Carnaby’s Black Cockatoos in Moora

A day photographing the Carnaby’s Black Cockatoos in Moora

It is hard to think that one year went by already but I can still remember my first visit in Moora clearly. Although we had left early in the afternoon, just in time to visit Wally and see the Carnaby’s Black Cockatoos feed in his backyard. As I may have already written last year, Wally has created a hide for tourists which is only a few metres away from “the dinner table”. This is an incredible experience for tourists or locals alike. There is also a sign down the road so it is barely impossible to miss it.

Koojan Reserve

Before reaching Moora, I stopped at the Koojan Reserve which is located 18 kms south of Moora on the Bindoon-Moora Rd. You will need to drive slowly as it is easy to miss the sign. It is hard to believe that the salmon gums once dominated the land. The reserve is now a “living museum” showcasing how it was before the land was extensively cleared for agriculture. I didn’t see or hear any birds while I was there but I saw many Spiny-Orb Weaver, which I had never see before.

Koojan Reserve

Candy’s Bush Reserve

Unfortunately, when I arrived in Moora, I realised that the visitor centre was closed. It is only open during the week, which is a shame for visitors who can only get there during the weekend. So I drove to Candy’s Bush Reserve, which is not far from the town centre. When I arrived, I could hear Carnaby’s Black Cockatoos further away but none were near their nesting hollows made by Wally. The walk was nice and I learnt a lot about the area.

The access to this reserve was forbidden to vehicles a few year ago in 2013 and a walking trail was created in 2015 by the Moore Catchment Council and Friends of the Moora Woodlands. Fencing the reserve is allowing the vegetation to grow back. The trail is 1 km long and is a fabulous patch of remnant Salmon Gum and Wandoo woodland. If you are in Moora when the visitor centre is open, then you can pick up a copy of the Candy’s Walk Trail Companion Booklet to learn about the ecology of the reserve and the local Yued Aboriginal culture.

Stack Cooper Reserve

Carnaby’s Cockatoo Interpretative Walk Trail

In the town centre, you might come across some signs with “Carnaby Walk Trail” written on it. It is a flat trail which takes you along the banks of the Moore River and through Eucalypt woodland remnants. From August to January, you might be lucky enough to spot Carnaby’s Black Cockatoos in Moora, although if you stay a day or so in Moora, you will find the spots where Carnaby’s like to hang out best. If you would like to find out more about the Carnaby’s, it is best to head to the community centre (visitor centre), where you can pick up a flyer and ask about Wally if you would like to see the Carnaby’s feeding in the evening.

Carnaby's Interpretative Walk Trail

Carnaby's Interpretative Walk Trail Moora

Stack Cooper Reserve

Stack Cooper Reserve is a 4ha reserve not far from town. It’s a small reserve but worth exploring if you like fauna and flora. Local group Friends of the Moora Woodlands led a project to fence the reserve from vehicular access and install signage in 2010.

More walks

There are more walks available in the shire of Moora, including the Jingemia Cave. You can download a copy of the Moora Eco Trails here: www.australiasgoldenoutback.com/sites/go/files/2018-04/Walks%20in%20the%20Shire%20of%20Moora.pdf

Wally Kerkhof

Wally meets many visitors during the year so it’s no surprise he forgot my name even though someone had brought him an article I wrote about him and I had also sent him a letter. To thank him for the time he spent with me last time, I brought a Kaarakin 2019 calendar with me. Wally has been doing well and has been making fabulous Sir Walter’s jam made of strawberry and quandong (native peach). He told me, he is building more hollows and cutting them in half. The Carnaby’s don’t mind it. Although he said, he needs to find other places where to put the new hollows as he reckons there are enough in town.
Carnaby's Black Cockatoos Moora
Moora Carnaby's Black Cockatoo

Competition between species

Competition for those luxury artificial hollows remain fierce. During my stay, I observed Carnaby’s standing up against long billed Corellas, while a pigeon couple was potentially using a hollow or investigating for a potential move in.

Pigeon on artificial nest in Moora
Pigeon on top of a hollow
Carnaby's Black Cockatoo on top of hollow Moora
Female Carnaby’s checking an artificial hollow made by Wally the next day

Wally’s fight for the plight of the Carnaby’s Black Cockatoos

Wally’s actions have been magical for the Carnaby’s. Due to lack of habitat and food, they have abandoned many breeding sites. Wally’s action are a welcome initiative to the conservation of Carnaby’s Black Cockatoos. Last year, 86 chicks were born and this year, twins were spotted in a hollow! Usually, only one chick survives so having two chicks is fantastic news.
Wally Kerkhof Black Cockatoos feeding
Dinner at Wally’s

Wheatbelt company fined $25,000 for clearing black cockatoo habitat

This October 2018, an article was published on WA Today. A Wheatbelt company, Kingstripe, was fined $25,000 for illegally clearing almost 40 hectares of mallee woodland and wandoo forest. Kingstripe cleared its farming properties in Waddington and Walebing for cropping throughout 2016-17, without seeking the necessary government approvals. It was ordered to revegetate all 40 hectares and also made to pay $328.70 in costs. Thanks to technology and satellite view, the Department of Water and Environmental Regulation can monitor land use from above. Unfortunately, the trees and shrubs were most likely a feeding area for Carnaby’s Black Cockatoos who need to find food during the day and bring food to their young chicks.
Carnaby's Black Cockatoo Moora

A meaningful encounter

Going through the photos I took on the day and early in the morning before driving back to Perth, I noticed the same female Carnaby’s Black Cockatoo in the same area I visited last year. It is no surprise that Carnaby’s hen might have preferences and might try to return to the same hollow if successful the year before.

 

Female Carnaby's Black Cockatoo Moora
Have I met you before? 2018

 

Carnaby's Black Cockatoo in Moora
Photo taken in 2017 in the same area
During my stop during the day, I was lucky enough to see a Male Carnaby’s Black Cockatoo checking the hollow and making sure Junior was ok. Unfortunately, I think I must have been watching and not paying attention to my focus so the photos are soft but still a welcomed addition to my Carnaby’s Black Cockatoos in Moora image collection.
Carnaby's Black Cockatoo checking hollow in Moora
Dad checking the nesting hollow
Even though I have the C version of the Sigma 150-600mm, I find the lens still quite heavy and will start bringing the monopod for better stability. I like the long range of this lens as it means I don’t have to disturb the black cockatoos especially during such a critical time of the year when they are trying to rear their youngs and find food.
Male Carnaby's Black Cockatoo near artificial hollow
This photo was taken at 600 mm

Accidents

The end of the breeding season for the Carnaby’s Black Cockatoos coincide with the start of harvest. This mean there is seeds on the road and traffic ranks up during this busy time. Carnaby’s might be interested in eating on and along the roads and so are other bird species. It is important to be alert and slow down for wildlife in order to give birds and other animals time to get off the road. While on my way back to Perth, a Carnaby’s couple flew very low on top of my car. They were encircled by Corellas and were mostly standing up for a hollow or protecting their young. So look up and drive carefully. Carnaby’s pair for life. Loosing a soulmate during breeding season can be devastating for the remaining parent and the chick. The younger the chick is and the more risk there would be for the chick to die. It would put pressure on the remaining parent to feed and keep the chick warm and protected while the parent and chick are feeling the loss of the other parent.

Carnaby's Black Cockatoos Moora

I hope you enjoyed this blog article about Wally and the Carnaby’s Black Cockatoos in Moora. You can read my other blog article about the conservation of the Carnaby’s Black Cockatoos in Moora on this page.

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