Welcome to the Friends of the Western Ground Parrot Newsletter
No. 82 - Autumn 2019 (amended)
Get up-to-date information about the latest efforts to save this critically endangered parrot unique to Western Australia
Editor's Note: My sincere apologies for the multiple posting of this newsletter.
The two previous version had incomplete versions of the Chair's Chirpings, which has now been resolved in this version.
The small population of Western Ground Parrots lives on - for now…
Sunrise over Cape Arid during a morning parrot survey. Photo- Paul Wettin
Department of Biodiversity, Conservation and Attractions (DBCA) Reports Parks and Wildlife Service - Sarah Comer
Since the January bushfires in Cape Arid National Park DBCA staff have been busy servicing monitoring equipment and providing additional feral cat control around unburnt habitat. The monitoring trip in March was supported by a group of enthusiastic volunteers, and over 70 automated recording units (ARUs) were deployed or serviced during this time. This includes the establishment of a permanent monitoring grid of 30 solar ARUs across Cape Arid and Nuytsland Nature Reserve, which was supported by a grant from DBCA’s Western Shield Program.
At the time of going to press the DBCA team are still in the field, deploying the final 19 solar units, and collecting ARUs from the population monitoring grids. Once we have the latter back in the office the process of downloading and analyzing recordings can commence, and by the time of the next newsletter we will be able to provide an update on populations trends. The field team are also following up on the autumn cat baiting with trapping around the core areas of remaining habitat, providing additional support to the aerial and ground baiting effort that took place in April.
Survey work goes on, rain or shine- Abby Thomas and Chris Powell – Photo DBCA
Perth Zoo Report
The five new birds (males Monak and Mingko, females Kangal, Leuca and Kopin) continued to settle into the specialised aviaries very well since their arrival to Perth Zoo last November. Working with the new birds has provided further insight into Western Ground Parrot behaviour which has enable validation of important husbandry strategies.
The four original birds (males Zephyr, Joy and Brutus and female Fifi) are also all doing well.
Preparations are now well underway for the upcoming breeding season. This includes shifting birds into their prospective breeding aviaries, undertaking further vegetation maintenance to enhance the small cleared areas that are used for copulation, provision of breeding diets and preparation of incubation equipment.
CCTV monitoring/review will be further increased very soon to identify and track key reproductive behaviours during the breeding season.
With the new birds involved in this year breeding season we have a busy time ahead.
Photos of new birds- credit Perth Zoo
Female Leuca, early morning feed
Thanks to Parks and Wildlife and the Zoo for providing their reports amongst their busy work schedules.
The Friends’ Committee met in mid-March. We were able to welcome a new Committee member, Julie Lee who is formerly from WA and now lives in Sydney. Julie has a strong business background and connections with many conservation groups and we look forward to her contributions. However, we have also lost a Committee member in Kate Simon-Menasse who has resigned due to family and work commitments. We thank Kate for her work.
There are still several positions open on the Committee so please give it consideration and contact me at email@example.com to discuss if you wish.
Our main purpose of the meeting was to prioritise our 2019 funding commitments to the Recovery Plan. This proved not to be possible because of the many “balls in the air” regarding the overall funding circumstances- see more information on this below. Resolving our funding priorities will be progressed once some of these “balls” land.
Recovery Plan and Funding
The battle to find funding for the Recovery Plan continues. We were advised that DBCA has submitted several applications for funding, largely for smaller sums that are available from other Not-for-Profit organisations, and are in discussions with other parties (the “balls in the air” for determining our funding priorities). Where possible the Friends have lobbied and liaised with funding organisations to try and assist. The latest advice provided to us by DBCA is that some $850,000/year until 2023 and nearly $500,000 of one off costs for the Recovery Plan remains unfunded. At this time over $1 million for the Recovery Plan is being provided to DBCA, largely by the State Government. Some limited funding is also being provided under the National Landcare, Regional Land Partnerships Program. The administrative and financial arrangements around this program have changed and are very different from the previous Landcare Grant arrangements. I am aware this is causing some significant issues with resolving the “contractual” agreements and project budgets for the many parties who rely on this funding source.
Hopefully, these applications and discussions will bear significant fruit, and soon. Also, it is hoped that after the Federal Election the Recovery Plan and the funding needs will get priority attention from the Government. You can be assured the Friends will be making sure these needs are brought to their attention very quickly.
As always, if you can help out in any way with the funding situation it would be appreciated. Even small donations and merchandise purchases add up. Both the T-shirts and Western Ground Parrot pins are proving very popular.
Thanks to Sarah for her brief but informative report on recent survey and monitoring work. I want members to appreciate the incredible amount of work that the Parks and Wildlife staff have put in, particularly during and after the Cape Arid fires. This work also included a search for the 5 parrots with transmitters (as reported in the last Newsletter) which involved both extensive aerial and on-ground surveys. Eventually 2 of these birds were located and re-captured and the transmitters recovered. The fate of the other 3 birds is unknown as the batteries for the transmitters were due to be, and possibly were, exhausted around that time. The information gathered from the transmitters is being analysed and undoubtedly will greatly increase the knowledge of the parrot’s wild behaviour and use of habitat. A story I’m sure we will all want to know.
Also, as Sarah identifies, it is too early to make any estimation of the current population in the aftermath of the fires. This outcome is not achieved without a lot of diligent and skilled work over many months.
In late March, I had the pleasure again (my 3rd time) to participate in a Western Ground Parrot survey in Cape Arid with Parks and Wildlife staff and several hard working volunteers. A big thank you to Peter Taylor, Phil Tucak (see Phil’s story on the Friends’ Facebook and Twitter), Claire Greenwell and the ever present, highly dedicated Jim Creighton for their contributions!! We did the normal listening surveys, servicing of ARU’s and assisted with the Western Shield trapping which was noteworthy for the number of Honey possums caught (see a photo on our Facebook and Twitter pages). A notable number of raptors were around during the day particularly many black shouldered kites, brown falcons, spotted harriers and a pair of wedge-tailed eagles. There are many aesthetic and wonderful sights on these trips.
Most importantly we heard parrot calls at some of the survey locations!!!
As Sarah identifies, Parks and Wildlife staff have been installing the permanent ARUs and we helped out with this after having to perform micro-surgery on the solar panels as the frames were all installed upside down by the “factory”….. Installation often meant a significant hike through the heath as some sites (determined by a scientific protocol) were a few kilometres from the nearest vehicle track.
Chris Powell performing “micro-surgery” on solar panels - Photo DBCA
The G Team finishing an ARU with solar panels installation (G is for geriatric but not sure all members agreed with my description). Photo- Paul Wettin
The efforts of the fire fighting crews for the 2 months of fires in and around Cape Arid were very noticeable. They did an incredible job under trying circumstances and no doubt there are likely many parrots and other species who owe their existence due to these efforts. I had this confirmed by one of the professional fire fighters in Albany who did some duties out and around Cape Arid. I have written to the relevant State Ministers and fire crews expressing the Friends’ appreciation. Threatened Species Habitat visit
In March as part of the South Coast Festival of Birds and Biodiversity, I participated in a Threatened Species Habitat visit to Waychinicup National Park with Anne Bondin (organiser and representing BirdLife Australia) and with the participation of Sarah Comer. Some 10 people signed up for this visit with all proceeds going to the Friends (thanks BirdLife!!). We learned a lot from Sarah and especially about the threatened Australasian Bitterns, Noisy Scrub birds and of course Western Ground Parrots who used to be present in this area until around 10 years ago.
Chairperson: Paul Wettin
Mailing address: PO Box 5613, Albany, WA 6332