Friends of the Western Ground Parrot update (March 2016)

April 8th, 2016 | by LubosTomiska
Friends of the Western Ground Parrot update (March 2016)
Conservation projects
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By Sarah Comer & Lucy Clause

In the aftermath of the October and November bushfires in Cape Arid National Park the Department of Parks and Wildlife Team has been busy with Western Ground Parrot post-fire recovery work. Conducting surveys, monitoring unburnt pockets of vegetation, feral cat control and planning for the future have all been priorities. Feral cat control post-fire has seen two aerial deliveries of the bait Eradicat® through the Western Shield program. The IFRP team has supported this work with both ground baiting and targeted feral cat trapping around the pockets of unburnt habitat. Apart from those taking baits, an additional 17 feral cats were trapped and removed from this area since the October fires.

In Cape Arid National Park the monitoring of the Pasley and Poison Creek Western Ground Parrot populations has been supported by automated recording units (ARUs), which were deployed following the November fires. Analysis of the data collected by these units is a big job, and will be completed over the next few months. Two survey and monitoring trips have been conducted so far this year. In February a team of Department of Parks and Wildlife staff and volunteers trekked out to Point Malcolm on Friday the 26th, where they planned on being based for a week to carry out surveys in the Nuytlsand Nature Reserve. Conditions were marvellous for listening, and the group were delighted on the Sunday morning when a small number of ground parrots were heard.

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Successful survey team (courtesy Sarah Comer / Dept. Parks and Wildlife).

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This area was last surveyed in 2014 with no Western Ground Parrot detected, and it is likely that these birds may have escaped the fires and found a patch of suitable habitat to settle in. ARUs have been deployed to monitor this area. The Nuytsland survey team was disappointed to have to pack up early, due to another bushfire started by lightning storms during the day, but happy to have heard a few birds. Fortunately none of the three fires started by these storms burnt more ground parrot habitat – a lucky break! March saw the IFRP team lead another trip to Cape Arid, assisted by Department of Parks and Wildlife staff from Esperance and volunteers.

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This purpose of this trip was to survey the areas surrounding Poison Creek and assist with monitoring of native fauna. Birds were heard during a number of the listening sessions, and Jennene Riggs was there to film some of the highlights of this trip for the documentary “Secrets at Sunrise”. Planning to secure the future of the Western Ground Parrot is under way. At an emergency South Coast Threatened Birds Recovery Team meeting held in January, the team agreed that we should hold a workshop to identify and prioritise emergency interventions for the species.

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Survey team in Cape Arid National Park (courtesy Graham Zemunik)

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The Department of Parks and Wildlife, in conjunction with the South Coast Threatened Birds Recovery Team and the IUCN Conservation Breeding Specialist Group, will be gathering a group of invited experts from a range of conservation disciplines to provide advice for emergency actions to prevent the extinction of the Critically Endangered Western Ground Parrot at the end of March.

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What’s new at Perth ZOO?

By Arthur Ferguson

In early January Perth Zoo was saddened to announce the death of the two Western Ground Parrot which were recently transferred to the Zoo from the wild and still undergoing quarantine. Despite settling into the Zoo exceptionally well, the birds developed a respiratory illness and regardless of the best medical care and treatment, both birds died. Following the death of the two new birds in December, the staff at Perth Zoo have been working hard to ensure the five resident birds remain in good health. The team are now focused heavily on preparing for the upcoming breeding season.

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Camera monitoring an aviary with Western Ground Parrot (c) Perth ZOO

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We are further tweaking the habitat within the aviaries (see left) to provide plenty of cover and nesting sites, a wild food plant collection system is being devised (following receipt of the requisite permits from the Dept. of Parks and Wildlife), and general aviary maintenance is being done so that disturbance later in the year can be minimised. Based on Dawn’s behaviour the previous two seasons, we are again anticipating that she will be eager to breed and initiate copulation solicitation towards her paired male Joy. We know that Joy is a highly capable male, so fingers crossed he can step up to the mark later this year!

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Title photo: (c) Alan Danks

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