Rare parrot sighting

Orange-bellied parrot in Swan Bay area. (Craig Morley)

Two critically endangered orange-bellied parrots (OBP) have been spotted in the Swan Bay area.

The two birds are visiting a site traditionally used by the species in late winter and early spring. One is an elder of the wild population, an 11-year-old male banded Silver Red M (pictured), last seen at this location in late winter 2016.

BirdLife Australia OBP regional coordinator for the Bellarine Peninsula Craig Morley was overjoyed to find the birds.

“It was so exciting to see these feathered gems pop up amongst the Shrubby Glasswort, especially Silver Red M who I have not seen for four years,” he said.

Corangamite Catchment Management Authority spokesperson Rob Bone said the sighting was encouraging.

“The sighting is an encouraging sign as the orange-bellied parrots are an iconic, but sadly now very rare, species of the Corangamite region,” he said.

“The Corangamite CMA’s on-ground work to improve coastal habitats is helping boost the chances of survival for these critically endangered birds.”

In 2019 the Corangamite CMA worked with Parks Victoria to improve over 230 hectares of OBP habitat at eight sites across Lake Connewarre, Swan Bay, the Karaaf and Bancoora wetlands and Avalon Coastal Reserve.

The on-ground works focused on managing foxes, cats, rabbits and weeds to reduce the risk of predation and improve the parrot’s preferred diet of native seeds and plants.

Working with a range of partners, including the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning, Zoos Victoria, Parks Victoria and Birdlife Australia, the next three-year phase of the $1.8m project will focus on supporting releases of captive-bred birds, monitoring and tracking of wild birds and undertaking direct works such as fencing, grazing management and pest plant and animal control.

This project is supported by the Corangamite CMA, through funding from the Australian Government’s National Landcare Program.