Vol. 18 No. 4-text

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Journal of the
Vol. 18, No. 4 August, 1984

ISSN 0311-8150

Registered by Australia Post Publication No. NBH0790THE N.S.W. FIELD ORNITHOLOGISTS CLUB
PATRON A.R. McGill, O.A.M.
D. Turner
The object of the Club is to promote the study and conservation of Australian birds and the
habitats they occupy.
Annual subscription rates of the Club (due 1st July each year) are:
Adult Member $15.00
Junior Member (up to 17 yrs) 5.00
All members receive a quarterly newsletter and a copy of the quarterly journal “Australian
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All correspondence should be addressed to the Hon. Secretary and all membership fees should
be sent to the Hon. Treasurer at: P.O. Box C436, Clarence Street, Sydney, N.S.W. 2000.
Manuscripts should be sent to the Editor at: Dept. of Ornithology, Australian Museum, 6-8
College Street, Sydney 2000.CORRECTION
Because of a printer’s error the Contents page in Journal is incomplete. Correct
table of contents is listed hereunder.
August, 1984
Vol. 18, No. 4
McFarland, D. Insects in flowers: a potential source of protein
for honeyeaters 73
Mills, Kevin Rainforest birds of the Shoalhaven Gorge, New South Wales 76
Mills, Kevin Seasonal fluctuation of numbers of Ruddy Turnstones at
Bellambi Point, Wollongong, New South Wales 80
Bell, H.L. Bathing by the White -bellied Sea -eagle 82
Debus, S.J.S. & The Corvids of north-eastern New South Wales 83
I.A.W. McAllen
Debus, S.J.S. Breeding habitat of the Little Eagle at Armidale,
New South Wales 86
Dalby, J., First breeding records for the Silver Gull in the
E. Hoskin; and County of Cumberland 87
M. & V. Tyler
McGill, A.R. John Douglas Gibson (1925-1984) 89.73
Vol. 18, No. 4 August, 1984
Of the food resources available to nectarivorous honeyeaters directly from flowers, both
nectar (Baker & Baker 1975) and pollen (Paton 1981) provide negligible quantities of protein. It is
therefore generally considered that honeyeaters rely on insects as the source of their protein
requirements (Paton 1982). To date, observations of feeding on insects have usually been divided
into hawking and gleaning actions, and the consumption of insects present in flowers has only
been inferred (Recher & Abbott 1970, Ford & Paton 1976). Based on observations of hawking
rates it has been suggested that nectarivorous honeyeaters have low protein requirements
(Paton 1982); however the potential intake of insects from the flowers probed was not
considered. The difficulty in testing whether honeyeaters obtain significant protein from insects
living in flowers is that when a bird is probing a flower, distance or flower structure (e.g. deep
corollas or dense clusters) can make it hard to discern whether insects, nectar or both are being
obtained data on density and composition of insect communities in Banksia inflorescences
at Waterfall in the Royal National Park, Sydney between 28 February and 22 August 1980.
Honeyeaters were also observed at the same time and place (observation time 24.3 hr).74 AUSTRALIAN BIRDS 18 (4)
The study area was of mixed heath and dry sclerophyll forest with banksias being the main
flowering plants. Banksia ericifolia and B. marginata were dominant in the heath while B. serrata
and B. marginata were common in the forest. Both fresh (with some styles extended) and wilting
(with loss of colour and flowers) inflorescences were sampled. For the densely flowered spikes of
B. serrata and B. marginata, each inflorescence was bent over almost horizontal and covered
with a plastic bag. After raking the flowers for one minute the bag was carefully removed and the
contents examined. B. ericifolia inflorescences with their well -spaced flowers were inspected
visually. All arthropods present were classified (insects to order) and their abundance estimated.
never saw honeyeaters probe wilting flowers, so present here only the results obtained
from new inflorescences. Table sets out the data on arthropod densities and composition in the
three Banksia species used by the honeyeaters. It is of interest that 93.8% of all the coleopterans
(beetles, n = 918)found were less than or equal to 5 mm in length and from one group within the
family Staphylinidae. This family has also been found in the flowers of B. integrifolia (Turner,
pers. comm.) The order Coleoptera made up 79.1% of all the arthropods found in all Banksia
flowers. Beetles were especially common in B. serrata and B. marginata but in B. ericifolia
hymenopterans, mainly ants, were the most abundant arthropods.
Beetles have been noted as a major component in the diet of many honeyeater species
(Cleland 1911; Lea & Gray 1935; Rose 1973; Matthieson 1973; Ford unpubl. data). Unfortunately
the size of the beetles found was not recorded. Of the five families identified, two (Cryptophagidae
and Sacarabaeidae) are known to have members which are regular visitors to flowers (Tillyard
1926). The other beetles, Coccinellidae, Carabidae and Chrysomelidae, are mostly found on the
leaves and bark of trees. The examination of gut samples as a means of assessing the insect
component of diets is unreliable because arthropods are digested at different rates! Most beetles,
especially those mentioned above, have tough exoskeletons (especially the elytra) which remain
longer in the digestive tract, thus increasing their chance of being detected and identified, unlike
the small, soft -bodied insects such as staphylinids.
Inflorescence characteristics and arthropod populations in Banksia spp.
(Composition and numbers per inflorescence, mean standard error.)
Flower Arthropods % COMPOSITION
Species N” per
Spacing inflorescence Coleoptera Hymenoptera Arachnids Others
B. serrata Dense 17 22.4 7/. 3.8 68 12 14 6
B. marginata Dense 46 15.8’/. 2.6 92 4 1 3
B. ericifolia Spaced 67 1.2’/s 0.3 4 96 0 0
*Number of inflorescences examined.AUGUST 1984
One of the hypotheses proposed to explain the origin of nectar feeding in birds is that the
birds were mainly seeking insects in the flowers (Faegri & PijI 1979), but there has been no
quantitative examination of this resource. As the results in Table 1 show, quite high numbers of
insects may be present in inflorescences, particularly those with dense arrangements of flowers.
The potential advantage to the birds is that, if the insects are palatable, the presence of both
carbohydrate and protein sources together results in considerable savings in time and energy
when foraging.
Assessment of the possible importance of flower -inhabiting arthropods to honeyeaters
requires detailed study. The following are some suggested avenues of investigation:
(a) Insect numbers in exposed and “caged” inflorescences might be compared from
samples taken over a single day or a number of consecutive days. To avoid the effects of
enhanced nectar availability on insect numbers, nectar but not insects must be removed
periodically from caged flowers. At the same time the behaviour (in particular, the rate and
duration of visits) of honeyeaters visiting the exposed inflorescences should be recorded.
(b) The reactions of flower -inhabiting insects to artificial probing could be tested; any
avoidance behaviour may indicate predation pressure.
(c) The diet of honeyeaters at flowering banksias might be assessed by netting the birds at
the site and obtaining gut samples by the use of emetics (Ford et al. 1982). A comparison of such
samples with the arthropod species found in the banksia flowers, foliage or bark, and other
surrounding vegetation may indicate to what extent the birds consume insects present in the
various micro -habitats.
The results of such investigation may shed more light on both the sources of protein for
honeyeaters and the evolutionary pathway that led to nectar -feeding among Australian honey –
thank T.R. Lindsey and Drs H.A. Ford, D.C. Paton and G. Pyke for their constructive
criticisms on earlier drafts of this note.
Baker, H.G. & I. Baker. 1975. Studies of nectar constitution and pollinator -plant coevolution. In L.E. Gilbert
& P.H. Raven (eds.), Coevolution of animals and plants. Universiy of Texas Press: Austin.
Cleland, J.B. 1911. Examination of contents of stomachs and crops of Australian birds. Emu 11: 79-95.
Faegri, K. & L. van der PijI. 1979. The principles of pollination ecology. Pergamon Press: Oxford.
Ford, H.A. & D.C. Paton. 1976. Resource partitioning and competition in honeyeaters of the genus
Meliphaga. Aust. J. Ecol. 1: 281-287.
Ford, H.A., N. Forde & S. Harrington. 1982. Non-destructuve methods to determine the diets of birds.
Corella 6: 6-10.
Lea, A.H. & J.T. Gray. 1935. The food of Australian birds. An analysis of the stomach contents. Part IV. Emu
35:251-280.76 AUSTRALIAN BIRDS 18 (4)
Matthieson, J.N. 1973. Observations of the food of some birds of south western Western Australia. Emu 73:
Paton, D.C. 1981. The significance of pollen in the diet of the New Holland Honeyeater Phylidonyris
novaehollandiae. Aust. J. Zool. 29: 217-224.

  1. The diet of the New Holland Honeyeater Phylidonyris novaehollandiae. Aust. J. Ecol. 7:
    Recher, H.F. & I.J. Abbott. 1970. Some differences in the use of habitat by White -eared and White-cheeked
    Honeyeaters. Emu 70: 117-125.
    Rose, A.B. 1973. Food of some Australian birds. Emu 73: 177-183.
    Tillyard, R.J. 1926. The insects of Australia and New Zealand. Angus & Robertson: Sydney.
    David McFarland, Department of Zoology, University of New England, Armidale NSW
    This note reports on the rainforest bird fauna recorded at a study area in the lower
    Shoalhaven River gorge at Tallowa Dam (34°47’S 150°15’E), within the Morton National Park,
    NSW. Here small rainforest vine thickets, similar to those described by Webb (1968), occur
    along the water courses which run steeply into the dam (formerly the Shoalhaven River) from
    cliffs and ridges some 450 metres above (see Fig. 1).
    These thickets, about 48 kilometres inland, represent the western limit of rainforest in the
    Illawarra region. Most are less than four hectares in extent and occur on south and east facing
    slopes. The dominant tree species are: Toona australis, Ficus coronata, F. rubiginosa, Diospyros
    australis and Melia azedarach. Vine species include Cissus antarctica, C. hypoglauca, Smi/ax
    australis and Marsdenia rostrata. Most thickets also contain emergents of Eucalyptus spp. or
    Syncarpia glomulifera. In addition to vine thickets, dense stands of Backhousia myrtifolia occur
    around the dam, particularly on steep rocky slopes; such stands often surround the vine
    thickets. The remainder of the gorge supports eucalypt forest, with western slopes tending to be
    dryer and with sparser understoreys.
    I made many visits to the area during the period 1980-1983 and a complete bird list and
    rainforest plant list were compiled and are available upon request This paper reports only on
    those bird species found associated with rainforest habitat.
    A total of 21 bird species, listed in Table 1 were found to be characteristic of the rainforest
    patches. Species which occurred in the vine thickets but which are also common in the
    surrounding eucalypt forests (e.g. Grey Fantail Rhipidura fuliginosa and Brown Thornbill
    Acanthiza pusilla) are not discussed here. The most common species were: Eastern Yellow
    Robin, White-browed Scrubwren, Eastern Whipbird and Satin Bowerbird. I failed to find only
    four of the rainforest species occurring elsewhere in the Illawarra area (excluding very rare
    vagrants): Grey Goshawk Accipiter novaehollandiae, Australian Brush -turkey Alectura lathami,
    Emerald Dove Chalcophaps indica, and Logrunner Orthonyx temminckii. Thus 84% of all local
    rainforest bird species are represented in the vine thickets.
    Of the four species not found, Gibson (1977) reported that the Logrunner is scarce in the
    Illawarra and Emerald Dove is uncommon and declining. Although the Australian Brush -turkey
    has been observed in the Shoalhaven area it seems unlikely that the species exists in the wild
    state here or elsewhere in the Illawarra today.
    Table 1. Bird species associated with rainforst vine thickets in the Shoalhaven Gorge. An
    asterisk (*) indicates a species at or near its western limit of distribution in the region.
    Topknot Pigeon Lopholaimus antarcticus uncommon
    White -headed Pigeon Columba leucomela rare
    Brown Cuckoo -dove Macropygia amboinensis rare
    Wonga Pigeon Leucosarcia melanoleuca common
    King Parrot Alisterus scapularis uncommon
    Superb Lyrebird Menura novaehollandiae common
    Ground Thrush Zoothera dauma rare
    Rose Robin Petroica rosea uncommon
    Eastern Yellow Robin Eopsa/tria austra/is common
    Golden Whistler Pachycephala pectora/is common
    Black -faced Monarch Monarcha me/anopsis uncommon
    Rufous Fantail Rhipidura rufifrons uncommon
    Eastern Whipbird Psophodes olivaceus common
    Pilotbird Pycnoptilus floccosus rare
    Large -billed Scrubwren Sericornis magnirostris rare
    Yellow -throated Scrubwren Sericornis citreogu/aris uncommon
    White-browed Scrubwren Sericornis frontalis common
    Brown Warbler Gerygone mouki uncommon
    Lewin’s Honeyeater Meliphaga lewinii common
    Satin Bowerbird Ptilonorhynchus violaceus common
    Green Catbird Ailuroedus crassirostris uncommonAUGUST 1984 79
    Nine of the species listed in Table 1 (indicated by an asterisk) are at or close to their western
    limit of distribution in the region, corresponding to the limit of rainforest. In particular, the
    White -headed Pigeon is scarce in the Illawarra (Gibson, loc. cit., and recorded irregularly along
    the escarpments near the coast and from rainforest patches on the coastal plain. I recorded it on
    two occasions in the study area, one bird each time and both in 1982 (March and December).
    The species is seldom recorded south of the Shoalhaven River and Morris, McGill & Holmes
    (1981) reported its western limit as Macquarie Pass, 45 km to the north-east; these records thus
    extend its known western limit.
    The fruit -eating species (four pigeons, a catbird and the Satin Bowerbird) are dependent
    upon the availability of fleshy fruits in the area. Plant species within the vine thickets which are
    important food sources for frugivorous birds include: Ficus rubinginosa, Diospyrus australis,
    Livistona australis, Me/ia azedarach and (probably) vines such as Cissus spp.
    The high proportion (84%) of the total local rainforest avifauna found in these vine thickets
    agrees approximately with results obtained by Howe et al (1981), who reported that small
    remnant patches of rainforest near Dorrigo in north-eastern New South Wales (about 540 km
    NNE of my study area), though surrounded by land cleared for farming, were found to contain
    (between them) about three-quarters of all rainforest bird species found in adjacent extensive
    undisturbed rainforest. These results suggest that even very small fragments of rainforest may
    serve as important refuges and dispersal avenues to most rainforest species. Presumably such
    patches are of special importance to migrants and to nomadic frugivores such as the Topknot
    wish to thank the Geography Department of Wollongong University for providing facilities
    used in the production of Figure 1.
    Gibson, D.J. 1977. Birds of the County of Camden. Aust. Birds 11: 41-80.
    Howe, R.W., T.D. Howe & H.A. Ford. 1981. Bird distributions on small rainforest remnants in New South
    Wales. Aust. Wild!. Res. 8: 637-651.
    Morris, A.K., A.R. McGill & G. Holmes. 1981. Handlist of birds in New South Wales. NSW Field Ornith. Club:
    Webb, L.J. 1968. Environmental relationships of the structural types of Australian rainforest vegetation.
    Ecology 49:296-311.
    Kevin Mills, Geography Department, Wollongong University, Wollongong NSW 2500. Present
    address: 20 Blanchard Crescent, Balgownie NSW 2519.80 AUSTRALIAN BIRDS 18 (4)
    The Ruddy Turnstone Arenaria interpres is a cosmopolitan species breeding in the
    northern summer in Arctic and sub -Arctic areas in Siberia, Alaska, Canada and Greenland.
    During early spring birds arrive in Australia and also move south from their breeding grounds to
    New Zealand, Africa and South America (Reader’s Digest 1976).
    The species is numerous in Australia from September to April, although some birds are
    present in all months in New South Wales (Morris, McGill & Holmes 1981), and Gibson (1977)
    also reported that some birds overwinter at Illawarra. This note reports the results of weekly
    censuses of Ruddy Turnstones at Bellambi Point near Wollongong, NSW (34°22’S 150°53’E)
    over the period July 1982 to June 1983.
    Bellambi Point is a rocky headland situated seven kilometres north of the city of
    Wollongong projecting about one kilometre from the general line of the coast. Besides the rocky
    shores and platforms there are intervening sandy beaches. The length of the coastline
    censused is 1.8 km of which about 80 percent is rocky shoreline. The rocky area covers
    approximately 0.5 hectares at low tide. Situated on the point is a sewerage treatment plant with
    open settling ponds directly behind the shoreline.
    made at least one visit per week to the area, except for a period of three weeks in March
  2. Visits were made during all phases of the tidal cycle. The whole of the point area was
    searched on each visit, and numbers of turnstones were recorded along with counts of other
    species with which they were associated.
    Figure presents the greatest number of turnstones observed on any one visit for each
    two-week period, and shows the pattern of increase and decrease in numbers over the spring to
    autumn period. The maximum number was recorded in late December (76 birds). That some
    birds overwinter each.year seems evidenced by observations of one or two birds in July 1982
    and July 1983. This was further confirmed by a sighting of four birds after the survey period on
    31 July 1983.AUGUST, 1984 81
    Birds were usually encountered feeding on the rocky shorelines at low tide or, at high tide,
    resting amongst seaweed and other debris above the tide line on beaches. Depending on the
    degree of human disturbance, birds were sometimes also found at high tide resting amongst
    scattered rock and shell material in a small fenced -off area amongst sand -dune remnants on
    the northern side of the point. This area offered a refuge for the birds during periods of high
    disturbance at weekends or at other times. Occasionally birds were observed foraging on one of
    the sewerage tratment ponds, nearly always at high tide.
    Figure 1. Greatest number of Ruddy Turnstones recorded at Bellambi Point, NSW during each
    two week period, July 1982 -June 1983.
    n 40
    J A S 0 F
    1982 1198382 AUSTRALIAN BIRDS 18 (4)
    found low numbers of other species associated with turnstones. During December
    Red -necked Stints Calidris ruficollis (max. three) and Sanderlings Calidris alba (max. four) were
    present, and from late February Double -banded Plovers Charadrius bicinctus (max. four) were
    present. Red -capped Plovers Charadrius ruficapil/us were recorded throughout the year (max.
    ten, in January).
    Bellambie Point appears to be a particularly favourable location for turnstones. They do not
    occur in such high numbers elsewhere in the district, although during summer up to 13
    turnstones were seen on rocky shores on Lake Illawarra, a shallow coastal lagoon to the south
    of Wollongong. There are plenty of similar rocky shorelines in the district; perhaps the reason
    why Bellambi Point is particularly favoured is related to the height of the rock platforms above
    mean low water level; other rocky shores may be exposed for too long during the tidal cycle to
    support suitably high levels of invertebrate prey for the turnstones.
    Reader’s Digest, -1976. Complete book of Australian birds. Reader’s Digest Services Pty Ltd Sydney
    Gibson, J.D. 1977. Birds of the County of Camden, including the Illawarra district. Aust. Birds 11: 41-80.
    Morris, A.K., A.R. McGill & G. Holmes. 1981. Handlist of birds in New South Wales. NSW Field
    Ornithologists Club: Sydney
    Kevin Mills, 20 Blanchard Crescent, Balgownie NSW 2519
    H.L. BELL
    Brown & Amadon (1968, Eagles, Hawks and Falcons of the world, Country Life: London) stated that
    there are few records of raptores seen bathing in the wild. On 24 December 1961 was walking
    down Cawleys Creek in the Royal National Park, New South Wales. The location was in dense rain
    forest, mainly of Coachwood Ceropeta/um apeta/um and Water Gum Tristania laurina, which
    formed a closed canopy over the creek. From 10 m distance I observed an adult White -bellied
    Sea -Eagle Ha/iaeetus leucogaster standing in about 15 cm of water in the rocky stream -bed. Its
    feathers were ruffled as if bathing. The bird flew away along the creek for about 50 m and then
    ascended through an opening in the canopy. Despite a search I found no evidence of the bird having
    been feeding so presume the bird was bathing in what, for this species, must surely be unusual
    H.L. Bell Department of Zoology, University of New England, Armidale NSW 2351.AUGUST, 1984 83
    The occurrence of Corvus species in north-eastern New South Wales was discussed in
    earlier papers (Debus 1980, 1982), and this note presents some recent observations which
    further clarify their status.
    Australian raven Corvus coronoides
    It was earlier postulated (Debus 1982) that the Australian Raven has pushed eastwards
    along three major fronts on the Northern Tablelands. These were: (1) along the Bruxner
    Highway -upper Clarence River; (2) the Armidale-Dorrigo Road; and (3) the Oxley Highway
    south-east of Walcha. It now appears that the Gwydir Highway is a fourth and equally significant
    dispersal route. In February 1983, SD found the Australian Raven to be the common resident
    corvid along the Gwydir Highway eastwards to the Gibraltar Range National Park. In November
    1982 he found them breeding at the Mann River bridge on the old Glen Innes-Grafton Road. The
    latter observation is significant because Australian Ravens do not usually cross escarpment
    barriers (Rowley 1971), although the cleared Mann River valley is easily visible from peaks in the
    park. As pointed out in Debus (1982), the Australian Raven has yet to be reliably reported on the
    coastal plain north of the Hastings River valley.
    Forest Raven Corvus tasmanicus
    The Forest Raven does indeed appear to be a relict and declining species in New South
    Wales, as suggested by Rowley (1970). It has a patchy and local distribution, and the species is
    absent from some areas that, judging by its presence in similar nearby country, should be
    suitable habitat. For instance, it is common in the granite country of Cathedral Rock National Park
    but is absent from Gibraltar Range National Park.
    Although the Forest Raven can be locally common its populations are apparently
    fragmented, small and isolated (Fig. 1). One such population is on the eastern side of the
    Barrington Tops and another is to the north of the Gwydir Highway strip occupied by the
    Australian Raven. Forest Ravens have been recorded in the state forests between Glen Innes and
    Tenterfield (Lindsey 1982) and at Deepwater (SD pers. obs., April 1981) but SD found none in the
    Glen Innes district throughout September 1982 where the Australian Raven (in particular) and
    the Torresian Crow C. orru were common.
    Recent observations by IM also shed light on the distribution of the Forest Raven. The
    characteristic deep, gutteral notes of this species were heard for two hours in fog at Barrington
    Tops on the morning of 20 November 1983, and the duration of calling suggests that the birds
    were resident. The exact locality was Devils Hole, eight kilometres further west than recorded in84 AUSTRALIAN BIRDS 18 (4)
    151° 152° 153
    O O
    O O
    O O 30′
    O O O O
    O O O
    O O O O O
    O O O O O O
    0 0
    O O O
    O O O O
    O O O O O O O
    O O O O O
    O O O
    O O O O
    O O
    O O O
    O O O
    O O
    Figure 1. North-eastern New South Wales, showing distribution of Forest Ravens as determined
    by the NSW Bird Atlas and additional observations by SD and IM. Open circles indicate sight
    records, filled circles indicate breeding records, and half-filled circles indicate probable breeding.
    The records illustrate the patchy nature of its distribution and the existence of apparently discrete
    tableland and coastal breeding populations.AUGUST 1984 85
    Debus (1980) and only seven kilometres from known breeding areas of the Little Raven C. mellori
    at Polblue Swamp. The two species are thus verging on sympatry in the area, and it is possible
    that the Forest Raven is widespread in the tall open forests of the Barrington Tops plateau.
    In company with K. Lisser and R. Edwards, IM saw several Forest Ravens on the Pacific
    Highway five kilometres south of Taree on 2 December 1982. This is close to where SD has seen
    the species at Old Bar. The birds flew through the trees beside the road, and identification was
    confirmed by their very deep gutteral calls. Nothing in their behaviour suggested that they were
    resident, and they may have been a mobile flock of non -breeders. The highway is ten kilometres
    from the coast at this point, and this is further inland than individuals of the coastal population
    are usually recorded (but see Fig. 1). However, it is the breeding distribution of these birds which
    is of ecological importance, and more data are required. It also remains to be determined whether
    Forest Ravens move between the coast and the tablelands.
    Debus (1982) reported that the three large resident corvids occur together extensively on the
    Northern Tablelands; he noted instances of all three possible combinations of two species
    breeding together with the third species present as a non -breeder. It now appears that all three
    breed sympatrically. In March 1984 SD saw an adult pair each of Australian Ravens, Forest
    Ravens and Torresian Crows in adjacent territories at Thalgarrah, fifteen kilometres north-east
    of Armidale. The crows had dependent flying young, and both raven pairs were calling and
    behaving in a manner typical of resident territorial pairs. Such sympatry is hardly surprising
    when all three species have already been proved to breed in the area bounded by Ebor, Guyra and
    We thank Ms D. Kent for preparing the figure, and Mr R.M. Cooper for kindly supplying the
    data from the NSW Bird Atlas on which it is based.
    Debus, S.J.S. 1980. Little and Forest Ravens in New South Wales. Aust. Birds 15: 7-12.
    Debus, S.J.S. 1982. Sympatry in the Australian corvids. Aust. Bird Watcher 9: 147-153.
    Lindsey, T.R. 1982. NSW Bird Report for 1981. Aust. Birds 17: 1-26.
    Rowley, Ian. 1970. The genus Corvus (Ayes: Corvidae) in Australia. CSIRO Wildl. Res. 15: 27-71
    Rowley, Ian. 1971. Movements and longevity of ravens in south-eastern Australia. CSIRO Wildl. Res. 16:
    Stephen J.S. Debus, PO Box 1015, Armidale NSW 2350
    Ian A. W. McAllan, 46 Yeramba Street, Turramurra NSW 207486 AUSTRALIAN BIRDS 18 (4)
    S.J.S. DEBUS
    Several nesting pairs of Little Eagles Hieraeetus morphnoides were studied at Armidale,
    New South Wales in 1980. This paper reports on the nesting habitat and nest site characteristics
    of eight of these pairs. The information obtained was incidental to the main part of the study
    which concentrated on behaviour, diet and breeding biology (Debus 1983, 1984).
    The eight occupied nests were all within a 15 km radius of Armidale. The general landscape
    was a mosaic of cleared farming and grazing land, and remnant patches of Eucalyptus –
    dominated open forest, on undulating terrain. Most of the remaining forest was on low, often
    stony or rocky hills or rises.
    The Little Eagle nests were in the remnant patches of open forest, not in isolated trees. One
    exception was a nest in a plantation of exotic pines Pinus radiata. The other seven nests wer-e
    found in all the common vegetation associations: Blakely’s Red Gum Eucalyptus blakelyi
    Yellow Box E. melliodora (three nests; Manna Gum E. vimina/is (two nests); Broad-leaved
    Stringybark E. caliginosa (two nests). These associations were often not clear-cut but graded into
    one another; Rough -barked Apple Angophora floribunda and other eucalypt species were also
    present at several nest sites.
    All eight nests were in living trees. Three nests were in a gully, and seven nests were on a
    slope. The aspect of the slope on which each nest occurred was: northerly 1, southerly 3, easterly
    2, westerly 1. There appeared to be a bias towards nesting in a gully on a slope with a southerly or
    easterly aspect.
    All nests were on land used for grazing. None were within the Armidale urban area or on
    cultivated land, but two were within the zone of high -density rural holdings surrounding the city.
    Both these nests were about 200 m from occupied houses, and in full view. Several were within
    200 m of roads (including the New England Highway), and one was almost on an established
    walking track through the pine plantation (which was managed for timber).
    The Little Eagle’s main requirement for nesting would appear to be a stand of mature living
    trees. It appears tolerant of the major land uses (except urbanization) provided some tree cover
    remains, and is not greatly disturbed by human activity near the nest site. A prerequisite forAUGUST 1984 87
    successful nesting is of course sufficient hunting habitat nearby; this needs to be diverse enough
    to support a range of vertebrate prey. Prey at Armidale was, in order of importance, mammals
    (rabbits), birds (small passerines to Galahs and magpies) and lizards (dragons and large skinks),
    variously taken from open ground, undergrowth, and the shrub and tree canopy.
    Debus, S.J.S. 1983. Behaviour and vocalizations of nesting Little Eagles. Aust. Bird Watcher 10: 73-78.
    Debus, S.J.S. 1984. Biology of the Little Eagle on the Northern Tablelands of New South Wales, Emu, in press.
    Stephen J.S. Debus, P.O. Box 1015, Armidale NSW 2350
    The Silver Gull Larus novaehollandiae is common in the Sydney area (County of Cumberland)
    but it was not hitherto known to breed locally. This note records the first two known instances of
    breeding in the County of Cumberland.
    Silver Gulls usually breed in colonies, and the nearest of these to Sydney are at Five Islands
    off Port Kembla and on Moon Island off the entrance to Lake Macquarie at Swansea. These
    colonies are approximately 70 km south of Sydney and 150 km north, respectively; the Five
    Islands colony has been estimated to contain over 50000 pairs (Gibson 1979) and that at Moon
    Island, 1000 pairs (Lane 1979).
    On 28 December 1983 two officers of the NSW Water Police found two nests on a 13 -metre
    ketch adrift in Refuge Bay, Cowan Water, adjacent to Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park. One nest
    contained two live chicks possibly two or three days old, the other a dead chick. The birds were
    taken back to the Water Police base at Church Point, where they consumed quantities of
    mashed -up fish provided by concerned staff; they were later taken to Taronga Park Zoo. The
    details were reported in a local newspaper, the Manly Daily for 29 December 1983.88 AUSTRALIAN BIRDS 18 (4)
    At Homebush Bay, an inlet of the Parramatta River, on 24 October 1982, Ern Hoskin noticed
    a juvenal gull so young that it was unlikely to have made the journey from either known
    breeding colony since fledging. He suspected that breeding had occurred within the immediate
    area, probably in the old wrecks in Homebush Bay. On 5 October and 29 December 1983 he saw
    gulls apparently brooding on the flat tops of larger timber piles in the water at the southern end
    of the bay.
    Breeding was confirmed on 21 January 1984 when Jane Dalby, Maureen and Vic Tyler
    saw adult gulls on three of the piles in the middle of the bay. The pile tops were at least two
    metres above water level. One bird had two chicks, a second had one, and the third was
    apparently brooding either eggs or chicks. The chicks were covered with speckled -brown down
    and were unable tofly. One adult gull with chicks was seen to repel other gulls that approached,
    except for one that appeared to be its mate.
    At Homebush Bay it is some distance to shore from the nest sites. The area abounds with
    feral cats in the various factories and business establishments along the shore, and foxes are
    also present; it would appear that the gulls have selected the only safe sites in the area.
    Although Silver Gulls usually breed on offshore islands, there are records of the birds nesting
    on piles and in boats elsewhere (eg, Sharland 1965).
    Lane, S.G. 1979. Summary of the breeding seabirds on New South Wales coastal islands, Corella 3: 7-10
    Gibson, J.D. 1979. Growth in the population of the Silver Gull on the Five Islands group, New South Wales.
    Corella 3: 103-104
    Sharland, M.S.R. 1965. Gulls nest in boats. Emu 64: 147-150
    Jane Dalby, 2/11 Burra Road, Artarmon NSW 2064
    Ern Hoskin, 44 Patricia Street, Eastwood NSW 2122
    Maureen & Vic Tyler, 25 Como Parade, Pretty Beach NSW 2256AUGUST. 1984 89
    OBITUARY: John Douglas Gibson (1925-1984)
    Australian ornithology suffered a severe loss with the passing of John Douglas Gibson on
    21 May 1984 at the comparatively early age of 58. For several years previously Doug had
    suffered from a serious illness, but although severely handicapped he retained his intense and
    life-long interest in the study of birds.
    His first published contribution to ornithology appeared in The Emu in 1953, in a paper
    co-authored by his cousin and birding companion Allan Sefton. I well remember receiving a
    telephone call from Keith Hindwood shortly after its publication, enquiring whether knew
    these two “recruits to ornithological literature” living at Thirroulin those days most NSW bird
    enthusiasts were personally known to each other, so when the names of J. Douglas Gibson and
    Allan Sefton came to our notice we naturally hoped for a meeting. This eventuated not long
    afterwards when Jack Jones of Melbourne paid a short visit to Sydney. Keith had shortly before
    received a report of the Rock Warbler, a bird of special interest to him, at Pigeon House
    Mountain near Ulladulla. This was a significant extension of the known distribution of the
    species, and to give our Melbourne friend a brief tour of this State we planned a long weekend
    trip to Ulladulla to check the report. With the assistance of local birding enthusiasts Chris
    Humphries and Keith Egan, together with Dave Leithhead who arrived separately, we scaled
    the Pigeon House and confirmed the record. The trip also provided the opportunity of a personal
    meeting with Doug and Allan when we passed through Thirroul, and a very happy hour or so
    was spent with them. For me that was the commencement of a close friendship of over thirty
    Even though Doug and Allan’s first Emu article concerned nest -desertion by fantail –
    warblers, almost all contributions afterwards involved seabirds. These oceanic wanderers were
    their first love. In all, 27 articles by Doug appeared in that journal over the following fifteen
    years, many of them in collaboration with Allan. This was a partnership that yielded early
    records of little-known species for New South Wales, such as the White -headed, Providence
    (Brown -headed), White -chinned and White -winged (Gould’s) Petrels, Sooty and Royal Alba-
    trosses, Sooty Tern, various prion species and the Georgian Diving -petrel, to mention just a few.
    Around the same period I, with others, was patrolling the Bate Bay coastline for derelict
    seabirds, so naturally we were closely in touch. It was a memorable coincidence when Doug
    and Allan obtained the first Australian record of the Westland Petrel with a very battered
    “castaway” while a little later I chanced upon a very fresh specimen of the same species. The
    Thirroul duo reciprocated with a good specimen of the Blue -footed (Cook’s) Petrel shortly after I,
    in company with Fred Johnston, obtained the first Australian record with a derelict dried
    specimen of this bird.
    In April 1957 Doug sailed aboard the Shaw-Savill liner Southern Cross between Sydney
    and Cape Town, South Africa on a round -the -world voyage, returning the following November
    and December aboard the freighter Tahitien via the Panama Canal. He kept daily records of
    seabird observations throughout and a log of these two sections of his world trip was90 AUSTRALIAN BIRDS 18 (4)
    subsequently published in The Emu. Such a voyage certainly gave him a wonderful opportunity
    of viewing much of the world’s pelagic wildlife. He was also a member of the Thala Dan party in
    an expedition to Antarctic waters, spending some time on Macquarie Island. His film record of
    that trip I consider to be an epic of 8mm movie film, which I have viewed a number of times and
    which will ever remind me of Doug’s love for oceanic birds and ornithology in general.
    His work as an albatross bander, mostly with others of similar interest, has been well
    documented, with three important papers appearing in The Emu during 1959-1963 on behalf of
    the NSW Albatross Study Group. His final contribution to that journal was on the movements of
    the Wandering Albatross, in co -authorship with S.L.N. Tickell of the Royal Naval Birdwatching
    Society to which both Doug and were appointed NSW representatives some years ago.
    I recollect on at least one occasion I was among a small boat party banding albatrosses off
    the Wollongong coast and was fascinated by the method used to catch these great birds when
    enticed near the boat. Another trip we had together was from Bellambi Point to the Five Islands
    in a very crowded small boat, piloted by Arthur Mothersdill, which could have ended in disaster
    after we encountered a wild “black nor -easterly” on the return trip. After much strenuous
    bailing, six completely drenched occupants finally managed to reach Port Kembla harbour.
    Perhaps that is why I, a poor swimmer in such conditions, have not ventured seawards since!
    But to Doug such problems and mishaps were a part of his everyday life as a dedicated seabird
    Tribute must also be paid to his great skill at transforming badly -decomposed seabirds into
    excellent study specimens. doubt whether any trained taxidermist could surpass him in this
    regard. In more recent years Doug gave a series of lectures on behalf of the Workers’ Education
    Association, which were well -attended by Illawarra enthusiasts. Out of these very helpful
    discourses the Illawarra Bird Observers Club (IBOC) was formed, a vigorous organization which
    will remain a lasting tribute to Doug’s keen ability and infectious personality. He was awarded
    life membership of that society in 1983. I was invited to officiate at the ceremony, and I
    journeyed to Wollongong for the regular monthly meeting on 9 May where, after congratulating
    him on his tremendous influence with the club and the high esteem in which he was held by the
    members, pinned the medal on his lapel. recollected that only a year or so previously he had
    I I
    paid me a similar honour.
    The large number of ornithological identities among the gathering of friends and relatives
    present at his memorial service in the Bulli Uniting Church on 24 May was clearly indicative of
    the high esteem in which this well -loved personality was held in the community. Sincere
    sympathy is extended by the NSW Field Ornithologists Club to his widow, Betty, and two
    daughters, Jacqueline (Mrs Payne) and Terrie. He will be sadly missed by all who knew him.
    1953 Notes on the desertion of nests by Fantail -warblers Emu 53: 74-77 (with A.R. Sefton)
    White -headed Petrel. Emu 53: 253AUGUST. 1984 91
    Size of Silver Gull’s eggs. Emu 53: 264-265 (with A.R. Sefton)
    1954 Dust -bathing or anting? Emu 54: 279-280
    1955 Notes on some albatrosses of coastal New South Wales. Emu 55: 44-48 (with
    A.R. Sefton)
    Mortality of shearwaters. Emu 55: 259-262 (with A.R. Sefton)
    1956 Display flights of the Crested Tern. Emu 56: 131-132
    Additional records of Great -winged and Brown -headed Petrels from New South Wales
    and some comparisons. Emu 56: 133-135 (with A.R. Sefton)
    Red-tailed Tropic -bird at Port Kembla, N.S.W. Emu 56: 198 (with A.R. Sefton)
    A petrel new for Australia. Emu 56: 211-212 (with A.R. Sefton)

Illawarra haven for birds. BHP Review 33 (6): 15-18 (with A.R. Sefton)

1957 The Gould Petrel Australian records. Emu 57: 49-52 (with A.R. Sefton)
Antarctic visitors. Gould League Notes 23: 7-9
1958 The Fleshy -footed Shearwater in New South Wales coastal waters. Emu 58: 91-93
(with A.R. Sefton)
1959 Fork -tailed Swift at Macquarie Island. Emu 59: 64
First report of the New South Wales Albatross Study Group. Emu 59: 73-82 (with
A.R. Sefton)
Three unusual sea -birds. Emu 59: 135 (with A.R. Sefton)
An Australian record of the Georgian Diving -petrel. Emu 59: 267 (with A.R. Sefton)

Antarctic island. BHP Review 36 (4): 14-17

1960 Sea -bird log Sydney to Cape Town and Panama to Sydney. Emu 60: 11-19
Second report of the New South Wales Albatross Study Group. Emu 60: 125-130 (with
A.R. Sefton)
1961 An eastern Australian specimen of the Sooty Albatross. Emu 61: 197 (with A.R.
Colombo Crows in Victoria. Emu 61: 244-245
1962 First Australian record of the Royal Albatross. Emu 62: 167-168 (with A.R. Sefton)
Sea -bird mortality on Illawarra (N.S.W.) beaches during November 1961. Emu 62:
213-215 (with A.R. Sefton)
Albatrosses new for Bellambi. Aust. Bird Bander 1: 8-9
1963 Third report of the New South Wales Albatross Study Group (1962), summarizing
activities to date. Emu 63: 215-223
Albatross banding at Bellambi, 1963. Aust. Bird Bander 1: 172-17392 AUSTRALIAN BIRDS 1814)
Review: Sea birds of the South Pacific Ocean. Emu 63 262
1964 The White -chinned Petrel: second Australian specimen. Emu 64. 70-71 (with
A.R. Sefton)
Review. Sea Swallow, volume 16 (March 1964). Emu 64: 328
1965 Winter 1964 with the Wanderers. Aust. Bird Bander 3: 32
1967 The Wandering Albatross (Diomedea exulans): results of banding and operations in
New South Wales coastal waters and the Tasman Sea. Notornis 14: 47-57
Vice Regal visit to band albatrosses. Aust. Bird Bander 5: 77
1968 Movements of Wandering Albatrosses Diomedea exulans. Emu 68: 7-20 (with W.L.N.
1971 Unusual seabird records for New South Wales. Aust. Bird Watcher 4: 16-18 (with

A R. Sefton)

1973 New South Wales Albatross Study Group 1972 season. Aust. Bird Bander 11: 5-7

1974 New South Wales Albatross Study 1973. Aust. Bird Bander 12: 61
1975 Streaked Shearwater (Ca/onectris leucomelas)in the Coral Sea. Notornis 22: 176-177
1976 Big Island, Five Islands, N.S.W.Aust. Bird Bander 14: 100-103
1977 An overlooked specimen of the White Tern in N.S.W. Aust. Bird Watcher 7: 63
Birds of the County of Camden (including the Illawarra District). Aust. Birds 11: 41-80
Albatross banding 1974-1976. Corella 1:36-37
1978 Crested Grebe at sea. Aust. Birds 13. 39
1979 Growth of the population of the Silver Gull on the Five Islands Group, New South
Wales. Core/la 3: 103-104
1982 Swifts and swallows. Illawarra Bird Obs. Cl. Nwsletr (August 1982): 2
Contributors are requested to observe the following points when submitting articles and notes
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  1. Species, names, and the order in which they occur are to be in accordance with” Handlist
    of Birds in New South Wales”. AK. Morris, A R. McGill and G. Holmes 1981 Dubbo:
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  3. Margins of not less than 25mm width at the left hand side and top, with similar or slightly
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  11. References to other articles should be shown in the text-‘…B.W. Finch and M.D. Bruce
    (1974) stated…’ and under heading
    Finch, B.W. and M.D. Bruce 1974 The Status of the Blue Petrel in Australian Waters
    Aust. Birds 9. 32-35
  12. Acknowledgements to other individuals should include Christian names or initials.Vol. 18, No. 4 August, 1984
    McFarland, D. Insects in flowers: a potential source of protein
    for honeyeaters 73
    Mills, Kevin Rainforest birds of the Shoalhaven Gorge, New South Wales 76
    Mills, Kevin Seasonal fluctuation of numbers of Ruddy Turnstones at
    Bellambi Point, Wollongong, New South Wales 80
    Bell, H.L. Bathing by the White -bellied Sea -eagle 82
    Debus, S.J.S. & Breeding habitat of the Little Eagle at Armidale,
    I.A.W. McAllan New South Wales 86
    Dalby, J.; First breeding records for the Silver Gull in the
    E. Hoskin; and County of Cumberland 87
    M. & V. Tyler

McGill, A.R. John Douglas Gibson (1925-1984) 89

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