As regular CFZ-watchers will know, for some time Corinna has been doing a column for Animals & Men and a regular segment on On The Track... particularly about out-of-place birds and rare vagrants. There seem to be more and more bird stories from all over the world hitting the news these days so, to make room for them all - and to give them all equal and worthy coverage - she has set up this new blog to cover all things feathery and Fortean.

Thursday, 30 March 2017

Rare ‘night parrot’ sighted in Western Australia

Calla Wahlquist
March 24, 2017 00:00 IST
Updated: March 24, 2017 04:21 IST

The discovery was made by a group of friends determined to spot the bird thought to be extinct

A night parrot has been photographed in Western Australia, adding another twist to the mysterious history of the species that was presumed extinct until it was rediscovered in Queensland four years ago .

It is the first verified sighting of the bird in WA for almost 100 years and follows a history of unverified sightings, disbelieved reports and futile ecological surveys that rivals the hunt for the (presumably still) extinct Thylacine in Tasmania.

The discovery was made by a group of four friends from Broome who have dedicated the better part of seven years to locating the bird, examining detailed maps, trekking into likely habitats, and spending evenings in the state’s arid interior listening for unusual bird calls.

“The calls to us were unfamiliar,” one of the group, Bruce Greatwich, said. “We are quite experienced in these habitats so to hear something new was quite exciting.”

The calls were different to those recorded in the Queensland night parrot population, described by researchers in 2005 as “a ‘ding-ding’ call similar to that of a bell miner” followed by “a short frog-like ‘grieet’,” but were enough to indicate the bird might be present.

The next morning a night parrot darted out in front of one of the group, George Swann, while he was walking through spinifex looking for entirely different birds.

It was green and yellow with black barred feathers. The common description is of a big, dumpy budgerigar, about the same size as a rainbow lorikeet.

Cameras at the ready

“We were able to go down and re-find it and we had our cameras at the ready to get a photo,” Mr. Greatwich said.

Ordinarily, he added, they would never disturb a nocturnal bird in the daytime, “but in this instance we knew we had to get a photo”.


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