Newsupdate no. 46 – January 2011 Friends of the Western Ground Parrot Inc. news Sighting West of Albany – help requested There have been no confirmed Ground Parrot sightings west of Albany for nearly thirty years. However, last October a sighting of great interest was made by David Hughes. David and two friends were on a hiking trip. On their return David mentioned to another friend that they had seen a Ground Parrot. This friend encouraged him to report it to Birds Australia WA. David was not aware that Ground Parrots were so very rare and so did nothing until that friend asked again. Below is a slightly edited version of the body of David’s report. Date: 26 October 2010 Time: approx 0830 Location: Conspicuous Beach approx 1500 m West of Rame Head hut where Bibbulman track turns North off the beach and just East of the car park. Photo: Craig Johnston. Ramp very near where the bird was seen. Note the seeding sedges.
There is a small creek entering the beach at this point. I first saw the parrot in the air, about 2m above the ground flying E from the W side of the creek. The vegetation on the W side of the creek contains some reeds and coarse grasses. The bird had possibly been disturbed by one of my friends who was about 30 m ahead of me and in fact he had turned N off the beach whilst I and another friend were still on the beach. The bird settled below the top of some very low scrub on a bank at the sea erosion line. It was no more than 25 m from me. I checked it through my binoculars and called over my friends. We had 2 pairs of Zeiss 8x20 binoculars. The bird was clearly and fully visible at all times. At first it sat side on to us where its green, black/yellow mottled back ,and long tail banded green and yellow on the top and green and yellow and black under. It changed position so it was now facing us at about 45 degrees. From this position we could see the red bar on its forehead just above its upper bill, and that its face was unmarked green with a dark bill. By this time I had out Slater’s and there was no doubt among us that this was an adult ground parrot. We watched for at least 10 mins and it was never more than 25 m away. A wonderful sighting. David Hughes It is easy to imagine a Western Ground Parrot finding food among those sedges. About a kilometer along the Bibbulman Track towards Rame Head, there is some elevated heathland with a diversity of flowering plants in which it is more likely that Ground Parrots would roost overnight and where they could find plenty of food. It is hoped that some of our Friends group will be able to join with some volunteers from Walpole for a two-day survey this area in the second half of March. The survey is being organized by the Roslyn Burnside, Department of Environment and Conservation, Walpole. Our Friends liaison person is Anne Bondin (08) 9844 1793. If you are interested in this survey, please contact us for details. A travel subsidy will be available. Meantime, if you are able to spend some time in that area, consider doing a survey using the standard recording form which can be obtained from Abby Berryman (mob 0429 842421 or email Abby.Berryman@dec.wa.gov.au);
or downloaded from http://tinyurl.com/48rkdfp . A map, supplied by Roslyn, can be downloaded from http://tinyurl.com/4td7llh . Roslyn (phone 9840 0400 or email Roslyn.Burnside@dec.wa.gov.au) could help with suggestions on where to survey. If you do a survey, send the completed form regardless of whether the result is negative or positive, to Abby Berryman, WGP Project Officer, Department of Environment and Conservation, 120 Albany Highway, Albany 6330, or to Abby’s email address. It would be very exciting to find this needle in this haystack. Do help if you can. - by Brenda Newbey
Species in its own right Last November a very significant paper relating to the Western Ground Parrot was published. It revealed DNA evidence to place the Western Ground Parrot apart from all of the Eastern Ground Parrots including the now extinct South Australian birds. Thus the Western Ground Parrot, instead of being the Western subspecies, becomes a distinct species. At the time that the DNA work was being completed, the population was declining and the total population estimate for 2009 was only 110 adult birds. As the WGP became a new Australian species, so it simultaneously became one of the world’s most threatened bird species. It is still the same bird with the same set of problems. The reclassification could boost its chance of conservation measures being put in place with the necessary urgency. For the Friends of the WGP, Allan Burbidge has kindly offered to send a copy of this significant paper at no cost if you are interested in reading it. Please email Allan for a copy at Allan.Burbidge@dec.wa.gov.au Paper Title: A cryptic and critically endangered species revealed by mitochondrial DNA analyses: the Western Ground Parrot Authors: Stephen A. Murphy, Leo Joseph, Allan H. Burbidge, Jeremy Austin Published: Conservation Genetics, online 11 Nov. 2010. DOI: 10.1007/s10592-010-0161-1.
Wine for Western Ground Parrot conservation
Jim and Chris Creighton of Condingup Vineyard are indeed Friends of the Western Ground Parrot. They have offered to allow some of their wine to be sold under a special Western Ground Parrot label and will donate the proceeds to our group. Condingup is between Esperance and Cape Arid National Park (CANP). Jim has been a WGP volunteer since 2006 when there were some surveys in Nuytsland Nature Reserve which is to the east of CANP . Over the years since then, many volunteers and DEC staff have enjoyed sampling Condingup Vineyard wine. The wine for WGPs will be offered twice a year. The first offer should be in the March newsletter. Creative opportunity – have a go!! We need a front label for the WGP wine. We are asking for submissions for the depiction of the parrot itself. This could be an edited or photo-shopped photo or a painting or drawing or other suitable artwork. We are prepared to use full colour on the front label. We are offering a mini-competition. Two winners will be selected by our judges, and each will win a bottle of Condingup wine. (This is a token thankyou for taking part.) The committee (separate from the judges) reserves the right to use any of the entries or reject them all and use our logo or another image. We will keep the entries and reserve the right to use them in the future in the pursuit of the goals of our group. You are welcome to submit two entries. We are expecting that most entrants will be our members but there is no restriction on non-members or where you live but the wine prizes are not available outside Oz. You'll be able to see who won in the next issue of our newsletter. Please get your entries in before 21 February. Email or post to our Friends of the WGP address (page 4).
Western Ground Parrot Captive Management Project Condensed from the Exetel Progress Report â€“ December 2010
In last monthâ€™s update, it was reported that three new Western Ground Parrots (WGPs) had been taken into captivity and that capture efforts were continuing. These continued capture efforts were successful and on November 24 a further three WGPs (two males and a female) were caught, taking the total captive population to nine birds (four females and five males). The three newest birds settled in very quickly. Two of the birds (a male and a female) were put in an aviary together. Not long after release into the aviary they could be seen sitting side by side at the back of the aviary preening each other. A little over two hours later they were both on the food tray looking very relaxed and feeding together. This has been the fastest time yet that birds have taken to find the food tray. The other male that was captured on November 24 was put into an aviary with Nellie. Nellie had calmly walked away and hidden when we approached the aviary to release the new male. When the male was released he walked a few steps, sat and looked around for a moment and then did a short flight. The only problem was that he landed pretty much right on top of where Nellie had hidden which gave both birds a fright! Following this, they were both quite wary of each other for the rest of the day but by the following day they were beginning to relax. They now get on very well and are often seen feeding together. The male has been named Storm because of the way he introduced himself to Nellie. The new birds have settled very well into captivity. They all readily accept human presence at feed time and rarely flush. If they do fly, the flights are very safe and controlled. Some of the birds will even sit up on top of the vegetation and watch Department of Environment and Conservation (DEC) staff members changing their food! Acknowledgements The capture of the new Western Ground Parrots for the Captive Management Project would not have been possible without the combined effort of staff from DEC (five Regional and two Science Division staff), Perth Zoo and volunteers.. Eight volunteers contributed a total of 889 hours to the effort! Funding for the capture work was provided by State NRM. Thanks to all the staff and volunteers involved.
Volunteers needed for Western Ground Parrot searches We will be carrying out a number of search trips in early autumn and are looking for your support. These surveys will be carried out in conjunction with the Department of Environment and Conservation (DEC) and travel costs of participants will be subsidised through a grant we received from DEC. Please contact us if you are interested in helping out. Weeklong trips are planned for the month of April for both Fitzgerald River and Cape Arid National Parks. Food will be supplied for these trips. We will also conduct a number of evening listening sessions in the Waychinicup area. These will take place on Wednesdays or Thursdays. We will leave Albany between 4 - 5 pm and expect to be back around 9pm. Even if you can volunteer for one or two nights only, you are welcome to join us. For more details about the Walpole survey, please see page one.
Friends of the Western Ground Parrot Cafe Press Webstores An exciting new range of merchandise has become available through the Australian Cafe Press website. There are shirts, mugs, bags and other items featuring a Western Ground Parrot artwork by Jenny Preston. These web-stores were set up by Friends of the WGP committe member Craig Johnston. Soon there will be a greater range of WGP photos (kindly provided by DEC) and subsequent Cafe Press webstores. Please take a peek ; Webstore 1: http://www.cafepress.com.au/westerngroundparrot Webstore 2: http://www.cafepress.com.au/kyloring
Payment options are Credit Card and Paypal, with around 10% of each sale going to the Friends of the WGP.
Contacts: Brenda Newbey (Chair). Phone (08) 9337 5673
Anne Bondin (Secretary/Treasurer). Phone (08) 9844 1793
Address: PO Box 5613, Albany, WA 6332
Archive: Previous issues of our newsletter are available online at Editor: Stephen Fryc Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
http://wgpnewsletters.blogspot.com/ Next issue: March 2011