxes for the captive birds (see photo page 1). More recently the Friends have committed $20,000 raised through donations towards the proposed capture of additional birds to supplement the captive colony. Which brings me to my final item: There is a funding shortfall in order to meet the full costs of capturing and transporting more birds from the wild to the Perth Zoo and the Friends in conjunction with Parks and Wildlife and Perth Zoo are looking at ways in order to meet this funding need. Additional birds in the captive colony are vital to ensure that effort to achieve breeding has the greatest chance of success. The Friends will be raising the profile of this need through social media and our website so we encourage our readership to pass the message on to anyone that can assist us in raising funds through a donation, either small or large. We will be using the hashtag #morewgp through Facebook and Twitter to raise the profile and donations can use this as an identifier for any specific donations to this cause (e.g. use #morewgp as a description using the website in the special message "other" box). Contacts: David Taylor (Chair). Phone 0458502836

Anne Bondin (Secretary). Phone (08) 9844 1793

Address: PO Box 5613, Albany, WA 6332


Website: Archive: Previous issues of our newsletter are available online at

Editor: Stephen Fryc Email:

Next issue: September 2015


Fotwgp newsletter june 2015  

Friends of the Western Ground Parrot Newsletter June 2015

Fotwgp newsletter june 2015  

Friends of the Western Ground Parrot Newsletter June 2015