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Newsupdate no. 49 – July 2011 Seeking Western Ground Parrots in Fitzgerald River National Park. ~ Success ! A nine-day field survey trip to Fitzgerald River National Park (FRNP) was completed on 1 June. It was entirely run by volunteers, put together by Friends of the Western Ground Parrot, and overseen by Abby Berryman of the DEC WGP Recovery Project. Funding to help with volunteers’ expenses was provided from a DEC Community Grant that had been obtained by the Friends. Mike Burns entering survey data. Photo: B. Newbey

The goal was to check out two key areas of known WGP occupied habitat in FRNP. We found that WGPs were still present at both sites. Numbers are low but no lower than in the same sites last year. The WGPs were calling poorly with often only one call being heard, and the calls were also shorter than usual. Listening conditions were excellent most of the time with the wind being light or non-existent. One day was different with winds up to 50 km per hour being experienced. We had help with detection of two of the nine (minimum) birds. One of the volunteers went for a drive soon after one morning listening time and flushed a WGP not far from our campsite. On another morning a light plane flew overhead just as morning listening time was ending. Two WGPs responded, startled. Only one of them had been recorded as calling earlier in the listening session. Survey team: Brenda Newbey, Iain Bain, Mike Burns, Nathan Lissiman, Graham Zemunik. Photo: G. Zemunik

On the day of the high winds, our shelter, a garden gazebo, was stressed beyond its powers but by then we had become accustomed to the outdoor life and once calm was restored we were happy to sit under the bare and twisted frame. So we accomplished what we set out to do, enjoyed each other’s company, and the results were not too depressing. Thanks go to DEC’s Peter Masters based in Ravensthorpe who would have helped us if we had needed extra help. One morning Michael and I were trying to work out how to use the satellite phone that DEC had provided for emergency use. As a test we phoned Peter’s office. He wasn’t in. Just then a vehicle appeared down the track coming from further in the park, the only vehicle we had seen for days. It was Peter and colleagues. Peter streamlined our satellite phone technique but fortunately, though ready, we had no further use for it. Brenda Newbey, Trip Leader June 2011 Our neighbour enjoying the winter sun. Photo: N. Lissiman


Conspicuous Cliff Search – by Roslyn Burnside, Walpole DEC. Roslyn has asked that this article not be reproduced (apart from in this newsletter) without further permission from the Walpole DEC office.

DEC initiated listening surveys in the Conspicuous Cliff area, following a possible sighting of a Western Ground Parrot in October 2010, in an effort to validate the sighting. With the assistance of members of the Walpole Nornalup National Parks Association (WNNPA), Friends of WGP, DEC staff have undertaken six listening sessions from January to March 2011. In March a dedicated group from Friends of WGP spent two days in Walpole providing much needed advice as to habitat suitability of the survey area. The group joined DEC and WNNPA members in carrying out two evening and two morning listening sessions. An enthusiastic tourist from overseas visiting the Conspicuous Cliff recreation site also joined a morning survey. Weather conditions for the surveys were varied with the south easterly winds proving to be a challenge for listening. Light drizzle and a sky show of lightning to the north provided for some interesting evenings. Just to remind our visitors that it can rain in Walpole, a heavy downpour heralded the end of one of the morning listening sessions. Surveys were carried out at 11 different points along two ridgelines, in effect covering three gullies. In addition to the listening surveys, a sound recording device has been deployed at different sites in the vicinity of the sighting to maximise the opportunity to confirm if Western Ground Parrots are present in the area. The information collected during listening surveys has been forwarded to Abby Berryman, DEC Conservation Officer, Captive Management, for entry into DEC’s Western Ground Parrot survey database. Although we have not heard any calling activity during the autumn it is hoped that spring surveys may be more positive, as a confirmed record of ground parrots west of the Fitzgerald River National Park would be extremely significant. Spring surveys will include additional sites in areas with a higher diversity of plants as well as the area surveyed during autumn. Dates for the spring 2011 survey will be advised closer to the time. Friends of WGP who are able to assist with either listening surveys or a suitable habitat survey in the area should contact Karlene Bain, Nature Conservation Output Leader, DEC, Walpole, on 9840 0400 or at

Membership fees are due This is a reminder that the annual membership fee of $10 per person was due on 1 July. If you have not already paid yours, please do so as soon as possible. Payments can be made by direct deposit into our account held with Westpac: A/C Name: Friends of the Western Ground Parrot BSB: 036- 168 A/C No: 298 423 You can also send a cheque made out to the Friends of the Western Ground Parrot. Send it to us at PO Box 5613, Albany WA 6332. Deductible gift recipient status


Friends of the Western Ground Parrot wine is still available! The order form can be downloaded from

We are very pleased to announce that our organisation has at long last been entered into Register of Environmental Organisations maintained by the Australian government. At the same time we received endorsement as a deductible gift recipient by the Australian Tax Office. This means that donations of $2 or more to the new public fund we have set up will be tax deductible. More details in the next newsletter.


ShoWtiMe – Volunteers needed Our group has signed on to have a presence in the Perth Royal Agricultural Show this year. The event is to run from 1 to 8 October inclusive. We will need someone on our stall from 9 to 5 on each of those days, ideally two people at a time. Our venue will be a lean-to near the DEC exhibit in the Landcare and Conservation area. It is planned to have a few square metres of WGP habitat as part of our exhibit. We also plan to offer activities. One of these activities will involve dress-ups for young children. The idea will be that a child can put on the gear then be photographed by his parents in the habitat – just another approach to awareness raising. If you would be able to help with creation of the dress-ups – any help at all will be welcome. At this stage we are thinking of feet, a head dress, a cape and a tail, all to be put on over whatever the child is already wearing. We have nothing designed as yet. Maybe you will have a suggestion as to how to make parrot feet or can donate some WGP coloured fabric paint or …. If you have a child size fox or cat mask or outfit lying around that too could be useful. Brenda Newbey is co-ordinating the exhibit so if you can help please phone her on 93375673 or email Feral Cat Update: Cape Arid Below is an excerpt from an online DEC article. The full article can be found at: "The bushfire in Cape Arid National Park earlier this year that burnt about 1000ha of western ground parrot habitat makes predator control even more important for the few remaining populations of this species. After a five year trial of non-toxic baits in Fitzgerald River National Park, we had enough data last year to air drop Eradicat 1080 poison baits over the park. "Feral cats and native species were radio-collared prior to the baiting, with half the collared cats killed in two weeks, while no mortality in native species was recorded. "This year we repeated the trial in Cape Arid National Park, testing out different baits and methods, and found that of 18 cats radio-collared, eight were killed by the baits, and monitoring of cat activity on sand pads showed a significant decline after baiting. This shows that cat baiting is working, but that there is a lot more to do to refine the way we deliver the baits, which baits we use and how these baits are made up.” Cameron Tiller, DEC

Thanks to Exetel The telecommunications company Exetel is continuing their generous support for the Western Ground Parrot over the year starting 1 August 2011.The funding that they provide will cover maintenance and monitoring of the captive Western Ground Parrots. As the wild population is so small and their hold on survival uncertain, the captive birds have a valuable role as an insurance policy against loss of the species. Exetel funding has played a major part in establishment of the captive management program. A couple of the captive birds will have the opportunity to breed this year but it is likely that they are still too young. Recent photo of Joy (m) and Dawn (f)


Ground Parrot behaviour Three Ground Parrots from northern NSW were hand-reared in 1977 and observations were made on them over their first few years. Some of these observations were reported within a short paper by John Courtney. One of the birds lived to the age of fifteen. No behaviour that could be interpreted as breeding behaviour was noted in the males until they were almost three years old. Then there was what seemed to be ritualized fighting display between two males. The birds observed each other from a distance of at least 0.5 m, then walked quickly towards each other, then when close leapt into the air at each other. ‘Bodily contact was avoided at the last moment when each bird rolled on its side with wings extended vertically, and glided past the other with bellies almost touching. Immediately on passing they rolled back into normal horizontal flying posture, descended and landed.’ This was all repeated several times until one of the birds ran away pursued for a short distance by the other. It remains to be seen whether the captive Western Ground Parrot males will act the same way but it does seem that they will not mature until they are three years old. By Brenda Newbey Courtney, John, 1997. ‘Age-related Colour Changes and Behaviour in the Ground Parrot Pezoporus wallicus’. Australian Bird Watcher 1997, 17. 185-191 Bird Observers Club of Australia, Melbourne.

Recent pics of Fly(left) and Joy (above). WGP photos (pages 3 and 4) kindly contributed by Abby Berryman, DEC Western Ground Parrot Recovery Project.

Contacts: Brenda Newbey (Chair). Phone (08) 9337 5673

Anne Bondin (Secretary/Treasurer). 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 2011


Friends of the Western Ground Parrot Newsletter July 2011  

The July 2011 edition of Friends of the Western Ground Parrot.

Friends of the Western Ground Parrot Newsletter July 2011  

The July 2011 edition of Friends of the Western Ground Parrot.