Vol. 12 No. 3-text

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Journal of the
Volume 12 No. 3 March, 1978

ISSN 0311-8150

Registered for Posting as a Periodical Category BTHE N.S.W. FIELD ORNITHOLOGISTS CLUB
W. Boles
The object of the Club is to promote the study and conservation of Australian birds and the
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P.O. Box 39, Coonabarabran. 2857AUSIIIIIiiiAil
Volume 12, No. 3 March, 1978
The purpose of this paper is to examine both the early and more recent history of
the Plumed Frogmouth Podargus plumiferus and to give a summary of records known to me,
including a list of specimens in the Australian Museum. No attempt has been made to obtain
all information on specimens in existence, nor is it intended to discuss the taxonomic relation-
ships between the Plumed Frogmouth and the Marbled Frogmouth P. ocellatus.
John Gould, first described P plumiferus in the “Proceedings of the Zoological Society
London”, as far back as 1846, from a specimen taken in the brushes of the Clarence River,
New South Wales, but its history since then has been somewhat of an enigma. Gregory
Mathews (1908) ommitted it from his “Hand list of the Birds of Australia” but in the 1913
R.A.O.U. Checklist it was reinstated as a species with a range simply given as “New South
Wales”. The 1926 Checklist supported its specific status with the distribution limits “S.E.
Queensland and N.E. N.S.W.”
J. L. Peters (1940) included Podargus plumiferus with a query in the synonymy of
P strigoides strigoides. Mathews’ Cyphorhina plumifera neglecta, based on a bird taken in

south-eastern Queensland and described in 1916 was relegated to the synonymy of Podargus

ocellatus marmoratus from Cape York Peninsula. A footnote by Peters states “Mr George
Mack (in litt.) suggests that the type may have come originally from New Guinea or the
Cape York Peninsula”. This rather bold taxonomic decision brought forth a sharp retort
f -ro m Gregory Mathews (1940) and is repeated herein as it certainly contains sound reasoning.
“Peters confines to Cape York Cyphorphina plumifera neglecta of southern Queensland.38. AUSTRALIAN BIRDS 12 (3)
An author who changes the type locality of a species, without cause, and places the name
purely by guesswork, may take other unscientific liberties with names. Cape York has been
well explored for new and old forms. My type of neglecta was collected in the scrub
country of southern Queensland and the collector told me that the locality was near the
Macpherson Ranges. Podargus plumiferus only occurs around the type locality (Clarence
River) and that part of southern Queensland which abuts on to it. It is apparently a very
rare species. have examined many skins labelled “plumiferus”, which were actually stri-
goides When once a true plumiferus is examined it would never be placed with strigoides.
The affinity of P plumiferus is with Micropodargus ocellatus. In the Sydney Museum there
is a skin of plumiferus and when skins of ocellatus were collected at Cape York they were
labelled plumiferus without the skins being measured. The wing of the form named neglecta
is 230 mm, tail 237; the plumiferus from the Clarence River has a wing measurement of
229 mm, tail with tip broken. The wing measurements of M o. marmoratus vary from 177
to 190 mm. The question is not whether plumiferus is a form of strigoides, but is it a form
of ocellatus? I am inclined to keep it a separate species. The way neglecta is treated by
Peters makes a bird collected in southern Queensland, with a wing measurement of 230 mm,
an absolute synonym of a species confined to Cape York, with a wing of under 190 mm”.
Peters’ treatment might have influenced G. M. Storr (1973) for he omitted Podargus
plumiferus from the birds of Queensland. Neither did he extend the range of P. ocellatus
south of “Northern Cape York Peninsular” if he considered it a race of ocellatus, as others
have done.
Because it may give assistance to anyone concerned with its specific status or other-
wise, or assessing its known distribution and recorded occurrences, I submit the following
chronological information.
(1) John Gould, (1865) details its specific distinctiveness and lists three museum skins
from “the brushes of the Clarence and neighbouring rivers, N.S.W.”
(2) Australian Museum skins are as follows: –

  1. 181185 “N.S.W. Government” Wing 188 mm No sex or date or locality.
  2. 181184 “N.S.W. Government”, Wing 181 mm No sex, date or locality.
  3. 30003 Grant Collection Wing 180 mm Male 1892 Cape York.
  4. 30002 Grant Collection Wing 181 mm Male 1903 Cape York.
  5. 181182 “N.S.W. Government” Wing 202 mm Male 1912 Clarence River.
    It does appear, judging on the remarks of Mathews in the foregoing, that doubt must
    be cast on the correct naming of the first four specimens, and a more critical examination
    with ocellatus is warranted.
    (3) Mathews’ specimen of Cyphorphina plumifera neglecta, the locality for which as
    south-eastern Queensland should be doubted no further.
    (4) C. W. Welsh (1932) of south-eastern Queensland gives notes on nests and eggs
    and says he has seen the bird twice, but it is very rare. This may be queried but as
    his final remarks agree closely with my personal observation, am reasonably certain
    his identification should be accepted.
    (5) Professor J. A. Marshall (1935) says he found a dead specimen in the Macleay
    River area, N.S.W. It would be certain that he would have had it satisfactorily
    (6) The writers of the unofficial R.A.O.U. camp -out in the Macpherson Ranges, in
    1937 state that they found the remains of one, and naturally they would have given
    it careful assessment or had it checked at some museum.March, 1978 39.
    (7) In dense coastal scrub near the mouth of the Manning River had the good
    fortune to have one under observation for fully 15 minutes on 26 December 1941.
    It was disturbed from the ground and flew to a slender horizontal branch about two
    metres above my head. Its feathers were fluffed out to the full in threat attitude
    with its eyes wide open. Its golden -brown coloration, beautifully patterned, somewhat
    moth -like, was really quite different from that of P. strigoides, and its size was dis-
    tinctly smaller. A photograph would have been easy, but I had no camera with me.
    I gave all particulars on my return to Dr. D. L. Serventy and K. A. Hindwood, who
    were both most interested, but suggested whether had seen the rarer rufous form of
    P. strigoides. At that time I did not know of that rufous phase but have seen it
    since three or four times and have two photographs of it, but the bird saw near
    the Manning River was certainly not that. In my “Hand List of the Birds of New
    South Wales” (McGill 1960) the distribution of the Plumed Frogmouth was brought

south to the Manning River on that personal observation.

(8) In the 1972 Bird Report for N.S.W. Alan Rogers (1973) states “The head,
wing, and feathers of a bird found in the Big Rocky Creek area, north of Lismore,
28 June 1972 were sufficient for it to be identified as this species (Specimen Aus.

Museum, No. 44232)”.

(9) In the same report as the foregoing is reported “Early the following day a
live bird was observed in the same area by Don Cameron and Ben Wallace”. These
are both competent observers and would have little difficulty to safely identify it,

particularly as Cameron was the man who found the specimen referred to in (8).

(10) Mervyn Goddard (in litt. 18 January 1973) states “David Fleay kept a nestl-
ing Plumed Frogmouth from Tambourine Mountain for well over a year in captivity”.

A colour photo of this bird was sent to me for a check and is clearly this species.

(11) In the same letter as given in the foregoing Goddard states “I have personally
seen the Plumed Frogmouth at Mt. Tambourine in rain forest.”
(12) The annual report for 1975 of the N.S.W. Field Ornithologists Club (Rogers
1976) contains no less than three (and probably five) observations of the species, one
by Robin Bigg near Bellingen on 15 May and probably others 26 August and 3 Sept-
ember 1975; one by Dr. John Broadbent and Walter Boles of the Australian Museum
on 2 August, 30 km north of Lismore; and one in the rainforest, of Dorrigo National
Park by Ranger J. Archibald who confirmed his observation by the examination of
skins at the Australian Museum (A. B. Rose, pers. comm.)
(13) One was observed by Robin and Keith Bigg on 17 May 1976 again near Bellingen
(Rogers 1977).

(14) In the Queensland Ornithological Society Newsletter for October, 1977 Greg

Roberts and members of the Wildlife Research Group summarise two observations

“Plumed Frogmouth seen and heard calling at Booloumba Creek 29 August 1977
10 kms from the original sighting”.
Campbell A. J. et al. 1913 Official Checklist of the Birds of Australia.
Emu 12: Supplement Part 3:55.40 AUSTRALIAN BIRDS 12 (3)
Gould J. 1865 Handbook to the Birds of Australia. London 1:93
Leach J. A. et al 1926 The Official Checklist of the Birds of Australia.
Melbourne: R.A.O.U.
McGill A. R. 1960 A Handlist of the Birds of New South Wales. Sydney:
Fauna Protection Panel.
Marshall J. R. 1935 Of the Birds of the McPherson Range, Mt. Warning,

and Contiguous Lowlands. Emu 35: 36-48.

Mathews G. M. 1908 Handlist of the Birds of Australia a Review. Emu 40:
Peters J. L. 1940 Checklist of Birds of the World. Cambridge, Mass.:
Harvard University Press, 4: 176.
Roberts G. et al 1977 Bird Notes; Queensland Ornithological Society
Newsletter 8: 9: 3.
Rogers, A. E. F. 1973 N.S.W. Bird Report for 1972. Birds 7: 102
1976 N.S.W. Bird Report for 1975. Aust. Birds 10: 76
1977 N.S.W. Bird Report for 1976. Aust. Birds 11: 96
Storr G. M. 1973 List of Queensland Bird. Perth: West. Aust. Mus.
Spec. Pubis. No. 5.
Welsh C. W. 1932 Eggs of Plumed Frogmouth. Emu 32: 193.
Wigan M. L. et al 1938 The Queensland Campout. Emu 37: 250-257
ARNOLD McGILL, 95 Nuwarra Road, Moorebank. NS. W. 2170.March, 1978 41.
Five beaches of the oceanic shoreline of the Bherwerre Peninsula were irregularly
patrolled for beach -washed and derelict sea -birds during a period of 22 months between 22
September 1974 and 20 June 1976. All species found were identified and some retained
as study skins. The beaches are briefly described and the correlation between the geograph-
ical positioning of the peninsular and the mortality rate of the species is discussed. The
numbers found and the oceanic distribution of previous occurrences of certain species is
given. Tables have been incorporated to indicate kilometres walked, numbers of species,
months in which walks were made and the monthly mortality of species from each walk.
Predation and scavenging of beach -washed sea -birds is also considered.
Although a thorough search of literature and other sources has been made, it was
found that little, if any, ornithological interests or undertakings have been carried out in
the past on the Bherwerre Peninsula. In a report by Wolstenholme (1924), mention is only
(Pollard 1973) includes only a brief documentation on the avifauna of Jervis Bay in a
document it prepared. Apart from records already submitted to Annual New South Wales
Birds Reports by me no other published information on the seabirds of the area are known.
Nearby Bowen Island, although not part of the Bherwerre Peninsula, may influence the
results of the survey because a number of sea -birds species breed on the island. Lane (1976),
gives a good description of the island and its seabird population. This, and some of the other
islands off the south coast of N.S.W., may influence the seasonal abundance of some species
particularly the Short -tailed Shearwater (as found by Marchant, 1977) and the Little Penguin.
Evidently the oceanic shoreline of the Bherwerre Peninsula has been neglected by ornithol-
ogists and no records had been kept by any observers. Some knowledge of the area in recent
times has come about as a result of observers working on the Pilot Project of the Australian
Bird Atlas Scheme.
In all instances beaches were searched as thoroughly as was possible for derelict speci-
mens. All searches were made on foot and the actual distance involved in a beach -walk was
that of the beach covered i.e. the return walk was not included in the total. It was the
practice to search the high -tide area first and to work back along the fresher low -tide zones.
Specimens were disposed of by either burial on the beach or by removing them to beyond
the beach and into the dunes.
Initially measurements and dissection of seabirds was made on the spot but eventually
it was found to be less time-consuming to take the more interesting species back home where
they could be examined under more suitable conditions.42. AUSTRALIAN BIRDS 12 (3)
During periods of major seabird “wrecks” it was impossible to dispose of all the birds
on the beach. As a result, on two occasions, the carcasses were left and special mention of
this was made in the forms filled out for the Australian Seabird Group, in case anyone else
carried out a survey of the same beach.
Upon my arrival at a beach notes would be made of the name of the beach, date, time
of day and anything else of importance. On completion of the walk, I would fill in the
remaining details such as finishing time, species and numbers. The distance walked was calcul-
ated from a map.
Bherwerre Beach received the least coverage because of time factors. In places its width
is 60 m and only on two occasions was the entire length covered. Normally, this beach was
walked last, and as a result it was often impossible to complete the entire length due to
lack of time.
Whiting Beach was covered only once in the 22 month period. This beach was omitted
from my regular walks as its geographical positioning and its extremely small size made it
impossible to accurately assess.
As lived at Bowral my visits to the area were limited due to the long distances bet-
ween there and Bherwerre Peninsula (212 km a round trip). The decision to walk the beaches
was based on the weather charts of the week preceeding the weekend. If there had been
inclement weather and storm conditions in the South Pacific Ocean and Tasman Sea would
then expect to find specimens. However, this was not always the case.
The selected beaches are located on the southern shore of the Bherwerre Peninsula
which consists of Permean sandstone dipping westward from the high sea cliffs to the alluvial
deposits surrounding St. George’s Basin. The area is gazetted as the Jervis Bay Nature Reserve
(4700 ha) and is controlled by the Conservation and Agriculture Section of the Department
of the Capital Territory.
Steamers Beach. Flanked by precipitous headlands this is the most isolated beach and
the most exposed to southerly weather. Wave motion and surface drift are apparently modified
by the immediate shoreline to encourage deposition of floating debris on to the beach which
is 800 m long by 60 m maximum width.
Whiting Beach. Although strictly not included in this survey being very difficult to
reach, a small section of rock shelf at the southern end provided many specimens and is here
referred to as Whiting Beach.
Summercloud Bay Beach. The Wreck Bay Aboriginal Settlement occupies the southern
headland and a boat ramp is located at the northern end, hence it is considerably used by
visitors. Heavy seas and the flooding of a stream which crosses the beach drastically change
the local topography on occasional Length 350 m, maximum width 150 m.
Mary Bay Beach. The most decurved and sheltered beach though storm conditions often
cause marked changes to its shape. It is possible that many of the derelicts found here were
weakened birds seeking shelter rather than dead birds washed in from further off shore.
Length 60 m, maximum width 175 m.
Cave Beach. Two large caves are eroded into the cliff face of the southern headland.
A popular beach with surfers and.campers. Length 730 m, maximum width 190 m.March, 1978 43.
Bherwerre Beach. A long (7000 m) desolate beach exposed to the full brunt of
southerly weather yet the least notable for wash-up density. Only the northern end was
regularly inspected.
On many occasions good specimens were lost due to the action of predators and
scavengers. All beaches in the study area were affected. However it proved difficult to
ascertain whether or not a bird actually died as a result of predation whilst still alive
when deposited on the beach or died from natural causes, and scavenging took place
later. It was not uncommon to find Short -tailed Shearwaters Puffinus tenuirostris, and
Fairy Prions Pachyptila turtur alive on the beaches, following a major wreck. Indeed
Fairy Prions were observed to alight on the beach in shear exhaustion. Australian Ravens
Corvus coronoides and Whistling Kites Haliastur sphenurus are the common avian pre-
dators. Scavenging dogs and cats on the beaches of Summercloud Bay and Mary Bay
would, presumably originate, from the Wreck Bay Settlement as it is situated on the head-
land which divides these beaches. On Steamers, Cave and Bherwerre Beaches interference
to beach -washed specimens probably resulted from the activities of foxes. The tracks of
foxes frequently lead to a mauled specimen and in most instances the animal marks the
carcass by urinating or excreting on the body. Predation and scavenging was also noted
on Whiting Beach. On Bherwerre Beach predation also took place and a White -breasted
Sea -eagle Haliaeetus leucogaster was observed eating the remains of bird species including
Mutton -bird species and a White -headed Petrel Pteradroma lessoni. There did not appear
to be any set pattern of feeding off the beach -washed specimens but it was noted that
partiality was shown for the head, legs, feet and, in some cases, the abdomen was ripped
open to remove the heart, liver and other organs.
During the study period, efforts were made to obtain information on weather conditions
in relation to certain incidents, i.e. ‘wrecks’ involving unusual numbers and species or individ-
ual species, to gauge a more accurate identification to the species previous known range. In
all instances satisfactory explanations were received from either the Bureau of Meteorology
(Sydney, N.S.W.) or from the R.A.N. Air Station, Meteorological Office (Nowra, N.S.W.)
which would document climatical conditions over a wide area for up to ten days prior to
the actual species recovery. However, meteorological effects to the Bherwerre Peninsula
cannot be considered as sole agent to all seabird ‘wrecks’ or mortalities for, throughout the

survey period, many checks were made by dissection and it was apparent that the greatest

numbers of short -tailed Shearwaters found in the study area between December, 1974
March 1975, died as a result of prolonged – starvation (See Table 111). However, in contrast
the wreck of the same species of 3 Sept Oct, 1974, resulted from a prolonged cold
southerly outbreak between 24-27 September. On this occasion. H.M.A.S. Melbourne, anch-
ored offshore to the Bherwerre Peninsula, recorded winds of 65 knots with an intense, cold
airmass with freezing level down to 920 metres (RAN).44. AUSTRALIAN BIRDS 12 (3)
Unquestionably, Steamers Beach has yielded the most sifnificant specimens and numbers.
The reason being that because it is exposed to the prevailing south-easterly swell direction,
and taking into account the shape of the bay and the peninsula to the south-west, it will be
found that surface bearing currents from the north-east will inadvertently deposit flotsam onto
the beach (see location map). To a lesser degree much the same effect occurs on the bays to
the west, such as Summercloud and Caves Beaches. The effects of a cyclonic depression in the
western Tasman Sea have a resultant influence on the Bherwerre Peninsula due to its marked
protrusion from the New South Wales coastline as it is particularly exposed in the quadrant
from ESE to SSW.
Wind movements appear to follow a pattern of a seasonal shift. Winds in the winter
being mainly offshore westerlies, whilst in the summer they are onshore easterlies. Periodically,
winds from the SSE occur and are associated normally with cold, stormy weather and often
results in a deposition of flotsam onto the beaches. On these occasions a surface drift of
water, together with the wind are the key factors involved to cause such a phenomenon.
This wind movement, along with the Australian East -coast Current (which appears to be unim-
portant to seabird species in relation to their food supply and passage movements) has a mean
southerly flow of 1-2 knots at the 100 fathoms line (about 151° east). The inferior and weaker
inshore or shelf current setting northwards, would assist to the flotsam deposition mentioned
earlier being cast onto the beaches. Such conditions would no doubt be responsible, at that
time of the year, for the Petrels and Skuas being found on Steamers Beach.
Inclement weather at Jervis Bay is the result of sustained strong winds and heavy rainfall
(average annual rainfall is 1230 mm) (RAN) which invariably accompanies a depression off the
coast. In such situations, gale -force winds, heavy rains, and blowing spray, accompanied by high
seas and a heavy swell may persist in the sea adjacent to the peninsula for several days (Anon
Evidently, a depression or inclement weather off the coast does not necessarily indicate a
major ‘wreck’. There have been two instances where unsettled weather has prevailed for a period
of several days but no specimens were obtained from off the beaches.
During such conditions above -average tides and abnormal sea -swell were recorded and
drastic changes were made on the shape of the beaches in the study area. These occurrences
were experienced in October, 1974 and July, 1976 (see Table 111). However, it is worth con-
sidering, that during these two months, contact was made with reliable fishermen and Nature
Reserve rangers (pers. comm.) who stated that there was a complete absence of fish species in
the Wreck Bay area and, in such occasions there is always an absence of birds. The fish species
referred to were Kingfish sp. and Tuna sp. which pursue smaller fish to the surface and on many
occasions birds have been observed feeding on these smaller fish species at the surface. There
appears to be a compatible association between some deep-sea fish species and certain species
of seabirds. However, there is ample room for a more exact proof before an accurate assumption
can be credited to such a relationship.
A review of the literature resulted in a number of dead seabird records being located for
the study area. The birds referred to in Table 111 are from my own findings during the two-March, 1978 45.
year study period and species or references other than those included in Table 111 will be
dealt with in the following systematic list. Unless otherwise stated all rare or uncommon
specimens were taken and compared with specimens in the collection of D. Gibson and A.
Sefton at Thirroul. Many have been subsequently retained for future references.
Eudyptula minor Little Penguin
All specimens found had been predated upon or scavenged. Birds were recovered from all
beaches except Whiting and Mary Bay. The actual origin of the specimens is not known
but there is a large breeding colony to the north on Bowen Island in Jervis Bay, (Lane
loc. cit. )
Diomedea exulans Wandering Albatross
Two officers of the Jervis Bay Nature Reserve found an exhausted specimen (Date not known)
that had been cast up onto Cave Beach. It was taken and photographed and later released in
the more sheltered water of Jervis Bay where it made a rapid recovery and left the area. This
represents the only beach -washed specimen of this species, although they do frequent the
immediate, waters of the oceanic shoreline of the study area during the months June -October
(Broadbent 1973).
D. melanophrys Black-browed Albatross
An immature bird was found dead on the extreme northern end of Steamers Beach on 6
June 1975 and was a victim of a major wreck of assorted species that had occurred in the
immediate seas. The tail was missing and the left wing had been dislocated at the shoulder.
Scavenging/predation has not yet taken place.
D. cauta White -capped Albatross
The four found on Steamers Beach during the two year period probably indicate that its
presence in off- shore waters is quite common. Of particular interest are the two specimens
found in June 1975 which resulted from the wreck and were found, along with a specimen
of Phoebetria sp. within 1.5 m of each other on the extreme southern end of the beach.
Phoebetria fusca Sooty Albatross
One found on the southern end of Summercloud Bay Beach was another victim of the
wreck of about 15 June 1975. It had probably come in contact with the wash onto rocks
and the carcass was beginning to break up. Identification was by measurements and the
skull and leg sections were taken for identification. Although the species is regarded as rare
in New South Wales waters it was remarkable that five other specimens should be found
within a 12 day period (Rogers, 1976).
Phoebetria sp. Sooty Albatross. sp.
One headless, badly damaged specimen found 15 June 1975. Some characteristics were
noted such as the lack of whiteness to the feather -shafts in the wing primaries and central
tail feathers typical of Phoebetria sp. (Serventy et al, 1971). This feature was discernable
in the specimen that had been found later on the same day on Summercloud Bay Beach.46. AUSTRALIAN BIRDS 12 (3)
Macronectes sp. Giant Petrel.
Whilst relatively common off the Peninsula, only one was collected, and that on 26 October
1975 at Mary Bay Beach. The wings, back or dorsal section and tail were scattered over the
beach covering several metres and it was identified from a comparison with study skins.
Fulmarus glacialoides Antarctic Fulmar
The badly mauled remains, subsequently retained, were found on Steamers Beach, on 22
September 1974, being the sixth record for New South Wales (Rogers 1975). This species
is rare in N.S.W. waters and it is of interest to record that another was collected from off
Caves Beach on 22 September 1974 (Rogers loc. cit) and from other beaches just outside
the study area i.e. one on Wairo Beach, 1973.
Daption capense Cape Petrel
Three specimens collected viz 7 July 1973 (beach not know), Steamers Beach (6 October
1973), and one on a rock -shelf 200 m to the south of Whiting Beach on 12 October 1974.
Pterodroma lessonii White -headed Petrel
A fresh specimen on Bherwerre Beach, 20th June, 1976. The date of finding is in accord-
ance with its movements along the New South Wales coastline as indicated by Holmes and
Morris (1975).
Pterodroma neglecta Kermadec Petrel
One on Steamer’s Beach on 20 June 1976 being the third Australian record (Rogers 1975).
As the skin was in poor condition, it was sun-dried and taken to D. Gibson and A. Sefton
for identification. The bird was of the intermediate colour- phase and measurements were:-
Culmen 32mm, Wing 285/290mm, Tail 99mm, Length 367mm.
Pterodroma inexpectata Mottled Petrel
One on Steamers Beach on 7 March 1976.
Pterodroma leucoptera Gould Petrel
One on Steamers Beach on 7 March 1976 where it had probably been for ten days prior
to my locating it as it was well dried and much of the plumage was missing. Another on
17 January 1972 at Callala Beach, Jervis Bay (Anon 1972).
Pachyptila salvini Medium -billed Prion.
One found on Bherwerre Beach in 1973 by D. Sawyer (pers. comm.)
Pachyptila desolata Antarctic Prion
Of all the Prion specimens identified during the study period only seven were desolata.
However, the fact that more could have been identified amongst those that were merely
listed as unidentified prions cannot be overlooked. All records relate to the months June
and July. D. Sawyer (pers. comm.) collected a number during July 1973 from the Peninsula,
see Morris (1974).March, 1978 47.
Pachyptila turtur Fairy Prion
During the June 1975 wreck, it was evident that large numbers were present at sea adjacent
to the Bherwerre Peninsula. The storm conditions had continued throughout the day of 15
June and on reaching Bherwerre Beach I was amazed to see hundreds of prions alighting on,
and taking off from the beach. Numbers of Australian Ravens were standing on and moving
amongst the birds on the beach while five Whistling Kites kept close watch about 15m above
the beach. No actual predation was observed while was present however, several specimens
had obviously been attacked.
Pachyptila Sp.
162 Prions were so badly damaged that they could not be identified, as in the majority of
instances, the carcass was left headless. Many were legless, others lacked the abdominal portion
whilst in some cases all three types of disfigurement were encountered. Consequently, these
birds were all lumped together without attempting to divide them into ‘broad’ or ‘narrow’
tail -band groups.
Puffinus pacificus Wedge-tailed Shearwater
The exact status of pacificus in the immediate vicinity of Bherwerre Peninsula is not clear,
but there is a fair breeding population on several islands to the north and south of the study
area. At sea adjacent to Wasp Island and Grasshopper Island, this species has been observed
in rafts containing up to 20 birds during early to mid -afternoon.
Puffinus griseus Sooty Shearwater
From beachwashed mortalities alone it can be assumed that this is the least common of the
‘local’ Shearwater species, as only one was recorded, viz 15 June 1976 on Cave Beach. The
nearest breeding location is Bowen Island where the breeding population has been estimated
at ten pairs (Lane 1976).
Puffinus Tenuirostris Short -tailed Shearwater
The high mortality rate of tenirostris for the 1974-1975 season was similar to that experienc-
ed elsewhere on the New South Wales coast during this period (Holmes and Morris, 1975).
The finding of one in July was of much interest since this species is usually absent from
Australian waters at this time of the year.
Puffinus gavia Fluttering Shearwater
The number found in the study area during the 1974-1975 period was comparable with the
remainder of the New South Wales coastline. A common beach derelict during the month of
February as flocks of immatures and non -breeders have been observed in the seas of the New
South Wales coast (Serventy et al loc. cit). However, the number accounted for in June 1975
was the result of an intense mid -winter cyclonic depression centred in the Tasman Sea. P. gavia
were evidently feeding in waters relatively close to the Bherwerre Peninsula and were caught up
in the huge wreck of many species on that occasion.
Puffinus species
Predation/scavenging of Puffinus species was particularly high especially where the smaller
species were concerned such as P gavia. Although a careful watch was maintained P. gavia48. AUSTRALIAN BIRDS 12 (3)
was the only small black and white species identified. Comparisons of suspected specimens
were made with all other closely related species by either consulting the literature or by
comparison with cabinet specimens. As a result of this uncertainty it was found best to
treat all specimens that were missing various body sections such as head, bill plates, feet,
tail etc., as unidentified specimens whether or not they were of the smaller bi-coloured
types or the larger dark -coloured petrels.
Pelagodroma merina White-faced Storm Petrel
Two predated specimens collected, one Mary Bay Beach 12 October 1974, and the other on
Cave Beach 6 October 1974. These records are consistent with those of J. D. Gibson (1977).
The two beach -washed specimens may well represent local populations that frequent the sea
off the study area during the breeding season.

Morus serrator Australian Gannet

Despite the numerous sight observation records obtained during the Australian Bird Atlas
Pilot project (Broadbent loc. cit) my records do not show it as a common species off the
Bherwerre Peninsula. Indeed the records indicate that it seeks out the more quieter waters
of the bays and sheltered areas rather than the open sea of the peninsula. The fragments
of an immature specimen were found attached to the wires of a fence that separates the
beach from the immediate fore -dunes of Cave Beach.
Phalacrocorax carbo Black Cormorant
Both specimens were obtained off Cave Beach. The specimen of the 27 March 1975 was an
immature (skull not pneumatised) and the remains quite fresh when found. The specimen of
the 11 January 1976 had been on the beach sometime prior to my finding it. Predation/
scavenging had been carried out on both specimens with the remains in each instance being
held together by the tough skin and all soft edible flesh -parts had been removed. The species
is relatively common in the study area where they congregate in small flocks to rest on the
exposed rock shelves of the headlands that separate the beaches.
Stercorarius parasiticus Arctic Skua
One on Steamers Beach 7 March 1976. It was light phase specimen showing advanced summer
moult. Identification varified from comparison with cabinet specimens.
Stercorarius pomarinus Pomarine Skua
The scattered remains of one bird were collected over a distance of three metres on Steamers
Beach on 11 January 1976. The bird was a light -phase specimen also in advanced summer
Larus novaehollandiae Silver Gull
This is by no means a common species along the Bherwerre Peninsula but is probably plentiful
in the more sheltered and settled areas to the north and south of the study area. One speci-
men on Mary Bay Beach 28 March 1975 and the other on Summercloud Bay Beach 28 March
1975, were juveniles from last breeding season.March, 1978 49.
Sterna striata White -fronted Tern
One on Steamers Beach 15 June 1975 in a rather poor condition b -e ing well dried and
.mauled. Sight records were made during the Australian Bird Atlas Pilot Project (Broad-
bent loc. cit.) on two occasions in the study area viz. 7 July 1973, Wreck Bay and 8
July 1973 Steamers Beach. All the dates coincide with the species appearance along the
east coast of Australia.
Sterna fuscata Sooty Tern
One headless specimen on the 18 February 1975 at Mary Bay Beach. The bird had prob-
ably been on the beach for about one week as it was well dried.

Sterna bergii Crested Tern

From personal observations and observations made during the Australian Bird Atlas
Pilot Project it is evident that this bird is a common and permanent species in the study
area although its numbers are greater around the sheltered bays and settled areas than on
the shoreline of the Bherwerre Peninsula. Only one old, well dried specimen on Mary Bay
Beach 13 July 1975, was collected.
The potentiality of the area in relation to seabird species cannot be overlooked. Sea-
birds of 32 species are known to have been collected from off the beaches. This inform-
ation has contributed greatly to movements and other types of technical data. Geographical
positioning would seem to be the most influnetial aspect relating to the mortalities and,
coupled with the periodical absence of food(s), can have a devastating effect on the avi-
fauna in the seas adjacent to the Blierwerre Peninsula.
In assessing seabird mortalities it would seem that other factors should be taken into
consideration such as weather conditions in relation to unusual numbers, and rare species –
types, in order that a more concrete form of evidence can be used as basic facts.
In order to obtain a more efficient patrol of the beaches in the study area it would
seem desirable to reside in close proximity in order to overcome the high degree of
scavenging/predation activities on freshly beachwashed specimens.
The most species found in one patrol was 12 and seemed confined to be the ultimate
results of the ferocity of the wreck on 15 June 1974. It would seem likely therefore that
the southern oceans contain far more species and numbers during the winter months than
for the warmer months. No doubt many species would return to their breeding locations
during the summer but it has also been found that those species are replaced by non -breed-
ing birds and winter -breeding species from the temperate regions to the north. It could be
concluded that on such a basis the seas contain an equalibrium of avifuanal species and
population throughout the year. However where reasonable calm weather was present, prior
to a species being found, it was difficult to ascertain accurate reasons why birds of total
diverse geographical distribution should be found dead on the same beach within a distance
of 3 m of each other, i.e. Mottled Petrel, Gould Petrel and Arctic Skua (Steamers Beach, 7
June 1976). A similar occurance was found with Kermadec Petrel and White -headed Petrel.
The latter two, although found on separate beaches would no doubt have arrived as beach-50. AUSTRALIAN BIRDS 12 (3)
washed derelicts at approximately the same time. When these five species were found it was
particularly interesting to note that, although all the beaches in the study area were covered,
no other species was found. However, it was during this period where there was a noticeable
decline in fish species in the Wreck Bay area.
would like to thank Commander C. C. Robson, Officer In Charge, Meteorology Div-
ision, RAN, Nowra for the detailed weather reports and his interest in the project and to
R. W. D. McQueen (Superintendent) of the Jervis Bay Nature Reserve and also to his Rangers.
My appreciation is extended to A. Rogers, C. Humphries, G. Holmes, D. Sawyer, N. Favaloro
and the Nat. Mus (Vic) for their records and help and to E. Hoskin for the Keit -h Hindwood
Bird Recording Service; J. Broadbent for records from the Australian Bird Atlas Pilot Proj-
ect; Father R. Rippin M.S.C. of Chevalier College; and to A. K. Morris for his criticism and
guidance with reading and checking the original manuscript. Thanks are also due to both
Allan Sefton and Doug Gibson for allowing me access to their skins and specimens for ident-
ification and verification purposes. To both am indebted for their help, understanding, and
above all their encouragement to pursue the project to its fullest. Finally, I would like to
thank my wife for the many small ways in which she helped and to her acceptance of some
of the more ‘unpleasant’ aspects of derelict seabirds.
Anon 1972 “Recovery Roundup”, Aust. Bird Bander 10: 40.
Anon 1974 Monthly weather reports for New South Wales, Bureau
of Meteorology, (Sydney) and R.A.N. (Nowra).
Anon 1975 Monthly weather reports for N.S.W., Bureau of
Meteorology (Sydney), R.A.N. (Nowra).
Anon 1976 Monthly weather reports for N.S.W., Bureau of

Meteorology (Sydney), R.A.N. (Nowra).

Broadbent, J. et al 1973 Australian Bird Atlas Pilot Project, Sydney:
Australian Museum.
Gibson J. D. 1977 “The Birds of the County of Camden” (Including the
Illawarra District), Aust. Bird 11: 41-80.
Holmes G. & 1975 “Seabirds found Dead in N.S.W. in 1974” Aust.
A. K. Morris Birds 10: 21-31.
Lane S. G. 1976 “Bowen Island, Jervis Bay, N.S.W.” Aust. Bird Bander
14: 24-26.
Marchant S. 1977 “A Seawatch on the Southern Coast of New South
Wales” Emu 77: 9-18.
Morris A. K. 1974 “Seabirds found Dead in N.S.W. in 1973” Aust.

Birds 9: 1-11.

Pollard D. A. (Editor) 1973 “Jervis Bay the Future?” Sydney: Aust. Littoral
Soc. pp 64-65 (Appendix).March, 1978 51.
Rogers A. E. F. 1975 “N.S.W. Bird Report for 1974” Aust. Birds
9: 77-97.
Rogers A. E. F. 1976 “N.S.W. Bird Report for 1975” Aust. Birds
10: 61-84.
Serventy D. L. & 1971 “The Handbook of Australian Seabirds”, Sydney:
V. Serventy & J. Warham A. H. & A. W. Reed.
Wolstenhol me, H. 1924 “Some Jervis Bay Birds” Emu 24: 117.
C. R. SONTER, P.O. Box 110, Dareton, N.S.W. 2717.
NUS K sge,
N. S. W.
streets BAY
ST. GEORGES 6lfils/D
cOmm0 NW EA LT H
fig. 1. Map showing beaches of the Bherwerre Peninsula and its relation to Jervis Bay.52. AUSTRALIAN BIRDS 12 (3)
STEAMERS K I B LOIR /D TRS AV 14 .69 06 0.1 8 05 .80 1 02 .82 02 .7 8 46 .9 86 0
KILO/TRAV 1.27 1.27
SUMMERCLOUD BIRDS 118 45 25 2 61 31 282
BAY KILO/TRAV 0.35 0.70 0.35 0.35 0.35 0.35 2.45
MARY BAY BIRDS 67 31 21 1 41 14 175
KILO/TRAV 0.6 0.6 0.6 0.6 0.6 0.6 3.60
CAVE BIRDS 159 146 179 1 290 12 787
KILO/TRAV 1.46 0.73 0.73 0.73 0.73 0.73 5.11
BIRDS 224 718 37 979
BHERWERRE K I LO/TRAV 10.57 4.82 3.42 18.81
MONTH TOT. BIRDS 496 747 272 943 4 514 121 3,097
MONTH TOT. KILO/TRAY 1.60 15.05 2.83 6.50 1.68 248 5.90 35.04
STEAMERS K I LB OIR /TD RS A V 0.81 0 0.88 0 01 .82 0 0.81 0 0.80 0.4 8 0 0.80 0.81 0 62 .7 4 0
BAY KILO/TRAY 0.35 0.35 0.35 0.35 0.35 .35 0.35 0.35 2.80
MARY BAY BIRDS 2 23 16 2 2 1 46
K I LO/TRAV 0.60 0.60 0.60 0.60 0.60 0.60 0.60 0.60 4,80
CAVE BIRDS 3 53 77 7 2 142
KILO/TRAV 0.73 0.73 0.73 0.73 0.73 0.73 0.73 0.73 5.84
K I LO/TRAV E 7.00 3.42 4.00 3.00 2.41 19.83
MONTH TOT. BIRDS 9 107 197 11 10 5 339
MONTH TOT. KILO/TRAVE 2.48 2.48 9.48 5.90 2.48 6.48 5.48 4.89 39.67
1974-1975 6 36.04 3,087 85.93 23
1975-1976 5 39.67 339 8.55 16
TOTAL 11 75.71 3,436 4945.A838/year 31
Individual type -species obtained during tudy period.
Total over two years; average total per year = 3436 / 75.71 = 45.38.March, 1978 TABLE 111 53.
SPECIES YEAR Sept Oa Nor Dec Jan FM Mar Apr May June July Aug TOTALS
EudYetula minor 1974-75 1 1 2 I 2 3 10
197576 3 1 4
Diornedea melanophrys 1974-75 1 1
Diomedes rants 197475 1 2 1 4
Phoebetria tusca 1974-75 1 1
Phobetria sp. 1974-75 1 1
Macronectes sp.
1975-76 1 t
Fulmarus glacialoides 197475 1 I
Daption mpense 197475 1 1
Plerodroma lessonii
1975.76 1 I
Pterodroma solandri
. 197676 1 1
Plerodroma neglects
1975.76 1 1
Pterodroma inexpectata
1975-76 1 1
Pterodroma leucoptera
1975-76 1 I
Pachyptila desolate 197475 5 2 7
Pachyptila turtur 197475 3 430 14 447
1975-76 1 1 3
Pachyptila sp. 197475 10 7 1 2 45 61 146
1975.76 2 1 1 6 4 19
Puffins pacif icus 197475 1 1
197476 6 5
Puffins griseus 197475 1
Puffins tenuirostris 1974-75 484 731 270 921 1 2407
1975-76 91 171 4 266
Puff ‘nits gay iit 1974.75 1 16 24 16 57
1975-76 1 1 2
Puffins sp. 197475 2 2
197476 12 22
Pelagodroma marina 197475 2 2
MINUS serrator 197475 I 1
Phalacrocorax carbo 1 97475 1 1
1975.76 1 1
Stercorarius paraSiticus
Stercorarius pomarinus
1975-76 1
Canis novaehollandim 1974-75 2 2
Sterna striata 1 1
Sterna fuscata 197475 1 1
Sterna bergii 1 1
Sterna sp. 1 1
1975-7654. AUSTRALIAN BIRDS 12 (3)
Hindwood and McGill (1958 the Birds of Sydney p.110) place the Black Falcon in
the provisional list for the County of Cumberland, stating, “Dark plumaged hawks, which
may be referable to this species, have been noted by various observers in the County”.
Normally it frequents inland areas in New South Wales. In the field the dark phase of the
Brown Falcon Falco berigora closely resembles the Black Falcon E subniger in plumage.
Records made available to me by E. Hoskins from the files of the late K. A. Hindwood
show that very few observations of the Black Falcon have been accepted due to lack of
identification by the observers. Out of seven past records only three have been published,
one record of a falcon at Carlingford 17 July 1975 was thought to be of this species
after skins examined. Of the other two one was of a bird in flight on 9 August 1972 at
Pitt Town Common, Rogers (1973 Birds 7: 95). The other record refers to one in flight
scattering birds at Red Gables Lagoon, Maraylya on 11 June 1977 (P. & L. Smith pers.
An additional sighting was made on 8 October 1977 by R. Graves and the author
at Yarramundi, near Richmond. Returning home from a field outing at Springwood, we
noticed a rather dark looking bird of prey approaching us from the south, following the
course of the Castlereagh road. As we were heading south it gave us the opportunity to
stop the car and wait for the bird to come to us, which it did. We had an excellent
view especially of the shape and underparts, and the following description was noted: –
The flight was a slow flap and glide motion; the wings held horizontal when gliding
and they tapered back to a point at the tips; head, back and tail blackish, tail long,
underparts seemed to be very deep reddish -brown. There was a slight easterly breeze at
the time, and the bird was flying directly north. Time of observations was at 1700 hrs
with sun very low in the western sky. The bird was immediately recognised as a Black
Falcon by the diagnostic dark underwings, the long tail, and the wings held flat when
gliding. There was no barring under the wings and tail which is characteristic of the
Brown Falcon. The brownish black plumage of the underparts would indicate faded
plumage of a bird prior to moult.
A. COLEMANE, 9 Redbank Place, Northmead. N.S.W. 2151.March, 1978 55.
At about 1245 hours on 1 June 1977, I was travelling on the Booligal-Gunbar Road
about 20 km west of Gunbar in central New South Wales.
Three birds attracted my attention, two were Nankeen Kestrels Falco cenchroides and
the other which was larger, I thought to be a small kite Elanus sp. The Kestrels were mobb-
ing the third bird before it “broke away” and flew off rapidly in an easterly direction. The
flight pattern was unfamiliar, but reminded me slightly of prions Pachyptila sp., although
appearing to fly faster and ascend much higher and steeper towards the apex of the pattern.
Using 8 x 30 binoculars the bird was seen to have a white head; the upper wings
appeared blue -grey, with darker grey markings forming a broad “M” pattern across the wings
and back.
The flight consisted of rising, by opening the wings slightly, then, when reaching an
apex about 10 m above the ground it would tilt slightly sometimes to the left and some-
times to the right. Withdrawing its wings slightly, it would correct to horizontal position
and decline on a slight angle for about 80 m, at the same time appearing to increase speed
until about two metres or less from the ground before rising to the apex again. The wings
were not seen to beat or flap.
As the bird was flying closely parallel to the road resumed driving and able to
overtake it. I stopped the vehicle and had the bird in view through the binoculars as it
flew almost overhead at a height of about 10 m.

The following additional detail was noted:

The bill was black and appeared heavy, there was a dark patch about the eye. The
wings appeared uniform grey below, the rump and upper tail was white, being greyish in
the centre of the upper rump. The undertail was white, the colour of the legs and feet
was not noticed, but did not extend beyond the tail. No calls were heard.
I continued driving and by maintaining an average speed of about 50 k.p.h. was able
to keep the bird in view for a distance of about 10 km. The wind was from the south-
west at about 15 k.p.h. During this time the bird was flying over grassland including tracts
of canegrass Eragrostis australiasica and low lignum Meuhlenbeckia cunninghammii. On a
couple of occasions it was mobbed by two Brown Falcons Falco berigora and it was noted
that the bird was shorter in body length but had longer, more narrow wings. Eventually
the road approached an area of trees about 10 m high and possibly a kilometre or more
wide. At this point the bird veered north flying parallel to and about 100 m from the
timber line, a barrier it appeared unwilling to cross.
After consulting reference material, I identified the bird from notes taken at the,
time of observation as a White -headed Petrel Pterodroma lessoni. In view of the highly
unlikely occurrence of this palegic species some 400 km inland copies of my notes were
sent to Mr Alan Rogers and Dr Peter Fullagar who confirmed the identification
Of the six records of this species in N.S.W. given by McGill (1960), two were picked
up inland after storms. These were at Dorrigo and Marulan 35 km and 70 km from the
coast respectively. In a review of status, Kenny (1972) listed a further nine records, all56. AUSTRALIAN BIRDS 12 (3)
coastal, but omitted mention of the occurrence at Marulan (28 July 1959, now Australian
Museum No. 0. 39783). From that review until the end of 1976 there have been at least
23 further records (Morris & Sawyer 1973, Morris 1974, Holmes and Morris 1975, Holmes
1976, Rogers 1977) all coastal with the exception of one at Pymble, 15 km inland.
Other examples (McGill /oc cit) of offshore species being found inland in New South
Wales are Great -winged Petrel P. macroptera at Dorrigo (35 km inland), Kerguelen Petrel
P. brevirostris at Hoxton Park (35 km), Red-tailed Tropicbird Phaethon rubicaudus at
Tamworth (200 km) and White-tailed Tropicbird P. lepturus at Buladelah (20 km). All
these records could be expected to have come from the east coast, however it was thought
that the south west direction was probably the most likely area for this bird to have come
from J. Izzard (pers. comm.). Firstly the ground is relatively flat from Coorong in South
Australia, to Gunbar; second the bird would have been more likely to have come from
south of an east -west line because of its usual distribution; and third because of the frequ-
ency and strength of winds experienced from the south west as opposed to southerlies and
Meteorological information was obtained and confirmed the ideas of J. Izzard. Between
0900 hours on 29 May 1977 and 0900 hours on 30t May 1977 an outbreak of strong, cold
south west. winds developed over the ocean to the south of South Australia and on the
following two days this S.W. wind regime moved into south-eastern Australia. Winds up to
45 knots were recorded behind this front on 30 May 1977 and blew south west winds over
central New South Wales until June 1977. Surface winds moderated but upper atmosphere
winds remained strong, in excess of 40 knots at 1000 m for the next few days.
The succession of winds during the last few days of May 1977 over coastal South Aust-
ralia, resulted in an accumulation of larger than normal numbers of seabirds recorded at
Newland Head, J. Cox (pers. comm). These included 19 Black-browed Albatross Diomedia
melanophrys, 13 Yellow- nosed Albatross D. chlororhynchos, two White -capped Albatross
D. cauta, and one Southern Giant -petrel Macronectes giganteius, on 28 May 1977. At the
same place on 31 May 1977, 39 Black-browed, six yellow -nosed and four White -capped
Albatross, and nine Southern Giant -petrels were recorded.
Holmes G. 1976 Seabirds found dead in New South Wales in 1975
Aust. Birds 11: 31-37.
Holmes G. & 1975 Seabirds found dead in New South Wales in 1974.
A. K. Morris Aust. Birds 10: 21-31.
Kenny T. 1972 A White -headed Petrel off Sydney Heads. Birds 7:
McGill A. R. 1960 Handlist of the Birds of New South Wales: Fauna
Protection Panel.
Morris A. K. 1974 Seabirds found dead in New South Wales in 1973.
Aust. Birds 9: 1-11.
Morris A. K. & 1973 Seabirds found Dead in New South Wales in 1972.
D. Sawyer Birds 8: 21-30.March, 1978 57.
Rogers A. E. F. 1977 New South Wales Bird Report 1975. Aust. Birds
11: 81-103.
R. MOFFATT, P.O. Box 1532, Griffith. 2680 N.S.W.

Breeding in northern Alaska and the Canadian Arctic and normally migrating as far
south as Tierra del Fuelo and the Falkland Islands, and once to South Georgia, the White-
rumped Sandpiper Calidris fuscicollis is a noted distance traveller on its regular seasonal
movements. The possibility of wandering outside its normal route is enhanced by reason
of there being 27 records during 1958-1964 in the British Isles. Nevertheless the possibility
of its reaching Australia would be unlikely and it was not until 1973, when three observers
identified one bird and took a photograph at Lake Murdeduke, some 125 km west of Mel-
bourne, Victoria, that its presence in Australia was first detected (1976 F. T. H. Smith,
Aust. Bird Watcher 6: 317-320). Mr. W. R. Wheeler has kindly informed me of a second
as yet unpublished record for that State when one was seen at Werribee sewerage marsh in
January, 1977.
On the morning of 29 October 1977, Brian Finch was at Pitt Town lagoon, 55 km
north-west of Sydney, when the presence there of some unexpected waders induced him to
telephone a few Sydney observers, who were able to join him an hour or so later. When we
arrived he had located, associated with a good-sized population of better known species,
seven Black -tailed Godwits Limosa limosa, one Long -toed Stint Calidris subminuta (the first
recorded for the Sydney area), one Little Whimbrel Numenius minutus one Ruff Philom-
achus pugnax (a male still retaining some evidence of breeding plumage with noticeable
reddish legs), two Australian Pratincoles Stiltia isabella, as well as another bird that gave
identification problems.
Despite the fact that all of the five species clearly identified merited concentrated
observation, as each one is a rare bird in the area concerned, the united efforts of all five
of us (B. Finch, A. Colemane, W. Longmore, W. Sweeney and A. R. McGill, whilst E. S.
Hoskin arrived a little later) very soon centred upon the unusual sandpiper. We were event-
ually able to observe full plumage and morphological characteristics, size, feeding pattern
and flight pattern and everything indicated it to be a White-rumped Sandpiper, a decision
that became more concrete after arriving home and studying the literature.
Field characters helpful in identification were: Overall plumage somewhat similar to
that of a Curlew Sandpiper Calidris ferruginea two of which were loosely associated with
it, but clearly smaller in size; bill dark, slender and straight with a distinct downcurve at
the tip; eyebrow whitish and far more noticeable in front of the eye (clearly evident in
the photo accompanying the “Bird Watcher” article); wings long and which overlap beyond58. AUSTRALIAN BIRDS 12 (3)
the tail; unhurried feeding pattern similar to that of a dotterel, as noted by Smith (loc. cit)
but we did not see any of the rapid probing he also describes; only a faintly discernible
pale wing -bar in flight; rump clear white, smaller than that on a Curlew Sandpiper but more
contrasting because of darker tail and darker back; slight indication of breast streaking; legs
darkish and of medium length in comparison with the bird’s size. The flight is somewhat
distinctive as well as the call notes, differing from other waders known to us, but difficult
to describe.
During the following two weeks a number of Sydney observers, including those who
made the original sighting, had excellent views of what was presumably the same bird at
McGrath’s Hill sewerage marsh, one kilometre distant from Pitt Town. The water had by
then practically dried out at the latter place and most waders had left. It was possible to
obtain a few photographs, both still and movie, of the White-rumped Sandpiper, the bird
at times proving quite approachable.
On 20 November 1977 Wayne Longmore and accompanied two American ornithol-
ogists, Dr. Jerry Bertram and Dr. John Beddington, from Washington, on a visit to the
general area. We could not locate the bird at McGrath’s Hill but had excellent view through
a powerful telescope of what again was probably the same one at Baker’s lagoon, about
3 km distant. It was associated with one Marsh Sandpiper Tringa stagnatilis and 40 plus
Sharp -tailed Sandpipers Calidris acuminata. The two visitors from United States of America,
who knew the species well in their home area, had no hesitation whatever in affirming our
identification, as our bird agreed well with what would be expected of it during fall in
At the time of writing it is still present and is certainly a welcome and interesting
migrant to our country, being as far as can trace the third known occurrence here and
the first for New South Wales.
ARNOLD Mc GILL, 95 Nuwarra Road, Moorebank. NS. W. 2170.

The Black -shouldered Kite Elanus notatus is one of the commonest birds of prey found
in the County of Cumberland, and is usually observed in open country and cultivated areas.
Most of these observations being in the Hawkesbury River lowlands where the kites are regul-
arly recorded by observers in pairs to small numbers around the cultivated areas along the
river flats. It was however an exception, on the afternoon of the 13 August 1977 at dusk,
when R. Graves, R. Bigg and I came upon a sight quite unbelievable. In a field near Baker’s
Lagoon, Richmond, we observed 70 + Black -shouldered Kites hovering above the rank grass
and diving at intervals for mice. This was probably the largest recorded number observed in
any one spot in the County, and a sight to remember. Also in the same field was a SpottedMarch, 1978 59.
Harrier, Circus assimilis several White -necked Herons Ardea pacifica and White Egrets Egretta
alba which were also searching for mice along with a few Ravens Corvus coronides. Many
of the kites were immatures and the buff -orange breast feathers were quite prominent. As
darkness came on kites were still arriving from various directions to join in the picnic, and
I would think with such numbers of predators present, the chance of escape for any mice
would be a slim one.
A. COLEMANE, 9 Redbank Place, Northmead. NS. W. 2151.
During the third week of November 1977, groundstaff at Bankstown Airport advised
Brian Larkins, one of the control tower staff, that “the little birds are back, but they have
straight beaks”. Little Whimbrels Numenius minutus were recorded at the airport in Novem-
ber 1974 (1975 Rogers Aust. Birds 9: 85), and the groundsmen were on the alert for another
visit by this species.
The observation was then about two weeks old, so the men were requested to advise
at once if the birds were seen again. A week later they reported “about eight larks” under
grass -cutters parked near a runway, and seen two days previously. On December 1977 six
birds were checked by Brian Larkins from a vehicle at 10:00 hours. They were a species
which he had not previously seen on the airport, and with which he was not familiar. The
next morning he saw them again at the south-western side of the field. At 12:30 he drove
close to the birds with Joy Pegler, who made the following field notes:

  • Size near 10 inches; Stance erect, with plover like appearance; Back -brownish, fairly

  • plain. Pale streaks along middle of folded wing; -C rown sam -e as back; Neck pa -le r,
    slightly -g olden. Pale above bill as for neck; eye dark; bill black, straight; legs yellow;
    breast slight bars across, no bar half -way.
    After independent referral to field guides, the observers agreed the birds were Oriental
    Dotterels Charadrius veredus. On 5 December six birds located in the same area by Brian
    and Dariel Larkins and Arnold McGill were observed closely and photographed from a stat-
    ionary vehicle, the distance between the car and the small flock decreasing at each stop
    until a halt was made almost beside the birds. Only when the motor was “revved” and a
    door opened did they fly, when a brownish rump pattern was observed. Identification of
    all as Oriental Dotterels was confirmed without question.60. AUSTRALIAN BIRDS 12 (3)
    In the following weeks a number of other observers was able to obtain distant views
    from the airport boundary fence. A few were fortunate to have close sightings of the small
    group. As far as could be established, the birds stayed on the airport until the end of
    January, 1978. Groundsmen said they did not see the birds after heavy rain at the end of
    that month made conditions very wet with a lot of grass growth.
    McGill summarized all known records of Oriental Dotterels for NSW (1948 Emu 47:
    357-360) up to 1948 after one bird was identified at Cook’s River Estuary, when it was
    observed by him, with J. Francis and T. Givens, on 11 January 1948. Other observers saw
    this bird a fortnight later. Visits to this State by Oriental Dotterels indicate a most irregular
    pattern, for apart from a very early Gould record all known occurrences covered only the
    years 1880, 1889, 1892, 1905, and 1908. In 1892 there must have been somewhat of a
    southern eruption as no fewer than 17 specimens reached the Australian Museum. Despite
    the great increase of competent wader observers in recent years, when one would expect
    more regular observations, as far as can be ascertained the 1948 record at Cook’s River
    was the first in NSW for 40 years.
    Almost another 30 years passed before the species was seen again in the Sydney area.
    For the State it seems likely that the bird seen at Comerong Island by John Hobbs on 23
    November and two at Red Rock by Glenn Holmes on 19 October and 9 November, all in
    1976, remain the only other records over the past 70 years.
    DARIEL LARKINS, 225 Kissing Pt. Rd., Turramurra. 2074.
    ARNOLD McGILL, 95 Nuwarra Rd., Moorebank. 2170.11.
    Arnold McGill An Assessment of Information on the Plumed Frogmouth .. 37
    Chris Sonter Seabird Mortality on the Bherwerre Peninsula. 41
    A. Colemane A Black Falcon at Yarramundi 54
    R. Moffatt A Sight record of a White -headed Petrel in central New
    South Wales .. .. .. .. .. 55
    Arnold McGill A New South Wales record of the White-rumped Sandpiper 57
    A. Cole mane An unusual observation of a Black -shouldered Kite 58
    Dariel Larkins & Oriental Dotterels at Bankstown Airport New South

Arnold McGill Wales .. .. .. .. .. .. 59

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