Big bangs a temporary fix for voracious corella flocks

Peter Sweeney and Gavin BoxGeraldton Guardian

When you’re flying because you’re being fired at, it’s OK to get hot under the collar.

The corellas are flapping their arms and tongues.

The birds are back in town, and so are the big bangs.

Just days after the City of Greater Geraldton spent big bucks to put on the Australia Day fireworks, it is shelling out again.

In the City’s sights are the corellas which have infiltrated the city.

The screeching of the birds is at fever pitch when rangers fire near them.

This time four years ago, the City launched a “corella relocation” program.

Rangers were trained in how to use a new deterrent — very loud firecrackers — at the Wonthella Hockey Club, which had been decimated by birds.

The City urged people to make sure dogs and “other sensitive pets” were locked away during firing times. Then-chief executive Ken Diehm said the corellas were causing thousands of dollars of damage, including severely damaging wiring, seals, trees, sporting turfs and insulation.

“Controlling the plague proportions is a State Government responsibility, but the City has been forced to take action due to the enormous number of complaints from residents and businesses,” Mr Diehm said.

Mr Diehm has moved on and so have some of the corellas, but plenty remain. They’re back and don’t people know it.

Now the City has upped the ante.

On Friday afternoon, a ranger parked his vehicle opposite the Bill Sewell Complex near the Northgate Shopping Centre.

Then he let fly and the birds took flight from the trees.

The sound was terrifying, even shaking a Vietnam veteran.

“Did you hear that? It scared me so much, I thought I was having a heart attack,” former WAFL footballer Ron Bentley said. He was visiting good friend Ron O’Malley, of O’Malley Drennan Motors, who said there were “many more” birds around early in the morning.

At the Geraldton races in Utakarra last week, horses were behind the starting gate for the 4.25pm race when firecrackers went off and birds took flight just 200m away.

“What the? Why do that now?” a barrier attendant said.

At Woorree and Strathalbyn, two of several residential areas which fall outside the City’s scare program, residents frustrated at the racket have adopted their own noise countermeasures.

One woman, who did not want to be named, has taken to dropping aluminium flashing on the ground near where flocks gather in trees along the Chapman River.

It’s a low-budget and seemingly harmless measure, but the loud popping noise as the flashing hit the bitumen seems to do the trick, with the birds taking flight.

“Seems to work,” the woman said with a smile.

Until they return the following day, and it all starts again.

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