While the exact location remains secret, there has been some excitement after the announcement of the first solid evidence of Ground parrots in more than two decades in Limeburners Creek Nature Reserve, north of Port Macquarie, New South Wales.
Local wildlife consultant Bernard Whitehead and National Park Ranger James Baldwin sighted two of the normally elusive birds during a visit to Limeburners Creek Nature Reserve.
"We were even able to photograph one the birds before it disappeared into the heath," Ranger Baldwin said.
"This is exciting news as it fills a major gap in the species' distribution in NSW," said James.
"Previously known populations were clustered between Evans Head and Corindi in Broadwater, Bundjalung and Yuraygir national parks," he said. "Then there was a huge gap south to the next known populations in Barren Grounds and Budderoo National Park, near Wollongong, and other populations even further south around Jervis Bay. Although there was suitable habitat in this gap and strong indications that the birds were found in Limeburners Creek Nature Reserve, there was dated and limited evidence before now."
One of just 3-4 ground parrots in the world
James added "The Ground parrot, one of only three ground-dwelling parrots in the world, rarely flies and mostly calls before sunrise and after sunset. As it is very unusual to see one we were both very excited to see two birds within a space of couple of kilometres."
The Ground parrot is listed as a Vulnerable species under the Threatened Species Conservation Act in NSW, and has declined in abundance and extent throughout its range.
It is now restricted to isolated populations in coastal and near-coastal heathland and swamps and there is still only patchy knowledge of its current distribution and numbers.
Search for Ground parrots
In the first state-wide monitoring program for the species, the Fire Ecology Unit of the Department of Environment Climate Change and Water, (DECCW) has been searching for Ground parrots in NSW using automated bioacoustic monitoring over summer.
At over 40 sites in coastal NSW from the border with Queensland to Victoria over summer, including at two sites in Limeburner Creek Nature Reserve, these small stations, about the size of a lunchbox, record at dawn and dusk throughout the predicted range of the Ground parrot.
"Analysis of the recordings is set to be undertaken shortly," Dr Liz Tasker from the Fire Ecology Unit said, "and we hope to be able to confirm the presence of the parrots elsewhere in the reserve, and perhaps another neighbouring park or two."
James went on "Joint feral animal control programs in Limeburners Creek Nature Reserve and the surrounding Maria River Wildlife Project are no doubt having a positive effect, and may be part of the reason the Ground parrots are once again being detected in the region."