Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Nest search at Waychinicup 2001 (Part 2: coverage and distribution)









                                       playback trial, part of the segment (approximately half to two thirds) was
                                 played. After waiting three





Friday, November 11, 2016

Nest search Waychinicup 2001 (part 1)

This survey will be covered in some detail in a series of numbered entries.

A nest search at Waychinicup, east of Albany on the south coast of Western Australia was undertaken in September and October, 2001. The unpublished report of the exercise entitled "Western Ground Parrot nest search at Waychinicup September and October 2001: a pilot project", was intended to inform the South Coast Threatened Birds Recovery Team. The whole project was designed and operated on a voluntary basis.

The goals were to find out more about Western Ground Parrot (WGP) ecology and especially information on breeding. In 2001, the WGP was known to be present in only two disparate locations - Waychinicup National Park (WNP), and Fitzgerald River National Park where it was probably declining due to widespread fires. At that time, no WGPs had been located in Cape Arid National Park since 1989.

The first part of the plan was to locate WGPs in two separate areas within WNP and to determine where they were roosting. Thereafter, time was to be spent searching for a nest.

Locating birds was done by listening for them in the calling periods pre dawn and post sunset.

The map below shows the coverage (listening points). The positive sites are those from which one or more WGP calls was heard, and the negative sites are those from which no call was heard.
The small settlement of Cheyne Beach can be seen at the base of the bay.



Thursday, September 15, 2016

Locally extinct?

The figure below is from 'Report on Western Ground Parrot survey at Waychinicup and Manypeaks, April to October 1998' (see previous posting).

Western Ground Parrots have not been recorded in this area for more than 10 years despite some surveys conducted by the Friends of the Western Ground Parrot including placement of Automated Recording Units (Songmeters).


Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Survey for Western Ground Parrot at Waychinicup







The first systematic survey for the Western Ground Parrot in the Waychinicup Manypeaks area was in 1998. The work was funded by Worldwide Fund for Nature. The co-ordinator was Shapelle McNee and nearly all the other members of the survey team were volunteers. Logistic help was supplied by BirdLife Western Australia (then RAOU WA). This organisation also published the report: "Report on Western Ground Parrot Survey at Waychinicup and Manypeaks April to October 1998" by Shapelle McNee, as a supplement to Western Australian Birdnotes No. 90, June 1999.

Figure 2 from the report shows all the listening points, both positive and negative. The area called 'south-west of lake' is a sedgy swamp with four raised islands with different vegetation within it. The other positive sites were in low and diverse heathland.

A minimum of 29 calling birds was recorded in the Autumn of 1998.

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Western Ground Parrots near Albany

Cheyne Beach is east of Albany on the south coast of Western Australia and adjacent to Waychinicup National Park. The map,from Wikipedia, shows the location of the park. Julian Ford was a West Autralian ornithologist and taxonomist. An account by Julian Ford of Western Ground Parrots in this area is below. It is taken from "Distribution and Taxonomic Notes on some parrots from Western Australia", published in the South Australian Ornithologist, Volume 25, 1965.


" --- On November 5, 1963, I led a party of R.A.O.U. members to Cheyne Beach, east of Albany. Two Ground Parrots were flushed from dense stunted heath and sedge association on the hills overlooking the ocean, several hundred yards south of the Cheyne Beach settlement. The occurrence of the Ground Parrot at Cheyne Beach was brought to my attention by Mr Charles Allen of Cuthbert (pers.comm.). Allen showed me a feather of the species which was one of a bundle he had obtained from fishermenin the 1940s when the species was quite common in the heath on the dunes and the higher wind-swept hill slops of the eastern-most extension of the Mount Manypeaks range system. The fishermen shot the birds as their dogs flushed them out of the heath scrub......."


Western Ground Parrot habitat in Waychinicup National Park.

Western Ground Parrots have not been recorded in this park since 2003. There have been some detailed surveys prior to their disappearance, which will be the subject of future postings.




Friday, July 22, 2016

Blue underwing plumage

The frame below is captured from a video taken 22 September 2006. It is of a wild male Western Ground Parrot, in Fitzgerald River National Park. The blue leading edge of the underwing is revealed. Most of the underwing is dove grey and the pale bar can just be seen. The video was filmed by Brent Barrett and is owned by the Department of Parks and Wildlife, Western Australia.


The following extract is taken from

Courtney, J. (1997). Age-related colour changes and behaviour in the Ground Parrot Pezoporus wallicus. Australian Bird Watcher 17, 185-191.

A courtship display of captive male Eastern Ground Parrots is described.


The epigamic (courtship) display was commonly observed during September and
October. The male stands upright and lifts the folded wings well away from the body
at the ‘shoulders’ (carpus) while the tips of the wings remain touching the back.
Presumably this is to display the soft sky-blue undersurface of the carpus, which in
bright sunlight contrasts with the green of the body. The long tail is pressed firmly
to the ground because of the upright body posture, and therefore cannot be fanned
in the manner of most platycercine parrots performing this ‘shoulder squaring’ display.
This posture is maintained for many seconds during which the bird may stand still,
or walk slowly around in small circles, calling frequently with a series of short whistles
usually described as ‘tee tee tee‘. Occasionally, a male perching on a branch vigorously
thrusts the body up and down several times by bending and straightening its legs,
while calling in a similar way.      


Sunday, July 17, 2016

Underwing plumage

The underwing plumage of two Western Ground Parrot specimens from the Western Australian Museum are shown below.

This is the adult female (roadkill), specimen no. 27142, shown in the previous blog entry. The blue-green marginal coverts are a colour not visible elsewhere on the bird's plumage.


This bird, specimen no. 27143, a male, found headless, lacks the blue-green marginal coverts, but this is perhaps an indication of a stage of moult. It is not a male/female differentiaton feature. However, the width of the pale underwing stripe may be.


The images were taken with permission from the WA Museum and are used here with permission.