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Inspiring and Supporting Photographers of Australian Birds

Princess Parrot

Princess Parrot (Image ID 43281)
Photographed byMichael Hamel-Green on Tue 3rd Nov, 2020 and uploaded on Thu 5th Nov, 2020 .
Resolution1400x944
Viewed51
ID43281
CommentWalking into my local park in the middle of Melbourne, the last bird I expected to see was a rare and endangered species of parrot whose homeland is on the other side of Australia in the Great Sandy and Gibson deserts of Western and Northern Australia. As a newcomer to birdwatching, I did not recognise it at all. It was nothing like the parrots that I was accustomed to seeing at Coburg Lake, mainly Rainbow Lorikeets, Cockatoos, Corellas and Red-Rumped Parrots. The new parrot flew onto a high branch in a large eucalypt as I walked under it. What was striking about it was its extremely long tail, and beautiful pastel colours, including pinks around the neck and beak, pale blue on the head, creamy yellow on the breast, and olive and lime greens on the wings. A dreamy kind of bird that might have flown straight out of a Monet painting. I lost no time in posting my photos of the mystery bird on our Forum Bird Identification site, and Ian Wilson yet again came to my rescue. He identified it as a Princess Parrot (Polytelis alexandrae), probably an adult female. They are nomads and their numbers in the wild have shrunk to as little as 1,000 adult birds in some years, and are classified as “near threatened” under the IUCN Red List Criteria, with the key problems affecting their habitat being fire and feral herbivores. So how does such a rare and beautiful desert bird find its way through Melbourne’s “ring of steel” to brighten the morning of a locked-down bird photographer eager to see some less common birds, let alone such a rare and endangered one? Did I need to travel to the remotest of regions to see one of Australia's rarest of birds when she seemed quite happy to come to me? Ian quickly brought me down to earth. The parrot was “most certainly an aviary escapee”, possibly from a private aviary. This is such a beautiful bird, yet only around 1,000 left in the wild compared to historical records of large flocks and breeding colonies. So much for the brave new world we are leaving to those who follow us. No wonder Tim Flannery says, in facing up to the need to talk to young people about the climate crisis: “as I look at my young son playing with his Lego or reading his children’s books, my courage fails me” (https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2020/nov/04/we-need-to-talk-to-our-kids-about-the-climate-crisis-but-courage-fails-me-when-i-look-at-my-son). An hour or so before dawn, as I lay sleepless in Melbourne during the second night after the US election and hearing that the world’s most powerful democracy had formally pulled out of the Paris Accord, a blackbird outside my bedroom window began a gentle stream of song, like water gurgling over rocks, welcoming in a new day. For our children and children’s children, will there be nothing but a deadly silence before every dawn?
EquipmentNikon Z7 with Nikon 300mm PF f/4 telephoto 1.7 TC
500mm
ISO 1250
1/400th 7.1
LocationCoburg Lake Reserve, Coburg, Victoria
Keywordsfemale, adult
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