Australia’s most threatened species, the Orange-bellied Parrot, has not been sighted in this year’s survey along the Bellarine Peninsula, indicating its existence is still low.
The Orange-bellied Parrot (OBP) is a migratory bird, which breeds only in coastal south-west Tasmania and spends winter on the Victoria and South Australia coast.
Winter surveys were conducted for the parrot on the mainland, King Island and north-west Tasmania in May, July, and September, with nine birds in total counted on the mainland this year.
Bellarine Peninsula Orange-bellied Parrot Working Group Co-ordinator Craig Morley said despite there being no sightings in this year’s survey, there were OBP’s sighted in 2012 during the count.
“A juvenile was seen and photographed at Aireys Inlet in April, two adults were seen in July at Breamlea saltmarsh a week before the official survey and one adult was seen at Swan Bay during the September survey,” he said.
The OBP is listed as critically endangered under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act (1999). BirdLife Australia Research and Conservation Officer, Chris Purnell, said there are less than 40 of the species thought to exist in the wild.
“There were nine birds counted this year which is the same as last year, but they were just at different sites and there is also the potential for two more birds to be added to the count once we have properly identified them as being OBP’s, as they can be easily confused with other species,” he said.
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Mr Purnell said the OBP faces a range of threats including habitat loss, predators including cats and foxes, spread of noxious weeds, collisions with structures and inbreeding, due to small population and other genetic factors.
“The community can assist in the species’ survival by getting involved in on-ground works and habitat restoration at historical sites and breeding sites. Habitat restoration is especially important in Saltmarsh areas because they are historical sites.
“Saltmarsh communities were listed as threatened ecological communities this year so we hope this will help to increase the number of OBPs’s we see,” he said.
Mr Purnell said no federal government funding was received this year, so the community can also assist by donating to the restoration project.
“People can also participate in surveys during the winter and raise awareness of the critically endangered species among their community,” he said.
This article appeared in the Surf Coast Times Green the Coast column
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