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 1963

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 Australian 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 fishermen in 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......."

The photo above and the one below were taken in ground parrot habitat at Cheyne's Beach during the R.A.O.U. expedition of November 1963. Julian Ford is in the front row of the photo above, second from the right. Dom Serventy is standing third from the left,Graham Pizzey is far right, standing and Lucy Serventy is standing with a blue long-sleeved shirt. Lucy Serventy appears also in the photo below, second from left, seated, with Graham Pizzey standing behind her.

Ground parrot survey by flushing birds was the only way practised at that time; survey by call came later. This 1963 survey, was the first recorded Western Ground Parrot survey since Whitlock's exhaustive searches for eggs in 1912 and 1913. It was part of a field trip that followed the 1963 Annual Congress of the R.A.O.U. that was held in Perth and Albany. Consequently ornithologists from New South Wales, Victoria and New Zealand as well as Western Australia were present.

The photo below was more recent but in the same general area.

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.