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FRIENDS OF THE WESTERN GROUND PARROT A community group dedicated to the recovery of an unusual WA bird which could soon become extinct.

Newsupdate no. 34

November 2008

Report from Jeff Pinder Western Ground Parrot recovery project Since the emotional highs and lows of Cape Arid (see last newsletter n.o.33) and the untimely death of Ramsay (our male W.G.P. caught and fitted with a transmitter), Abby and I have returned to Albany amidst “calmer seas” (sorry Brenda for the cheap analogy!). The experience was an extremely useful learning curve and has fired us up for another shot at nest searching next year. The killer The consensus about Ramsay's killer is that it was probably a raptor and most likely a brown falcon as three of them were seen in the area at the time mobbing each other and generally being quite raucous!. Ramsay's remains (feathers, one wing and the transmitter) were found on top of a 40cm high dryandra bush. To manage to feed and balance on such a perch would point squarely towards a bird of prey. Unfortunately we did not find any "foreign" hairs or feathers which would have given us more tangible evidence as to the exact identity of the predator. New recording equipment The summer is traditionally a quieter period at Ground Parrot control. We had hoped to make one more trip to the Fitz in November to test out a new piece of sound recording equipment. The trip however was shelved as the unit was not quite ready for use in the field. The idea is that the recorder will recognise and record Ground Parrot calls and Ground Parrot calls only! This will save time otherwise spent wading through hours of bird calls just to pick out maybe one or two Ground Parrot ones! This also frees up hard disk space meaning the unit can be left running out in the field for several weeks at a time. Effectively this technology can perform the role of a human listener with the added advantage that they don’t need to complete a medical form or get fed! However at several thousand dollars apiece it will

be a while before we see a “War of the Worlds” type takeover of machines. Profile raising The 7/8th of November was A l b a n y S h o w time. Thanks to Anne Bondin and Tony Bush who gave up their time to “man” the stand. Thanks also to those of you who came to visit us. Abby and I managed to bag a free stay on Kangaroo Island (“When you get on the island, just ask for American Kate”, was the precise offer). Talking of promoting things, we are currently in conversation with Perth Zoo to house a permanent, interactive Ground Parrot display at the zoo itself. This will be an exciting step forward for the project and bring our cause to the attention of a much wider audience. Thanks to Arthur Ferguson, who works at the zoo, for pushing the whole thing along. As is often the case, cost is the main issue now. Any ideas for a sponsor or other sources of funding would be greatly appreciated. I have been contacting schools and distributing brochures locally to help raise awareness of W.G.Ps in the Albany community. I have given talks to 6 classes at Yakamia Primary and they seem to be very positive and proactive about saving threatened species. I was especially excited when one boy said that he’d seem a Ground Parrot. When I asked him whereabouts exactly he said, “…in the cat’s mouth”. Kids aye!


Arthur Ferguson radiotracking Ramsay in Cape Arid National Park. It can be seen that there is not very good cover here . Photo: J. Pinder

Waychinicup search We are also planning to resurvey Waychinicup as it has been nearly two years since the last surveys were done. It would be amazing news to rediscover birds here after several years of non-detection. Unfortunately last Thursday’s trip had to be cancelled as around 150mm of rain fell on Albany (you may have noticed!) to sa y nothing of the 50km/h winds and electrical storms. Looks like the area will take several weeks to dry out before we can get back in there. If anyone is interested in getting involved on one of these forays please get in touch with either myself or Abby. Fire management Other news……Abby is working hard on drafting a Fire Management Guideline, a document for use by fire management staff to provide them with up-to-date information about the Western Ground Parrot. The staff involved in fire management play a major role in protecting WGP habitat and we are focussing on regular communication with them to ensure they have the latest information. This week (from 24 Nov.) Abby has gone to the Australian Wildlife Management Conference in Fremantle to present her latest findings and further raise the profile of one little green parrot. Next month she will take a well earned holiday in NZ. I, on the other hand will be walking around Kangaroo Island asking if anyone knows a person by the name of American Kate! Time to....buy a W G P shirt P.S. Ooooh! Before I forget, if anyone wants to buy a designer Ground Parrot t-shirt (I’m thinking Christmas presents) then let me know. I have limited sizes left so don’t leave it too long!!!

Phone: (08) 9842 4519 Email: jeff.pinder@dec.wa.gov.au If anyone is interested in volunteering, or if you would like more information, please contact: Abby Berryman – Ph: (08) 9842 4519; Mob: 0429 842 451 Email: abby.berryman@dec.wa.gov.au 2


Ramsay Photo: J Pinder

The DEC’sWestern Ground Parrot Recovery Project is funded through the South Coast Natural Resource Management Inc., the regional group for NRM on the South Coast of Western Australia. Funding provided by the Australian and Western Australian Governments through the joint National Action Plan for Salinity and Water Quality

Radio tracking Ramsay

by John Tucker, volunteer

It was certainly an experience to radio track a WGP. I had seen about 15 birds in the preceding years, but to have more than a dozen sightings in of Ramsay and other WGPs in only two weeks was a highlight. We were able to time his roost flight - about 800-900m in about 10-12 seconds. They are a lot quicker than most people think. Weather-wise, Cape Arid N.P. certainly has a mind of its own - four seasons in one day. What was it like? …. try wandering around a patch of heath-land (about 200 acres) with a T.V. aerial and radio receiver - rain running down your neck - the sun comes out and you have too many thermal layers on and the bird has just disappeared. Then there were the thunderstorms – not surprisingly, people get nervous walking around flat ground carrying a metal aerial/receiver.

Profile-raising items There are still many West Australians who haven’t heard of the Western Ground Parrot. Ideas for new items to help raise the WGP profile are being sought. Suggestions so far have been car sticker, baseball cap, badge – enamelled or from photo or embroidered, tighter darker shirts. What would you use? How would you do it? Ideas for WHAT to try as well as DESIGN ideas are very welcome at this stage. Contact Jeff or Brenda before January. 3


The only WGP Breeding Record for 2008 Volunteer Jim Creighton of Condingup has been out to Cape Arid NP a few times since the Recovery Team left after the death of Ramsay. Like last year he heard WGP chick calls, and like last year was the only one to detect WGP breeding for the year. He has been sending reports to Abby. He also reported on one of the record sheets: I was there early and watched three different Brown Falcons working over the area to the east. They all flew at the level of the heath and seemed to brush it. One was seen plucking a small bird; only the falcon's head was visible - the whole process was carried out less than a meter from the ground. From information supplied by Chris Creighton.

Left is part of the underside of Ramsay’s left wing with the transmitter nearby and some barred feathers scattered around. The transmitter "body" is only about 5mm x 5mm with a thin wire aerial about 50mm long. It is matte black in colour and the white patch is a paper sticker describing the frequency it transmits at. It was super-glued to a tail feather, on top of the rump, and so underneath the wings when they were folded. There is no blue on a WGP seen standing or walking. However, blue is sometimes captured in photos of WGPs in flight. These wing feathers, normally invisible except when the bird is flying or displaying, are shown clearly here. Below is artwork in the field by volunteer Arthur Ferguson. Photos: J. Pinder

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Web pages Birds Australia WA Inc. has a web page for the Western Ground Parrot. Go to their website at www.birdswa.com.au and then access Projects, and Western Ground Parrot. There is another web page maintained by the Albany Bird Group: www.albanygateway.com.au/Topic/Environment/Albany_Bird_Watching_Group/Endangered_Birds/ The next issue of the WGP Friends newsupdate is due in February 2009. Feedback is welcome. Contacts for Friends of the Western Ground Parrot albanybirds@hotmail.com 9337 5673; E-mail: wgparrot@westnet.com.au

Anne Bondin. Phone (08) 9844 1793; E-mail:

Brenda Newbey. Phone (08) Address: Birds Australia Western Australia, Peregrine House, 167 Perry Lakes Drive, Floreat. WA 6014

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November 2008 #34  

Friends of the Western Ground Parrot Newsletter November 2008 #34

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