Newsupdate no. 43 – July 2010 Friends of the Western Ground Parrot Inc. news Monitoring Update by Jeff Pinder WGP Recovery Project Survey Leader Recently there has been a busy period of Western Ground Parrot monitoring. Department of Environment and Conservation (DEC) project staff have now surveyed all three of the known populations of birds in the Fitzgerald River National Park (FRNP), and one of two populations in Cape Arid National Park (CANP). Results overall have been very positive. In the FRNP, the second population (first population reviewed in the last edition of the newsletter) appears to have at least 2 birds persisting although detection is very difficult because, if they called at all, they called only once and very softly at that. It is still not fully understood all the stimuli determining why WGPs call and how often they call in a ‘session’. When there is only a single pair of birds present such as in the above example then perhaps calling is merely an attempt to establish contact with other WGPs. Where there are more birds occupying an area the calls of other WGPs may stimulate an individual to call more hence some individuals calling multiple times. More work needs to be done on this and it has been touted that phases of the moon could play a role in levels of WGP calling activity (thanks Brenda for the tip off!)
In CANP results were very encouraging and there was an increase in numbers of calls heard (and an increase in numbers of individuals?). The number of definite calls heard by the monitoring team compared to the previous two years were as follows:- 2008 (768 calls heard), 2009 (360 – post May ‘08 fire), 2010 (1238!!!). It should be pointed out that these differences may also be attributed to the differences in survey effort between years i.e. number of listeners, number of listening sessions Lots of calls were heard from around camp. These ‘local’ birds were heard from camp, calling outside of the ‘call-flight’ period. One morning just after 7am over 20 calls were heard from 4-5 individuals. So many calls at this time is most irregular behaviour from our experiences but then we have rarely had the luxury of hosting a population of WGPs in residence! We were also treated to a sighting when one bird was flushed from the track 500 metres north of camp.
There were also positive listening records observed by volunteers for a different area of our monitoring grid. Could these be different birds? Unfortunately it was difficult to make any definite conclusions about these records as times and directions recorded between volunteers didn’t closely match up. As for the known third population in the FRNP (along the northern boundary of the park) the WGPs seem to be consolidating their position. They are still quite localized within the monitoring grid, nonetheless activity levels indicated that numbers of birds were at least the equal of last year.
FRNP Trip 3: (l to r) Jeff Pinder, Richard Senille, Louisa Bell, Jan Rodda, Samya Jabbour, Joe Senille
All of this activity was especially heartening as it took place against a backdrop of many raptor sightings in the area, particularly Spotted Harriers and Brown Falcons. Alongside the feral predators, it seems unusual for WGPs to be so abundant given the high number of predators. Has this population of parrots found different strategies to partly mitigate the threat of predation? Maybe they benefit more from residing in higher densities;
safety in numbers and more effective communication warning others of danger. Finally a non WGP observation to finish. On one of our listening forays we discovered a pair of Dunnarts nesting in a discarded can of Emu Export. Now one can debate the wisdom in their particular taste in beer but you can’t argue with their display of true ‘Aussieness’. Would they have taken up refuge in a can of Guinness or Stella? I like to think not!
Report on the Captive Management By Abby Berryman [Towards the end of each month of Exetel funding, Abby prepared a progress report for the company. This report is summarized from the June progress report.]
Over the past month, Department of Environment and Conservation (DEC) project staff have focused on completing the new aviary complex. In addition, DEC’s Remote Regions Nature Conservation Program provided three conservation employees for two weeks to undertake most of the construction work. It is hoped to move the three captive WGPs into their new accommodation some time in July. The aviary has been funded by DEC and was specifically designed for the WGP captive management project. It incorporates features such as video surveillance and feeding hatches which will allow us to feed and monitor the birds with as little disturbance to them as possible. There are seven pens each with removable panels between them which will allow birds to be paired up in the future. Within each aviary the native vegetation has been retained.
Baits tested to control feral cats – reproduced with kind permission from perthnow 2010 “The first batch of Eradicat baits were dropped by plane in the FRNP in mid April, with more bait drops following over the past few weeks,” Ms Sarah Comer said. “A number of cats are being radio-tracked, and it is hoped we will get clear evidence of mortality following the baiting. In addition, the project team has established transects of sand pads that monitor predator track density pre and post baiting.” Ms Comer said Western Ground Parrot populations and other threatened species would be closely monitored during the trial period. Native species that might be attracted to the baits would also be monitored. “As part of the trial, DEC will be monitoring the effect of the baits on species such as the chuditch and dibbler, to determine whether these species are ingesting the baits and any negative impacts that may occur as a result,” she said. “DEC sees the control of cats in areas like the FRNP as a long-term initiative, and while we wouldn’t expect to see an immediate increase in numbers of western ground parrots and other native species, we expect our monitoring programs to reveal a gradual improvement over a number of years.” For the complete perthnow article please goto : http://tinyurl.com/catbaits
Can You Help? Perth Zoo has invited us to have a stall at their National Threatened Species Day event on 12 September. The stall will have display material about the Western Ground Parrot and we will also have items for sale. We will hope that our presence there will enable more people to become aware of our WGP. We will be able to accept new members. The stall will run from 10am to 3pm. If you are interested in helping out, please get in touch with us as soon as possible, letting us know what time you are available (Stephen Fryc 93375673 or Brenda Newbey on email@example.com.) Only volunteer if you can spare two hours. We want to have a giveaway with information about our Friends association. A bookmark would fit the bill. Is there any reader who could design the bookmark? We need to have it ready for the stall. The designer will be supplied with some material to use. Contacts as above.
Western Ground Parrot Status
By Brenda Newbey
Our letter to Minister Garrett was written and sent and we have now received a reply which was more than a simple acknowledgement and may point to some help. In the process of preparing the letter, I found that one big problem which I believed lay in the path of achieving a change of status in the Commonwealth system, was not an obstruction at all. The taxon of concern does not have to be a separate species to warrant consideration for a change of classification. It can be a subspecies as the Western Ground Parrot still is. No paper to begin the change to species level has yet been published though one is ‘in press’ (Murphy et al.) The Commonwealth legislation for protection of threatened species, is the Environmental Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act (1999). I contacted the administrative section and found that the best way to go about a change of Western Ground Parrot’s status from ‘endangered’ to ‘critically endangered’ was to fill out a EPBC Threatened Species nomination form. I downloaded the form and found that it had thirty-three pages and 54 questions, some in several parts, and many required very detailed replies. I made a sketchy beginning but there was no way I could supply many of the details. Meanwhile the South Coast Recovery Team sprang into action and under the guidance of John Blyth, who has filled out such forms before, several members of the team worked laboriously through the morass, supplying answers to the questions and a lengthy reference list. The final version of the document should be ready for sending off around the end of July. Even then it may not be considered for review by the Commonwealth Threatened Species Scientific Committee until November though a plea will be made if appropriate, to act sooner due to the perilous situation of our bird. On the latest calculation based on recent surveys, only 110 calling birds remain in the wild. (Both males and females call.) Murphy, S. A., Joseph, L., Burbidge, A. H., and Austin, J. (in press). A cryptic and critically endangered species revealed by mitochondrial DNA analyses – the Western Ground Parrot. Conservation Genetics.
Committee membership The upcoming AGM is set for 29 September. At the AGM we will need to elect the members who are to serve on the committee for the next year. If you would like to offer some time to our Association by nominating for a position on the committee, please get in touch with us by the end of August. We can then put your name on the agenda. Although actual meetings are most likely to be in Albany, members living elsewhere are most welcome to nominate as most committee business is conducted through modern means of communication.
Membership fees Just a quick reminder to those who have been a bit tardy in sending their annual membership fee. If we don't have sufficient numbers of paid-up members, we cannot lodge our application for deductible gift recipient status. Please make sure your annual subscription reaches us as soon as possible if it is still outstanding. Also, if you are not a member, please consider joining to help our cause.
â–şIf you are not a member, you can use the form below to join.
An amount of $10, presumably a membership fee, was deposited at the Albany branch on 29th June without any indication who the depositor is. Could the member who made this payment please get in touch with us, so the Treasurer can allocate the payment? For Sale 5 Cards and 5 postcards for $ 10 Postage free Contact: Val Hack 0409 443 331 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org There are also various shirts in stock.
Contacts: Brenda Newbey (Chair). Phone (08) 9337 5673 Anne Bondin (Vice Chair). Phone (08) 9844 1793 Deon Utber (Secretary) Phone (08) 9844 8863 Address: PO Box 5613, Albany, WA 6332 Website:
Archive: Previous issues of our newsletter are available online at Editor: Stephen Fryc Email: email@example.com
http://wgpnewsletters.blogspot.com/ Next issue: