Wildcare Friends of Devonport Reserves

by Phil Hrstich, Project Leader, Friends of Devonport Reserves.

(Editors Note – Taylor Swift was not involved in this project).

A grant from Wildcare’s Tasmanian Nature Conservation Fund enabled Friends of Devonport Reserves to purchase two 4G cameras to watch swift parrots at nest boxes. Unfortunately, the swifties haven’t chosen to use any of the nest boxes so far but we have been able to video some sugar glider activity.

2022 was a good Eucalypt flowering season in Kelcey Tier, so the swifties hung around and a few birds started to use natural hollows in the reserve but a large downpour (70mm in 24hrs) flooded their nests which is unusual for October.

Unfortunately, the 2023 breeding season had poor Eucalypt flowering which meant the swifties flew on to more abundant flowering on the East and South East Coast and also Bruny Island which is free from Sugar Gliders.

Swift parrot – Image by Ryan Francis Photography

The funding of trapping and euthanising invasive Sugar Gliders at Kelcey Tier has enabled the group to remove 174 gliders from the Kelcey Tier area -thus protecting native animals from predation. While doing this work, we found three Blue winged parrot (Neophema chrysostoma) nests within the reserve. Blue winged parrots are listed as Vulnerable under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act (EPBC) and their presence will inform future management decisions.

Blue winged parrot at Kelcey Tier – Image by Dave James

We designed and installed two signs at the main entrances to the reserve, informing visitors of the ongoing project and how to identify Swift Parrots. Because the swifties are usually spotted high among the gums, the signs include a QR code so visitors can play audio recordings of their distinctive call.

The Friends of Devonport Reserves have been involved in scanning nest boxes with the use of a DCC thermal image camera to determine if sugar gliders are present. This takes approximately 3 – 4 hours after which, a qualified arborist is arranged to euthanise the animals within the same day – a process of 2 – 5 hours. Up to 24 volunteers were also involved with nest box monitoring in the breeding season. Volunteering contributed 720 hours to the project.


The project could not have been done without the support of the Devonport City Council who manage the land. Forest Practices Authority ran a Swift Parrot Workshop in Devonport in 2023 that I attended to describe the project and show methods of using the thermal image camera.

In summary, the group were successful in removing 175 invasive sugar gliders from Kelcey Tier Reserve. We also found three Blue Winged Parrot nests within the reserve. We now have a large data set to analyse and with further funding we will continue the project with research on the findings.