Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Surveying the northern sandplain

Below are further extracts from the unpublished report 'Search for Western Ground Parrots in the northern sandplain 2007'  by Brenda Newbey and Renee Hartley.

Location of the surveys

There were no clear positive records during the surveys. However some records were unresolved: the 'maybes' of the following page of the report. 

There have been no follow-up surveys to these 'maybes'. However, there has been a survey a little south of the area covered in this project with negative results, and another in the Mount Adams area  resulting in another 'maybe'.

Monday, November 18, 2013

More accounts of possible sightings north of Perth

The accounts above are taken from the unpublished report 'Search for Western Ground Parrots in the northern sandplain 2007' by Brenda Newbey and Renee Hartley, as are the two accounts in the previous posting. All, except the Herriot account which sparked the survey, came to light as a result of the survey publicity.

Ray Woods' sighting could well have been an adult male with a dependent fledgling as at that early stage young Western Ground Parrots have a lot of brown in their plumage.

The Badgingarra farmer's record is very interesting. The bush adjacent to his property appeared to be excellent ground parrot habitat. Tawny-crowned Honeyeaters (TCHE) in that bush used calls that were extremely close to ground  parrot calls as described in the 2007 survey  report: 'One call in particular was very deceptive, and it was not  until volunteer John Tucker followed then observed the TCHE making the call that we could be sure it was not a ground parrot.'

Monday, November 11, 2013

A search north of Perth

It was a long time before there was a detailed search for Western Ground Parrots (WGPs) north of Perth. The sighting that sparked the search was that by Shane Heriot (see above), a cold trail as the sighting was six years before the search.

This posting and the next two postings will be extracts from the search report (unpublished). It is titled Search for Western Ground Parrots in the northern sandplain 2007, and is by Brenda Newbey and Renee Hartley. The project was an initiative of Birds Australia WA (now Birdlife WA) and was strongly supported by the Department of Environment and Conservation (now Department of Parks and Wildlife).

It should be noted that all confirmed WGP records in C20 and so far this century have been in the vicinity of the south coast of Western Australia, not the west coast.

The page below is page one of a brochure that was prepared and distributed in the search area of the northern sandplain prior to and during the survey period. Very few WGPs remain: most of the south coast sites no longer support WGPs. The estimated number of WGPs has declined since the brochure was prepared in 2007.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Western Ground Parrots North of Perth

The Western Ground Parrot’s range did extend north of Perth and it is possible that a few remnant birds are still there. The efforts to search the area have been quite limited. Below are brief extracts from a report by Edwin Ashby published in Emu, Volume XX, January 1921, by the Royal Australasian Ornithologists’ Union.
The area of sandplain that Ashby refers to is roughly a right-angled triangle with the longest axis measuring about 165 km. Much of the area is now farmland and although there are a couple of large reserves, they are frequently burnt.

BY  Edwin Ashby, F.L.S., M.B.O.U., Wittunga, Blackwood.
Mr. J. W. Mellor and the writer visited Geraldton, 370 miles north
of Perth ; but, except for one day at Geraldton and part of a day
at Moora, our observations were made separately. By this means
we were able to cover more ground, each visiting different
localities. …….
I did not see any specimens of the Western Ground Parrot
(Pezoporus flaviventris), but I got such an accurate description of it,
both its appearance, habits, and flight, that there is not the slightest
doubt in my mind that 25 years ago it was scattered freely through
the sand-plain country between Dongara and Watheroo. Since then
the denseness of the bush has been greatly reduced by the constant
fires. My informant—an old man of exceptional observing powers
—was confident that fires are the real cause of the disappearance of
this and other birds. This view endorses my own observations. I
was not aware of the “ Ground-Parrot " having been before recorded
as inhabiting these northerly sand-plains, and it should still be
searched for in such districts that have been missed by fires…….