Adventure searching for Australian Parrots in Outback comes True!

Submitted: Saturday, May 16, 2009 at 04:42
ThreadID: 68877 Views:8280 Replies:4 FollowUps:7
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Hi Folks:

Many thanks for those of you who gave information and extensions of hospitality last year in 2008 before I left North America (I am Canadian living in California) for Aus!

My goal was to viedo as many of the 53 species of parrots native to Aus that I could. Some of these are remote area only species that can only be seen in desert areas and Cape York.

Well I am so excited to say that I am back from 6 months of filming in Aus and God was amazingly kind to me in that I filmed over 50 species!

I rented many vehicles but for the most remote areas like in Western Aus Gibson Desert area I used a Nissan Patrol 4x4.

In Cape York iron range I used a Toyota Landy. If you want to learn more about my journey and see images from my video take a look if you like. I had lots of 4x4 experiences but of course the main focus will be Aus' amazing parrot life! The blog will be continually updated as I am still working on it.

It can be found here:

http://polytelismedia.wordpress.com/

Let me know if you have any questions about my outback experiences and I will try to answer.

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Reply By: Willem - Saturday, May 16, 2009 at 09:19

Saturday, May 16, 2009 at 09:19
Thanks for sharing your adventures with us. I am pleased that you had a successful trip after all those questions put here on EO last year :-) It would seem that some of the advice was heeded.

The Princess Parrot is an elusive bird and you were lucky to see them so close to you. I will be out on the western deserts soon and will keep and eye out for the Princess and let you know if we come across them.


Cheers

AnswerID: 365181

Follow Up By: Wompoo - Saturday, May 16, 2009 at 16:56

Saturday, May 16, 2009 at 16:56
Hi Willem:

Your very welcome and I was greatful for Exploring OZ feedback. Considering how remote and dangerous some of the areas I traveled were its always good to be reminded of preparedness. Traveling as a wildlife researcher in Canada for 20 years or so in some dreadfully cold and remote areas was good experience as well. In Aus I simply made wilderness safety adjustments to match the climate. I thank God we had no issues though. One can only be so much in control of outback travel...

I have never heard of any other person having live footage of wild princess so I count myself as extremely fortunate!

I would love to hear that you saw some as well and would be delighted to have a look at any pics you took Willem.

Cheers and warm wishes from accross the miles...

Don
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Reply By: Flywest - Saturday, May 16, 2009 at 16:19

Saturday, May 16, 2009 at 16:19
Hi Wompoo Dove.

Thats a great Blog you have going there.

I used to keep Australian parrots many years ago when I lived in WA's wheatbelt area, including a pair of princess parrots, which are absolutely beautiful birds in both looks and temperament.

You did a great job fidning them in the wild and captured some amazing pics displayed on your blog of them.

Recently my elderly mothers pet dog passed away from old age and thinking she would miss the company I decided to get her a pet princess parrot (hand raised) as a less high maintenance replacement pet.

Feeling bad about the idea of keeping such a magnificent bird in small cage captivity - i took a few weeks to fully enclose her outside garden walkway, with welded and meshed access gates etc effectively creating an outside garden aviary for the new pet.

He (i think) has turned out to be an amazing & most entertaining pet, who spends a lot of time on my old mums shoulder - and talks VERY well, with quite a large vocabulary of words and whistles etc at only 5 months of age.

He has afew bad habits like a toe biting fetish - his first words were "ouch"...understandably!

Anyway - I've attached a few close up photos of him (Ozzie) in his garden setting - which are a little more close up than yours to display the colourations etc a bit better.

You are MORE than welcome to utilise these photos without attribution, if you wish in your blog - to augment the wiild photos you already have - in order to display the intensity of colouration which is not always evident from a distance in the wild.







I enjoyed your blog immensely and find it amazing that anyone would want to travel all the way from Canada to film the Aussie parrot species.

I imagine the Night Parrot, Grass Parrot, & Paradise parrot (believed extinct) are the 3 you didn't manage to get?

Did you manage to get all the neophemas as well? - that would have been some undertaking!

Looking forward to more on your blog in time to come!

Cheers
AnswerID: 365238

Follow Up By: Wompoo - Saturday, May 16, 2009 at 17:04

Saturday, May 16, 2009 at 17:04
Hi Flywest.

Many many thanks for visiting my blog and all of your great comments! Also what a gorgeous little Princess you have there! By the looks of things this is a little male. His tail is really long and he already is getting a more intense blue crown than females if I am sexing him correctly. He is very young so its a bit of a challenge but I am fairly confident this is a male. Yes the wild princess were not overly easy to get closed to. I was very very fortunate. I chatted with some folks who have been on several Princess parrot expeditions and paid thousands of dollars to head into the outback (mostly the Canning Stock Route) and didnt see a thing.

By the way I found it kind of curious that so many wonderful fun aussie folks had trouble understanding why I would travel so far to film and see aussie parrots. Just for the record there is no place on the planet with this much parrot diversity. South America has more species but they are more uniform in color/shape, family etc.
Aus is the Worlds winner for diversity.

You might find it interesting to know that many of your parrots cost many thousands of dollars in Canada. A hand raised Galah for instance is about $4500.00 Canadian. For us parrots are exotic things that we only see in cages and aviaries and it has always sparked my imagination to see them flying free. To be vulnerable here I had raised so many hundreds of budgies in my avaries and had always wanted to see free flying ones. When I saw my first ones flying wild, bright green and free I was literally moved to tears. What a beautiful beautiful sight...

By the way guess what? I did indeed film all neophema species! Some of my most exciting filming was with two male Scarlet Chested parrots in a remote desert during a 47 deg C day. I was pretty hot but I stayed safe with water and covered up from the sun as I filmed. The two males were fighting over a shady spot to rest under a mallee tree.

Stay tuned to the blog and you will see stills from every species I filmed. The film I hope to have done later in the year and will see if its marketable. I am thinking others might like to own a copy as well. Its fun to share with others this dream of a lifetime adventure!

Cheers and thanks again!

Don
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Follow Up By: Flywest - Saturday, May 16, 2009 at 18:16

Saturday, May 16, 2009 at 18:16
Thanks Don,

Yes I am aware of the costs of our parrot species overseas, i once worked as a wildlife officer for CALM - and spent a little time trying to see that trafficking in the eggs and young birds didn't occur.

It's sad tho - that our wildlife protection laws - while well intended, can actually lead to the unwarranted deaths of so many of our beautiful parrots, specially the short & long billed corella's, Sulphur Crested & occasionally major Mitchell cockatoos & of course the pink & grey galahs.

At times in agricultural areas - specially during drought - these birds can flock to grassed public areas like parks & sports ovals, bowling greens etc and destroy the turf - feeding on the roots and stems of the grasses due to lack of their natural food due to drought. A lot of them also feed heavily at grain storeage silohs etc occasionally fouling grain meant for human consumption and export.

In these instances - licenses are issued to cull the birds by the thousands.

Personally I'd sooner see them netted and exported so you could have one for 5 bucks - rather than see them killed.

Our old and outdated Wildlife laws were full of such stoopid conundrums... eg Aboriginal Emu farmers could sell wild gathered chicks and eggs etc to people wishing to stat emu farms...but a white farmer with an emu pest problem can only get a license to kill them - he can't trap and sell the surplus birds to his neighbour who might be starting up an emu farm and so on.

Again the easy solution is just to kill them...sad really when you think about it.

You might be interested to know that another example is the lovelly rainbow lorikeets here in WA. Around perth gardens there's a colony of Native eastern states rainbow lorikeets, become established from aviary escapees, and they survivie on the fruits of introduced date palms, moreton bay figs etc in all the public gardens and parks of the city as well as private gardens, breeding up successfully and starting to out compete native birds/parrots for breeding places and food resources.

The Conservation crowds solution is to cull them - yep the easy solution wins again.

Anyone whose been to the Corrumbin bird sanctuary over east(NSW/QLD border area?) and hand fed the rainbow lorrikeets and scaly breasted lorrikeets - would know that it is possible to train these flocks to come to provided feed stations and to have little fear of humans.

How hard would it be to then trap these birds and either:-

1. Sell them back into the aviculture industry locally or eastern states or overseas?.

2. Ship them back to the east and release them into the wild where they belong?.

Yet - because they are an "Australian Native" they are protected by the wildlife laws due to definition, even tho they are out of their natural range here in the West and becomming a problem for other local native species.

If I were to try and trap even one I'd get prosecuted by the overzealous wildlife officers for taking native fauna, go figure.

Why is our solution always to just kill things?

I guess that was just ONE of the reasons I left the Conservation Dept among many others - where philosophically I couldn't agree with their often plain stoopid methods that defy logic.

Back to your birds - the rock parrots and scarlet chested were two of the neophema species i was specifically thinking of.

You didn't answer about the 3 missing species?.

I thought it might interest you that many years back when conducting fauna surveys, on the Scott River Plain in WA's southwest for CALM prior to approving the mineral sands mine in that area - one of our employees claimed to have spotted / flushed both grass & night parrots from the spinfex on a walking transect fauna survey thru the gingilup swamps area east of Augusta.

We never did any follow up avian trapping / netting programs to confirm or disprove the claim as the private fauna survey funds provided by the mining industry weren't sufficient for follow up work of that nature..

(They didn't want any rare or extinctflora or fauna being found as that would have precluded the land swap necessary for the mine to go ahead within a national park boundary....most of the CALM managers families had shares in the mining co go figure)!

There are some good woodland / coastal heath habitats down there that don't see a lot of human interaction that could still harbour such birds IMHO.

I guess If I were to go looking for parrots - I'd want to find the missing paradise parrots. I know a few expeditions have been mounted, but it would be neat to find them again after so long without being sighted.

I'd love to see them found and a recovery program instituted.

One wonders if genetic material from old museum exhibits might one day lead to their re creation using genetic engineering & other parrot species as hosts perhaps?.

Who knows what the future holds.

Looking forward to more of your blog.

Cheers
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Follow Up By: Wompoo - Saturday, May 16, 2009 at 19:18

Saturday, May 16, 2009 at 19:18
Hi mate:

Thanks again for your thoughtful post in response to my comments about the cost of Aussie Parrots in Canada. I am off to bed here as its 2 AM but I did have to say thanks for your great post and it will be terrific to spend a bit more time indepth commenting about some of the points you raised from a non-aussies perspective. I say this respectfully as my Aussie friends have better insight into Aus politics than I ever could for sure.

I was under the impression that the Paradise parrot is gone for good since its former range is accessible to search in detail but I could be wrong on that one.

As for the 3 species I didnt get acceptable or no footage on here they are:

1. Super fast and not very sharp footage of a Ground (grass) Parrot in the heathlands of Tasmania
2. Night parrot (I think only a couple of reports and one dead body of a specimen over the last several decades)
3. Very poor and maybe not useful footage of Varied Lorikeet in the Kimberly Region.

Otherwise I think all the other footage even if brief is useful.

Okay hopefully tomorrow I can post some pics of the Paradise Parrots relative Golden Shouldered Parrot and then move to the Iron range National Park ! yeah!!!!!

Cheers

Don
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Reply By: Motherhen - Saturday, May 16, 2009 at 16:37

Saturday, May 16, 2009 at 16:37
Hi Wompoo Dove

Thanks for the link to your blog of you adventure, and glad you found so many of our wonderful parrots. Australian parrots are my favourite birds, and red tail blacks abound on our property here in the SW of WA. I also loved the reptile photos - i just love Australian reptiles, although we rarely get to see them in the wild when travelling.

Motherhen
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AnswerID: 365243

Follow Up By: Wompoo - Saturday, May 16, 2009 at 17:11

Saturday, May 16, 2009 at 17:11
Hi Motherhen:

By the way if you continue to follow my blog you will see that I did indeed travel to your general area as well. I took a risk of incurring the expense and hired a vehicle and travlelled to a place called Nallan Station near Mount Magnet area to film Bourke's parrot. I spent about 4 days with Bourke's and absolutely loved them. They would come into the cattle trough I sat at long before any other bird was even awake!

I also went into the deep SouthWest to the Stirling Mountain Range to film Red Capped Parrots and also to a remote Lighthouse Called Cape Lewin to film Rock Parrots. Perhaps some of these areas are near you?

Thanks again for your comments and of course you are always welcome to comment directly on my blog as well.

Cheers and warm wishes!

Don
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Follow Up By: Motherhen - Saturday, May 16, 2009 at 17:32

Saturday, May 16, 2009 at 17:32
Hi Don

Until two years ago, we had a property with views to the Stirling Ranges out of the kitchen window. Our son and d.i.l. lived and farmed it. Red capped parrots are also frequent visitors to us here on our Bridgetown property.

I have only seen the rock parrots by a beach on the south coast somewhere west Albany near where we had a holiday cottage. They were hidden in the bushes where we climbed down to the beach to go fishing - noisy, but hard to get a good look at them.

I have also been to Nallan Station - just for an overnight stop, and found it quaint and interesting. Did not see parrots though.

Mh
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Reply By: Gone Bush (WA) - Saturday, May 16, 2009 at 18:35

Saturday, May 16, 2009 at 18:35
Flywest's comments are interesting. Here in Mandurah, and I guess in a lot of Perth, there are swarms of corellas which, I believe, are not native to Western Australia.

I can only imagine the negative impact they are having on our real WA native birds. The numbers of galahs seem to be reduced considerably (plenty of the 2 legged type tho).

I'm sure I caught a brief glimpse on the TV the other day of a corella pulling a baby 28 out of its nest in a hole in a tree and flinging it onto the ground.

I also believe there is some culling of these corellas and I have to agree that a controlled capture and export would have to be a better thing.

Thanks all, for a very interesting Thread and I'm glad Wompoo enjoyed his visit to Australia. Wompoo, next time drop the hint and we can put you up if you in our part of WA.
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AnswerID: 365270

Follow Up By: Wompoo - Saturday, May 16, 2009 at 19:22

Saturday, May 16, 2009 at 19:22
Hi Gone Bush:

There is one species of Corella that is native to Western Aus called just that Western Corella but its got a very small range. Its a native to the region and I filmed a good size flock next to the highway. I will have to check maps to see exactly I was at the time.

By the way how kind of you to send me an invite to your area and a chance to visit. You cant beat Aussie hospitality! Its interesting I have always found that Canadians and Aussies have this comradery thats built-in. I found the same thing when I was there. Such super folks and I felt so much at home!

One tough old rural guy while leaning over his fence one day while I was filming Little Lorikeets near his property said this: I told him how much I would love to come and live at least part of my year in Aus ... Even though he had only just met me and chatted warmly....." we would love to have you Don"...

What a stellar guy and so typical of some of the wonderful people I met!

Thanks again!

Don
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