Baby Alwal takes flight

By Terry Mahney  
about  Cape York Partnership  
on 15 Jun 2017 
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It had been a hard week for Olkola Land Managers and Bush Heritage staff searching for Alwal (Golden-shouldered Parrot) nests. The poor wet season has meant that Alwal’s breeding season had been shorter than normal. This meant the young fledglings had already left in all the nests we had been finding. However, on the last afternoon of the last day of our 10-day trip we were treated to a special surprise.

Olkola Land Manager, Ashley  Ross, had found a recent nest and after cautiously approaching to inspect it he got the surprise of his life when a young Alwal burst out and flew into a nearby tree. There was much excitement amongst the survey team to have witnessed the fledgling of such a rare and beautiful bird. Moments later a second youngster took to the wing and joined its sibling in a nearby tree.

Olkola and Bush Heritage are working together to protect the Golden-shouldered Parrot, which is a beautiful endangered species that's restricted to two small populations on Cape York Peninsula.

The larger of the two populations (estimated at about 1,500 to 2,000 birds) occurs in the catchments of the Moorehead and Alice Rivers on Olkola land. Olkola rangers are monitoring the success of Alwal nests as a means to understanding what's happening with population numbers in response to their management activities aimed at improving Alwal habitat. This includes the careful use of fire to reduce woody thickening on the flats on which they nest and removal of cattle form these areas.

Olkola and Bush Heritage are also working with University of Qld Honours student, Teghan Collingwood, to study the significance of various predators on Alwal including feral cats, Butcherbirds (who benefit from woody thickening) and goannas. This will help Olkola make decisions on how best to manage predators.

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