Monday, July 21, 2014

Plant families recorded in 1988/89 study site

The photos are frames from a video taken near the study site for the project "Conservation of the Ground Parrot in Western Australia" but much later - in 2006- by Brent Barrett and his small team who were employed by the then Department of Environment and Conservation, now Department of Parks and Wildlife. The Ground Parrot, 'Charlie', is pausing in typical low and diverse heath. Several of the plants are known food plants. The close-up is in the same spot. Note that Charlie was a wild bird, filmed in his natural habitat. In 1989, the study site and the site where Charlie was filmed were added to the  Fitzgerald River National Park.

The plant species list for the Ground Parrot study site for the project "Conservation of the Ground Parrot in Western Australia" contains 265 species. (There is more about this study in the previous six postings.)

Below is a list of all the plant families that were recorded during the 1988/89 survey of known Ground Parrot habitat. The number refers to how many different species within that family were found in the study site.

Poaceae (grasses)      8
Cyperaceae (sedges)   24
Restionaceae (twine rushes)         12
Centrolepidaceae       1
Dasypogonaceae         5
Anthericaceae          6
Haemodoraceae (paws)   6
Iridaceae              2
Orchidaceae (orchids)  1
Casuarinicaceae        4
Proteaceae (banksias etc)           40
Santalaceae            4
Olacaceae              1
Lorantaceae            1
Droseraceae (sundews)  3
Pittosporaceae         3
Mimosaceae (wattles)   6
Papilionaceae (peas)  19
Rutaceae               2
Polygalaceae           1
Euphorbiaceae          3
Sapindaceae            2
Rhamnaceae             4
Dillenaceae (guinea flowers)           1
Thymeleaceae           3
Myrtaceae (eucalypts, melaleucas etc) 46
Haloragaceae           2
Apiaceae               3
Epacridaceae (heaths) 17
Loganiaceae            3
Boraginaceae           1
Rubiaceae              1
Lobeliaceae            1
Goodeniaceae           5
Stylidiaceae (trigger plants)          8
Asteraceae (daisies)   3
Unknowns (not assigned to a family)   12

By a large margin, the Proteaceae and Myrtaceae are the most well represented, followed by sedges, peas and heaths. Each of these families appears in a more recent study that examines the filmed records from spring 2006(not yet complete) to offer a significant part of the Western Ground Parrot diet, and combined they would comprise at least 95% of the diet of that wild bird at that stage.

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Food choices and possible explanation

Like the last few blogs, this blog uses information from the unpublished 1989 report "Conservation of the Ground Parrot in Western Australia".  Below are extracts from the 'Discussion' section. The low rainfall in the study area, to the north of the then Fitzgerald River National Park boundary, is a possible reason why the western Ground Parrot's diet contains much more green fruits and flowers than that of the eastern states birds.

High plant species richness could be a key to the survival of the Ground Parrot where rainfall is both low and variable.

The photos below are frames from videos taken in spring 2006, by Dr Brent Barrett and his team. The totally wild bird, nick-named Charlie, was in the FRNP not far from the study site of the 1988/89 project.

Charlie eating a Grevillea tripartita flower (from video by Brent Barrett)

Charlie eating the green pod of a shrub in the pea family Daviesia incrassata subsp. reversifolia (from video by Brent Barrett)

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Radiotracking Part 3, flushing, and feeding

Below is another extract from the 1989 report 'Conservation of the Ground Parrot' - a project designed to identify habitat preferences of the Ground Parrot in the Fitzgerald area, Western Australia.

Table 4 shows variations in activity levels deduced from radiotracking points. Rate of movement is in metres per hour as the birds walk as they seek their food.

The moving away from the study area was by flight.

One of the food items listed above in Table 5 is shown here.The photo is used with the permission of the Western Australian Herbarium, Department of Parks and Wildlife,(http: // Accessed on Thursday 3 July, 2014.  Birds were feeding on the succulent leaf bases and leaving the spines. Until this study, this was the only food selection that had previously been observed - back in 1983. (See blog entry Friday January 17, 2014)

Table 5 shows how common the food plants were in the study area. The total number of plant quadrats was 133 so Daviesia pachyphylla was recorded in just under 1/3 of them.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Radiotracking Part 2

We are still back in 1988/89 focussing on the work done in the project 'Conservation of the Ground Parrot'. The report to the World Wildlife Fund, Australia, was unpublished. The past few blogs are also based on this report.

This project is important because for the first time the Ground Parrot in Western Australia was studied scientifically and certain facts came to light. The pattern of the bird's day - the breakdown of feeding and resting times was fairly consistent; flight times were also, but whether a bird would fly at the flight times was definitely not guaranteed.

Below is an extract from the report showing some of the results that were obtained from the radiotracking.