Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Ground Parrots

Season's Greetings to all who read this blog! The photo on the top of this post is a Christmas Bell (Blandfordia grandifloria) which I thought was rather appropriate for right now. I photographed it yesterday afternoon on an afternoon trip into the Great Sandy National Park with Kelvin and Amelia and their family. We were going out to try to see and hear the Ground Parrots (Pezoporus wallicus). This is a very special bird and certainly not one you see very often. First you must know the right habitat – then I think you have to have a good amount of luck! Of course it helps to have good friends who know the area well and have often seen the parrots.
We set off in the late afternoon with plenty of time to look around the area. It is a little late in the season for there to be a lot of wildflowers out but we did see a few of the yellow form of the Christmas Bells. We also saw some of these tiny grevillia flowers (Grevillea leiophylla) – the flowers are 6-8mm and the racemes 1-1.5cm. (My thanks to a very helpful young fellow who showed me a lot about photography in a very short time!)
There were a lot of tiny birds calling off in the very bushy heath. We caught glimpses of White-cheeked Honeyeaters, and Red-backed Wrens. It was impossible to go far off the tracks as the undergrowth was just too thick so I had to be content with distant photos for ID only.
We stopped and boiled the billy on a little camp stove for a cuppa and sat around in camp chairs and just enjoyed the quiet sounds of the bush and the feeling of space and emptiness out there.
To cap off a great afternoon I saw a Ground Parrot! Now I must admit that it was only a very brief glimpse before it dived back down into the scrub and I did not get a photo – but even a brief glimpse was great! Then we waited quietly as the darkness came, to hear the Parrots call. They only call for a very short time at dusk or dawn but it is a hauntingly beautiful call. The sound is not a bit like the usual harsh parrot call but is a series of clear ascending notes There were calls from six different directions so we assumed at least six birds in the area.
I wish I could find a way to give a better impression of the magical quality of the light and the space as night came down. A big 'thank you' to Kelvin and Amelia and family for a great time!


  1. That's a great tick on the Ground Parrot, Mick. You wouldn't have any friends who could lead us all way out west for the Night Parrot?
    Just looking for a Xmas miracle.

  2. Sounds idyllic Mick

    Have a wonderful Christmas

  3. Great to know you hears and even glimpsed the Ground Parrots. They also are found at the "Barren Grounds", near Robertson. It is a heath and banksia scrub plateau, high above the coast. But such thick scrub that one can seldom see anything. I have heard them, several times, but never seen one, yet.
    Nice to see the golden form of the Christmas Bells. I have seen the Golden Christmas Bells of the local one, which is the closely related Blandfordia nobilis.

    Happy Christmas to you Mick. Glad you found such a seasonal plant. Ours will not be in flower till February.

    Best wishes for the New Year. I look forward to reading more from you next year.


  4. Hi Tony, great afternoons are possible - miracles are a little hard!

    Thanks Tricia.

    Hi Denis, that's very interesting as I read in the bird book that these birds were found down the coast but had no idea it would be as far from the coast as that. The golden form of the Christmas Bells seems quite common up here.

  5. G'day Mick,
    Beaut report on a lovely day - thanks for sharing. I'd love to see a Ground Parrot, even fleetingly.
    Regards, and compliments of the season,

  6. Thanks Gouldiae, hope you have a good holiday season too and not too much work on that golf course!

  7. Hi Mick
    Yes, Ground Parrots are found (occasionally) along coastal heaths as far south as Eden. They might even occur at Mallacoota, across the Vic border (not sure).

    However, the Barren Grounds is just north of Nowra, (south from Wollongong) but it overlooks the ocean. A mere 15 Kms inland, just quite high, that's the odd part about it.

    Good to hear you have lots of Golden Christmas Bells. I have only seen them in one particular swamps here, but I have heard of others in the region.


  8. Hi Denis, thanks for the further info which is very interesting. How much I do not know! I keep encouraging myself that I really must be learning!

  9. Seaso's greetings to ya, Mick! What a splendid day out.

  10. A beaut bird the Ground Parrot, Mick, we often used to see them in the coastal and near coastal heaths at Marlo in East Gippsland. Keep up the great work in the New Year, best, D.

  11. Thanks Snail and Thanks Duncan too. Interesting that the birds are way down your way too. I'd like a better look next time and maybe some photos too - that might be a good wish for the new year!