After a number of years conducting selected breeding colony surveys it was decided to concentrate efforts into River Reach surveys in 2014 and 2015. Two sections of river were selected, each covering 30-35 km of river corridor. During the 2014 breeding season the river corridor stretching from Lock 2 downstream to Cadell was surveyed while in 2015, the survey was conducted from Custom's House at Murtho downstream to Heading's Cliff.
Some interesting observations from these surveys have indicated that the idea that Regent Parrots return to the exact location year after year to breed is actually a myth. The Regent's upstream of Renmark have moved away from nesting in the drowned red gums where they were found in 2003 and established themselves in live trees that previously had no nests in them. Similarly, downstream of Lock 2 almost all of the nests were also recorded in live red gum trees. The Regents appear to choose where they will nest each season depending on the health of the trees and the surrounding floodplain vegetation.
2. Radio and Satellite tracking
The objective of this project was to explore the movements of both adult birds and creche flocks at a variety of spatial scales in order to identify key habitats and resources. Initial investigations suggests that movements of Regent Parrots are different to previously thought in that several new colonies of Regent's have been sighted in locations that previously showed little activity. This project involved trapping birds using mist nets and then satellite transmitters were fitted using the attachment method designed by the Regent Parrot Recovery Team which resembles a backpack design. The position of each bird was collected and calculated via the ARGOS satellite and to date, 3 trackers have been deployed. One tracker stayed attached for 460 days and this provided the Team with a good indication of the area traveled over a nine month period.
The Regent Parrot Recovery Team will continue to investigate the movement of Regent's through the landscape using new technologies as they become available and this project will remain a high priority for research.
3. Nest site fidelity and Banding project
This project was a part of the larger disease and tracking project and during the course of trapping Regent Parrots, 91 birds were banded at 11 sites throughout the Riverland. The project aims to address the assumption that Regent Parrots have a high breeding site fidelity (Burbidge, A 1985), however over the 6 year period where whole of river surveys were conducted, it seems there have been dramatic declines in some colonies while others have increased in size and even new colonies have been established where no breeding birds were previously recorded. This has proven to the Team that we simply don't know enough about the Regent Parrots outside of the breeding season where efforts have been focused on determining the number of nests along the river corridor. It is important to understand nest site fidelity to ensure the Regent Parrot monitoring program can adequately detect population changes moving forward and to determine if juvenile birds return to to the same colonies to breed in subsequent years.