Newhaven - Princess Parrots and the Upside-Down Plant - Leptosema Chambe

To: <>, Birding Aus <>
Subject: Newhaven - Princess Parrots and the Upside-Down Plant - Leptosema Chambersii
From: Angus Innes <>
Date: Thu, 24 May 2012 20:49:49 +0000

Thank you for the very newsy e-mail Carl.  The Centre sounds fabulous at the 
moment. Life givng rain in abundance producing a blooming desert and lifers for 
Kay. A fly-past of 42 Princess parrots,eat your heart out Donald Kimble! The 
Upside Down Plant is no doubt just part of the food chain for the PP. I can 
recall a much grimmer Centre picture in drought years in the early sixties and 
watching a pack of dingos bringing down an emaciated steer.
In contrast, in the eighties I climbed Uluru (Ayers Rock) within 24 hrs of a 
couple of inches of rain and found the cylindrical erosion holes on top of the 
rock contained afoot of water and few inches of gravel plus hundreds of 
freshwater shrimps teaming in the water. They obviously hatched within 24 hours 
of the rain, bred, produced more eggs which must get buried in the gravel which 
would have been dry within a week and obviously wait a year or two for the next 
What an extraordinary area and how wonderful to have a major sanctuary in prime 
PP country.
Much thanks, Angus.
Date: Thu, 24 May 2012 03:22:03 -0700
Subject: Newhaven - Princess Parrots and the Upside-Down Plant - Leptosema 

Hi Angus, Heading out to Newhaven from Alice Springs on Saturday afternoon we 
stopped at a nice bit of flowering mulga on the side of the road, and the first 
2 birds sighted were - Grey Honeyeater!  We couldn't believe it, we had found 
Grey Honeyeater before even seeing our first Willie Wagtail for the day!  We 
stopped another km up the road and I suspect we had another 5 fly over in a 
family group but they were so fast we couldn't get a bead on them, however they 
were the right size, shape and colour. The rangers at Newhaven controlled 
proceedings pretty well on the Princess Parrot 'tour', rightly so, considering 
there was a bus with 13 passengers that joined us!  Nobody was allowed to leave 
the track we drove in on.  Anyway, no Upside-down plants visible
 however there may have been some in the dunal areas out of sight.  We only(!) 
got a fly past of approx. 42 Princess Parrots that alighted in a tree briefly 
nearby before flying over our heads and out of sight over the nearest dune.  I 
did manage to get the scope onto them twice and got reasonable views and a 
couple of flight shots with the camera but what a great experience it was. I 
noticed a Grasswren briefly twice bouncing between the Spinifex beside the 
track while we were waiting, it was fairly dark so I was unable to identify it. 
 I would appreciate anybody that gets a better view passing on the details.  I 
suspect based on the lack of rocky outcrops that they were Striated Gw however 
we were unable to see any tonal difference between the back and underside of 
the birds which means I cant rule out Dusky Gw, however it was still pre-dawn 
when I saw them so this may account for my not noticing
 it. After our Princess Parrot morning we carried on to track down 
Rufous-crowned Emu-wren, a lifer for Kay.  On the way we had a full blood male 
Dingo in beautiful condition come right up to our vehicle and pose for a few 
photos.  We also got similar close views of a male camel and a Western Brown 
Snake.  Unfortunately we had to return to Alice Springs in the afternoon but 
stopped off at the locations where we had seen the Grey Honeyeaters on the 
outward journey but alas we didnt see them again.   Arriving in Alice just 
after dusk we saw Black-flanked (or footed) Rock Wallabies on the escarpment.  
This was followed in the morning by some very photogenic Dusky Gw silhouetted 
in the morning sunrise, another lifer for Kay.  Then it was time to pack up and 
head home - what a fantastic whirl-wind trip.  I would strongly recommend 
 at the moment - the desert is looking quite spectacular.  I would also 
recommend Central Car Rental's who provided us with a brand spanking new Nissan 
Patrol and for an additional $15/day we got all the camping gear you could 
possibly need including swags, -10degC sleeping bags, tables, chairs, gas 
stove, cutlery, washing up bowl and a 20L container of water.   Cheers,  Carl  
Newhaven - Princess Parrots and the Upside-Down Plant - Leptosema 

from [Angus 
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Newhaven - Princess Parrots and the Upside-Down Plant - Leptosema 


Thu, 17 May 2012 21:01:40 +0000

What an interseting resource Birding Aus is!  
I raised  queries about the major sightings of Princess Parrots in the Newhaven 
Sation and whether these sightings could be related to the observations of Ian 
May in 2010 that a critical component of the botanical environment of the 
Princess Parrots appeared to be a stunted needle leafed plant - that Anthea 
Fleming quickly identified as the Upside-down Plants, Leptosema Chambersii . He 
said that the PP appeared to derive moisture or nectar from the near ground 
flowers.  (This was in a broader botanical environment of Desert Oaks and 
Spotted/Bloodwood Eucalypts, Spinifex and an orange flowered grevillea.) 
The following link and comment was received by me from Stephen Ambrose. They 
confirm the significant presence of the Upside Downplants on Newhaven. Stephen 
hoped to follow up with personal observations shortly.Stephen's references:
"Alice Springs Field Naturalists Club Newsletter, May 

Pages 5 to 8 of the newsletter discusses a ASFNC field trip to Newhaven and
there are several references and a picture of flowering Leptosema
Carl Billingham is also heading for Newhaven this weekend and will give an 
update. Obviously plants do not flower continuously but, so far, the 
interesting observation by Ian May, that the plant appeared to be a critical 
component of the habitat of the PP  may be supported and, at least, cannot be 
rejected. "One swallow does not make a (British) summer". Does Leptosema 
Chambersii significantly help to make a princess?Angus Innes


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