Princess Parrot habitat on Newhaven Station

To: Birding Aus <>
Subject: Princess Parrot habitat on Newhaven Station
From: Angus Innes <>
Date: Tue, 15 May 2012 11:34:12 +0000
I refer to the spectacular recent reports of the Princess Parrots on Newhaven 
Station Sanctuary (AWC-NT). The following passage on the vegetation associated 
with 2010 sightings was described by Ian May in his Birding-aus report at that 
time, followed by identification of the Upside Down plant coming from Anthea 
(IAN MAY):Ideal habitat is Desert Oak with some dead stags adjacent to sand 
dunes, some large scattered spotted/bloodwood eucalypts and stands of orange 
flowering gravellier are usually found in the dune swales nearby. Abundant 
seeding spinifex and other grasses are on the dunes. Most importantly appears 
to be a common stunted needle leafed plant (stunted Hakea?) with dense clusters 
of red tubular flowers growing from the base. This plant is common and in its 
early stage of flowering, seems to be part of a critical habitat association 
with Princess Parrots. The birds appear to be drawing moisture from its 
succulent flower bases. If anyone can suggest the correct species 
identification for this plant, I have just posted some pictures on 
Flickr. which 
Anthea Fleming replied:"Your plant is Leptosema chambersii or Upside-down Plant 
(Anne Urban , Wildflowers and Plants of Central Australia,1990 - p. 89). Book 
says it pr
 oduces prolific nectar and is an aboriginal food-plant. When we were in the 
Centre many years ago, we were very impressed by it. Presumably the Princess 
parrots are taking the nectar. No mention of the seeds - wonder if the parrots 
will like them when available?"
In Chris Watson's newspaper article on his recent trip to Newhaven, I note that 
Desert Oaks and Bloodwoods, previously highlighted by Ian May, feature. A check 
of the AWC's website's details on Newhaven does deal with plant communities and 
I see both the above trees mentioned and abundant and diverse spinifex, but I 
see no mention of Leptosema Chambersii, highlighted by Ian. I wonder if the 
helpful gang from Newhaven could tell us whether the plant is present, to what 
extent, and if it features in their observations. 
I also note that Princess Parrot is down on the bird list as likely to be 
present, but not confirmed. Boy! - hasn't that prediction been confirmed. The 
Princess Parrot has indeed found a new haven.
Angus Innes.                                      

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