Vol. 1 No. 2-text

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Published by tVhe Gould League Birdwatchers
Vol. 1, No. 2. 1st. Sept. 966.
Patron: ALEC H. CHISHOLM, O. B. E. F. R. Z. S.
Hon. Secretary: L. COURTNEY HAINES,
10 Loquat Valley Road, Bayview.
Observations Committee: K. A. HINDWOOD A. R. McGILL.
Art Adviser: E. S. HOSKIN.
Photographic Adviser: NORMAN CHAFFER
Editor: P. E. ROBERTS,
26 Bay View Street, Mt. Kuring-gai.
(47. 9240)
By A. H. Chisholm
“In view of the increasing interest in the preservation of
useful birds, it has been suggested that a vote as to the twelve
most valuable might elicit information both interesting and
That is the first sentence of an article, by Donald Macdonald,
published in the Melbourne “Argus” late in October 1908. It
launched a discussion and vote of quite considerable interest.
Macdonald being an eminent journalist, he was given a free
hand by the “Argus” and thus, with contributions from a wide
range of readers, (including some of us young fellows, also
children, in country areas), much space was devoted to the
during the following fortnight.2
I c oh na tv ae i nj eu ds t i nb e ae n la rlo go ek i sn cg r at ph bro ou og kh f it lh lee dm wa it te hr i ca ul tti in n gq su e as bt oio un t , bw irdhi sc h t hi as t
I kept as an enthusiastic youth, and I find much of the material
under the daily heading, “Twelve Best Birds, ” to be distinctly
This was the final result of the overall vote: 1. Willy Wagtail

  1. White -backed Magpie. 3. Blue Wren. 4. Mudlark,
  2. Flame Robin. 6. Kookaburra, 7. Yellow -tailed Thornbill
  3. Straw -necked Ibis. 9. Grey Thrush. 10. Welcome Swallow.
  4. Ground Lark (pipit). 12. White-browed Babbler.
    The poll, Donald Macdonald commented, had been successful
    beyond anticipation, and his only regret was that it had not been
    possible to allow the vote to cover fifty species, since many
    others besides the chosen “best” were “almost equally worthy of
    protection and encouragement.

    How, I wonder, does the list appeal under conditions of today,
    almost sixty years later? Maybe it would be worth while attempt-
    ing to have such a question determined, and that not only in one
    Incidentally, in the “Argus” correspondence published on November
    11, (1908) was a suggestion from a Sandringham (Melbourne)
    clergyman, Rev. W. Jo Harris, that a Bird Day should be added
    to Arbor Day, and this idea was cordially endorsed by Macdonald
    and recommended to the Department of Education. In the next year
    the first Bird Day was in fact celebrated – on Oct. 29, 1909, and as
    is well known, it has continued to be held in Victoria and some other
    States, along the years.
    At the same time, the Gould League of Bird Lovers was founded,
    chiefly it would appear, on the basis of a suggestion made by a
    teacher, Miss Jessie McMichael, to the Victorian Department of
    Education. Alfred Deakin, then Prime Minister, was the first
    President of the council and J. A. Leach Hon. Secretary.
    Other old cuttings remind me that on the second Bird Day in 1910,
    I made a youthful debut, in my own country school, as a speaker
    representing both the Gould League and the Melbourne Bird
    Club. Was that really 56 years ago – or am I
    by J. J. Francis – Gymea.
    It appears that the Brush Turkey (Alectura lathami) has extended
    its range further south. In the early days of settlement this
    bird extended as far south as Illawarra scrubs, but human
    persecution and destruction of habitat has restricted its range and
    of recent years, until the occurrence at Kurrajong, the furthest
    south that the bird has been observed was at Terrigal.
    In July 1 966 I was informed by friends who have a property near
    Kurrajong that Brush Turkeys occurred on a neighbour’s property.
    The site is a farm property only a few hundred yards from Bells
    Line of Road between Kurrajong and North Kurrajong. Apart from
    a small area of vegetables the farm is not being utilised and there
    is a large area of rain forest in a gully adjacent to the farm house.
    I am informed by the owners of the farm that the birds first came
    there abaft two years ago following the commencement of the drought
    and their first knowledge of their presence was the sight of a small
    chick near the farm. In this respect it is noted that the bird was
    previously recorded in the Colo Valley and it is reasonable to
    suppose that the migration originated from these communities.
    The owner of the farm has practically domesticated the turkeys
    by feeding them rice, and on the day we visited I saw a bird at
    the farm house soon after p.m. in the afternoon.
    we went through the gully, during the course of which journey
    three more birds were observed, to a nesting mound which is on
    the side of the hill overlooking the gully, practically opposite the
    This mound is new and has apparently replaced a former nesting
    mound about a quarter of a mile away.
    Mr. Hindwood informed me last week (August 11) that he has
    inspected the mound and it showed signs of being built up
    in preparation for incubation. On August 20 Peter Roberts watched
    a bird working on it.
    in the afternoon towards dusk, seven turkeys came up to the
    September 966
    farm house to be fed, where they grazed like domestic fowls,
    bestowing severe pecks on the two house cats which got close
    enough to them during this process.
    by Norman Chaffer, Roseville.
    One is particularly attracted to certain birds for a variety of
    reasons. Perhaps it is beauty of plumage, interesting habits,
    nest -building proficiency or other causes.
    Brightness of raiment would not earn high marks for the Brown
    Flycatcher or Jacky Winter, but he has a,most engaging person-
    ality. As he perches on a fence one is attracted by his white –
    edged tail which is repeatedly swung in a circular motion.
    During the winter, when the songs of many birds are stilled, the
    clear calls of Jacky may be heard from the tree tops. With
    the coming of spring the song takes on a new ecstacy and the
    variety of the notes now heard is astounding. “Peter -Peter –
    Peter, ” he calls insistently, and in some localities this has led
    him to be known by the name of “Peter -Peter.” A concert of
    Jacky Winters in the dawn of a spring morning is an unforgettable
    and uplifting experience.
    Not so many years ago the Jacky Winter was quite plentiful in the
    neighborhood of Sydney, but it is now getting increasingly scarce.
    Where have all the Jacky Winters gone? I am often asked but I
    can give no certain explanation. Perhaps their friendly nature and
    habit of seeking their insect prey in suburban gardens, orchards,
    and cultivated lands have proved their undoing. The increasing
    use of lethel pesticides for keeping insects in check may have
    played a major part in this sad dwindling of their numbers. In
    only a few places near Sydney can one now listen to the magic of
    the Jacky Winter’s song welcoming the new-born day.
    JACKY WINTER on its tiny nest. The outside edge is
    decorated with chips of bark. Both parents share in
    the task of rearing the grey speckled young.
    by a Special Correspondent
    One of the League’s interstate members, Michael Sharland, returned
    from a bird -observing mission on Cape York Peninsula in August
    with news of rare and uncommon birds in the region of Iron Range,
    Coen, and Weipa. Michael Sharland lives in Hobart, Tasmania.
    For part of the time he was accompanied by Mr. Jim Bravery,
    an authority on North Queensland birds, who lives at Atherton
    on the Tablelands behind Cairns.
    The League assisted this expedition, and Mr. Sharland’s report
    of it will be submitted for publication in League “Notes” in due
    The expedition’s main success was in confirming reports of the
    existence of the rare Paradise Parrot in a remote part of the
    Peninsula. This handsome little parrot is marked in a recently
    published bird book as “possibly extinct. ” Now it is proved to
    be still living, in a small colony only, and in an area which few
    people are able to visit. Its exact locality is not being revealed
    in fear of collectors finding it and taking the few that remain.
    The news of its continued existence is pleasing to the League, which
    though a State body, nevertheless is interested in bird protection
    generally through the nation.
    In heavy rain forest jungles along the east coast of the peninsula
    Messrs. Sharland and Bravery saw several kinds of birds that
    really belong to New Guinea and do not come farther south in
    Australia. These were certain flycatchers, parrots, and rifle
    birds. They also made close acquaintance with the Great Palm
    Cockatoo which lives chiefly on pandanus nuts, has an enormous
    beak and a tall crest like that of a macaw. They found this lordly –
    looking fellow to be a capable mimic in the wild state, and having
    a lively whistle which was very loud and penetrating.
    Camping beside the Claude River, they saw a good deal of the
    strikingly coloured Red -sided Parrot, the female of which is
    much handsomer than the male. This one is the size of a Galah,
    and looked more like a cockatoo than a parrot.
    From all parts of the jungle came the loud whistling call of the
    Magnificent Rifle Bird, one of the birds of paradise, and
    ed occasionally the peculiar trumpet call of the Manucode,
    another member of the bird of paradise group. They
    listed just on a hundred different species about their camp
    on the edge of the Iron Range jungle.
    JULY: A large attendance of members and visitors heard Mr.
    S. G. Lane deliver his address on “Bird Identification.”
    Using two projectors and a series of close-up colour slides,
    Mr. Lane pointed out plumage and soft part colour differences
    between immature, adult male and female of several species,
    as well as plumage phases in individual species.
    AUGUST: The address consisted of three colour films, screened
    by Mr. Alan Morris, Field Officer with the Fauna Panel.
    The first depicted some aspects of the work of the British
    Wildlife Conservatory, showing many native birds and other
    :h animals in the Nature Reserves of the British Isles.
    “A Place To Live” compared the relative successes of several
    species of waterfowl on Lake Ellesmere, New Zealand., in
    establishing a population. Mainly introduced species, several
    had found conditions suitable and become abundant.
    “Into Your Hand” is a new film presenting with several examples
    the need for wildlife conservation and a better association with
    nature in Australia. Typical were the competition of domestic
    animals and native fauna for fodder on the Western Plains and
    elimination of large tracts of mallee and other environments for
    agriculture without first establishing reserves.
    The next meeting, on September 15, will be a Members’ Night.
    On October 20 another film night will be held; it is hoped that
    Harold Pollock will be available to screen his new film “Where
    the Pelican Builds her Nest.”
    September 19668
    The view from the cliffs at Malabar
    Wandering Albatross.
    MALABAR: Sunday, July 17.
    Those who followed the suggestion in the programme and spent the
    morning in Centennial Park found the visit most rewarding. A
    strong icy wind was blowing, and observation of the Park’s smaller
    birds was almost impossible. But where else, so close to the heart
    of the city, can you sit cosily in a car, binoculars in one hand, a
    good hot cuppa in the other, watching over 200 water birds which
    include a pair of Wood Duck and a male Musk Duck giving a prolonged
    and magnificent splash -display?
    The Dibleys, throwing pieces of bread, coaxed one male Musk
    Duck close to the bank. He approached with a long underwater plunge
    instead of paddling forward, but it wouldn’t come the last couple of
    feet into very shallow water. A few Black Duck also gathered 10 ft.
    away and waited respectfully till the Musk had had his fill and paddled
    away before coming closer for tit -bits.
    An Eastern Swamphen came up on the grass for bread which it
    picked up in one claw and passed to its beak, parrot -fashion.
    In the afternoon, despite the bleak weather, 35 Birdwatchers gathered
    on the cliffs at Malabar to observe the Antarctic-oreeding seabirds
    that congregate here every winter to feast on offal from the abbattoirs
    and tanneries discharged into the sea from the Sewage outfall,
    The Wandering Albatrosses were further out to sea than usual
    possibly owing to a very strong off -shore wind and calm water at
    the foot of the cliffs. In calm water, albatrosses have the greatest
    difficulty in getting airborne, sometimes falling back completely
    exhausted after unsuccessful attempts. However, a few birds in
    various plumage phases (adults and juveniles) flew close enough
    for us to get a very good look, as did one Black-browed Albatross.
    The Giant Petrels were more co-operative and rested on the water
    Just off the rock ledge; one bird in evident distress, was holding out
    its wings as if to dry them. Two Reef Herons flew by and one
    Crested Tern was seen among the crowd of Silver Gulls on the rock
    platform. The concentration of Albatrosses at Malabar is a
    phenomenon much envied by overseas ornithologists. Here is a
    September 196610
    place, only 71 miles from the centre of a big city, where one can
    stand on terra firma and see up to 500 of the world’s biggest sea-
    birds at one time; And where do the Wandering Albatrosses go
    in the summer? Several birds ringed by CSIRO Banders at
    Malabar, have been retrapped by United States biologists at South
    Georgia Island, – 7,000 sea miles away.
    Thank you, Mr. Hindwood for a very informative afternoon. We do
    appreciate having a leader who can speak with authority and answer
    our questions on the spot. Altogether, a most satisfying day’s

Lately I’ve had a Swamp Pheasant in the back garden, each time
about 10 a.m., each time seen in long grass. I was inclined to
be doubtful about them being down here, but if they’re at Bayview
that gives me confidence. We used to see them sunning and
drying themselves on the paddock fence when we lived in the
Canungra Valley (Queensland)
Bernice Dickens
Hornsby Heights.

The Editor would welcome contributions from members, no matter
how brief. You don’t have to be an expert to send in your notes, and
your observations don’t have to be of earth -shattering importance –
the main requirement is that they should be local and/or topical.
If your contribution takes the form of a question our Observations
Committee might have the answer for you.
Next issue of “BIRDS” is scheduled for November 1; the deadline for
copy is October 21.
ROYAL NATIONAL PARK: Saturday, August 13.
The strong winds which seem to be a feature of the Club’s outings
did not effect the 45 seniors and 5 juniors who attended the well –
planned day in glorious sunny weather with the Dibleys in the Royal
National Park.
In all 28 different birds were sighted including a Lyre -bird, a
Cat -bird and many more common species. The Dibleys themselves
earlier in the day saw a Brown Quail, two White Cockatoos and an
Azure Kingfisher. One sign of approaching Spring was two Brown
Warblers building a nest in a turpentine where a creeping vine
afforded some leafy protection.
Three different Bowerbirds’ playgrounds were inspected, giving
much pleasure to those who had not previously seen one. A
difference in ornamentation was noted, the first site showing a
preference for Blue Rosella feathers, some plastic and many
yellow -green Billardiera flowers. The second one favoured blue
bottle tops while the third one had many blue feathers, one yellow
feather (Cockatoo crest?) and, strangely a small piece of red paper.
This was the first time I have ever seen red in a satin bawerbird’s
playground. Whether these differences indicate differing
personalities in the birds or merely reflects the material readily
available is a point for speculation. The bottle top ground was very
close to a popular picnic area.
After lunch Mr. Robinson played a tape recording he had made of
a tape, recorded by Mr. Judd of Minnamurra of bird calls in that
area and this got a definite re -action from nearby local birds.
Another pleasing feature of the outing was the friendly atmosphere
prevailing amongst members who came from widely scattered points
as far afield as Medlow Bath, and also the fact that as well as some
experienced birdwatchers there were some novices.
We thank the Dibleys for this outing and look forward to their

September 196612
Sunday, September 25: Kur i.ng -gai Chase
Leader: J. D. Waterhouse
(46. 4188)
Mr. Waterhouse knows this area well, and he expects to be able to
show us Tawny -crowned, White-cheeked, New Holland and White –
eared Honeyeaters, Variegated Wrens, and plenty of the commoner
heathland birds. Drive along Mona Vale Road and Coal and Candle
Creek Road to the Commodore Heights (West Head) turn off at 2. p. m.
Latecomers, drive towards Commodore Heights and you’ll see us
near the road in the first or miles.
2 3
Saturday, October 15: Botany Bay
Leader: A. R. McGill
(59. 1105)
The mudflats at Botany Bay are famous as the haunt of flocks
often quite large, of migratory wading birds. They can be
watched from dry land, but it’s more fun if you wear old sandshoes
or rubber boots. Meet at 1.30 p.m. on General Holmes Drive,
(Gregory’s Map 23, J11); we should be finished before 4 p.m. and
will be in sight of the cars all the time. N.B. These birds are not
easy to identify. Bring fieldglaSses, and do some homework from the
B. 0. C’s “FIELD GUIDE TO THE WADERS, ” (Condon & McGill)
available from Miss. E. Ritchie, 6 Gratton Street, Hawthorn E. 2.
Victoria, at 44 cents.
Saturday, November 5: Five Islands Faunal Reserve
Leader: S. G. Lane
Gulls, terns, muttonbirds, storm -petrels, and penguins should all
be breeding on the islands in November; if desired this can be a
weekend excursion (we have the Chief Guardian’s permission). The
main worry is transport; if you can get hold of a boat (10 feet or
more) with outboard, please contact the Editor as soon as possible.
Sunday December 4: Hawkesbury Swamps