CORELLA HELL: Birds intent on ripping up Wortley Oval

Little corellas have been causing ongoing, extensive damage to Wortley Oval by tearing up the soil. 

“They’re digging up grass, and they chew on the pitch,” said Naracoorte Cricket Club president Jason McClure.

“They have damaged the pitch and surrounds repeatedly, and it is costing us a lot of money to repair and maintain. Without constant repair Wortley Oval is dangerous, and close to becoming unplayable due to the holes they have dug.”

Mr McClure said the Naracoorte Lucindale Council has offered assistance to help with the problem, but it could only help so far.

“The council understands there is an issue and are doing what they can, but they are restricted by rules and regulations.”

The council confirmed that its preferred methods of little corella management are to fire shots to scare birds, and move them from unwanted areas.

Council has a permit from the Department of Environment and Water to eradicate up to 200 corellas.

The council has also offered a trial bird scarer, but this has had little to no effect, explained Mr McClure.

“We understand they are a native animal, and we don’t want to have to harm them unless it’s necessary, and obviously we want a solution to be done humanely. But our club and volunteers can't afford to be constantly repairing the damage they do.”

One of the most frustrating things about the corellas is that they simply undo the groundskeeping work of the volunteers. Groundskeeper Loren Bald has spent countless hours repairing the oval but it is becoming a Sisyphean task. 

Mr McClure understands that his club is not the only one in South Australia which is facing an issue with damage caused by corellas, and that councils across the state are also trying to control the birds.

In an article from The Guardian, as of 2018, local government authorities were appealing to the state authority DEWNR (Department for the Environment and Water) for a direct intervention.

In 2017 DEWNR created a report with University of South Australia which held recommendations for dealing with little corellas. The key findings encouraged a state-wide management program to manage the birds, with habitat management and modification, sacrificial sites, and lethal deterrents.

Habitat modification was making the corella’s nesting, feeding or “loafing” (relaxation) sites less appealing by reducing the sources of food or water. Where this can be difficult for a sporting site is that the water can’t be reduced as it’s needed to preserve the greenery of the oval, particularly in cricket season.

And especially at Wortley Oval, with the Swimming Lake in such close proximity. 

Sacrificial sites are sites which are chosen as an alternative place for the corellas to congregate, and lethal methods refer to shooting or poisoning.

But whilst these recommendations have been made there is still no state-wide management program for dealing with corellas, and according to the Mid Murray Council, the plan may only be implemented within the coming months. 

(The Mid Murray Council have been in the news recently due to a flock of corellas reportedly causing blackouts in the town of Mannum).