Vol. 10 No. 3-text

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Journal of the

Volume 10, No. 3 March 1976

Registered for Posting as a Periodical, Category B Price $1.00.THE N.S.W. FIELD ORNITHOLOGISTS CLUB
PATRON A.H. Chisholm, O.B.E.
R. Cooke
Dr. R. Mason
The object of the Club is to promote the study and conservation of Australian birds and their
Annual subscription rates to the Club are
Ordinary Member $4.00
Family Member $5.00
Junior Member (under 17) $1.00
All members receive a quarterly newsletter and a copy of the quarterly journal, Australian Birds.
The price of the journal is $1.00 per issue to non-members. The Club holds a general meeting and
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All correspondence, including membership fees, should be addressed to the Secretary. The Club’s
address is:
18 Russell St., Oatley, 2223.
Manuscripts should be sent to the Editor at:
P.O. Box 39, Coonabarabran, 2857.iiiitiiiiiiillAil
Vol. 10, No.3 March, 1976
During the past ten years the Yellow -fronted Honeyeater Meliphaga plumula has been
recorded with increased regularity in New South Wales. Whereas formerly this honeyeater was
considered to be very rare, the information now available would appear to suggest that it is
far commoner than previously supposed. A search was made of recent literature, and a number
of residents in the sparsely settled areas of the western part of the State were contacted in
order to obtain up to date information on the distribution and status of this honeyeater.
McGill (1960) gives the status of this bird in New South Wales as “very rare, an inhab-
itant of mallee type country, but few instances of its occurrence have been recorded”. More
recently Officer (1964) mentions that “there are few records from New South Wales”. Gannon
(1962) does not comment specifically on its status here in this State although he says that
South Australia would appear to be the stronghold of the species. Officer (/oc. cit.) gives
the distribution for Australia as “South Australia, Australian Interior. Northern parts of
Western Australia through to the Centre. East Central Queensland. There are few records from
New South Wales at Nymagee and Griffith, and Victoria in the Pinnaroo/Carina area”.42. AUSTRALIAN BIRDS 10 (3)
Prior to 1962 the literature lists the following records: –
1882 North (1907) records that a specimen of an adult male was procured in July
1882 by a Mr Bennett at Moolah Station in western New South Wales. A
check of specimens in the Australian Museum revealed however that two Yellow –
fronted Honeyeaters Nos. A18531 (female) and A18532 (male) were collected
(according to the original label) at “Moolah” in July 1883 by K. H. Bennett
and W. Adam. The precise year of collection therefore is not known. McGilp
(1945) in his review of the species presumed that Moolah was near Overland
Corner on the Murray River in South Australia where a collector named
Andrews had shot two specimens in 1883. It is difficult to understand McGilp’s
decision to place Moolah in South Australia in view of North’s corroborative
1903 Three skins (Grant Collection) in the Australian Museum were obtained at Narromine
(McGilp /oc.cit.). The exact location and habitat type is not known but small patches
of mallee occur within 18 km of Narromine.
1958 McGill (/oc. cit.) records that specimens were procured south-west of Nyngan where
they were reported to be in some numbers.
1959 Gannon (/oc. cit) states that A. Keast recorded it at Nymagee (presumably the same
location as “south-west of Nyngan” per McGill).
1960 Reported by Gannon that H. J. Frith and A. R. McGill independently reported it at
Tabbita, north-west of Griffith.
Mr. Geo. Mack, Ornithologist at the National Museum of Victoria, advised McGilp (/oc. cit.)
that a skin in the collection was taken near Bourke, no date given. McGilp goes on to say
that “Mack however is not quite satisfied that this skin is correctly labelled”. Consequently
throughout this article the Bourke reference has been excluded.
This paucity of records for New South Wales indicates the reason for the species being
considered very rare.
In recent years many more observations have been made of the Yellow- fronted Honey-
eater and these have been set out below according to localities and each locality has been
indicated on the accompanying map.
Kudgee Station (100 km south of Broken Hill). Here there is a narrow strip of mallee
extending eastwards from the South Australian border and crossing the Silver City
Highway to the Darling River. First recorded there by J. Hobbs (in litt.) in 1963 in good
numbers, and seen on all subsequent visits by him and others.March, 1976 43.
Tasman and Berangabah Stations (60 km north of Ivanhoe). Extensive mallee starts here
extending eastwards to Yallock, Keewong, Red Tank and Karwarn Stations (60 km).
plumula, has been found to be a resident here at least for the period 1972 onwards
(J. Hobbs in lift.). At Tasman the mallee band is narrow in the west but widens
rapidly as it extends eastwards.
Moolah and Yathong Stations (70 km north-east of Ivanhoe). The mallee on these properties
is linked to that of Yallock Station and extends east to Yathong Nature Reserve
which now includes Glenlea Station. Resident status has been confirmed by numerous
observers and it was here that Bennett (North 1907) recorded the species as very
common in 1882 and it is still very common.
Irymple Station (150 km south of Cobar). Observed by RM to be a permanent resident here
for the last eight years where they occur in the mallee. Also observed here by
V. J. and J. Izzard (in litt.). “Irymple” was added to the Yathong Nature Reserve
during 1975.
Meryula Station (10 km east of Cobar). Small patches of mallee occur east of Cobar and
almost to Nyngan. At Meryula on 8 November 1974 a small flock was seen by
L & P. Smith (Rogers 1974).
Nymagee District (110 km south -wet of Nyngan). Clumps of mallee occur on a number of
sandy ridges in the Nymagee District and plumula was observed here by A. J. Keast
in 1958/59. A specimen was collected 8 km west
in litt.). Also recorded at Crowl Creek now known as Sandy Creek, near Nymagee
on 16 May, 1974 by R. Bigg (Rogers 1975) arts from 5 km west of Nymagee,
west to Shuttleton Station by RM.
Round Hill Nature Reserve (50 km north-west of Euabalong West). Specimens collected by
J. Disney (in /itt.) from November 1967 to March 1968, also a specimen collected
January 1970. Observed since then by a number of observers and apparently the
bird is resident in the area (G. & N. Clarke pers. comm., Rogers 1972).
Matakana-Roto. This mallee is an extension of that at Round Hill and birds have been
observed by RM regularly between March 1973 and September 1975.
Ivanhoe District. A few small clumps of mallee occur close to Ivanhoe and when in flower
are visited by plumula, as are the extensive stands of the Long -leafed Emu Bush
Eremophila longifolia.
Cocoparra National Park and Nature Reserve. (40 km north-east of Griffith). Observed by
VJ feeding in lronbarks when flowering during the period 13 July to 4 August

  1. Stands of mallee occur close by to where the birds were observed.
    Binya District. Observed by RM to be resident in a patch of mallee 13 km south-west of
    Binya where they have been found breeding, and also in mallee between Weethalle
    and Barellan.44. AUSTRALIAN BIRDS 10 (3)
    Dareton. Not observed in the huge block of mallee that extends north and east of Dareton-
    Buronga-Euston during a 20 year period by J. Hobbs (in litt.) until on 18 and 19 May
    1973 when he observed two small flocks. One group was feeding in mallee near Dareton
    whilst the other group was observed flying across the township in a westerly direction.
    It is not possible that both were the same flock.
    It will be seen from the foregoing that plumula prefers the dry mallee vegetation assoc-
    iation of western New South Wales exclusive of the far south-west.Elsewhere in Australia the
    bird is not so confined to a mallee habitat (Slater 1974). This mallee vegetation type has been
    described by Hayden (1971), who calls it “Dry Mallee” to differentiate it from the “wet mallees”
    of the mountains of the southern tablelands extending into Victoria. Her description is as follows

  • “Eucalyptus socialis E. dumosa alliance (Red Mallee and Yellow Mallee). The alliance is
    found on the western and far western plains in the south area of predominately winter rainfall.
    It is found west from the 17 inch isohyet and maximum development is west of the 12 inch
    isohye -t . The alliance extends into Victoria and South Australia. The alliance is a dry mallee
    2 m 10 m high. The canopy may be dense with the branches interlacing. A stratum of
    sclerophyllous shrub may be present being more pronounced in the higher rainfall areas. Broom –
    bush Melaleuca uncinata may from small, pure stands within the alliance giving rise to the
    “mallee-broombush” classification of some authors. The eucalypts exhibit the stunted fine
    stemmed condition known as “whipstick” when the alliance occurs on limestone. Other plants
    associated with the alliance include White mallee E. gracilis, Green Mallee E. viridus, E. o/eosa,
    and Broadleafed mallee E. behrianna”.
    However, within this mallee association, plumula has a preference for the low mallee
    having an understory of porcupine grass and other ground vegetation. It also favours low
    coppiced mallee shoots regenerating after a bushfire. Consequently, in the southern mallee
    areas around Dareton, and even in some sections of the mallee north of Ivanhoe where the
    mallee is tall and open, known locally as “Bull mallee”, plumula is not present.
    The main areas where dry mallee originally occured have been illustrated on the map
    although many smaller stands could not be shown. Extensive clearing for wheat cropping has
    occured in the region bounded by Hillston-Wyalong-Temora-Griffith. The mallee in these
    areas is now generally confined to isolated paddocks and along roadways and stock routes.
    From the information compiled it is apparent that plumula is a common resident of
    the dry mallee habitats of western New South Wales extending east from the South Aust-
    ralian border to Nyngan, Condoblin and Binya. It is apparently very rare in the south-west
    around Euston-Dareton where the mallee may be unsuitable because it is too tall and more
    open. There is some evidence of wandering, a local nomadism away from the main centre of
    population. It is possible that more regular movements will be proved in time. Lack of qualified
    observers in the past may have been one reason why plumula has been overlooked. However,
    with improved roads and the increased mobility of observers, the arid isolated regions of theMarch, 1976 45.
    State can now be more easily investigated. Areas of mallee indicated on the map where plumula
    have not been recorded should be investigated more fully to correctly determine its range in
    the State.
    Whilst the nectar from mallee blossoms is generally given as the major food item for
    plumula, it has also been observed to feed in a manner similar to other honeyeaters of the
    genus. At Cocoparra, plumula was observed by VJ to fly out in pursuit of flying insects and
    at other times they were seen to fly high in the air hawking for insects well above the tree-
    tops. When flying from tree to tree, they did so at a height of 10 m above the ground and
    on settling back into the trees again they “clung” sideways to the thicker branches and
    “hopped” along the branch, pecking for insects as they climbed higher into the foliage.
    At Ivanhoe, Hobbs (in litt) has observed them to feed on the nectar of the Long –
    leafed Emu -bush, whilst RM observed them feeding on the nectar of the Cactus Pea Bossia
    walked The nectar of Mugga Ironbark E. sideroxylon was taken at Cocoparra but these trees
    were adjacent to mallee areas.
    A full account of the nesting c plumula has been given by Boehm (1957) however
    as RM has examined a total of 15 nests it is worthwhile to record the following nesting
    data as it pertains to New South Wales.
    A cup -shaped nest, similar to that of the White -plumed Honeyeater M. penicil/ata is
    constructed and consists mostly of grasses with many empty spider egg sacs interwoven on
    the outside.
    Nests have been located at heights from m to 3 m from the ground, averaging 2,6 m,
    all sited amongst the branches of mallee eucalypts, primarily in E. dumosa, E. socia/is and
    occasionally E. gracilis.
    The clutch consists of two eggs but occasionally three (out of seven nests, the contents
    of which were inspected, only one contained three eggs). The eggs are pinkish and speckled
    with small russet -red spots. It has not been possible to determine whether incubation is by
    both sexes however, it has been observed that only a pair of birds attend each nest. Auxil-
    iaries at the nest have not been reported.
    Young are fed both on insects and on a “sugary” white scale found on the leaves of
    mallees. When feeding the young the parent birds cling to the twigs of the eucalypts and
    very seldom alight on the rim of the nest.
    In good seasons (above average rainfall) nesting commences as early as June, continuing
    through until mid -February. One nest found near Binya in February contained two eggs, a
    very late date. October and November are the months when most clutches are laid.46. AUSTRALIAN BIRDS 10 (3)
    Plumula occupies in New South Wales the same habitat as the Yellow -plumed or Mallee
    Honeyeater M. ornata. Both species are very gregarious and both are superficially alike, plumula
    being distinguished from ornata by faint (not bold) dark streaks on the breast and by a blackish –
    brown base to the yellow ear -tufts (the dark base is almost absent in ornata). Throughout Aust-
    ralia there is generally little overlap in their distribution as ornata has a much more southerly
    distribution according to MacDonald (1973) being found from central -western New South Wales,
    southern South Australia extending west to the southern and western coasts of Western Aust-
    ralia. Neither Slater (1974) nor MacDonald accurately depict the range of either honeyeater in
    New South Wales as is indicated by the evidence shown here. Both authors show a continuous
    distribution for plumula from south-western NSW through to central Queensland, but such a
    continuous distribution is yet unproved; and both authors fail to show that ornata extends
    into central NSW as far east as the Gilgandra-Bidden District where P. Bourke (in Gannon
    1962) describes it as a rare resident in mallee and pine, and to Ingalba Nature Reserve near
    Temora where it has been recorded as “commonly seen” (Rogers 1973).
    Both J. Hobbs (in litt.) and the authors agree with Boehm (1957) that where both
    species occur together in mallee plumula apparently prefers dense clumps of shoots amongst
    low trees whilst ornata favours tall open mallee scrub. Whilst ornata has been recorded in all
    the dry mallee habitat of NSW, plumula has a much more restricted range. Hobbs is of the
    opinion that the virtual absence of plumula in the mallee in south-western NSW allows ornata
    to penetrate areas of low mallee too, thus occupying another niche in the absence of a com-
    petitor, a phenomenon well known in other species. When both species are present in mallee
    it has been observed the plumula dominates ornata. However, in the Binya/Barellen area ornata
    is more common and dominant. No sign of aggressive behaviour was observed between plumula
    and M. fusca and M. penicillata when all three species were observed feeding together in flow-
    ering Ironbark at Cocoparra.
    The status of the Yellow -fronted Honeyeater in NSW would appear to be that of a
    common resident of the dry mallee habitat of the arid interior. It often occurs together with
    the Yellow -plumed Honeyeater but the latter is more common in the south of the State.
    Insects and nectar are the main foods taken. Nesting takes place mainly from September to
    November, the nest being built in a mallee eucalypt at a height averaging 2.6 m above ground.
    The usual clutch would appear to be two eggs. Until recent times the lack of observers in the
    arid mallee regions is probably the main reason why this species was considered to be very
    rare in NSW.
    The authors wish to express their appreciation to J. Izzard and M. Bruce who provided
    data; and to J. Hobbs, A. H. Chisholm and A. K. Morris who provided both information and
    assistance with the preparation of these notes. We would like to thank Mr. J. De S. Disney,
    Curator of Birds, Australian Museum for providing data on Museum specimens; A. Leisham
    for the drawing of the map; and Beryl Marchant for typing the manuscript.March, 1976 47.
    Boehm, E. 1957 Perching Birds (Passeriformes) of the Mount Mary Plains,
    South Australia. Emu 57:311-334
    Gannon, G. R. 1962 Distribution of Australian Honeyeaters. Emu 62:145-166
    Hayden, E. J. 1971 Natural Plant Communities of New South Wales. M. Sc.
    Thesis. Dept. Botany. A.N.U. Canberra.
    MacDonald, J. D. 1973 Birds of Australia. A. H. & A. W. Reed, Sydney.
    McGill, A R. 1960 A. Handlist of the Birds of New South Wales. Fauna

Protection Panel, Sydney.

McGilp, J. N. 1945 Meliphaga plumula Yellow- fronted Honeyeater.
S. Aust. Ornith. 17:46.
North, A J. 1907 Nest and Eggs of Birds found Breeding in Australia and
Tasmania. Vol. 11:135.
Officer, H. R. 1964 Australian Honeyeaters. The Bird Observers Club, Melbourne.
Rogers, A. E. F. 1972 N.S.W. Bird Report for 1971. Birds 6:95
1973 N.S.W. Bird Report for 1972. Birds 7:106
1974 N.S.W. Bird Report for 1973. Birds 8:116
1975 N.S.W. Bird Report for 1974. Aust. Birds 9:94.
Slater, P. 1974 A ‘Field Guide to Australian Birds: Passerines.
Rigby Ltd., Adelaide.
V JENKINS P. O. Box 260, Yenda, N. S W. 2681
R. MILLER Block 192, Murrami, N.S. W. 269648. AUSTRALIAN BIRDS 10 (3)
Yellow -fronted Honeyeater at the nest.
Yellow -plumed Honeyeater at the nest
Photos by R Miller, Murrami.March, 1976 49.
143° 147°


-31° 31°

  • 35° 0 WAGGA WAGGA 35°
    143° 147°50. AUSTRALIAN BIRDS 10 (3)
    The Grey Noddy Procelsterna cerulea breeds on many island groups of the tropical
    Pacific Ocean, but in the western groups it is much less widespread (King, 1967). The breed-
    ing colony nearest Australia is at Lord Howe Island. Its status in Australia was last reviewed
    by Morris (1972), who summarised the details of the six known occurrences (Iredale, 1929;
    Hindwood, 1949, 1964; Holmes, 1967; Cooper & Forshaw, 1971). These and a further seven
    are given in Table 1.
    On Lord Howe Island the Grey Noddy is a spring and summer breeder, with the first
    eggs being laid in late September and the last chicks fledged by late February (Fullagar et al.,
    1974). As the peak of egg -laying is probably in late October, a peak of fledging may be
    expected in mid to late January. The occurrences of the Grey Noddy in Australia are from
    24 December to 23 May, with a majority from 15 to 30 January. These individuals there-
    fore appear to represent a post -breeding dispersal that includes an unknown number of juven-
    iles, as suggested by Morris (Loc. city. The latitudinal distribution of the Australian occurr-
    ences with respect to Lord Howe Island (see Fig. 1) also suggests a dispersal. Murphy (1936)
    states that in immature plumage the back is slightly brown. The bird seen at South Solitary
    Island had a brownish wash on the wings and the wing of the specimen from Bundagen Head
    was fresh and unworn with a pale brown wash, thus both were probably juveniles. The
    remiges of the Bungwahl specimen were in moult (Cooper & Forshaw, 1971) so it was not
    juvenile and the 1964 specimen was an adult female (Hindwood, 1964). The presence of such
    dispersing individuals in Australia might be considered accidental. However, as the Grey Noddy
    is sedentary, feeding within the vicinity of its breeding islands (Ashmole & Ashmole, 1967;
    King, 1967), a dispersal tendency following breeding might occur annually, being adaptive in
    lessening competition for a depleted food resource. In this regard it may be significant that
    very few seabirds are sedentary, with most being migratory.
    Such a dispersal would occur independently of the weather. The Grey Noddies seen on
    14 March 1971 amongst a mixed gathering of seabirds 450 km south of Lord Howe Island
    (Jenkins, 1971) were undoubtedly part of a normal dispersal. Furthermore the behaviour
    observed at South Solitary Island and Port Macquarie was typical of the species and did not
    suggest exhausted, storm -driven individuals, and the weather was fine during and preceding
    these observations. At South Solitary Island the bird was first seen at 13.00 hrs about 50 m
    north-east of the island, where it remained searching for food for about ten minutes, flying
    within two to three metres of the sea surface. It then flew directly to the island and landed
    on a narrow ledge of the eastern cliff -face ten metres above the water. It was approached
    easily but when forcibly disturbed it flew out of sight. FaIla (1970) saw many Grey Noddies
    roosting in a similar situation in the Bay of Plenty, New Zealand, and on Lord Howe Island
    it breeds on ledges (Hindwood, 1940). The bird near Port Macquarie was first seen at 15.10 hrs
    feeding in the surf in water 1-10 cm deep and on one occasion it picked something from theMarch, 1976 51.
    film of water left on the beach by a receding wave. It hovered close to the surface with its
    wings fluttering rapidly, facing the easterly breeze. Its long legs were held loosely and often
    a small forward movement was attained by paddling with the feet, thus superficially resembl-
    ing a storm -petrel. This has been well described by Soper (1969). Before flying away it was
    chased three times by a Silver Gull Larus novaehollandiae, when it once gave a wheezing call.
    Ashmole, N. P. & M. J. 1967 Comparative Feeding Ecology of Seabirds of a Tropical
    Ashmole Oceanic Island. Peabody Mus. Bull. 24.
    Cooper, W. T. & J. M. 1971 Record of the Grey Ternlet from New South Wales.
    Forshaw Aust. Bird Watcher 4 : 82.
    Corben, C. J., G. J. 1974 Sighting of a Grey Noddy in Queensland. Sunbird 5 : 41.
    Ingram & W. Watson
    Falla, R. A. 1970 Grey Ternlets in the Bay of Plenty. Notornis 17 : 83-86.
    Fullagar, P. J., J. L 1974 Appendix F : Report on the Birds In Environmental
    McKean & G. F. Survey of Lord Howe Island (H. F. Recher & S. S. Clark,
    van Tets Eds). Sydney: Government Printer.
    Hindwood, K A. 1940 The birds of Lord Howe Island. Emu 40 : 1-86.
    Hindwood, K. A 1949 The Grey Noddy : another Australian record.
    Emu 49 62-63.
    Hindwood, K. A 1964 The Grey Noddy : Australian records. Emu 64 : 171.
    Holmes, G. 1967 Two rarities : central coast, N.S.W. Bird Obs. 427 : 4.
    Iredale, T. 1929 The vicissitudes of a noddy : a Christmas story. Emu
    28 : 290-291.
    Jenkins, J. 1971 A mixed gathering of seabirds in the Tasman Sea.
    Notornis 18 220-222.
    King, W. B. 1967 Seabirds of the Tropical Pacific Ocean. Washington :
    Smithsonian Institution.
    Morris, A K. 1972 The Grey Noddy in Australia. Aust. Bird Watcher 4 : 203.
    Murphy, R. C. 1936 Oceanic Birds of South America. Vol. 11, p. 1148.
    Soper, M. F. 1969 Kermadec Islands expedition reports : the Grey Ternlet
    (Procelsterna cerulea albivitta). Notornis 16 : 75-80.
    GLENN HOLMES P Box 795, Coffs Harbour. 2450.
  • * *52. AUSTRALIAN BIRDS 10 (3)
    150° 155°
  • 30° –
    0 LORD



  • 35″ 35° –
    0 250 500 Km
    150° 155°
    TO LORD HOWE ISLANDMarch, 1976 53.
    24-12-28 Manly T. Iredale Beach -washed
    15-1-49 Cronulla K. Hindwood Beach -washed
    late -1.61 Dee Why T. Iredale Beach -washed
    30-3-64 Manly G. Marshall Injured
    20-1-67 Long Reef D Sawyer, G. Holmes Beech -washed
    21 -1-71 Bungwahl W Cooper Dead, inland
    14-4-73 Stradbroke Is. C. Corben, G Ingram, Alive
    W. Watson
    2-744 Stradbroke Is J Martin, J Covacevich Alive, collected
    23-5-74 South Ballina W Watson Alive
    16-1 -75 South Solitary Is. P. Roberts, G. Holmes Alive, photographed
    19-1-75 Windang C. Sonter Beach -washed
    30-1-75 Port Macquarie G Holmes Alive
    2-2-75 Bundagen Head P. Roberts Beach -washed54. AUSTRALIAN BIRDS 10 (3)
    The Pilliga Scrub in north-western New South Wales consists of about 800,000 ha of
    dry sclerophyll woodland bounded by the towns of Narrabri, Boggabri, Coonabarabran,
    Baradine and Pilliga. It has not been developed for agriculture, neither pastoral nor cereal
    cropping, to any great extent because of the poor texture and fertility of its sandy soil. At
    the present time approximately 400,000 ha has been set aside as State Forests which are
    managed for Cypress Pine Callitris collumellaris production (for floorboards and timber
    frames) and Ironbark Eucalyptus crebra (for railway sleepers). However, due to the poor
    commercial value of many of the tree species present, only parts of the forests are managed
    intensively. In addition, a further 100,000 ha has been dedicated as Nature Reserves under
    the control of the National Parks and Wildlife Service, the principal one being the Pilliga
    Nature Reserve, located some 34 km north-east of Coonabarabran. Both Cleland (1919) and
    Chisholm (1936) who have published bird lists for the Pilliga Scrub, have also provided a
    good description of the flora associations present.
    Little change in the forest type has taken place since Cleland (/oc. cit) undertook
    some travels through the north-west portion of the Scrub. He traversed a route similar to
    that of the present Narrabri-Baradine Road, and returned by way of Wargan, near Gwabegar,
    and then east across to Narrabri via Old Cubbo Station. His journey of 303 km by buggy
    took ten days but the exact date of the trip is not stated. E. C. Chisholm (/oc. cif’) compiled
    his list between February and March 1936. The title of his article “Birds of the Pilliga Scrub”
    is a misnomer as it is actually a record of the birds he saw within a 6.4 km radius of Bara-
    dine. As Baradine is located on the edge of the Scrub, the list could hardly be considered
    as a comprehensive one for the Pilliga.
    The following records of Cleland and Chisholm would appear to be doubtful or
    erroneous in the light of present knowledge of the region.
    Pha/acrocorax fuscescens (= gouldi) Black -faced Cormorant.
    Cleland records “Phalacrocorax gouldi White -breasted Cormorant (probably) – one flushed
    from Baradine Creek near Wangan”. However this cormorant is a pelagic species which breeds
    on off -shore islands from the Recherche Archipelago, Western Australia, to islands of the
    extreme south-east of South Australia and islands in Bass Straight. The fact that it was form-
    erly known as “White -breasted Cormorant” (Condon 1974) and so confused with the other
    two more widespread white -breasted forms, is the reason for its mis-identification in the past.
    The common cormorant of the pools and waterholes of the major creek systems of the Scrub,
    ie Baradine, Bohena, Yaminba and Borah Creeks, is the Little Pied Cormorant P. melanoleucos.
    Coturnix (= Excalfactoria) chinensis King Quail
    Cleland records “I did not see this bird but one of my companions, Mr Taylor, flushed a
    ‘King Quail’ at Old Cubbo Station”. This property is located 20 km north-east of GwabegarMarch, 1976 55.
    where the Scrub had probably been partially cleared. Published records of King Quail in New
    South Wales have all been for districts along or east of the Great Divide and never so far west.
    They are not known to occur to the south in the similar habitat of Goonoo State Forest
    (Heron 1973); to the north-east at Inverell (Baldwin 1975); or to the north in the Moree
    District where it has not been recorded by four authors of district lists. The nearest that
    King Quail have been recorded to Old Cubbo Station would appear to be at Cooyal near
    Mudgee, 240 km to the south-east, where it has only been very rarely recorded (Cox and
    Hamilton 1889; N. Kurtz in Rogers 1975). It is most likely that the quail seen was in fact
    one of the Button -quails Turnix Spp as three species, viz varia, velox and pyrrhothorax are
    all known to occur adjacent to or within the Scrub.
    Calyptorhynchus magnificus (= banksii) Red-tailed Black Cockatoo
    Chisholm records that “I am told on good authority that ….Calyptorhynchus banksii (Black
    Cockatoo) are seen occasionally”. Llewellyn (1974) has drawn attention to the need to examine
    closely all records of black cockatoos with red tails because of similarities in appearance bet-
    ween the species. Certainly in the Scrub the Glossy Black Cockatoo C. lathami is reasonably
    common. During 1975 recorded them at 11 separate localities throughout the Scrub in flocks
    containing up to 40 birds. They were observed feeding in both Casuarinas and eucalypts and
    their identity was confirmed both by call and by a specimen whcih had been killed by van-
    dals. In contrast know of no recent confirmed observations of magnificus near the Scrub.
    The nearest recorded observations being at Marra Hall, just west of the Macquarie Marshes,
    176 km west of Baradine in 1975 (Rogers in press); and at Brewarrina in 1973, 236 km
    north-west of Baradine (Rogers 1974). The present distribution of magnificus in this State
    would appear to be the far north-west, generally along the larger inland rivers; extending
    south along the Darling to Menindee; south along the Bogan to Nyngan; south along the
    Macquarie to Buckiinguy; and east along the Barwon to the Queensland Border. As lathami
    does occur in north-eastern New South Wales, recent records for magnificus at Inverell
    (Baldwin loc. cit.) and at Murwillumbah (Pratt 1972) would appear to need confirmation.
    Certainly the black cockatoos with red tails at Baradine and throughout the Pilliga Scrub
    are lathami
    Neophema chrysostoma Blue -winged Parrot
    Chisholm’s description “fairly plentiful amongst semi -cleared ring -barked timber. Several seen
    feeding together on grass seeds, especially in the late afternoon” is more a description of the
    habitat and habits of the Turquoise Parrot N. pulchella than of chrysostoma. As Chisholm
    was present at Baradine for a month between February and March it is most unlikely that
    he would have seen chysostoma as they would not have yet commenced their northward
    movement from their breeding grounds in Tasmania and coastal Victoria. Forshaw (1969)
    records that they move north in autumn, generally during March and April, returning in the
    spring, and that in their winter quarters favour open country, mallee, arid scrub lands and
    saltbush plains. In the absence of any other records in the region apart from Chisholm’s,
    Baradine could be too far east of the passage and wintering areas of chrysostoma. In
    contrast pulchella is relatively common in the Scrub, having been observed there by the56. AUSTRALIAN BIRDS 10 (3)
    author at Billy Creek, Sandstone Caves, Tunmallallee Creek and Yaminba Creek, as well as in
    the nearby Warrumbungles National Park where they are regularly observed. During 1975 they
    were also observed at Yarrigan State Forest, just south of Baradine by F. M. Crawford (pers.
    comm.) and in recent years A H. Chisholm (1971) recorded them breeding elsewhere within
    the Scrub. The many patches of open woodland within the Scrub are ideal habitat for pulchella
    and it is most certain that this was the species that Chisholm saw.

Ninox strenua Powerful Owl

Chisholm records that “This was seen moving about in the late afternoon and was very shy
probably quite plentiful”. Cleland records no owls in his paper whilst Chisholm records only
strenua. However strenua is an owl of the coastal temperate and sub- tropical forests (Condon
/oc. cit.) rarely occuring within this State west of the Great Divide. The woodlands of the
Pilliga Scrub are certainly not the habitat of this large owl, and furthermore their territories
are of necessity very large so that they could never be considered as being “quite plentiful”.
The only Ninox sp. that could be considered “plentiful” is the Boobook Owl N. novaeseelandiae
which does occur throughout the woodlands of the Scrub. However the Barking Owl N. conn-
ivens also occurs and has been recorded at a number of localities, one pair breeding on the
property “Cumberdeen” 13 km north-west of Baradine in 1973. As connivens is also a large
owl and is recorded as moving about by day (Burton 1973), a habit that the pair at “Cumber-
deen” were observed to do (E. Rolls pers. comm), it is most likely that this was the species
recorded by Chisholm.
Baldwin, M. 1975 Birds of Inverell District, N.S.W. Emu 75:113
Burton, J. A. Ed. 1973 Owls of the World. New York : E. P. Dutton and Co. Inc.
Chisholm, A. H. 1971 Young Birds that Demonstrate. Birds 6:19
Chisholm, E. C. 1936 Birds of the Pilliga Scrub. Emu 36:32
Cleland, J. Burton 1919 The Birds of the Pilliga Scrub, New South Wales. Emu 18: 272
Condon, H. T. 1975 Checklist of the Birds of Australia, I. Non -passerines
Melbourne RAOU.
Cox, J. D. and 1889 A List of the Birds of the Mudgee District. Proc. Linn.
Hamilton, A. G. Soc. 4:395-424
Forshaw, J. M. 1969 Australian Parrots. Melbourne : Landsdowne Press
Heron, S. J. 1973 Birds of Goonoo State Forest, N.S.W. Emu 73: 119
Llewellyn, L. C. 1974 New records of red-tailed black cockatoos in south-
eastern Australia with a discussion on their plumage.
Emu 74 113
Pratt, E. 1972 Bird Report 1971/1972. The Bird Observer No. 483
Rogers, A E. F. 1974 N.S.W. Bird Report for 1973. Birds 8:111
1975 N.S.W. Bird Report for 1974. Aust. Birds 9:83
1976 N.S.W. Bird Report for 1975. In Press
ALAN K. MORRIS. P.O. Box 39. Coonabarabran N.S. W. 2857March, 1976 57.
The observation of an albino Double -banded Dotterel Charadrius bicinctus at Lake
Illawarra Entrance on 30 November 1975 was most surprising. Although there are many inst-

ances of albino birds in literature, personal observations even over many years of field study

are somewhat rare. In recent years three such instances come readily to mind A Little
Black Cormorant Phalacrocoras su/cirostris (in a flock of 15 otherwise normally -plumaged birds)
at Red Gables Swamp on 8 May 1964; a Grey Butcherbird Cracticus torquatus at Wiseman’s
Ferry on 21 May 1970 (photographed); and a Skylark Alauda arvensis at Baker’s Lagoon on
15 October 1972.
However, have had no previous sighting of an albino in the Order Charadriiformes.
A cursory search through some of the various papers and publications on waders also indicated
that such a phenomenon must be considered decidedly rare.
The Lake Illawarra bird was photographed, which shows the whole plumage, except for
the frontal pattern and breast bands, entirely dull white. The black line above the white fore-
head and the line above the white throat, of normal plumaged breeding birds are both present,
but decidedly brownish. However, the black and chestnut breast bands of the Lake Illawarra
bird are identical in colour, size and shape to those of a normal specimen.
It is most unlikely to find a Double -banded Dotterel in Australia so late in the season
as the last day in November, for it is generally regular in its return to New Zealand to breed.
Therefore, the possibility is raised as to whether the unusual white plumage caused it to be
“ostracised” by the others of the flock, when the usual departure urge caused a migratory
movement homewards.
A. R McGILL, 95 Nuwarra Road, Moorebank NS. W. 2170.58.. AUSTRALIAN BIRDS 10 (3)
Courtney Haines (1975 Aust. Birds 10:15) mentions a nest of this species he inspected

at Mona Vale, New South Wales in January 1973. It contained three eggs, one of which

differed in ground colour from the other two. He quotes “Prynne (1963) states…. as far
as known every individual bird…. produces its own particular type of shell throughout its
life.”. In my experience that statement appears to be the case, except where a laying hen is
in ill health. However, consider that this applies only to the texture and composition of
the shell and not the ground colour as thought by Countney Haines.
have inspected many nests of A. australis (A. stentoreus of the CSIRO 1969 Index
of Australian Bird Names) containing eggs and found the presence of one egg of a different
ground colour in a clutch of three not uncommon. Some such clutches have been well incub-
ated. Three eggs is the most common number laid in a clutch of australis.
Other species in Australia lay eggs that differ in ground colour within the clutch. This
applies especially to the two inland breeding terns Ch/idonias hybrida Whiskered Tern and
Geloche/idon nilotica Gull -billed Tern, which frequently have all three eggs in a clutch diff-
ering, often markedly so, in ground colour. Robins, especially Petroica cucullata Hooded
Robin, P. vittata Dusky Robin and Eopsa/tria georgiana White -breasted Robin, Gulls and
Currawongs, are others, as are, less often, Warblers, Thornbills, and some Honeyeaters.
doubt that two hens were responsible for the three eggs in the nest found at Mona
Vale and consequently do not believe that the record can be used as a pointer to polgamy
although do not reject the proposition that polygamy does occur in this species.
G. R. BERULDSEN, 18 Caber Street, Kenmore, Qld. 4069March, 1976 59.
Checklist of the Birds of Australia, Part 1 – Non -passerines by H. T. Condon, Royal Australian
Ornithologists Union, Melbourne, 1975. 311 + xx pp. 2 maps, $10.50.
Revision of the Australian Checklist has been long overdue and this first part has been
so long in preparation that is is a relief to report that our patience has been well rewarded.
H. T. Condon has produced for the R.A.O.U. a good workable list which, with a few minor
amendments, should achieve a high level of acceptance throughout Australia and overseas.
At the species level a fine balance has been achieved between the need for revision of
the old list and the current trend of “lumping” and it is to be commended that many forms
have been retained as species where published material might have been quoted as justification
for their reduction to subspecies. 19 species have disappeared and 47, mostly vagrant seabirds
and waders, have been added; these have been detailed by McGill (1975 Aust. Bird Bander
In comparison with the C.S.I.R.O. List (1969 Index of Australian Bird Names) which
had been adopted by many societies and individuals as an interim measure, eight species have
been dropped and 16 added. The Northern Shoveler has been relegated to an unnumbered
species; the Sooty Storm -petrel and Grey -headed Pigeon were presumably considered insuffic-
iently authenticated and the Spur -winged Plover, Chestnut -quilled Rock Pigeon, Red -plumed
Pigeon, Yellow Rosella and Golden Bronze -cuckoo have been reduced to subspecific status.
Without entering into the argument of whether such action was taxonomically justified it is
important to note the problems involved in reducing to subspecies forms, those which are
readily recognisable in the field, such as the Yellow Rosella. If in the future all records of
the Crimson and Yellow Rosellas are listed under one species name, valuable field data, which
might have led to a better understanding of their differences, will be lost. This can be over-
come to some extent by using trinomials, which is awkward or by giving vernacular names
to subspecies, an undesirable practice. Of the species which were not included in the C.S.I.R.O.
list, nine were overseas vagrants (Chinstrap and Snares Island Penguins, Tahiti Petrel, Yellow
Bittern, Redshank, Asiatic Dowitcher, Western Sandpiper, Dunlin and Black Tern) while seven
have been elevated from subspecific level (Hutton’s Shearwater, Swamp Quail, Buff -breasted
Button -quail, Saunder’s Little Tern, Red -collared Lorikeet, Hooded Parrot and Rufous -breasted
Bronze -cuckoo). In the case of the Swamp Quail and Saunder’s Little Tern this seems hardly
The general layout of the book is pleasing with the added detail of fossil forms and full
taxanomic synonomy highly commended, although the inclusion of these and a gazetteer have
undoubtedly contributed to the high selling price. Gaps in the distributional data appear to
indicate a reluctance to consult regional journals, especially for records of seabird and waders
e.g. there are five records of the Royal Albatross for New South Wales all with published
references; the Checklist quotes three only of which two are completely in error. For other
species isolated occurrences are quoted giving the impression of extreme vagrancy when there
are actually numerous records e.g. Great -winged Petrel and Terek Sandpiper. While such60. AUSTRALIAN BIRDS 10 (3)
distributional data is not one of the chief functions of a checklist any information should
be accurate.
Vernacular names are very much a personal choice making it difficult to please all,
however, with a few exceptions the new list seems a good compromise. The most annoying
reversal is Boobook to Spotted Owl. Australian ornithology is already overburdened with
descriptive vernaculars and relies heavily on names such as Brolga, Jabiru, Kookaburra and
Boobook for light relief. There are already nine species listed by Burton (1973 Owls of the
World) which include the term “Spotted”. For the others Horsfield seems infinitely prefer-
able to Rufous -tailed Bronze -cuckoo; there is no need for Indian with Koel as there is only
one species of wide distribution which, unlike the Japanese Snipe, breeds in Australia; the
Large -billed Dotterel should be retained as the Large Sand Dotterel, the name in common
usage, or else called the Greater Sand Plover as it is known elsewhere; if Mallee Ringneck
is acceptable on a habitat basis then Mulga Parrot is preferable to Many -coloured Parrot;
and delegates to the XVIth International Ornithological Congress must be confused to find
that the congress emblem is now the Pied Goose.
Despite these criticisms, Part 1 of the new Checklist is a great step forward and the
author and all those associated with it are to be congratulated on completing a mighty and
often thankless task.
ALAN E. E ROGERS, 9 Golden Grove, Westleigh NS. W. 2120tij

Jenkins, V. & The Status and Distribution of the Yellow -fronted Honeyeater
R. Miller in New South Wales 41
Holmes, Glenn Post -Breeding Dispersal of the Grey Noddy 50
Morris, A. K. Some Doubtful Records for the Pilliga Scrub .. 54
McGill, Arnold An Albino Double -banded Dotterel in Australia .. 57
Beruldsen, G. R. Further notes on the Australian Reed -warbler Acrocephalus
Australis (Gould) 1838 .. 58

  • Rogers, A. E. F. Review Checklist of the Birds of Australia, Part
    Non -passerines 59

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