Kaarakin Busy Bee 2019 – Part 1
This year’s busy bee was meant to start with a Club camp out on Saturday 22 up at Kaarakin. Alas with a forecast of freezing temperatures and massive storms that were to include torrential rain, the camp out was (unsurprisingly) cancelled.
The weather in no way stopped us turning up on Sunday, albeit a bit lighter on in numbers than anticipated.
Footpaths all over the Kaarakin were rolling with neck breaking honkey nuts, but this didn’t prevent us from looking at the blooming native flowers gearing up for spring, which were everywhere.
Compared to last years Busy Bee, this year was pretty simple with regards to the tasks we were asked to complete. Apart from the obligatory wellington boots, we only needed a few rakes and brooms. With all the winter storms experienced of late, the property was covered in quite a lot of leaf litter and (as mentioned) rogue honkey nuts. If not dealt with, come summer the fuel load would have been really high.
Don, Roger and Jane got the brooms out and spent most of the morning sweeping away the honkey nuts, preventing who knows how many broken and rolled ankles!
Naomi and I started up the top in the kangaroo pen sweeping off the paths to make feeding time a bit easier. It wasn’t too bad (compared to other areas of the property), however a few shovels may have been a better way of removing the excess soil.
While we were doing this, the boys (Jon, Richard, Matt and Dave F) were dealing with sweeping up excess leaf litter into numerous giant piles (ultimate destination: burning). When Naomi and I came back to help, there seemed to be more chatting going on than sweeping!
At some point I know I returned some equipment to Sandy, the Kaarakin Volunteer Coordinator….and I had to walk past a cage of cockatoos. With a man in it. And lots of birds. Lots and lots of birds. I stayed for a chat and was sticking my hands in the cage dolling out scratches to anything with feathers, whilst being told I would definitely get bitten. Which of course I didn’t!
I made two new friends! ‘Maverick’ the juvenile (almost mature though) male Forest Red-Tailed Black Cockatoo (Calyptorhynchus banksii naso) and ‘Cranky’ the male Western Long-Billed Muir’s Corella (Cacatua pastinator pastinator).
Cranky the corella is so named apparently because a) he bites nearly everyone, and b) specifically hates men so definitely bites them. All the birds in this cage will not be released due to numerous back stories, most of which tie back to too long domesticated or sporting injuries that will not let them survive in the wild.
I was lucky enough to be invited into the cage (mainly as a sacrificial distraction while the volunteer in there changed the food and water for the birds). Totally willing to assist, I threw myself in to help!
For those of you that know her, our gorgeous bird Erik is one of these, a Muir’s Corella. Muir’s Corella is listed as a threatened species (still vulnerable to extinction) as they live in only about 500 km2 in south-west WA near Lake Muir. The population today is estimated to be only about 20 000 birds with just under one third being estimated as mature adults of breeding age. Survival rates of fledglings and juveniles is low, which affects recovery rates,
In the 1940s, the population got down to only 100 animals and the population is still in recovery from that period nearly 80 years ago! It is illegal to hunt or destroy them by anyone, including farmers.
Forest Red-Tailed Cockatoo
This species is listed as a vulnerable species and is the smallest of the red-tailed black cockatoos. Removal of nesting habitats is frequently cited as the reason for declining populations of this species, along with the competition for nest hollows with other, more aggressive species, bush fires and illegal shooting.
In terms of reproductive capacity, it is thought that only about 10% of the population breeds on an annual basis, and mainly only lay one egg. On the occasions where two eggs are laid, generally only one chick survives. These factors of course, also impact the ability of the population to recover.