Vol. 19 No. 1-text

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Journal of the
Vol. 19, No. 1 October, 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
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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.Vol. 19, No. 1 October, 1984
Observations of nectar -feeding birds in coastal Banksia integrifolia showed that the species
were arranged in a dominance hierarchy based on size. White-cheeked Honeyeaters appeared
to defend breeding territories while Little Wattlebirds occupied feeding territories. Calling and
territorial behaviours of both species were prominent and are described.
In the past many papers examining sympatric honeyeater species have looked only at
how the species partition their habitat in terms of differences in foraging behaviour,
i.e, how, where and on what the birds feed (e.g. Ford & Paton 1976; Recher 1977;
Thomas 1980). This paper reports on the aggressive and social behaviour of two
co -existing honeyeater species.2 AUSTRALIAN BIRDS 19 (1)
On 4-5 May 1981 observed White-cheeked Honeyeaters Phylidonyris nigra and
Little Wattlebirds Anthochaera chrysoptera on the Arrawarra headland, 25 km north
of Coffs Harbour, NSW. Observations were made at three times each day (07:00,
12:00 and 16:00 hr) by spending 45 minutes watching birds from atop a two -metre
ladder positioned in a clearing surrounded by Banksia integrifolia. Records were kept
of all agonistic interactions, calling and advertisement displays, and general move-
ments of honeyeaters.
The vegetation of the headland is dominated by clumps of Coast Banksia B.
integrifolia. The clumps vary in size and are interspersed with tussock grass. In areas
sheltered from salt spray Lantana Lantana camera is found entangled in the banksia.
B. integrifolia was flowering at the time of this study and provided the major source of
nectar for the birds, although lantana flowers were probed by Eastern Spinebills
Acanthorhynchus tenuirostris and Silvereyes Zosterops lateralis.
(A) Aggressive interactions.
Two types of attack were recognized: chases, where the aggressor followed
another bird beyond the perch vacated by the fleeing bird; and displacements, where
the aggressor occupied the vacated perch.
Both intra- and interspecific aggression was observed with honeyeaters attacking
conspecifics or species smaller than themselves (Table 1). Only once did the reverse
occur when a mob of White-cheeked Honeyeaters attacked a single Little Wattlebird
that was near a fledgeling. Outside of the observation times Scaly -breasted Lorikeets
Trichog/ossus chlorolepidotus and Little Wattlebirds were seen displacing one
another at flowering inflorescences. Yellow -faced Honeyeaters Lichenostomus
chrysops were also seen displacing Eastern Spinebills and Silvereyes but all three
species were uncommon in the area and all encounters took place outside the
observation times. Overall, Little Wattlebirds displaced other birds significantly more
than they chased (X2 = 5.5, p < 0.05) Wh ite-cheeked Honeyeaters chased more often than they displaced (X2= 18.8, p < 0.05). White-cheeked Honeyeaters appeared to be the most abundant species and were involved in the majority of encounters recorded. In general, aggression was greatest in the early morning (39 aggressive interactions per hour), lowest at midday (5 interactions per hour) and then moderately high again in the late afternoon (15 interactions per hour). The trend was consistent on both days of observation.OCTOBER, 1984 3 TABLE 1. Aggressive interactions by honeyeaters at three times of day. Number of chases followed by number of displacements in parentheses. Data from both days pooled. TIME AGGRESSOR VICTIM TOTAL LW WCH YFH 0700 hrs LW 3 (2) 5 (15) 0 (0) 0 (0) 25 WCH 0 (1) 16 (6) 8 (0) 3 (0) 34 1200 hrs LW 2 (1) 1 (1) 0 (0) 0 (0) 5 WCH 0 (0) 1 (0) 0 (0) 1 (0) 2 1600 hrs LW 2 (2) 0 (3) 0 (0) 0 (4) 11 WCH 0 (0) 8 (2) 0 (0) 2 (0) 12 LW Little Wattlebird (mass 70 g); WCH White-cheeked Honeyeater (20 g); YFH Yellow – faced Honeyeater (17 g); S Silvereye (8g). Behaviour of White-cheeked Honeyeaters. White-cheeked Honeyeaters were noted performing flight displays (see Serventy & Whittell 1976 for a full description); these are conspicuous and the frequency of such behaviour was easily recorded. Although there were slight peaks in the middle of each day, there were no significant (p > 0.05) differences between the various times of
day or between days in the frequency of display. The average frequency was 37 ± 3
flight displays per hour (mean ± standard error, n = 6). Breeding in this species was
evident by the presence of a dependent fledgeling.
When in groups of three or more birds, White-cheeked Honeyeaters gave a short
‘tu-tu’ call (Table 2). Such groups usually formed in the morning or late afternoon
when birds were hawking insects. No intraspecific aggression was seen in these
groups. From observations of five colour -marked birds it appeared that some adult
White-cheeked Honeyeaters actively defended clumps of flowering banksias while
others were consistently found in particular areas but made no effort to discourage
other honeyeaters from feeding at nearby inflorescences.
(C) Behaviour of Little Wattlebird
Like some White-cheeked Honeyeaters many Little Wattlebirds actively defended
isolated clumps of banksia. These were considered feeding territories since no
evidence of breeding activity (nests or young) were found. The birds in these clumps4 AUSTRALIAN BIRDS 19 (1)
engaged in bouts of calling throughout the day. The calling was monitored in each
observation period by arbitrarily selecting three wattlebirds and recording the number
of calls made over a three minute period. The majority of calls were either repeated,
sharp ‘ark’ or harsher coughs. The level of calling was greatest in the early morning
and significantly less in the midday and afternoon periods (07:00 hr = 101.4; 12:00 hr
= 2 ± 2; 16:00 hr = 2± 3 calls per minute per bird, mean ± standard deviation).
Little Wattlebirds were present in the banksias only during daylight. In the early
morning, 73% of all wattlebirds seen (n = 17 birds) were flying eastwards out onto the
headland while in the afternoon 78% (n = 20 birds) were moving in the reverse
direction. A check after dusk revealed no wattlebirds in six clumps which were
defended during that day. Whether the same birds returned to the same clumps each
day was not determined.
Among the nectar -feeding birds present on the Arrawarra headland there
appears to be an interspecific dominance hierarchy based on size (Little Wattlebird,
White-cheeked Honeyeater, Yellow -faced Honeyeater and Silvereye). Such hier-
archies are well known in communities of both wild and captive honeyeaters.
(Immelmann 1961; Tullis & Wooller 1981; Ford & Paton 1982). Ford (1979) states that
such interspecific aggression may be one of the main driving forces determining how
honeyeaters partition the available nectar resources. The diurnal decline in aggression
observed in this study may be due to a decline in nectar availability since it has been
found that honeyeaters can rapidly deplete nectar during the day (Ford 1979; Ford &
Paton 1982; Collins & Briffa 1983).
The flight displays of White-cheeked Honeyeaters are associated with breeding
territories (Recher 1971; Reader’s Digest 1976). The presence of such territories at
Arrawarra is supported by the aggression and site fidelity of marked individuals and
the single observation of a dependent fledgling. The need to successfully reproduce
TABLE 2. The occurrence of calling in group formation in White-cheeked Honeyeaters.
GROUP SIZE (Number of birds)
2 3 4 5 6 7
frequency of
group size 13 8 6 0 1 1
number of times
call recorded 1 2 5 0 1 1
percentage 7.7 25.0 83.3 0 100.0 100.0OCTOBER, 1984 5
would account for the birds’ greater use of escalated aggression (i.e. chases) in the
defense of the nest site against other honeyeaters.
I consider the “tu-tu” call of this species to be a type of appeasement signal which
allows several White-cheeked Honeyeaters to aggregate without overt aggression.
The call would enable groups to form wherever aerial insects are abundant which the
birds can hawk without intraspecific interference.
Little Wattlebirds are reported to defend feeding territories (Paton 1979) and
consider that the wattlebirds on the headland were doing the same. This species’
tendency to displace rather than chase could be due to energy considerations; for a
large bird, chasing involves greater energy expenditure than displacements (Paton
1979). McFarland (1983) suggests that some of the calling by Little Wattlebirds may
be important in the initial defence of new nectar sources, but no diurnal variation was
detected in that study. At Arrawarra, calling (assumed to be associated with territory
advertisement)was greatest in the morning and lower at midday and in the afternoon.
If standing crops of nectar do decline during the day, the need for defence (calling and
aggression) is also reduced. Since the birds appear to move off the headland at night,
the high level of calling and aggression in the morning may be necessary in the
re-establishment of territories each day. The absence of birds in the banksias
overnight may be due to a lack of safe roosting sites, e.g. tall eucalypts, on the
I thank Dr Harry F. Recher for his helpful criticism of an earlier draft of this paper.
Collins, B.G. & P. Briffa. 1983. Seasonal and diurnal variations in the energetics and foraging activities of
the brown honeyeater Lichmera indistincta. Aust. J. Ecol. 8: 103-1-1 1
Ford, H.A. 1979. Interspecific competition in Australian honeyeaters depletion of common resources.
Aust. J. Ecol. 4: 145-164
Ford, H.A. & D.C. Paton. 1976. Resource partitioning and competition in honeyeaters of the genus
Meliphaga. Aust. J. Ecol. 1: 281-287.
. 1982. Partitioning of nectar sources in an Australian honeyeater community. Aust. J.
Ecol. 7: 149-159
Immelmann, K. 1961. A contribution to the biology and ethology of Australian honeyeaters. J. fur Ornith.
102: 169-207
McFarland, D.C. 1983. Calling and resource defence by Little Wattlebirds Anthochaera chrysoptera. Aust.
Birds 18: 10-12
Paton, D.C. 1979. The behaviour and feeding ecology of the New Holland Honeyeater, Phylidonyris
novaehollandiae, in Victoria. Ph.D. thesis, Monash University: Melbourne
Reader’s Digest. 1976. Complete book of Australian birds. Reader’s Digest Services: Sydney
Recher, H.F. 1971. Sharing of habitat by three congeneric honeyeaters. Emu 71: 147-152

  1. Ecology of co -existing White-cheeked and New Holland Honeyeaters. Emu 77: 136-1426 AUSTRALIAN BIRDS 19 (1)
    Serventy, D.L. & H.M. Whittell. 1976. Birds of Western Australia. University of Western Australia Press:
    Tullis, K.J. & R.D. Wooller. 1981. Interspecific feeding hierarchies in captive honeyeaters. Bird Behaviour 3:
    Thomas, D.G. 1980. Foraging in honeyeaters in an area of Tasmanian sclerophyll forest. Emu 80: 55-58
    D.C. McFarland, Department of Zoology, University of New England, Armidale NSW 2351
    The only known breeding attempts by Australian Pelicans Pe/ecanus conspicifiatus in eastern
    New South Wales occurred at Lake George on the southern Tablelands in 1963 and 1968; both
    attempts were aborted (Frith 1969). Nesting has also been reported at Keepit Dam and Lake
    Goran near Gunnedah (Morris, McGill and Holmes 1981).
    In August 1983 I found Australian Pelicans nesting on an islet known as Pelican Island in
    Wallis Lake, near Forster on the mid -north coast of New South Wales. made two visits to the
    site; eggs were observed in August and runners during October.
    Pelican Island has an area of approximately 500 square metres and at its highest point is
    less than 0.5 metres above high water. A few stunted casuarinas and various herbs and grasses
    cover most of the island. A sandspit extends into the lake from the eastern shore. The pelicans
    nested on the sandspit and adjacent grass -covered area.
    On 22 August 1983, found 1004- nests. Most of these contained two eggs, some had three
    or one, and some nests were yet to be laid in. The nests averaged about 1-1.5 metres apart and
    were built mostly of grasses and seaweeds. Nests on the sandspit contained substantially more
    material than thosefurther inland and from the amount of material in each nest concluded that
    the colony was spreading progressively westward and slightly uphill from the sandspit to
    grassland. Brooding pelicans left their nests to waddle in shallow water as intruders
    approached within ten metres but returned as the intruders retreated.
    On 11 October 1983 an estimated 70 chicks of various ages were grouped in three distinct
    zones: (1) a creche of eight goose -sized runners at the water’s edge which waddled into shallow
    water when approached; these were estimated to be about six weeks old, (2) a creche of 12
    fowl -sized runners (3-4 weeks old) upon dry sand with some adults intermingled, and (3)
    approximately 40 recently -hatched chicks in nests, each with a brooding adult. Adults with
    nestlings remained on the nest as the intruder approached to about three metres, and
    billclappered and raised their wings in protest at the intruder.OCTOBER, 1984 7
    Accompanied by A.B. Rose, I made a further visit to the colony on 31 May 1984. We found
    the colony now centered at the south-western end of the islet, furthest from where nesting
    originated the previous August. We counted 65 nests; most contained eggs but two contained
    nestlings. On and about the islet were approximately 150 flying juveniles and a similar number
    of adults. Other juveniles were observed elsewhere on the lake away from the rookery.
    This represents the first successful breeding of the Australian Pelican in coastal New
    South Wales. It is of interest to note that local fishermen familiar with the colony maintain that
    nesting has continued uninterrupted from August 1983 to May 1984.
    Frith, H.J. (ed.). 1969. Birds in the Australian high country. A.H. & A.W. Reed: Sydney.
    Morris, A.K., A.R. McGill & G. Holmes. 1981 Handlist of birds in New South Wales. NSW Field Ornith. Club.
    R. Moffatt, Seal Rocks Road, Bungwahl NSW 2423
    If records of sporadic dispersal and vagrants within the last decade are ignored, the
    Long -billed Corella Cacatua tenuirostris occurs in two isolated populations. One is in western
    Victoria, west to the South -East district of South Australia, north to the southern Wimmera and
    east to Port Phillip Bay (Jarman 1979); and the other is found in the river gum Eucalyptus
    camaldulensis woods along the central Murray River system in the southern Riverina between
    Cobram, Shepparton, Kerang, Euston and Hay (Jarman, /oc. cit.,. Morris, McGill & Holmes
    1981). These two populations are separated by the open wooded downs of central northern
    Victoria which are drained by the Campaspe, Loddon and Avoca Rivers.
    In their revision of the Australian corellas, Schodde et al. (1979) did not compare these two
    populations. Only three specimens of the Riverina group were then available, one of which was
    unsexed and another said to be from Byrock, in the collection of Robert Grant (Museum of
    Victoria) doubtful provenance (also Jarman, /oc. cit.). Since then seven specimens have8 AUSTRALIAN BIRDS 1911)
    been acquired by the Australian National Wildlife Collection, CSIRO, Canberra, through the
    assistance of the New South Wales National Parks and Wildlife Service and the Department of
    Fisheries and W-i ldlife, Victoria. Two, a male a -n d female, are from Murrabit, near Kerang and
    the other five one male and four lemales are from Moira State Forest at Mathoura. In
    plumage they are indistinguishable from western Victorian birds: they have the same vestigial
    wash of yellow on the under -wing, a downy band of pale scarlet on the foreneck, loral scarlet
    washing down on to the face, and a brief crest 30-36 mm long. Their body measurements are
    also within the range of the western Victorian population quoted by Schodde et al. (loc. cit.):
    wings 273-285, 272-280 mm in males and females respectively, and a tail/wing ratio of
    0.43-0.46 in both sexes. Only in their slightly shorter bills are they a little different, with a
    culmen chord (from cere) of 41.2-47.0 mm in males and 43.0-45.2 mm in females. This may
    simply reflect wear, for all specimens from Mathoura were collected in late February 1983,
    towards the close of the 1981-2 drought, when ground would have been hardest for digging.
    Accordingly, consider Riverina and western Victorian populations consubspecific.
    That the two populations are so alike suggests that their present isolation from one another
    is very recent, possibly dating back to the dry times of the last glacial epoch 12,000-20,000
    years ago. The corellas may then have been confined to even smaller refuges than now, one in
    the better watered parts of the central Murray River system and the other on the Bassian plain
    of southern Victoria where it catches rain from the Grampians and Great Dividing Range. Since
    then, contemporary records suggest that the corellas have gone through cycles of expansion
    and contraction (Jarman 1979), which in turn implies that their present separation may well be
    Jarman, H. 1979. The Corellas in Victoria and the Riverina, N.S.W. Aust. Bird Watcher 8: 103-117.
    Morris, A.K., A.R. McGill and G. Holmes. 1981. Handlist of Birds in New South Wales. New South Wales
    Field Ornithologists Club: Sydney.
    Schodde, R., G.T. Smith, I.J. Mason and R.G. Weatherly. 1979. Relationships and speciation in the
    Australian corellas (Psittacidae). Bull. Brit. Orn. Club 99: 128-137.
    Richard Schodde, CSIRO Division of Wildlife and Rangelands Research, PO Box 84, Lyneham
    ACT 2602.OCTOBER, 1984 9
    Wilford’s Swamp is a semi -permanent shallow freshwater swamp three kilometres west of
    Ulladulla, on the south coast of New South Wales. At 15:00 hrs on 25 November 1983, while
    walking along the edge of the swamp, disturbed a small wader from its resting place. It took
    flight then alighted again some 20 metres away. A prominent feature which immediately
    attracted my attention was the distinct dark colouration of its neck and breast which contrasted
    sharply with the pure white abdomen. The bird was about 22 centimetres in length; the
    upperparts were rich brown and black with paler streaks, the crown was chestnut -brown, and
    the slightly decurved bill was black with fleshy colouration towards the base. A conspicuous
    black line extended between the bill and the eye. The legs were greenish -yellow. During its
    short flight the rump and tail pattern was clearly visible: a black stripe extended down the centre
    of the rump, flanked on both sides by conspicuous areas of white.
    As I moved forward in order to obtain a closer view the bird flew off in a leisurely manner,
    uttering two parrot -like calls, then alighted on a’small samphire-covered islet some 25 metres
    to my right. Here it adopted a pronounced upright posture for several minutes, and then moved
    into the cover of some grass, where only its head was visible. It was still in this position when
    decided to leave, so well was it camouflaged that it would have been impossible to detect had
    not seen it entering the cover of the grass, leaving me with the impression that numbers of the
    species couid escape attention by even the best of observers.
    The only other species present in the immediate vicinity were twelve Black -winged Stilts
    Himantopus himantopus, four Black -fronted Plover Charadrius me/anops and a small party of
    White -fronted Chats Ephthianura albifrons.
    After checking available literature (Hobbs 1958a, 1958b; Speechley 1967; Condon &
    McGill 1967; Pizzey 1980; Kieser & Smith 1982; Suzuki 1983) concluded that the bird had
    I I
    observed was a Pectoral Sandpiper Calidris melanotos. This is my first local record of this
    species in 38 years of observation, although the closely -similar Sharp -tailed Sandpiper Calidris
    acuminata is relatively common in the area. Morris, McGill & Holmes (1981)do not indicate any
    records for the South Coast region, although the species is recorded fairly regularly elsewhere
    in New South Wales.
    Condon, H.T. & A.R. McGill. 1967. Field guide to the waders. Bird Observers Club: Melbourne
    Hobbs, J.N. 1958a. The Pectoral Sandpiper and other northern waders in south-western New South Wales.
    Emu 58: 56-58
    Hobbs, J.N. 1958b. A further record of the Pectoral Sandpiper in south-western New South Wales and
    some wader notes. Emu 58: 412-415
    Kieser, Julius A. & Fred T.H. Smith. 1982. Field identification of the Pectoral Sandpiper Calidris melancdos.
    Aust. Bird Watcher 9: 137-13910 AUSTRALIAN BIRDS 1911)
    Morris, Alan K., A.R. McGill & Glenn Holmes 1981 Handlist of birds in New South Wales. NSW Field
    Ornith. Club: Sydney
    Pizzey, G. 1980. A field guide to the birds of Australia. Collins: Sydney
    Speechley, B.A. 1967. Sydney records of the Pectoral Sandpiper, Erolia melanotus. Emu 66: 382
    Susuki, Tsutomu. 1982. A field guide to the birds of Japan. Wild Bird Soc Japan. Tokyo
    Chris Humphries, 10 Pindari Place, Ulladulla NSW 2539
    On 15 February 1984 while running along Fingal Beach on the southern side of the Tweed River
    entrance, NSW, Keith Bigg saw a flock of terns and godwits standing on the beach. Having
    neither glasses nor binoculars with him, he returned and we drove along the track behind the
    beach for about two kilometres. After walking through a belt of casuarinas, we found the birds
    still on the beach, approximately 60 metres distant. The time was 14:00 hrs.
    I was checking the main flock when Keith drew my attention to a single tern standing on the
    far side of the group. It was about six metres from the flock and closer to the ocean.
    This tern appeared about mid -way in size between the Little Terns Sterna albifrons and
    Common Terns Sterna hirundo also present. It differed from either species in having very much
    paler grey mantle and wings (it looked whiter overall), and in having a complete white crown
    extending all the way back to the nape. A narrow black line began at or just before the eye and
    continued backwards below the crown to form a broad black band at the nape. The bill was
    black. did not see any black on the wing. Light conditions were good, and we studied the bird for
    about ten minutes with Leitz 10 x 40 binoculars.
    We identified the bird as a Black-naped Tern Sterna sumatrana. We are familiar with this
    species, having seen it on Heron Island, Qld in January 1983. believe this is the first record of a
    Black-naped Tern for New South Wales.
    Other species in the flock were an estimated 50 Crested Terns Sterna bergii, 20 Common
    Terns, four Little Terns and 80 Bar -tailed Godwitstimosa lapponica.
    would like to thank A.R. McGill and T.R. Lindsey for their helpful comments on earlier
    drafts of this note.
    R. Bigg, 12 Wills Avenue, Castle Hill NSW 2154OCTOBER, 1984 11
    The Dusky Robin Melanodryas vittata of Tasmania is a common endemic species occurring
    in coastal heath, sclerophyll forest and sedgeland (Thomas 1979) and favouring ecotones and
    forest clearings. It is least numerous in the south-west of the State where it is patchily
    distributed. However, in December 1983 and January 1984 we found Dusky Robins to be
    abundant around the tin mine workings of Messrs C.D. King and P. Willson at Melaleuca Inlet
    (43°27’S 146° 10’E) near Port Davey. This area is set in the midst of extensive Button Grass
    Gymnoscheonus sphaerocephalus plains, but around the mine buildings is a large patch of
    closed scrub dominated by Manuka Leptospermum scoparium, Scented Paperbark Melaleuca
    squarrosa, Mealy Honey -myrtle Melaleuca squamea, and Prickly Wattle Acacia verticillata,
    with scattered Smithton Peppermints Eucalyptus nitida. Fruit and other exotic trees also occur
    around the dwellings, and there is an extensive vegetable garden. Along with other birds
    including the Olive Whistler Pachycephala o/ivacea, Superb Fairy -wren Ma/urns cyaneus and
    Grey Shrike -thrush Colluricincla harmonica, Dusky Robins frequently enter the dwellings in
    search of cheese, butter and crumbs.
    On 3 December 1983 a male Grey Shrike -thrush was seen flying in with strips of bark and
    sticks and placing them in a rusty cake tin on the verandah of C.D. King’s house. The 20 cm
    diameter tin was placed on a rack 150 cm from the door, 10 cm below the corrugated fibreglass
    verandah roof and 220 cm above the ground. The site was subject to continual disturbance by
    people moving back and forth into the house and noisily congregating on the verandah where a
    freezer and other appliances were kept. A bucket of burning oily ropes, rags and sawdust was
    placed at the entrance to the house to deter sandflies and mosquitoes, frequently enveloping
    the site in smoke.
    The Grey Shrike -thrush was still adding material on the morning of 4 December 1983, but
    it was frequently chased by several Dusky Robins and after several hours of constant
    harassment it abandoned the site. The robins then took over and in the early afternoon we
    watched three Dusky Robins adding material to the nest. The final nest, an untidy -looking
    structure placed on the base of the cake tin, was 4 cm high, giving the incubating bird a good
    view of its surroundings. It was constructed of strips of bark and pieces of dead fern frond on a
    base of twigs, bark and rootlets placed on top of the shrike -thrush’s nest and lined with fine
    rootlets and several feathers.
    By selecting the cake tin, the Dusky Robins (renowned at Melaleuca Inlet for their
    pugnacious disposition) gained a monopoly on the cheese left out for birds on the verandah, and
    prevented other species from entering the house; in particular we saw Grey Shrike -thrushes
    and Olive Whistlers chased off. The incubating bird participated in these chases during the first
    few days of incubation but not thereafter.12 AUSTRALIAN BIRDS 19 (1)
    An egg had been laid by the early evening of the same day (4 December) that the robins had
    taken over the shrike -thrush’s nest and completed their own. One bird then incubated
    constantly except for occasional flights to chase other species away. A second egg was laid on 6
    December, completing the clutch.
    Gradually the incubating robin became tamer, and grew accustomed to people walking
    about below. It eventually became so tame that even when the cake tin was accidentally
    bumped it would merely stand up and look down. On one occasion a very large live deep -water
    crab and two crayfish were left on the verandah by visiting fishermen. The robin stood up with
    neck outstretched and stared at the slowly moving crab. However, when the crayfish began
    flipping vigorously this proved too much and the robin flew off. Quolls (“native -cats”)
    occasionally visited the verandah; when this happened the incubating robin would stand on the
    nest and peer down while the other robins, together with White-browed Scrubwrens Sericornis
    frontalis and New Holland Honeyeaters Phylidonyris novaehollandiae mobbed the animal,
    uttering loud chattering alarm calls.
    We were unable to distinguish the sexes of the robins, but from close observation it
    appeared that a single individual incubated most of the time. Frequently another robin would fly
    to the nest and feed the sitting bird. At other times a Dusky Robin perched in a nearby tree,
    uttering a soft call, whereupon the incubating bird flew off to be fed then returned to the nest.
    During hot weather the robin sat panting with open bill, and it would often stand on the edge of
    the tin with body feathers puffed out, wings drooped and bill open.
    One chick hatched at 10:55 hrs (eastern summer time) on 22 December. The adult watched
    for a few minutes till the process was complete then flew off with half of the eggshell. Two other
    robins came to the nest and watched the chick until the incubating bird returned. One hour later
    both chicks had hatched and all eggshells had been removed. The incubation period was thus
    16 days for one egg and 18 days for the other; this is several days longer than that given in
    Reader’s Digest (1976).
    We were absent during most of the chicks’ development but by January 1984 they were
    covered with brownish feathers, each with a central white streak, giving a striped appearance.
    Three adults were feeding the young and one continued to brood them until they fledged. On 4
    January we found one of the chicks wedged between the nearby refrigerator and the freezer;
    we replaced it in the nest. The second fledgeling left the nest the following day. If we
    approached the young birds the adults used a broken -wing display to distract us. It had taken 14
    days for the young to fledge, which agrees with Dove (1910) but is slightly longer than the period
    reported by Sharland (1925).
    We found a number of other Dusky Robin nests during the same period at Melaleuca Inlet.
    One pair nested on top of the previous year’s nest on the verandah of P. Willson’s house.
    Another (empty) nest was found on a horizontal board against the inside wall at the rear of a
    Nissan hut used to house a front-end loader. A third was found beside the South Coast Walking
    Track, 0.3 m above the ground in the fork of a small Mealy Honey -myrtle. It contained two eggs
    but after several days of observation a Black Currawong Strepera fu/iginosa was seen
    searching bushes in the area and the next day the eggs had disappeared.OCTOBER, 1984 13
    Nest sites selected by Dusky Robins at Melaleuca Inlet were notable in their proximity to
    human activities and for the utilisation of artificial structures. Generally this species builds its
    nest in a cavity in a stump or tree trunk, in a recess in a fallen tree or branch, behind bark, or in
    the fork of a bush (Dove 1910; Officer 1969; Beruldsen 1980), although Fletcher (1904)
    observed a pair building a nest in a “corner where the school verandah joined the house”,
    apparently in a noisy situation.
    Beruldsen, G. 1980. A field guide to nests and eggs of Australian birds. Rigby: Adelaide
    Dove, H.S. 1910. The Dusky Robin Petroica vittata. Emu 10; 127-131
    Fletcher, J.A. 1904. Bird notes from Wilmot, Tasmania. Part 3. Emu 4: 14-17
    Officer, H.R. 1969. Australian flycatchers and their allies. Bird Observer’s Club: Melbourne
    Reader’s Digest. 1976. Complete book of Australian birds. Reader’s Digest Services Pty Ltd: Sydney
    Sharland, M.S.R. 1925. Tasmania’s indigenous birds. Emu 25: 94-103
    Thomas, D. 1979. Tasmanian bird atlas. Fauna Tas. Hndbk 2. Univ. Tasmania: Hobart
    Martin Schulz, 37 Halifax Street, Middle Brighton Vic 3186
    Karina Menkhorst, Port Davey, c/o Tasair, PO Box 451E, Hobart Tas 7001
    J.W. HARDY
    On 19 May 1984 an unusual brown -plumaged robin was captured by A.E. Cam and J.W.
    Hardy at Shaws Creek bird banding station about 55 km WNW of Sydney, NSW. Shaws Creek, a
    tributary of the Nepean River, flows through the eastern escarpment of the Blue Mountains
    between Springwood and Richmond. The vegetation at the banding station is tall open forest
    dominated by Mountain Gum Eucalyptus deanei with a dense understorey consisting mainly of
    Callicoma seratifolia, Melaleuca styphelioides and Dodonea spp.
    A prominent white spot above the bill, rufous wing bars and the almost total lack of white in
    the bird’s tail were noted whilst it was being extracted from the mist net. These features were
    known to be inconsistent with brown -plumaged Rose Robin Petroica roses which are regularly
    captured at Shaws Creek and other banding stations near Sydney, and we identified the bird as14 AUSTRALIAN BIRDS 19 (1)
    a Pink Robin Petroica rodinogaster. The bird was banded (CSIRO Australian Bird Banding
    Scheme band number 013-53044)and seven colour photographs were taken of the bird before
    it was released; the following notes were made:
    Age and sex not determined. Weight 8.5 grams; winglength 63 mm, wingspan 296 mm, tail
    51 mm. Forehead with conspicuous white spot, upperparts dark brown with reddish tinge,
    throat brownish; breast brownish with faint pink tinge all the way to belly, wing with two
    well -marked deep buff (tan) bars; outer tail feathers pale brown (very pointed tips indicating
    new plumage), whitish spot on tip of fifth feather on each side.
    These details are consistent with data given in Disney et al. (1974); the tail length, in
    particular, is within the range given for Pink Robin but below that given for Rose Robin. In their
    analysis of the distinctions between brown -plumaged Rose and Pink Robins, Reid et al. (1984)
    indicate that crucial features in the identification of Pink Robins are the tan (rather than white or
    pale buff) wingbars and warm -brown (rather than grey -brown) breast, flank and dorsum; they
    add that some Pink Robins may have pale outer tail -feathers. These features are confirmed in
    the photographs.
    Morris, McGill & Holmes (1981) record the Pink Robin as a scarce visitor to the South Coast,
    Southern Tableland and South-west Slope of New South Wales, but there is some evidence of
    breeding in the far south-east (Shields & Boles 1980). This represents the third published
    record of the Pink Robin in the Sydney region. Previous sightings were at Yeramba Lagoon on
    20 August 1972 (Dibley & Dibley 1973), and at Castle Hill in April 1975 (Rogers 1976). I thank
    W.E. Boles, N.E.C. Reid and Dr.David Paton for examining the photographs and commenting on
    an earlier draft of this note. The photographs have been deposited in the National Photographic
    Index of Australian Wildlife, Australian Museum, Sydney (registration numbers XT3339-
    Dibley, G. & Dibley, M. 1973. An observation of a Pink Robin near Sydney. Birds 7: 60
    Disney, H.J. de S. and others (S.G. Lane, ed.). 1974. Bird in the Hand. Bird Banders’ Assoc. Aust., Sydney
    Morris, A.K., A.R. McGill & G. Holmes. Handlist of birds in New South Wales. NSW Field Ornith. Club,
    Reid, N; T.R. Lindsey; G. Carpenter; D. Harper & R. Kernot. 1984. New records of Rose Robins in South
    Australia, with comments on plumages and previous reports of Rose and Pink Robins. S. Aust. Ornith.
    29: 100-105
    Rogers, A.E.F. 1976. NSW Bird Report for 1975. Aust. Birds 10: 61-84
    Shields, J.M. & W.E. Boles. Evidence of breeding by the Pink Robin in New South Wales. Aust. Birds 15:
    J. W. Hardy, P.O. Box 66, Springwood NSW 2777OCTOBER, 1984 15
    At about 10:05 hrs on 30 October 1982 an unusual Pterodroma appeared alongside our
    vessel the Kariong, a 15 m charter fishing boat. We were on the continental shelf approximately
    36 km east of Sydney, NSW. Water depth was 150 fathoms, air temperature was 22°C and seas
    were slight on a low swell with a light northerly wind. Visibility was good, with a cloud cover of
    light haze. Sea mist was present well to the south and along inner coastal waters. Other
    observers present were J.J. Francis, D. Secombe, T. Dymond, and D. James.
    The bird appeared from the east, flying WSW away from the sun; it passed by within 20 m of
    the boat and was in view for about one minute. The bird soared along at a height of about 20 m,
    occasionally diving impetuously almost to surface level, then towering high in a fast, arcing
    flight. In general appearance it was dark slate grey with silvery flashes in the underwing and a
    white area on the leading edge of the wing. It appeared smaller than the Short -tailed
    Shearwaters Puffinus tenuirostris common about the boat at the time, but with a heavier,
    bulkier jizz.
    Description: Short, stocky head and neck with a small bill; dark brown to slate grey in
    colour. Bill very dark, short and stubby and appearing almost down -pointed, possibly due to the
    bird’s “neck -less” appearance. The tail tapered to a blunt point. Body (including tail completely
    dark slate -grey, tinged brownish; upperwing uniform and slightly darker. Underwing slightly
    paler than upperwing, dark slate grey with silvery patches in bright light reminiscent of Sooty
    Shearwater Puffinus griseus. A white patch was clearly noted by one observer (AM) along the
    marginal coverts on the leading edge of the underwing. Leg colour not determined. Unlike
    Great -winged Petrel Pterodroma macroptera or Providence Petrel P. so/andri (which character-
    istically hold the wings arced backwards) the bird had a relatively straight -winged jizz, with the
    trailing edge forming an approximately straight line at right angles to the long axis of the body;
    this gave the wings a long, slender, pointed appearance.
    We concluded that the bird was a Kerguelen Petrel Pterodroma brevirostris. Confusion is
    most likely with the dark morphs of Kermadec Petrel Pterodroma neglecta, Soft -plumaged
    Petrel P. mo//is or Herald Petrel P. arminjoniana. The Kermadec Petrel has white shafts to the
    primaries, conspicuous on the upperwing (Harrison 1983, T.R. Lindsey, pers. comm.). We had
    seen an intermediate morph Herald Petrel a few minutes earlier (McBride & Hobcroft, in prep.)
    and this bird had a very different jizz and flight. The dark morph of Soft -plumaged Petrel has
    unevenly dark underparts (darkest at diffuse breast -band) a faint and obscure pale leading edge
    to the inner wing, lacks a silvery flash on the underwing, and has a longer, slenderer neck;
    further, observers familiar with both Soft -plumaged and Kerguelen Petrels (e.g. Harper et al.16 AUSTRALIAN BIRDS 19 It I
    1972, Sinclair 1978, Harrison /cc. cit.) agree that the different flight of Soft -plumaged is a
    useful field character, being closer to the surface, less towering and less impetuous than
    Although this appears to be the first live record in NSW waters, there are ten previous
    records of birds found dead in the State (Morris, McGill & Holmes 1981). Wrecks of Kerguelen
    Petrels have occurred in recent years in Victorian and Tasmanian waters (Robinson 1982;
    Anon. 1982) and along the west coast of New Zealand (Reed 1981; see also Imber 1984 for
    discussion); the species may thus occur in waters off New South Wales more commonly than
    records suggest.
    Anon. 1982. Bird observations 1981. Tasmanian Bird Report No. 11: 30-46
    Harper, Peter C., George E. Watson & J. Phillip Angle. 1972. New records of the Kerguelen Petrel
    (Pterodroma brevirostris) in the South Atlantic and Pacific Oceans. Notornis 19: 56-60
    Harrison, Peter. 1983. Seabirds: an identification guide. A.H. & A.W. Reed, Sydney
    Imber, M.J. 1984. The age of Kerguelen Petrels found in New Zealand. Notornis 31: 89-90
    Morris, Alan K., A.R. McGill & Glenn Holmes. 1981. Handlist of birds in New South Wales. NSW Field
    Ornith. Club: Sydney
    Reed, S. 1981. Wreck of Kerguelen and Blue Petrels. Notornis 28: 239-240
    Robinson, D. 1982. Victorian Bird Report, number 1: 1981. Bird Observers Club, Melbourne
    Sinclair, J.C. 1978. The Kerguelen Petrel in South Africa and its comparison with Soft -plumaged Petrel.
    Bokmakierie 30: 99-101
    Alan P. McBride, 3/108 Cabramatta Road, Mosman NSW 2088
    Dion Hobcroft, c/o Dept of Agriculture, Dempster St, Esperance WA 6450NOTICE TO CONTRIBUTORS
    Contributors are requested to observe the following points when submitting articles and notes
    for publication.
    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:
  2. Articles or notes should be typewritten if possible and submitted in duplicate. Double
    spacing is required.
  3. Margins of not less than 25mm width at the left hand side and top, with similar or slightly
    smaller at the right hand side of pages.
  4. No underlinings and no abbreviations except as shown in the examples.
  5. Photographs should be glossy finish and not too small.
  6. The Style Manual, Commonwealth Government Printing Office, Canberra (1966) and
    subsequent editions will be the guide for this Journal.
  7. Diagrams should be on plain white paper drawn with india ink Any lettering is to be
    ‘professional style’ or lightly pencilled.
  8. Dates must be written “1 January 1975” except in tables and figures where they may be
  9. The 24-hour clock will be used, times being written 06:30, 18:30 for 6.30 a.m. and
    6.30 p.m. respectively.
  10. Mr, Mrs, Dr are not followed by a full stop.
  11. In text numbers one to ten are spelt numbers of five figures or more should be grouped in
    threes and spaced by a thin gap. Commas should not be used as thousands markers.
  12. 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
  13. Acknowledgements to other individuals should include Christian names or initials.Vol 19, No. October, 1984
    McFarland, D.C. Behaviour of White-cheeked Honeyeaters and
    Little Wattlebirds in Banksia integrifolia
    Moffat, R. Nesting of Australian Pelicans on the mid -north coast
    of New South Wales 6
    Schodde, Richard Taxonomic status of Long -billed Corellas in the
    Southern Riverina 7
    Humphries, Chris An observation of a Pectoral Sandpiper near Ulladulla, NSW 9
    Bigg, Robin A Black-naped Tern at Fingal Beach, Tweed Heads, NSW 10
    Schulz, M. & Nesting notes on the Dusky Robin Melanodryas vittata
    K.A. Menkhorst in south-west Tasmania 11
    Hardy J.W. A third record of the Pink Robin near Sydney, NSW 13
    McBride, Alan P. A sight record of the Kerguelen Petrel in New South Wales 15

& Dion Hobcroft

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