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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. 28

October 2007

WESTERN GROUND PARROT Recovery Project update – Mike Barth Surveys From 24 to 31 July, a survey of the Hamersley Drive area in the Fitzgerald River National Park (FRNP) was conducted. This area once harboured a substantial sub-population of Western Ground Parrots. Since the last large wildfire in 1998, only a few records have come from the area. The habitat now appears suitable, but no ground parrots were recorded on this survey. Areas of historic and recent records were targeted for listening along with some unsurveyed areas of promising habitat. This absence of ground parrots is disappointing and confirms that the birds are not recolonising areas of past use. The survey team came across some very good looking habitat on the east side of West River that is worth surveying in the future. On 8 August, a listening survey was conducted at Waychinicup National Park on the south side of Cheyne Beach Rd. in an area proposed for a Spring 2007 prescription burn. The area contains suitable Western Ground Parrot habitat and the species was last recorded in the area in 2003. This area has been surveyed on several occasions since then and no ground parrots have been heard there since. This recent survey confirms this. The burn will help to break up the area and prevent a large catastrophic wildfire from consuming the whole area. A survey of the FRNP wilderness area where ground parrots were recorded in a 2004 survey is planned for early October. Monitoring (Nest Season) in Fitzgerald River National Park (FRNP) From 13 August to the end of September, project staff and volunteers have been monitoring the breeding cycle of Western Ground Parrots at the Drummond Track / Wilderness Gate sub-population in the FRNP. Very little is known of the breeding biology of this subspecies and the last recorded nest was in 1913. The plan for this season is to trap one pair of birds and fit them with radio-transmitters in order to get a better understanding of home range size, clutch size, breeding behaviours and fledging success rate. Once the targeted pair was suspected to have begun nesting, mist nets would be used to trap them at their designated food exchange areas. Trapping attempts were made during the weeks of 11 and 17 September without success. Further trapping attempts will be made in October. Currently, the team is monitoring two pairs of birds which appear to be engaged in the nesting process. Cape Arid National Park (CANP) Volunteer ground parrot listener and Condingup resident Jim Creighton has listened once weekly for calling Western Ground Parrots at a site along Poison Creek Road from late August to the end of September. His data indicates a very active group of ground parrots at the site and Jim has recently heard what appears to be the calls of newly fledged ground parrots indicating nesting success near the site. Feral predator control Control of feral predators, in particular foxes, continued this quarter with routine baiting associated with the Western Shield Program. In addition, project staff laid hand baits in the Fitzgerald River and along tracks where ground parrots are known to occur. Community participation and public awareness Articles on the recovery project were published in the Friends of the Western Ground Parrot’sNewsupdate 27 (August 2007) and the Friends of the Fitzgerald River’sNarpalungup News (August 2007). Volunteer Lyn Boston from SE Queensland assisted the project for a week in early September. Lyn is involved with monitoring Eastern Ground Parrots near her home on the Sunshine Coast. She also gives informative talks on ground parrots and leads field trips to listen to their calls. Carolin Von Prondzinsky from Berlin, Germany began a 17 week internship with the project on 10 September. Carolin is studying Landscape Use and Conservation Management at the University Eberswalde and the internship is part of her 1

second year studies. She will be assisting other projects such as the Noisy Scrub-bird, Western Bristlebird and Numbat Recovery during her stay. 11 volunteers contributed over 200 hours this quarter assisting project staff with survey and monitoring work.

A sequence of photos taken from a video made by Mike Barth in Sept. 2006 showing an adult Western Ground Parrot feeding on the green pods of Daviesia teretifolia (a pea).

For information or if you’d like to assist,please contact: Mike Barth – Project Officer ph. (08) 9842 4519, mobile 0429 842 451 or e-mail:

The Western 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 programme and the Natural Heritage Trust.


Gift from the Friends In September, Friends of the Western Ground Parrot made a practical donation to the Western Ground Parrot project in the form of some sound recording equipment. The equipment is being used in the nest-search work described above. The equipment comprised a new Sony microphone (directional) and two Minidisk players, one donated and the other purchased second hand as well as some disks. Mike Barth reports that it is working well. Many thanks to Stephen Fryc for the practical side of making this happen, and to other Friends who have helped the funds to grow by donations or buying shirts or cards. Search for Western Ground Parrot in the northern sandplain This project is a Birds Australia WA initiative, made possible by a gift from an anonymous donor. The project is being strongly supported by the Department of Environment and Conservation (DEC).

The fieldwork for this project has now been completed. Renee Hartley (DEC Jurien) and I are preparing the report on the project which we hope to complete before the end of 2007. Let one of us know if you would like a copy of it. One of the very interesting results of the survey is the collection of recent records of sightings. We are compiling all those that we have reason to believe are probably authentic from 1990 until now, and will map the locations. There have been two records well north of our study area. One of them is near Yuna, well north of the generally recognized northern extent of the WGPs’ range, but not beyond the occurrence of apparently suitable habitat. The other northern sighting is described below. Sighting of Western Ground Parrots north of Eneabba Ray Woods believes he saw two Western Ground Parrots in August 1992. He saw the birds several times over a week while he was picking Banksia hookeriana within the Beharra Gasfield. The birds had different plumage, one being clearly green with some yellow and the other much duller, brownish with some green. They were smaller than a twenty-eight and larger than a budgie. The birds were in low heathland where there are temporary swampy patches and many sedge plants. More than once the birds flushed from the ground then returned to the ground after a short low flight. A couple of weeks ago Ray saw some of the Western Ground Parrot video. He also studied the WGP brochure. He is confident that what he had seen all those years ago were ground parrots. He returned to the site a few days ago, but it had been burnt about two years ago and would not currently be suitable for ground parrots. Note: Ray had thought that he was seeing a pair of birds but as the plumage of males and females is almost the same, it is more likely that he observed an adult male with a juvenile bird. Brenda Newbey August 2007

New paper on Western Ground Parrot distribution The paper is entitled ‘Dealing with uncertain absences in habitat modeling: a case study of a rare ground-dwelling parrot’. It is in press in the journal Diversity ‘ and Distributions’in a section entitled Biodiveristy Research. The authors are Lesley Gibson, Brent Barrett and Allan Burbidge. It is technical in places but anyone interested in ground parrots is likely to find it contains good information and food for thought. Many of the Friends of the Western Ground Parrot have played a part in collecting the data used in this paper. When Allan Burbidge has a final copy of the paper, he will send it to anyone who requests it. (e-mail

phone: 94055109) 3

Alternatively the pdf may be read as a file on Rapidshare. Weblink : To download from rapidshare follow these instructions: First, enter link. When loaded press ‘free’ button on lower RH corner. Next enter the random code as shown on your screen. Press ‘download’.The file will be available for at least 30 days from 8th October 2007. The new shirts are nearly ready The new T shirts will be ready mid-October. Child sizes are 6, 8, 10, 12, 14. Child colours are ‘banana’, an earthy yellow (illustrated below), and ‘linen’, a light warm brown. Adultsizes are from XS to XL. Adult colours are ‘natural’ ,a warm off-white, and sage, a grey-green. As before, the shirts are 100% cotton and Australian made. All shirts will be printed with the new design (see below). Wendy Binks donated the painting used on all our shirts. (This month she will be launching her second children’s book ‘Scrambled Egg’ which, like the first, the very popular ‘Where’s Stripey?’ , is sure to have a lively cast of Australian wildlife characters.) Prices for the adult shirts will be a little less than before: $23, and for child sizes $20. Postage for one shirt is $5 and for two is $8. Please phone or email your orders to Brenda (details below). (The few remaining shirts of the first design are now available for $23 also.) Cheques to be made out to Birds Australia WA.

Web pages Birds Australia WA Inc. has a web page for the Western Ground Parrot. Go to their website at and then access Projects, and Western Ground Parrot. There is another web page maintained by the Albany Bird Group: The next issue of the WGP Friends newsupdate is due in December 2007. Feedback is welcome. If you missed snippet of the wild Western Ground Parrot in action, on YouTube, the link is below

Contacts for Friends of the Western Ground Parrot Anne Bondin. Phone (08) 9844 1793; E-mail: Brenda Newbey. Phone (08) 9337 5673; E-mail: Address: Birds Australia Western Australia, Peregrine House, 167 Perry Lakes Drive, Floreat. WA 6014


October 2007 #28  

Friends of the Western Ground Parrot Newsletter October 2007 #28

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