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Newsupdate no. 63 – June 2014 Song Meter Trials Jeff Pinder, Technical Officer, Integrated Fauna Recovery Project, Department of Parks and Wildlife, has now completed a report to the South Coast Threatened Birds Recovery Team on the song meter trials. The trials were conducted in Cape Arid National Park in 2011/2012 using automated recording units, the specific model being the SM2 song meter. The SM2 appeared to have the potential to be a tool for location and monitoring of Western Ground Parrots (WGPs) and it was important to understand its capabilities pertaining to these tasks more clearly. There were two trials. Trial 1

An SM2 song meter. It is mounted on two 120 cm droppers. The microphones ‘ears’ protrude from each side. The SM2 records digitally, is waterproof, can be set to record for certain time periods, has storage for large amounts of information, weighs about 1 kg, operates in a wide temperature range (-20C to 85+C)

Trial 1 set out to compare detection rate of WGP calls between human listeners and SM2s. Before the introduction of song meters, all WGP monitoring was done using human listeners. Anyone who has been a listener knows that it is a learned skill with the greatest problem (of several) being distinguishing WGP calls from the similar calls of the Tawny-crowned Honeyeater. The trial included experienced and inexperienced listeners. Other variables included some atypical WGP calls from young birds, wind speed and direction, call decibel level and direction. The sample size was small: three experienced listeners and five inexperienced listeners. In each session, a listener stood in a pre-arranged spot near a song meter. In total over the three to six sessions per person in the trial, the song meters detected almost as many calls as the human listeners: humans 99; song meters 95. The breakdown of these totals is revealing. Inexperienced listeners detected 35 calls where the SM2s detected 42 (song meters more accurate). Experienced listeners detected 64 calls where the song meters detected 53 (humans more accurate).

Syrinx software is used to show the sound files in graphic form. Western Ground Parrot calls all fall between 2 and 5 kHz.


The spectrogram on the right is a Tawny-crowned Honeyeater call which has the same frequency as a WGP call. These always start with a dropped note which can be seen clearly here. Often the dropped note is produced less strongly than the other notes so that a listener can find it difficult to be certain that a WGP call has not been heard. In Cape Arid National Park there is an insect which produces a sound within the WGP frequency and at the same time. This call is shown in Fig. 2 above, and in this instance is above the WGP call. Many spectrograms are more complicated and more difficult to decipher than these examples. One advantage of the song meter records is that there can be study of the spectrograms and also playback of the recorded call. Syrinx has a playback function that enables a sound to be checked against its graphic representation.

Trial 2 Ten SM2s were placed in a grid pattern at a distance of 200 metres apart with one closer (see diagram below). They were programmed to record twice a day at the WGP peak calling times. Six evening sessions were selected for analysis. Two of the song meters (nos. 1 and 42) failed to operate. 42 (failed) 33









A total of 125 calls were detected on the 8 operational song meters. Many of these calls were detected on more than one SM2. The total of individual calls was 45. 10 calls were detected by only one SM2, 11 by 2 units, 12 by 3 units, 7 by 4 units, 3 by 5 units and 2 by 6 units. Analysis of the results allows a minimum distance of detection to be calculated. Minimum distances determined in this trial ranged from 100 metres to 225 metres. Song meter units 33 and 34 both detected the same 5 calls. These units were 447 metres apart. The range of detection for these calls was at least 225 metres if the calls were equidistant from both units. This is unlikely

but the precise origin of the calls cannot be determined from these records. Variables affecting results would have included difference in sensitivity of microphones, non WGP sounds and their location, wind speed and direction, slope and aspect. The two trials have provided some much-needed measurement of SM2 capability. Jeff is to be congratulated on completing the project. He acknowledged the assistance of several FWGP members in the field work. Note: The spectrograms and the photo are taken directly from the report. B Newbey


Charlie’s most frequent food choice Charlie was a Western Ground Parrot videoed in the wild in the spring of 2006 by Brent Barrett and Mike Barth. Of seventeen videos (totalling approximately 140 minutes) that show feeding, fourteen of them show Charlie feeding on the seeds of the low sedge, Mesomelaena stygia subspecies stygia. He feeds smorgasbord style and rarely seems to take the same species for more than thirty seconds. His diet as viewed in these clips is about 40-45% sedge seeds. Thirty-five taxa have been identified as being food for Charlie. Of these, eleven are sedges, most being taken in only one or two of the videos. The photo is a frame from one of the Brent Barrett videos showing Charlie taking a bite of his favourite sedge.

B. Newbey

Votes are needed for a 5000 dollar dream! Membership Fees This is a reminder that the 2014/15 membership fee becomes due on 1st July. The membership fee is $10. It can be paid by direct deposit into our Westpac account: A/C name: Friends of the Western Ground Parrot BSB: 036-168 A/C no. 298 423 Please don't forget to e-mail us if you make a direct deposit as our bank statements doesn't always show depositor details. Alternatively, pay by cheque made out to 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 makes a difference in our fight to save the Western Ground Parrot.

If you haven’t already voted head to;

This is the chance to win $5000 for Western Ground Parrot. It’s Georgina’s not for profit dream ! There is competition for these funds, so the more votes the better. The Western Ground Parrot is only just in the lead. Please tell everyone you know to get more votes. Voting closes the end of June 2014.

Chair’s Chirpings by Dave Taylor How time flies. (Pardon the pun) 6 months gone and nearly half way through our year. There has been a lot of activity happening behind the scenes but not yet finalized. By the time our newsletter is published some very exciting projects may be finalized and we will no longer need keep our members and readers in suspense. A number of listening surveys were conducted during spring and autumn In the Fitzgerald and Cape Arid National Parks. Many WGP calls were heard in Cape Arid NP which was very pleasing but unfortunately, no calls were recorded in the Fitzgerald NP. Volunteering your time on these surveys is a great way to meet fellow birders and others with similar interests, see new country and participate in Department of Parks and Wildlife (DPaW’s) Western Shield and Integrated Fauna Recovery Project. Days start early but for those who have an affinity for the great outdoors , this is a fantastic opportunity to get up close and personal with those fury little critters we usually only see in books and zoos.


Chair’s Chirpings continued Friends of the Western Ground Parrot participated in the second Albany and Districts Bird Expo recently. The expo was successful but unfortunately I don’t think it was as productive as last year’s inaugural expo. Chairman Dave and Secretary Anne ( Anne now on holidays in Sweden and other Scandinavian countries) have very recently spent 5 days indoors and in the field producing a documentary for the ABC TV My Crazy Passion program. Further time is yet to be spent editing the final segment prior to the filming being ready for viewing release. So, watch this space for program details. We are currently working with the Albany Branch of the Western Australian Museum to produce a “pop up” type educational display. This display will incorporate sound and vision and the display will be capable of being sent around the State to raise the awareness and profile of the Western Ground Parrot. Thanks must go to Brenda Newbey for producing the blog on the history of study of the WGP. To view the blog just go to the Friends of the Western Ground Parrot Inc web site. www. and click on the history blog. Also,a big thanks to Chris Creighton of Condingup Vineyard for her tireless effort in selling our products through the vineyard and at the Esperance Markets. Thank you ladies.

Photos above : from the filming of “My Crazy Passion”. A segment for the ABC with Dave Taylor.

Contacts: David Taylor (Chair). Phone 0458502836

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 2014


June 2014  

Friends of the Western Ground Parrot Newsletter, June 2014

June 2014  

Friends of the Western Ground Parrot Newsletter, June 2014