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…….

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