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Welcome back to 'Squawk Talk'!

'Squawk Talk' has been designed to provide you with project updates on the Corangamite Catchment Management Authority's Orange-bellied Parrot Protection Program and other exciting Orange-bellied Parrot news. We warmly welcome all our newest 'Squawk Talk' subscribers!
This edition includes:
  • National Biodiversity Month 
  • Bellarine Peninsula Orange-bellied Parrot Survey 
  • Looking towards the future
  • Other News
  • How do I stay updated? 
That's enough of an introduction, let's get squawking! 
September is Biodiversity Month, a month to appreciate the extraordinary web of life we are part of and to encourage the protection, conservation and growth of biodiversity within Australia and worldwide. It also serves as a reminder to reduce the impact we have on the environment to ensure our biodiversity is preserved, both for our species themselves and so that future generations can appreciate them. - Jasmine Greene

How are we protecting the Orange-bellied Parrot?

At Lake Connewarre, the eastern section of the wetland, encompassing the delta islands and associated areas of significant saltmarsh, is currently grazed.

The Corangamite CMA developed a stewardship program to work with landholders in and around the Lake Connewarre area to implement appropriate grazing regimes to ensure the structural and floristic diversity of the saltmarsh is optimised for the requirements of the Orange-bellied Parrot. 

In May 2022, twenty Orange-bellied parrot were released from Lake Connewarre as part of the Orange-bellied Parrot Mainland Release Trial. 

With only 50 birds left in the wild in 2017, the Orange-bellied Parrot Mainland Release Trial was developed with DELWP, Zoos Victoria, Moonlit Sanctuary, Birdlife Australia, Melbourne Water, Parks Victoria, Corangamite CMA, the Tasmanian Government, Australian Government and Adelaide Zoo partnering together with the hope of once again having flocks of Orange-bellied Parrots on our coastal habitats.

This release builds on results from the first five years of the Mainland Release Trial, which saw more than 100 captive-bred birds released from Victorian sites. In every year so far, the released birds have been joined by wild birds, creating the largest flocks of Orange-bellied Parrots seen in Victoria in the last fifteen years. 

“The success of the Mainland Release Trial is not possible without all of the agency partners and private landholders who allow this work to be carried out on their properties,” said Corangamite CEO Mr Riddiford .  
The Orange-bellied Parrot Mainland Release Trial is led by DELWP, Moonlit Sanctuary and Zoos Victoria, with support from the Corangamite CMA through funding from the Australian Government. Credit: Streamline Media Australia.

Bellarine Peninsula Orange-bellied Parrot Survey

Article written by Craig Morley Bellarine Peninsula Orange-bellied Parrot Regional Group Coordinator 
A sincere thank you to each of the volunteers who gave their time, efforts and energy on the week-end of September 10/11 to search for Orange-bellied Parrots and Blue-winged Parrots on the Bellarine Peninsula and Surf Coast.

In contrast to the success of the May and July survey weekends we did not find migrant Orange-bellied Parrots (OBPs) – though some volunteers were fortunate to enjoy extended views of two captive-bred OBPs released in May as part of the 2022 Mainland Release Program. 

The number of Blue-winged Parrots observed was notably lower than the May (286) and July (439) totals with a total of nine across the sites surveyed in September, though this decrease is not unexpected and reflects the movement of the species away from saltmarsh into more wooded areas at this time of year, in preparation for breeding.

There are always other highlight observations to enjoy and the surveys of September 2022 did not disappoint. 

Numerous Striated Fieldwrens and White-fronted Chats were recorded across several sites. Some fortunate observers were rewarded with views of a pair of foraging Brolgas at Bancoora saltmarsh along with a most unexpected Barn Owl. 

Many of us were treated to myriad Straw-necked Ibis, with Australian White Ibis in much lower numbers, streaming across the skies as they went in search of food from breeding colonies at Mud Islands and Reedy Lake. New Holland Honeyeaters were present at several sites and Horsfield’s Bronze-Cuckoos are often a regular companion in saltmarsh in late winter and early spring with their mournful calls with the downwards inflection. Of course other saltmarsh gems include Royal Spoonbills, Caspian and Crested Terns, Red-capped Plovers and foraging Nankeen Kestrels.
Caption: Gold Z purple. Spotted at Lake Connewarre September 2022. Credit: Craig Morley.
Caption: Orange H White. Spotted at Lake Connewarre September 2022. Credit: Craig Morley.
Returning to the volunteer effort for 2022 at least 40 keen people volunteered for over 67 survey sessions across the May July and September OBP surveys.

Thinking of this as an ‘in-kind’ donation of time, allowing at least 4 hours on-site for surveys and, let’s say, at least 2 hours of preparation and
planning with at least an hour for travelling, to and from the site, and then 2 hours for finalising forms, unpacking etc. that gives a bare minimum 10 hours per survey session per volunteer – a grand total of at least 670 volunteer hours across the 3 surveys. The going rate on volunteer rates is at least $30/hour so I’ll let you do the maths on that one! A wonderful effort. 

On a personal note and on behalf of the National Recovery Team a most sincere thank you is extended to all who assisted with these surveys and also those who intended to assist though were unable to get to the starting line.

After the  cancellation of all the 2020 surveys and the tentative steps taken to resume in May 2021 followed by the cancellations in July and September 2021 it has been most heartening to have observers helping once again for each of the 2022 surveys. 

It was also exciting and encouraging to have many first-time helpers. Before finishing I would be remiss in not acknowledging and thanking the landowners, particularly around Lake Connewarre, who freely and willingly provide access to their land for these surveys.

And finally, to all those who send emails and messages of support and encouragement, thank you – it’s all greatly appreciated.

Looking towards the future 

There are exciting times ahead with the trial of a new tracking system for the OBPs scheduled to begin in Autumn 2023 at Lake Connewarre. The new tracking system, called ATLAS, has been used to track and monitor a range of bird species, such as Red Knots and Barn Owls, but has not been used in Australia before. The ATLAS tracking system will use stationary receivers set up around Lake Connewarre to gather OBP movement data and are an up-grade on the currently used MOTUS tracking system. 

The tiny ATLAS tracking devices “backpacks” are similar to those that have been used successfully over the last 6 years on OBP releases on the  mainland. ATLAS will be deployed in partnership with Zoos Victoria, Deakin University and the University of Jerusalem. If the trial is successful, ATLAS could prove valuable to track the migratory movements of the OBPs between Tasmania and the mainland.
Caption: Captive-bred adult males released at Lake Connewarre May feeding in saltmarsh. Credit: Craig Morley.

Other News 

Exciting news from our friends over at Orange-bellied Parrot Tasmania Program. 

The first Orange-bellied Parrots have returned to Melaleuca after spending the winter on the Australian mainland.

Orange-bellied Parrot Program volunteers recorded the first Orange-bellied Parrot of the season at a Melaleuca feed table last week, and we expect birds to continue to arrive into December.

At the end of last season it was expected that around 140 Orange-bellied Parrot''s would migrate north – the second highest number in more than 15 years – so we’re excited to see how many will return this season.

Orange-bellied Parrot Tasmania Program will provide weekly updates on Orange-bellied Parrot numbers until the annual census date in December.
Caption: They're back! Credit: Orange-bellied Parrot Program Tasmania 

How do I stay updated?

•    Squawk Talk updates will continue to be distributed as the on ground works continue!
•    Please contact if you have any specific project questions. 
•    Don't forget to report any public sightings of Orange-bellied Parrots on the Bellarine Peninsula or Surf Coast please contact or 
•    Check out DELWP's Facebook page here
•    Make sure you are following the CCMA social media channels below. 
Copyright © * 2022 | *|Corangamite Catchment Management Authority|*, All rights reserved.

This project is funded by the Australian Government.

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Corangamite Catchment Management Authority · 64 Dennis St · COLAC, VIC 3250 · Australia