Golden-shouldered Parrot Chase
Golden-shouldered Parrot Chase
"Jo Wieneke" <>
Sun, 1 Dec 96 10:15:31 UT
Stephen Ambrose has written of the Golden-shouldered Parrot Recovery Plan, so
here's a report from a trip I went on recently with a group fron BNQ the North
Qld group of the RAOU.
GOLDEN-SHOULDERED PARROT CHASE
Part of the activities of the Golden-shouldered Parrot Recovery Team
operations is to search for the species in areas where they have been seen in
the past but not in recent memory. BNQ recently conducted such a survey on
Rokeby National Park to the north and west of Coen on Cape York Peninsular.
The exercise was based on the study on this species by Gabriel Crowley and
Stephen Garnett. They found that small flocks of GSPs associated with
Black-faced Woodswallows in the late dry season. The parrots appeared to gain
protection from predators by this behaviour. Stephen suggested that it would
be relatively easy to check if parrots were in an area in November because the
woodswallows are much more visible than are the parrots, which spend much of
their time sitting quietly in trees. The trouble with this time of year is
that it is ?the mad dog season? - very hot, very humid and a strong
possibility of storms. The BNQ party got all three.
The first part of the program was to go to Artemis and be trained by Susan
Shephard in the parrots? behaviour. Susan and her husband Tom are the
pastoralists who run Artemis as a cattle station. They allowed Gabriel and
Stephen to live on the station and study the parrots and assisted them with
their studies in 1994-96. Now Susan is formally part of the study team and is
conducting experiments to test some of the theories about the ecology of the
What Susan showed us was that birdlife appeared to be concentrated in
?hot-spots?. Most of the country was deficient in birds but every now and
then we would find patches of woodland that were teaming with birds. Banded
Honeyeaters were the most numerous but other common species were
Black-throated and Masked Finches, Little Friarbirds, Bar-breasted, Brown and
Yellow Honeyeaters and Black-faced Woodswallows. Often there were GSP?s in the
same area. Activity started at dawn and continued until about 9.00am.
Thereafter it was difficult to find the birds. Armed with this information and
an impression of the country in which wehad seen the parrots , we set off for
Rokeby. Peter Stanton of Qld National Parks had shown us areas on the map that
might have suitable habitat. On arrival in Coen we got more detailed briefing
from the Ranger Mike Delaney, and ominous portents about the state of the
tracks and the weather.
Bird concentrations were far less impressive on Rokeby and we saw no
woodswallows at all. This was despite the prolific flowering of Melaleuca
viridiflora and some Eucalyptus blossom. Perhaps the most notable birdlife was
the large number of Red-browed Pardalotes. No one in the party had seen such
dense populations anywhere else However, we found no GSPs.
We only searched a small part of the Park so we cannot say that they are not
there but we are fairly sure they are not in the areas we managed to reach. We
had fun trying and some members got new ticks!
The party consisted of BNQ members Sue Clegg, Graham Harrington, Eric Sticklen
and Jo Wieneke. Also along were Peter Nicholls and Alex and Rob Stockland from
Brisbane, and Sue Gould and Judy Pacey from Weipa.
Late November isn't exactly the best time to head north but the trip was
worthwhile and I added House Swifts to my Australian list.
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- Golden-shouldered Parrot Chase,
Jo Wieneke <=
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