Welcome to the Friends of the Western Ground Parrot Newsletter
Get up-to-date information about the latest efforts to save this critically endangered parrot unique to Western Australia
T-SHIRTS WITH WESTERN GROUND PARROT DESIGN
We are pleased to announce that we have at long last set up an Australian online shopfront where you can order T-shirts featuring the popular Western Ground Parrot artwork by Wendy Binks. T-shirts are available in a variety of styles and colours and cost from $24.73 + shipping for a classic T-shirt. To order please go to our website at Redbubble.com
Whatever profit we make from the sale of the T-shirts will go towards the recovery project.
Parks and Wildlife Update - South West Fauna Recovery Project (SWFRP)
by Abby Thomas, Sarah Comer, Jeff Pinder, Abby Berryman & Allan Burbidge
It has been a quiet couple of months on the ground parrot front as field work on the south coast over winter focused on implementing recovery actions for the noisy scrub-bird, one of the western ground parrot’s old neighbours and another threatened species found only on the south coast. But time hasn’t stopped, and spring has sprung in Cape Arid, with the wildflowers all in full bloom.
Cape Arid wildflowers in bloom (photo: Abby Thomas, DBCA)
So, when the stars finally aligned with a short break in the rain clouds and a couple of consecutive warm days, the gates to Cape Arid were opened (if only briefly). With the focus on adhering to strict hygiene protocols to minimise the spread of Phytophthora Dieback we are only able to access these sites in dry soil conditions. We capitalised on the sunshine to get the spring monitoring ARUs out. Forty ARUs were deployed over the four monitoring grids we have now established in Cape Arid and Nuytsland Nature Reserve. When retrieved, data from these will be used to inform the planned ground parrot capture work later this year. The support from the Friends of the Western Ground Parrot and ACTP in ensuring we can carry out this work informed by robust monitoring is acknowledged, and we are looking forward to retrieving data from the units later this month.
Ranger Geoffrey Dean deploying an ARU in Basil Rd Nature Reserve (photo: Sarah Comer, DBCA)
The team has also been busy following up possible ground parrot sightings across the south coast. We are very grateful for people who take the time to report possible sightings, and where reports warrant further investigation we have been deploying ARUs to survey these areas. Most recently we deployed ARUs in Basil Rd Nature Reserve and will be collecting these in the next few weeks. Unfortunately no ground parrots were detected on recordings collected from Cape Le Grande National Park. It’s useful if reports of sightings can utilise the DBCA threatened fauna report form, available here https://www.dpaw.wa.gov.au/plants-and-animals/threatened-species-and-communities/threatened-animals. It’s also really helpful if observations can include details of habitat type (and photos if possible) plus observations on behaviour observed.
Update from Perth Zoo by Arthur Ferguson
Male Western Ground Parrot Joy is 9 years old (photo credit Perth Zoo)
Zephyr and Fifi were paired in June with the hope they would form a strong pair bond and progress to a nesting attempt early in the season. The pair were slow to get going so after discussions we decided to place Fifi in with male Joy to see if they would pick up where they left off from the previous year. There was very little interest between Joy and Fifi, so we placed Fifi back in with Zephyr. Moving Fifi in with Joy and then back in with Zephyr seemed to spur Zephyr and Fifi on and towards the end of August, Zephyr and Fifi progressed towards regular mate feeding but no mating was observed.
Mate feeding: 8 year old female Fifi with 12+ year old Zephyr (photo credit: Perth Zoo)
With the South Coast Threatened Bird Recovery Teams plans to capture new birds for the program in November we had a narrow window of opportunity to prepare for the arrival of the new birds. To ensure all works and preparations were in place, it was agreed that works on the aviaries would need to commence in October. To keep the birds safe, Zephyr, Fifi, Joy and Brutus have been moved out of the aviaries into their temporary holding enclosures while works are completed.
Fifi is the only female currently in the captive program and she is now eight years of age, with a history of producing smaller than average sized eggs, combined with very low egg fertility. To compare the size of Fifi’s eggs we managed to track down the only clutch of wild Western Ground Parrot eggs know to be held in museum collections around the world. The clutch consisted of three eggs and was collected by F. Lawson Whitlock at Wilson Inlet in November 1913 for Mr H. L. White and was later transferred to the care of Museums Victoria. Museums Victoria’s Collection Manager responsible for the Ornithology Collections was able to measure the three eggs for us.
Western Ground Parrot eggs in the nest found at Wilson Inlet near Albany
prior to collection by F. Lawson Whitlock in 1913 (photo by F. Lawson Whitlock)
Clutch of Western Ground Parrot eggs collectied by F. Lawson Whitlock in 1913.
Now held at the Melbourne Museum (Photo courtesy of Museums Victoria)
We added the size of these eggs into our data set along with eight eggs from two wild clutches of Eastern Ground Parrots (provided by Ron Johnstone Curator, Ornithology Terrestrial Vertebrates Collections and Research Centre at the WA museum) plus four eggs produced by captive Western Ground Parrot female Dawn. We compared these eggs with the 12 eggs produced by female Fifi and it was clear that Fifi’s eggs were smaller than all other eggs. This suggests she is not an optimum breeding bird.
The addition of new younger birds into the program will be incredibly important and will provide an enormous opportunity to further progress towards successful breeding and ultimately a captive breeding program.
In September, male Brutus was fitted with a small radio transmitter as part of a proof of concept trial. The trial helped to provide invaluable information to enable safe and effective gathering of important information on the movements and behaviour of the incredibly secretive Western Ground Parrots in the field.
8 year old male Brutus with the trial radio transmitter (photo credit: Perth Zoo)
The captive program forms part of the overall recovery strategy for the species which is endorsed by the South Coast Threatened Bird Recovery Team.
Support from Dr Jane Goodall's Roots and Shoots program
Joondalup Baptist College students raising funds during a bake-off
The Roots and Shoots program was formed by Dr Jane Goodall in Tanzania in 1995 and is now in 100 countries throughout the World. In 2006 the Western Australian branch was formed and now consists of 25 groups throughout the State and we work to the APE principal A Animals P People E Environment.
Bill Waterer who is the WA coordinator of the program reports that In 2017 the groups asked if they could do a program based on endangered Western Australian species and selected the Western Ground Parrot and the Western Swamp Tortoise to support. Many groups have adopted these species through the Perth Zoo (see below for more information about adopting a Western Ground Parrot at Perth Zoo) and others have raised fund for the two organisations. Other groups have assisted with release of tortoises and replanting of habitat. Talks have been given to school assemblies on the plight of both species.
Here is some additional information about Perth Zoo's "ADOPT AN ANIMAL PROGRAM":
Perth Zoo’s adoption programs help support conservation and breeding efforts, whilst creating a connection with a beloved animal. This program helps raise awareness about individual species by leveraging the appeal of ‘hero’ animals to support Perth Zoo’s hard work caring for the 1300 animals who call Perth Zoo home.
Adoption packages are for 12 months and include:
A personalised adoption certificate with a photo of your animal.
Subscription to News Paws, Perth Zoo’s quarterly magazine
Adoptions can be undertaken as an individual, a group (such as schools and classes) or a business.
After a lengthy time overseas it was discouraging to return to Albany and find out that no adequate funding had been made available to carry out recovery measures identified as being essential to bringing back the birds from the brink. An application for funds from the National Landcare Program resulted only in enough funding for autumn monitoring and feral cat management to be carried out in Cape Arid National Park in 2019.
We have since applied for a grant from the State Natural Resource Management Program in the hope of obtaining enough money to fund recovery measures for the next three years. It is disappointing that it is left to small organisations like ours which are entirely run by volunteers to take the responsibility of administering such large grants rather than making the money directly available to government agencies such as the Parks and Wildlife Service. If the application is successful, we are again required to register for the GST which will impose a considerable additional workload on our Treasurer. A further announcement about National Landcare Program 2 funding is expected in the near future, but whether additional funding will become available for the recovery of the Western Ground Parrot is not known at this stage.
In recent times it seems to have become rather popular to wear lapel pins. We are very pleased to announce that thanks to BirdLife WA we now have a Western Ground Parrot lapel pin available so you can show which side you are on. You will find details how to order a pin below.
We are planning to hold this year's AGM at the end of November. Members will have to vote on a special resolution relating to an update of our constitution. Like most associations we are required to update our constitution prior to the end of this financial year as it no longer complies with Western Australia's new Associations Incorporation Act.
As this is very likely going to be my last "chirping" I would like to thank our newsletter readers for their interest in the Western Ground Parrot and the efforts of everyone involved in trying to bring the species back from the brink. As you may have gathered I do not intend to seek reelection as chairperson and while I am not planning to retire from the committee altogether I am going to cut back my involvement with the organisation to pursue other interests.
These pretty Western Ground Parrot pins have proven to be very popular. We have received orders from as far away as Alaska and Japan, so be quick to secure yours before we run out. You can order it on our website using secure PayPal facilities. No PayPal account required, you can pay with your credit card. You can also make a purchase through direct deposit or cheque. Please contact us for details. All profits from the sale of the pins will be used to support the recovery project.
Chairperson: Anne Bondin
Mailing address: PO Box 5613, Albany, WA 6332