You know the saying……..If I had done that instead of that, then something else would not have happened. And so it goes.
After breakfast on our last day in the Cleland Hills I said to Bill that it would be nice to take a walk over to the escarpment on the other side of the creek to have a look around. Previously we have had to drive quite some distance to get around this creek but walking it should be easy! So we thought. So we set off with all the paraphernalia that one needs for a walk and gained about a hundred metres when we were confronted by an unscaleable deep creek, washed out by millions of years of water-flow from Muranji Rockhole.
I was disappointed that we could not cross over and immediately discounted about a one kilometre walk to get around it and decided to go back to the 4×4 and leave this place. And just as well we did, for we may have missed out on a rare occurrence in our lives.
We had seen three very large Bustards in a group on our way out and were discussing this as we were driving along. Suddenly a flock of about 10 birds flew quite low over the front of our vehicle. I said “Look! Cockatiels!” But they were not Cockatiels because as they banked to turn around in their flight, the morning sun revealed a pale green colour on their backs. Mulga Parrots? No, not them either. The birds flew to a tree nearby and settled down and through the binoculars we could see that they had a pink colour around the throat and neck. They were Princess Parrots and it is a rare occasion to see them in the wild as they have no defined territory!
Bill being the more agile of the two of us (and a lot younger too) got out with his camera in hand and followed the ‘Tweets’ and ’Tjirrps’ of the parrots and he was able to get some good photos with his telephoto-lensed camera
What a thrill to have the opportunity to see something that is rare, in the wild! If we had continued in our effort to get to the escarpment that morning this occurrence might not have happened.
Princess Parrot sightings 1st June 2012 on then edge of the Great Sandy Desert Photos by W.McAinsh
Their life span is thought to be as long as 30 years. Under the right circumstances they are able to bond to more than one member of the family. They are a favourite among many aviculturists and pet owners because of their looks and personality.
There are three common colour mutations of this parakeet. These colours are Lutino, Albino, and Blue. The natural, or ‘normal’ colour is green.
The Princess Parrot is a medium sized parrot, 34 to 46 cms long. The plumage is mostly green with a pink throat, bluish crown, and bright green shoulders. The rump is blue and the tail is long and narrow. The males have longer tail feathers and brighter colouring than females. The male also has a coral-red beak, while the female’s is duller and has a greyish crown. Another difference is that the male has an orange iris, while the female’s is much browner. In addition, the male of the species has a longer, projecting extension from the end of the 3rd primary (flight) feather on each side. This projection is called a ‘spatula’ or ‘spatule”. It appears in mature male birds.
Four to six white eggs are laid which are incubated for 19 days. The chicks leave the nest about 35 days after hatching. These parakeets are truly opportunistic breeders, with pairs choosing to nest when food is plentiful. They nest in a hollow in a eucalypt or desert oak.
This species is nomadic, arriving in small groups to breed and then disappearing. It is one of Australia’s least known parakeets because it is so elusive, even though it is spread across the interior of Australia. It inhabits arid woodland and scrub with spinifex, eucalypts, acacias, etc. They are unusual among parrots in engaging in mobbing behaviour against predators. They feed on the seeds of grasses and shrubs.