Golden-shouldered Parrot Chase

Subject: Golden-shouldered Parrot Chase
From: "Jo Wieneke" <>
Date: 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. 

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. 

Jo Wieneke

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