Search for Night Parrot at Skull Springs Rd

To: "Janet Mattiske and Frank Pierce" <>, <>, <>
Subject: Search for Night Parrot at Skull Springs Rd
From: "Tim Dolby" <>
Date: Tue, 15 Jun 2010 15:10:06 +1000
Thanks for the update Frank re Skull Springs Rd. Yes, a real quandary with 
regards to the 1st sighting.

As Mike Carter indicated, interesting observations re Elegant Parrot. Your 
report is actually significantly north of the recognized range for this 
species. In fact the closest records I can find to the Skull Springs Rd site is 
700 south near Meekatharra. For example there were also a couple of recent 
observation (24/04/2010) on Meka and Murgoo Stations near Yalgoo.

Records of Scarlet-chested Parrot are about as far away from the Skull Springs 
Rd site also, being seen around Warburton near the WA and NT southern border. 
Bourke's Parrot are uncomonly recorded in the Pilbara - with Australia's most 
northerly record at Marble Bar.

I know a few others are heading to Skull Springs Rd, so it will be really 
interested to hear what they have to say.


Tim Dolby

-----Original Message-----
From:  on behalf of Janet Mattiske and Frank 
Sent: Sun 13/06/2010 13:35
Subject: Search for Night Parrot at Skull Springs Rd

As the location of Clive Curson's reported 2/6/10
Night Parrot sighting was only about 100k off our
planned route, we decided to try for the Parrot.
We arrived at the site on 11/6/10, after stopping
at the Nullagine Roadhouse for a mud-map of the
area and advice that we could camp anywhere that we wanted to.


2.55pm: - Stopped at Clive's site. Immediately a
bird flushed from the ground about 20m from the
left side of the road. It flew across the road in
front of us, went to ground about 5m from the
right side of the road, walked for about 3m then
flew another 10m again landing on the ground and
then disappearing into the bushes.

As I approached this area it flew up and perched
about 1m above the ground in an adjacent dead
shrub. By the time I'd taken 1 step to the left,
for a clearer view, and raised my bins it had
gone. I ran to the shrub and saw it flush further
away, flying low through the shrubs, and again go to ground.

As I followed-up it again flushed from the ground
and flew low for some distance past shrubs and I
didn't see it land. I moved to the area where it
had headed but did not see it again.

My impression of the bird was: -

Dark Green/Brown Parrot, thickset, dumpy, very
short tail. Flight- stiff wings but not straight,
tilted from side to side as it flew. Not a
Bourke's Parrot; -too green, no tail, too 'fat'.
Janet's independent description was similar. The
jiss of the bird fitted the field-guide descriptions for a Night Parrot..

We didn't get any bino views of the bird, and did
not record any flecking of the plumage.

2WD tyre tracks were at the side of the road (as
were some pieces of biscuit and some mandarin
peel), we assumed these were Clive's..

4.10pm: - we drove off to the east to investigate
possible camping sites. We had only gone about
200m when we flushed a bird from the surface of
the road. It flew a few metres and stopped
briefly again on the road but then flew on a
broad arc around out to our right and to a long
way behind us. Its flight was quite strong and
high (5 to 10m) above the vegetation.

My description of the bird : - Saw (no time for
Binoculars) more green on its wing (but with dark
primaries) while it was on the ground. Otherwise
not much difference to 1st sighting. Janet noticed

green and yellow with some dark; but predominantly lightish green

4.30pm: - Decided to camp near Hays Waterhole
(dry) as it was off the road and also well out of
the bird's area (10k away). Drove there and set
up camp quickly so as to return to bird site pre
sunset. As we approached Clive's site from the
east, a parrot flushed from the road and flew
high for a long distance before going to ground.
(Flight similar to bird flushed at 4.10pm.). Again no close bino views

5.25pm: - At site just on sunset. Light cloud,
heavier to South. Light easterly breeze.

5.50pm: - A bird flew across the road s to n, 3m
above the ground It was a similar size, flew with
noisy wings and could have been anything as it was quite dark.

6.12 Last light

6.20 No calls had been heard so we drove 1k to the east, spotlighting

6.26 Drove back to site, spotlighting and then
continued spotlighting all way back to camp but did not see anything.

Spotlighting seemed ineffective as the spinifex
was in reasonable condition and there was very
little vegetation in the roadside drains.

We decided not to disturb the bird anymore, to
maximize the chances of it being there tomorrow for a photo.


8.05am: - As we slowly approached Clive's site a
bird flushed from the road about 100m west of the
site. It had the same high strong flight as the
birds flushed from the road yesterday. It flew a
long way to se and then flew down to ground
level. It looked grey/brown, Its distant flight was followed with binoculars.

8.15am having proceeded slowly down the road we
saw a parrot on the road about 200m east of
Clive's site. This was a noephema. It was viewed
through bins and the scope and lots of photos
were taken including through the scope. We
eventually drove closer in order to flush it.  It
flew high and strongly similar to the other birds
flushed off the road, and called ti, t, ti, ti
, flight.  It appeared different to the first
bird seen yesterday - longer tail and more
slender build. From the photos this bird is
clearly an Elegant Parrot. We were surprised to
find that the location is close to the range shown in Simpson and Day Ed 7

10.00 We started to drive back slowly. At 30m
west of Clive's site, we saw a noephema on the
edge of the road. We thought it was a different
bird but our photos show it was the same bird seen at 8.15am.

We now realized that we had been flushing the
noephema from the road each time; however I
thought that the 1st bird seen yesterday was
different - stocky build, dumpy tail.

2.30pm Left the site and headed back to the main
road. We had extensively walked the area and done
many slow drive-bys with no further sightings.

We are now in a quandary about our 1st sighting.
We didn't get any bino views; it all happened
very quickly; we didn't see any black mottling,
nor any wing bar; the bird seemed bigger but this
is relative; we may have missed the noephema
tail, which is a light blue/grey
colour,  different to the rest of the body and
easily missed depending on the angle of view and
background (the tail was often not visible when
we were looking at the bird on the ground, with
binos) etc. etc. Also it is uncharacteristic
behavior for a Night Parrot to flush from any
distance in the daytime, according to the
literature. (Having seriously searched for the
Night Parrot previously, I have a lot of the
research literature for the bird on my computer)

With much regret we are consoling ourselves to
continuing life without Night Parrot on our list..

Thanks to Tim Dolby for his timely postings.

Frank Pierce

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