Monday, 21 June 2010

Man spots Night Parrot

Natimuk man spots rare night parrot during bird watching trek

18 Jun, 2010 12:00 AM
NATIMUK birdwatcher Clive Curson has spotted Australia's rarest bird - a night parrot.

The night parrot, Pezoporus occidentalis, is such a rare and secretive bird that bird experts thought it might be extinct.

News of the sighting has sparked a rush to the remote outback site by keen birdwatchers throughout Australia.

Mr Curson's sighting of a live specimen is the third sighting of the bird in almost a century.

The other two sightings were of dead night parrots.

Mr Curson was on his way around Australia doing bird surveys, when he spotted the night parrot in a remote part of Western Australia.

Speaking from Halls Creek yesterday, he said the find was `absolutely blind luck'.

"The night parrot is a myth, it's legendary stuff, a kids' story," he said.

He was driving slowly east along Skull Springs Road at 10.45am towards the Woodie Woodie Mine, south-east of Marble Bar, when he suddenly disturbed a parrot.

"It was fluttering on the road next to the car," he said.

"I slammed on the anchors. He fluttered and sat in a little dead bush on the side of the road, between the spinifex and the road.

"My binoculars came to hand and I was absolutely blown away. What bird is this? It is fat, has no tail, is greenish with no features. I was quite frustrated. I know my parrots, but what is this thing?

"It was looking back at me from 20 feet away.

"It then took a hop forward and came into the complete open. It was facing away from me. I could see its back, then it turned its face and looked at me."

He was still frustrated about its identity.

"Parrots are all slender with long tails," he said. "This bird was not beautiful. It was just a bird with a boofy head.

"I wanted him to be brown and yellow to match up with the picture of all the parrots in my head."

Mr Curson said when he got out of the car, the bird fluttered off towards a tree then ducked down into the spinifex.

"Then a few pennies started to drop," he said.

He spent the next 20 minutes searching for the bird in a 20-metre by 20-metre area, without success.

"No-one will find that bird if it does not want to be found," he said.

He said that after close and careful study through his binoculars, with a clear view, for about 20 seconds he said he was sure of the bird's identity.

"It is so different from anything else," he said. "If you have been looking at parrots, you would just know."

He said a message from another birdwatcher was that emerald green plumage on the bird's back suggested an adult, because juveniles were browner.

Mr Curson has been birdwatching for 12 years and has surveyed birds in almost every corner of Australia, from Natimuk Creek to the isolated Torres Strait island of Boigu.

Combining his passion for birds with long-distance bushwalking, he has walked for thousands of kilometres, surveying birds in places few bird enthusiasts can access.

Mr Curson is looking for work in Halls Creek because his car has broken down.

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