Marsh perfect home for a parrot

THE rare orange-bellied parrot is to get more opportunity to refuel itself at Peterborough after making its annual migration from Tasmania.

More than 24 hectares of saltmarsh along the Curdies River river mouth at Peterborough are to be revegetated in a bid to provide more food for the parrots after their long flight.

Peterborough is one of the first places the birds made landfall after migrating from Tasmania.

The saltmarsh area will be planted with indigenous plants such as woolly tea-tree and bidgee-widgee that are important food sources for the parrot.

The birds breed in south-west Tasmania and winter along coastal areas of south-eastern mainland Australia.

Birds Australia has estimated there could be only 50 of the birds left in the wild.

Land use changes have adversely affected much of the coastal saltmarsh to which the birds migrate on mainland Australia.

The project to revegetate saltmarsh on the Curdies River estuary is being undertaken by the Irvine family, which has been in the Peterborough area for at least three generations.

The family includes Peterborough residents Ron Irvine and his sisters Cath Bell and Pam Bradshaw.

Mrs Bell said her brother Ron had seen an orange-bellied parrot in Peterborough and another of the rare birds had also been sighted in the area in recent years.

The family has received government funds through the Saltmarsh Protection Project for a five-year program to revegetate land owned by the family along the estuary to provide more habitat for the rare bird.

Mrs Bell said the 24 hectares had been fenced off and about 2500 indigenous seedlings would be planted later this year.

Further plantings would take place in future years of the project, which is being guided by the Corangamite Catchment Management Board. 

The family said similar measures being undertaken by other private landholders would hopefully contribute to a greater quality of habitat to help the parrot grow in numbers.

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