In July 2006, project staff set up a base camp in the Fitzgerald River National



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In July 2006, project staff set up a base

camp in the Fitzgerald River National

Park near a known sub-population of the

critically endangered western ground

parrot (Pezoporus wallicus flaviventris) with

the aim of documenting the breeding

biology of this elusive south coast endemic.

The last recorded nest was in 1913 by 

F.Whitlock who collected three eggs

from a nest near Denmark. Apparently,

this bird was just as elusive then as it is

now and Whitlock states in Emu Volume

XIII, 1914: “I found it a very difficult

bird to study, and the task of finding its

nest and eggs trying in the extreme to

one’s patience. It is absolutely the most

silent and unobtrusive bird I have yet

encountered in Western Australia.” Little

did Whitlock know how right he was.

In our search for a nest we have

monitored two pairs of birds on a daily

basis trying to decipher the nest location

based on their calling activities.This

involved getting up an hour and a half

before sunrise to go out and listen to

their piercing calls in the pre-dawn

darkness and again in the fading light of

dusk after the sun had set.

Ground parrots rarely call during

daylight hours, so that’s the time to look

for nests.The nest Whitlock found was

described as “a slight hollow scratched

out by the parents and lined with dry

grasses” and was under a small shrub he

described as a “dwarf Hakea”. Our study

area is extremely dense heath with

scattered mallee and is one of the most

diverse plant landscapes in Australia.You

can count up to 70 species of plants in

10 square metres. Most of the shrubs

are spiny, prickly affairs that require

leather gloves if you intend to go poking

around in and under them.

To date, we still have not located a nest.

But it’s not to say nothing has been learned.

Quite the contrary, because we have

drastically increased our knowledge of

this cryptic parrot.We were able to record

hundreds of ground parrot calls for

bioacoustics analysis and are convinced

that the females have a distinct call which

has helped to identify them from the

males.We learned that the male feeds

the female every evening at a location

away from the nest during the incubation

phase and were able to get video footage

of this event. One particular male has

become used to our presence in the area

and allowed us to follow and video his

behaviour during his daily routine of

feeding and resting. And finally, we were

able to document a fledged chick and

photograph it as confirmation that

breeding was successful. Nest or not, the

pieces of the western ground parrot

puzzle are beginning to fall into place

and the information gained will aid in

the management and recovery of this

amazing bird!

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Species and Communities Branch newsletter for Threatened Species and Ecological Communities conservation

January 2007 Volume 13, Issue 1

Western Ground Parrot Recovery Project Update

Banksia verticillata

: Regenerating a population through fire and seeding

Project update – Back from the Brink

Geocrinia

frog monitoring in DEC’s South West Region

Biodiversity Conservation Initiative – millions of dollars for projects

benefiting threatened species and ecological communities 

Biodiversity Conservation Initiative project at Hi Valee 

Installation and monitoring of nesting boxes for threatened black

cockatoos in Serpentine-Jarrahdale and Murray

Grand spider orchid Surveys 2006

Rescuing threatened wheatbelt orchids

Feral bee control strategy

Aligning the Western Australian and national threatened species Lists

New flora species and other interesting discoveries

Flora Management Course becomes nationally recognised

Status check 

Conospermum toddii

Baudin’s cockatoo 

Calyptorhynchus baudinii

: Endangered species

The New Avon-Mortlock District: Partnerships

Recovery Plans approved

Translocation of Threatened Fauna and Flora

Inside this issue

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Western ground parrot recovery project update

by Mike Barth 

A

Abboovvee The Western ground parrot



(

Pezoporus wallicus flaviventris). 

Photo – Brent Barrett 


Volunteers at the Walpole Herbarium are

working with Department of Environment

and Conservation (DEC) staff to help

regenerate a dying population of a rare



Banksia species.

Growing on granite outcrops around the

Walpole and Albany areas, Banksia

verticillata (otherwise known as granite

banksia) is a tall shrub or small tree 1.6-5

m high that produces distinctive yellow-

orange cones when in flower.The species

is currently listed as declared rare flora,

partly due to its habitat specificity and

the threat of fire and dieback.

The trees’ adaptability is remarkable as it

survives on the summit of granite

outcrops in areas with very little soil.

This is possible due to its large tap root

which establishes in crevices and takes

advantage of natural water gaining areas.

One Banksia verticillata population occurs in

an area known as ‘Woolbales’ (named after

the woolbale shaped outcrops throughout

the area), about 20 km west of the Walpole

town site.The population contains a large

number of plants that had been steadily

declining in health over the last decade as a

result of senescence. A prescribed burn

was implemented as a mechanism to

assist in regenerating the population.

The burn was successfully achieved with

a mosaic of burnt and unburnt patches

amongst the granite complex.About half to

two-thirds of the B. verticillata population

was burnt, with a number of mature plants

remaining unburnt.This allowed the

limited seed that was held in the canopy to

be released into the fertile ash bed and

begin regenerating the population.

Surveys of the population determined

that there was minimal seed available in

the canopy due to the senescing status of

the population. DEC staff and volunteers

collected seed prior to the burn and

used this seed to supplement natural

regeneration following the burn.

Using local staff and volunteers, about

750 seeds were planted out over three

weeks in areas which had evidence of

long dead plants and little natural seed to

regenerate naturally. Seeds were planted

in water gaining areas that receive run

off from the granite surface and also in

areas with cracks and faults in the rock.

Each seed location was marked to assess

whether germination was from natural

sources, or from the seed planted.

The population was re-surveyed two

months after planting to assess

germination. It was found that some

germination had occurred – particularly

on the northern and western slopes,

presumably from the additional sunlight

and higher soil temperatures.

Frankland District will be monitoring

the population closely over the next few

years to determine the project’s success.

Hopefully the intervention will reverse

the decline of the population and allow

numbers to build to a level that will sustain

natural regeneration well into the future!

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Back from the Brink is a three-year

project funded by the Federal and State

Governments, administered by the

Northern Agricultural Catchment

Council (NACC) and implemented by

the DEC’s Moora District and the

Midwest Region.

Throughout its first year Back from the

Brink has successfully implemented a

number of recovery actions for threatened

flora, fauna and ecological communities.

Benson Todd, DEC Flora Conservation

Officer at Jurien, said recovery actions

included seed collection, weed control,

fencing, surveying and monitoring,

translocations, research, education and

capacity building.

“Recently 240 Acacia aprica (blunt wattle)

and 17 Verticordia albida (white

featherflower) seedlings were planted as

part of a translocation program to

increase the security of these critically

endangered flora species,” he said.

“Six other threatened flora translocations

were monitored and data collected will

be used in the management of these

translocations and the implementation of

future translocations.”

Since the project started, 128 populations

of threatened flora have been monitored,

gaining important information about

their condition. About 60,000 ha have

been surveyed for new populations of

threatened flora and ecological

communities.These surveys have yielded

valuable data, including the discovery of

previously unrecorded populations and

occurrences.

“Threatened flora species for which new

populations have been found include



Eucalyptus rhodantha var. rhodantha (rose

mallee), Synaphea quartzitica (quartz-loving

synaphea), Darwinia chapmaniana

(Chapmans’ darwinia), Calothamnus accedens

(Piawaning clawflower), Grevillea christineae

(Christine’s grevillea), Beyeria lepidopetala

(small-petalled beyeria), Drummondita

ericoides (Moresby Range drummondita),

Eucalyptus beardiana (Beard’s mallee),

E. synandra (Jingymia mallee) and

Stachystemon nematophorus (three-flowered

stachystemon)”, Benson said.

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RRiigghhtt A healthy adult

Albany banksia

(

Banksia verticillate)



tree, unburnt by the

prescribed burn. 

FFaarr  rriigghhtt An Albany

banksia seedling,

from natural

regeneration at

Woolbales. 

Photos – Nikki Rouse



by Nikki Rouse

RRiigghhtt Tristan Nunn, a DEC volunteer who assisted

with the planting of 

Acacia aprica and

Verticordia albida. Photo – Benson Todd

Project update – Back from the Brink 



by Benson Todd

Banksia 


verticillata: Regenerating a population 

through fire and seeding



watsnu 3

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The season of the great Geocrinia frog



hunt is upon us again! 

Each year staff from the South West

Nature Conservation team venture into

the night, ears attuned to the sound of

calling males from two species of

threatened Geocrinia frogs, members of

the Myobatrachidae family.

Geocrinia vittellina (orange-bellied frog) is

listed as vulnerable and Geocrinia alba

(white-bellied frog) critically endangered.

The distribution of these species is

highly restricted and patchy, occurring

near the junction of the Leeuwin-

Naturaliste Ridge and Blackwood

Plateau in the State’s south-west.

The range of G. alba is about 130 sq km,

while G. vittellina is only six sq km

although estimated to occupy only two

hectares of this. Both species live in

similar habitat, restricted to dense areas

of riparian vegetation in drainage lines

although not directly in the main stream

zone.The dependence on specific

breeding habitat is a limiting factor in

the species’ distribution, while suitable

remaining habitat is also under pressure

because of a high number of threatening

processes including physical disturbance,

alteration of hydrology, vegetation

clearing, inappropriate fire events,

general decline in water quality and

climate change.

Originally discovered in 1983, G. alba

and G. vittellina annual monitoring has

been conducted during breeding season

to monitor population numbers and

conduct surveys at sites containing

potential habitat with the hope of

locating new populations. Both species

share a completely terrestrial biology

with males chorusing from small burrows

hidden under a mass of soil, moss and

litter from September to November each

year. Eggs, which number 10-12 per

clutch, hatch and develop within the

burrow with no free swimming or

feeding stages, leaving the burrow at

metamorphosis and reaching breeding

maturity within two-three years. Both

orange-bellied and white-bellied frogs

reach a maximum size of about 25 mm.

Conservation efforts coordinated through

the Geocrinia Recovery Team, in

operation since 1992, have seen some

major advances in the protection of the

species. Land purchases have seen 1570 ha

of white-bellied frogs’ habitat added to

the already protected Blackwood National

Park. Continued liaison with landholders

has resulted in construction of about 13

km of fencing to protect riparian habitat

from stock impacts for populations of

the G. alba. A successful introduction of



G. vittellina egg masses was conducted in

2000 with continued monitoring

indicating an increasing number of calling

males with nine males recorded in 2005.

A further 34 egg masses were translocated

last year in an effort to increase the

populations chance of persisting.

Each year during the peak of the breeding

season, teams of two navigate their way

through thick creek lines to collect data

on the number of calling males at each

site using GPS equipment and headlamps.

Various techniques are used including

point counts, transects and linear transects

to detect any decline trends for the

species.Teams listen for the males mating

call, a series of nine-15 ‘clicks’ or pulses

from the G. vittellina and 11-18 pulses

from G. alba, to estimate the number of

breeding males.This information can

then be extrapolated to give an estimate

of the whole population, as female to

male ratios are assumed to be 1:1.The

data collected from each site allows us to

gain a better understanding of patterns

and trends within populations, and

determine whether management

practices are having a positive impact.

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Geocrinia frog monitoring in DEC’s South West Region



by Tenielle Brown

A

Abboovvee A tanslocation area for the orange-



bellied frog (

Geocrinia vitellina). 

Photo – Tenielle Brown

RRiigghhtt A male orange-bellied frog (

Geocrinia

vitellina). Photo – Kim Williams

BBeelloow

w  rriigghhtt A white-bellied frog (

Geocrinia

alba) tadpole. Photo – Marion Anstis

Project update – Back from the Brink

Continued from page 2

New occurrences of threatened ecological

communities include ‘Assemblages of

Organic Mound Springs of the Three

Springs Area’ and the ‘Ferricrete Floristic

Community (Rocky Springs Type)’.

Other Back from the Brink projects

include producing educational and

promotional materials for the Threatened

species and communities project.These

materials are being designed to increase

community knowledge and

understanding of threatened species

and community management in the

Northern Agricultural Region.The

activity booklets will be trialled at the

upcoming ‘Blessing of the Fleet’

celebrations in Jurien Bay.

DEC Moora District Office has

welcomed Renée Hartley to the Back

from the Brink team. Based in Jurien,

Renée is responsible for implementing

fauna aspects of the project.

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Biodiversity Conservation Initiative

project at Hi Vallee



by Kathy Himbeck

A 350 ha patch of remnant vegetation on Hi Vallee farm, near

Badgingarra, has long been considered a biodiversity hotspot by

property owners Don and Joy Williams.

It’s a sentiment echoed by visiting botanists and locals alike.This

amazing area of vegetation is home to five species of declared

rare flora (DRF) and on last count 33 species of priority flora.

The true measure of this hotspot is currently being investigated

through an exciting project funded by DEC’s Biodiversity

Conservation Initiative (BCI) (See in this issue Biodiversity



Conservation Initiative – millions of dollars for projects benefiting

threatened species and ecological communities).

The project is called ‘Ecological Assessment of a High Biodiversity

Hotspot on Private Property’. It will generate a management plan

for future protection of threatened species and will investigate

threats such as dieback, weeds and fire to enhance and protect

the threatened species contained within this hotspot.

Over a two-year period, surveys will be carried out to gain

important information about the distribution and size of

declared rare and priority flora populations while implementing

a number of recovery actions.

The project also involves extensive fauna surveys using pitfall

traps, Elliott traps, bird surveys, raking of leaf litter (in order to

collect additional fauna such as invertebrates and reptiles not

collected in other traps) and invertebrate collections.Very few

fauna surveys have been conducted in the area so it will be

exciting to see what will be revealed in such a biologically

diverse remnant.

In time a Biodiversity Management Plan will be developed and

implemented, a focus of which will address fire management

issues by defining appropriate fire management prescriptions

compatible with conservation, ecosystem service and asset

protection objectives.

Conservation Officer, Kathy Himbeck, from DEC’s Moora

District Office at Jurien, has started flora surveys with exciting

results such as range extensions of some of the species including

Petrophile nivea (P1), Dryandra catoglypta (P2), Synaphea endothrix

(P2) and Verticordia rutilastra (P3).Work has also started on

installing pitfall traps for the upcoming fauna surveys.

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Western Australia is world renowned for its biodiversity.

Unfortunately many species are facing extinction because of

threatening processes such as habitat change, feral animals and weeds,



Phytophthora dieback, inappropriate fire regimes, and clearing.

A major Biodiversity Conservation Initiative (BCI) has allocated

new funding of $8.25 million in 2006/07 and $4.5 million in

2007/08 to be delivered through DEC to address these issues.

A series of project themes and a number of specific priority projects have

been identified, reflecting Government and DEC priorities including

pest animal and weed control, dieback management, biological survey,

research and taxonomy, conservation of threatened species and ecological

communities, and continuing the State’s cane toad initiative.

Under the threatened species and ecological communities theme,

nearly $2.7 million has been funded across 21 projects including:

•  recovery actions to protect Yanchep Caves and Lake Richmond

threatened ecological communities;

•  the translocation and establishment of new populations of six

critically endangered flora species;

•  the conservation of threatened native orchids in the south-west;

•  research into determining the cause of woylie decline in the south-west;

•  a review of the conservation status of the chuditch and woylie;

•  the preparation of interim recovery plans for seven critically

endangered flora species;

•  the conservation of threatened species on a private property

biodiversity hotspot;

•  the preparation of a recovery plan for three species of threatened

burrowing crayfish;

•  the conservation of threatened species on Bernier and Dorre

Islands, Shark Bay;

•  recovery actions for the western swamp tortoise;

•  the conservation of critically endangered and high priority flora in

the Warren  Region;

•  the conservation of biodiversity assets of the Nullarbor karst;

•  the conservation management of remnant bushland at key Bush

Forever sites that contain threatened species and ecological

communities; and

•  the translocation and establishment of six more Gilbert’s potoroos

on Bald Island and other urgent recovery actions for this species.

The above projects will deliver significant biodiversity outcomes in a

short period of time, by specifically targeting on-ground operations

and priority recovery actions for threatened species and communities

that require the most urgent attention. Many of the BCI projects are

also in partnership with community and NRM groups, local

government, private landowners and other government departments.

The Phytophthora dieback theme will also be targeting the conservation

of threatened species and their habitat through projects such as

phosphite application to a number of critically endangered and

endangered flora populations and threatened ecological communities

within the Albany, Esperance, Busselton and Frankland districts.

The 2006/07 delivery of the BCI is a unique opportunity for DEC

to undertake significant conservation projects that it has not

previously been able to do, and therefore will provide a major boost

to its efforts to conserve biodiversity assets. (See in this issue



Biodiversity Conservation Initiative project at Hi Vallee).

M

Meellaanniiee  H



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Biodiversity Conservation Initiative

– millions of dollars for projects

benefiting threatened species and

ecological communities 


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