Heidi searching over buttongrass by Stephen Anstee

by Heidi Krajewsky

While the probability of encountering an Orange-bellied Parrot in late autumn or winter in Tasmania is very unlikely, sightings of these birds at this time of year are incredibly rare anywhere in Australia. So, where do they all go? Perhaps there is a small chance that a few of these critically endangered parrots don’t cross Bass Strait and in fact remain in Tasmania over winter?

With this in mind Wildcare group, Friends of Orange-bellied Parrots have organised several surveys from Autumn until Spring on the West Coast. 12 Wildcare volunteers met in Arthur River over a weekend in May, to coincide with one of the mainland OBP surveys. The cool, crisp weather didn’t deter us from setting out over two days in teams of 2-3 observers to try and find these elusive migratory parrots. Each team set out to look in areas of low vegetation in which these parrots prefer to feed. I was on a team with permission to survey within a Tasmanian Land Conservancy property called ‘Eagle Rock’ which had beautiful rock formations jutting out of the coastal scrub. While we didn’t encounter any OBPs, we had views of Wedge-tailed Eagles soaring past and great sightings of the Southern Emu-wren, which can be a very tricky bird to see.

In the evening all the survey teams shared a meal, had a chance to swap stories and even play a few board games.

On the second day of the survey we all met at the entrance to Woolnorth in the far Northeast corner of Tasmania and again set out in different areas to survey for parrots. The conditions were much windier and while we didn’t see any OBPs, sightings among the teams included Blue-winged Parrots, Latham’s Snipe, Banded Lapwing, Wedge-tailed Eagles and a Tasmanian Devil!

Surveying in Conservation Areas, private property and farms meant that Biosecurity was important. We took the time to scrub our boots prior to the survey and also hosed down wheels and vehicles to reduce the chance of introducing any pathogens. Before entering the farm tracks at Woolnorth, we took vehicles to a dairy for cleaning. Note that it is very important to get the correct hose to avoid spraying high-pressure milk on your car!

This was a very pleasant weekend. With lots of time walking in a remote area and looking for birds.

Details of future surveys can be found in the Wildcare website calendar.  To be kept in the loop, with regular news and opportunities, please join Friends of the OBP by logging into the Wildcare website and clicking ‘Join this Branch’ on our Branch page here. (Will you be our 200th member?!)