Vol. 28 No. 3-text

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Journal of the
The object of the Club is to promote the study and conservation of Australian birds and
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ISSN 0311-8150
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March 1995
Volume 28 No.3
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Direct observation of the Ground Parrot Pezoporus wallicus in the field
is difficult because of its behaviour, cryptic plumage and preference for
dense cover. The literature contains few accounts describing feeding and
related activities (see Forshaw 1981, Meredith et al. 1984, McFarland
1991a:1). In this report diurnal feeding behaviour and an apparent association
between the Ground Parrot and the heath plant Woollsia pungens
(Epacridaceae) are described.
Between 1989 and 1994 transect searches for Ground Parrots were made at irregular
intervals in sub -tropical heath in coastal sandplain country in Bundjalung National Park
(29°15’S, 153°21’E), near Evans Head in northern New South Wales. Ground Parrots
were censused on 17 days over a five-year period – two in January, two in April, ten in
June/July/August and three in November. The resulting counts are given in Table 1.
Some observations were also made in nearby Broadwater NP during monthly censusing
of heathland bird communities in 1993-94. Both parks contain extensive complex mosaics
of heath communities.
Australian Birds Vol.28 No.3 57Bundjalung NP
Site A, the main transect route 1.1 km long, was located in dry heath along a low
sand ridge 60 – 70 m in width, running north-east to south-west. The ridge supported a
diverse shrub community which graded from areas of low (<0.7 m), relatively sparse (10- 30% foliage cover) heath to dense closed heath (>80% cover, averaging >1.3 m height,
with scattered taller shrubs. Ground covers were absent resulting in this habitat being
open and sandy on the ground. Characteristic shrubs included Banksia aemula, Acacia
ulicifolia, Persoonia sp., Leptospermum sp., WoolIsla pungens, Melaleuca sp. and
Styphelia viridis .A fire trail passed through a section of the site and at some points formed
part of the transect route.
Site B, a secondary transect route c. 500 m long, was located in adjacent low-lying
seasonally inundated wet heath parallel to the ridge and 60 – 80 m to the east. This site
supported a uniform low (0.3 – 0.5 m) closed gram inoid community characterised by
sedges and small shrubs. Dominant species included Schoenus brevifolius, Lepyrodia
interrupta, Banksia oblongifolia, B. ericifolia and Dillwynia floribunda with scattered
Xanthorrhoea sp. and taller M quinquinervia. Standing water to 0.25 m was present
following heavy wet season rainfall in some years (Table 1).
Mineral sands mining of the area encompassing the sites between 1978 and 1981
produced heath communities of an age since mining of approximately ten years at the
commencement of the study. Age since fire was probably similar. The last recorded fire
which may have affected the area was in 1980 but insufficient detail was available to
determine whether the actual transect sites were burnt. A series of major fires subsequently
occurred during the study period (Fig. 1). In October 1989 fire burnt out the area
immediately adjacent to the eastern edge of the ridge, including Site B and the area to the
south of the study sites. In September 1990 the wet heath area bordering the ridge to the
west, and a small section (<10%) at the northern edge of Site A were burnt. In January
1994 the areas affected by the 1989 fire (including Site B) were again burnt together with
about 20% of the southern end of Site A. The narrow strip of heath along the ridge
comprising the main transect (Site A) was largely unaffected throughout, giving it a fire
age of c. 14-15 years by 1994.
Site A was walked from north to south with frequent pauses to scan the vegetation
in front and to the sides in an effort to detect Ground Parrots before they flushed. All
surveys were carried out in the morning but starting times varied; on some, but not all
visits, at the completion of the main transect Site B was surveyed (see Table 1).
During surveys of Site A (excluding the initial census) an attempt was made to
pinpoint the exact position where each bird flushed. Where this was confidently established
from the bird’s point of emergence from a shrub’s foliage or the ground below (more
readily detectable in sparse heath), the plant it was using (i.e. in or under) was recorded.
58 GOSPER: Ground Parrots March 1995Broadwater NP
As part of an unrelated project a km section of fire trail was used to census all
bird species in an area of predominantly wet heath between May 1993 and September

  1. Surveys were conducted monthly and were begun not later than one hour after
    sunrise. At this site the surrounding vegetation was uniformly c. 0.9 m in height, with
    standing water over much of the area for extended periods. The fire trail itself was 5-6 m
    wide and received infrequent vehicular use, being maintained by periodic slashing to a
    height of less than 0.3 m.
    Bundjalung NP
    Ground Parrots were usually only detected after flushing. Of 92 records made
    during the transects, in only three instances were the birds detected before flushing. On
    two further occasions Ground Parrots were observed perched in shrubs having landed
    after being flushed. These provided limited opportunities to observe behaviour.
    3 July 1989
    0945: a Ground Parrot was located standing still on the edge of the sandy fire trail
    (Site A). It subsequently flew ahead a short distance and landed again on the trail where
    it stood motionless for a time apparently watching the observer, before walking further
    ahead, weaving in and out of the fringing cover. It eventually flew off the trail. On
    approaching the spot where this bird was initially seen two more Ground Parrots flew up
    from under a low flowering Woollsia pungens overhanging the edge of the trail.
    Examination of the spot revealed numerous flower fragments on the ground under the
    shrub, raising suspicions that the birds may have been feeding at this plant.
    1100: one Ground Parrot was disturbed from the foliage of a Woollsia shrub,
    flying 2 – 3 m to land in another shrub of the same species about 5 m distant but in clear
    view. Here it watched the observer, remaining motionless for a short time before
    commencing to feed. It picked a flower from the shrub, shed the petals in the first few
    movements of the mandibles (i.e. first 1 – 1.5 seconds), continued to chew the remainder
    of the flower (presumably the developing fruit), paused, and then reached out and picked
    another flower. Once, when four or five flowers were picked and eaten consecutively,
    the interval between taking flowers was counted as five seconds. During a period of
    inactivity the bird briefly stretched one wing and partially spread its tail. It subsequently
    flew for a similar distance to another Woollsia where it fed again but soon became obscured
    by foliage. Altogether the bird was in view for nearly two minutes during which it flew
    and alighted twice, clambered about quite adeptly to reach flower -bearing branches and
    took flowers from two Woollsia plants. At this spot the heath was 1 – 1.3 m high and the
    Ground Parrot perched and moved about between 0.6 and 0.9 m from the ground.
    Australian Birds Vol.28 No.3 5915 July 1989
    0923: one Ground Parrot was detected sitting motionless c. 0.2 m below the top
    foliage of a Woollsia shrub, 20 m. ahead. This bird remained in the same position,
    apparently watching the observer, for just over two minutes. It then moved slightly on its
    perch and flew. The height of the perch was measured as 0.65 m.
    TABLE 1: Ground Parrot counts, Bundjalung NP, 1989 – 94
    Date Time Woollsia Heath Conditions Count birds
    3.7.1989 Flowering heavily Site B under standing water A: 13
    15.7.89 As above As above A: 12
    25.11.89 No flowers Dry A: 2
    0520-0720 B: 0
    16.6.91 Flowering heavily Dry A: 7
    3.7.91 As above Dry A: 7
    0800-0955 B:
    3.8.91 As above Dry A: 11
    3.11.91 No flowers Very dry; some shrubs A: 0
    0540-0800 on ridges stressed B: 0
    26.1.92 No flowers Dry; many Woollsia stressed A: 2
    0540-0700 B: 2
    25.4.92 Partial flowering Dry; some recovery by Woollsia A: 0
    0805-0930 < half (c.10% dead) B: 0
    13.7.92 Flowering heavily Site B damp, some standing water A: 9
    0815-1000 reduced density B: 1
    2.7.93 Moderate flowering Dry; B recovering strongly from A: 3
    0740-0930 fire, dense sedge/shrub cover B: 7
    and much flowering
    28.8.93 Flowering past peak Dry; many Woollsia in poor health; A:
    0810-0950 north end of A revegetated. B: 4
    21.11.93 Few flowers only Dry; Woollsia still showing signs A: 0
    0620-0750 of dying back B: 0
    19.1.94 As above Dry; more shrubs on A stressed A: 7
    0550-0700 or dead, especially Woollsia B: 0
    2.4.94 Partial flowering B under standing water; heath on < half A: 2
    0710-0840 A healthy but Woollsia less dense B: 0
    27.6.94 Flowering heavily Dry; Woollsia regenerating A: 1
    0800-0915 on burnt end of ridge B: 0
    6.8.94 As above Dry; sparse green shoot on B A:
    1015-1115 B: 0
    Site A was burnt in 1980, north & west side in Sept 90, south end in Jan 94.
    Site B was burnt in Oct 89 and Jan 94.
    60 GOSPER: Ground Parrots March 199516 June 1991
    After 0830: one Ground Parrot was disturbed at a distance and flew only about
    three m before landing on or near the ground (vision obscured). A bird (same bird?)
    emerged shortly after on a stem (plant species not noted) about 0.3 m above ground
    where it remained motionless, apparently watching the observer, for about a minute before
    3 August 1991
    0833: one bird perched c. 0.35 m above the ground in a Woollsia shrub about 35
    m from the observer in an area of low heath. It remained motionless for c. 11/2 minutes
    before turning and climbing down out of sight.
    Broadwater NP
    Twenty nine records (1 – 4 birds) were made over 17 consecutive monthly
    counts. Ground Parrots were recorded on 76% of censuses, with most birds flushed from
    the fire trail itself reflecting regular use of this modified habitat. On three occasions
    individual birds were watched briefly.
    4 January 1994
    0600: an immature was observed walking amongst short vegetation on the trail,
    reaching up to pull down and feed on the seed heads of Entolasia stricta. This bird
    flushed several times, flying ahead a short distance to land again on the trail and resume
    feeding, before eventually flying off into cover.
    16 July 1994
    0805: one bird was sighted 0.3 m above ground perched on a broken branch of a
    Banksia ericifolia shrub protruding over the edge of the trail 20 m ahead. Watching the
    observer, the bird sat motionless for about a minute before flying into cover. This perch
    was sheltered from a cool breeze but exposed to the early morning sun, suggesting that
    the bird was sunning, a behaviour that was suspected on a number of occasions.
    6 August 1994
    0725: one perched on a stick c. 0.15 m above ground at the edge of the trail;
    position and behaviour were similar to the above.
    Transect counts in Bundjalung showed a marked increase in Ground Parrot numbers
    on the sand ridge during winter (June – August) in the first four years, declining thereafter
    (Table 1). At other times of the year recording rates were consistently lower except once
    (January 1994) immediately after fire had burnt out adjoining areas.
    Australian Birds Vol.28 No.3 61Winter use of the sand ridge may reflect local movements in response to food
    availability. McFarland (1991a:1) found that Ground Parrots in subtropical heathlands in
    south-east Queensland moved seasonally between microhabitats in heathlands, and that
    these shifts corresponded to seed availability and accessibility. In the present study it
    was found during winter transects that Ground Parrots were regularly disturbed from
    perches in, or from the ground under Woollsia shrubs. At least 70% of flushings which
    could be pinpointed [N=50] were associated with this shrub. An observation of feeding
    on its flowers and the frequent presence of fresh flower petals on the ground below shrubs
    where birds were flushed suggest that Ground Parrots were congregating on the ridge in
    winter to feed on this plant.
    In the last two years (1993, 1994) there was little or no apparent increase in the
    number of Ground Parrots using the sand ridge in winter. However in 1993 there was a
    corresponding increase in the adjacent wet heath (Site B) which was by then showing
    good recovery from fire 3 – 4 years previously (Table 1).
    Figure 1: Fire history of Bundjalung sites, 1989-94
    62 GOSPER: Ground Parrots March 1995By winter 1994 Site B had been burnt again (reverting to a post -fire age of < 8 months)
    whilst Site A had attained an age since fire of 14-15 years. Wet heath bordering Site A on
    the west (not censused in this study) had by then attained a post -fire age of four years. No
    Parrots were found in Site B and only singles located in Site A (Table 1). The sharp
    decline in winter usage of Site A after 1992 is not readily explained but may be linked to
    food availability in different -aged heaths nearby. McFarland (199 1 a:III) has shown that
    within sites, Ground Parrot numbers change in the long term with time since fire, as a
    result of changes in vegetation structure and seed availability. In McFarland’s study no
    Ground Parrots were found in heaths not burnt for at least 14 years.
    Whilst there were no measures of vegetational changes made during the study
    broad changes in the heath community on the sand ridge were noted. Areas of dense
    closed heath increased in overall height with growth of taller shrub species. From late
    1991 a decline in the health of some shrubs was evident with some plants dying. Woollsia
    in particular was affected with an estimated 10% of shrubs dead in April 1992. Flowering
    by this species was considered to be less profuse in 1993. Causes of this decline are
    unknown but may have been associated with the prolonged dry conditions resulting from
    below average rainfall throughout 1991-92, and/or age (time since fire).
    Woollsia pungens does not appear to have been previously reported as a food
    plant for Ground Parrots although seeds from unidentified Epacridaceae were found in
    the crops of Ground Parrots by Meredith et al (1994), and McFarland (1991 a:I) who
    recorded four species. Bryant (1994) listed the buds and/or flower of a further four
    species from the family as potential or known food sources of the Ground Parrot in
    W. pungens is a woody shrub which grows to 0.2 – 2.0 m in height (Beadle et al.
    1972). In the Bundjalung study area it was commonly up to 1.3 m in taller dense heath,
    but in more open sections it it took on a lower form, mostly 0.5 – 0.7 m. It was restricted
    to the sand ridge where it was one of the commoner shrubs. Flowering occurred mainly
    from June to at least August. Honeyeaters, especially Eastern Spinebills Acanthorhynchus
    tenuirostris and Brown Honeyeaters Lichmera indistincta regularly utilised Woollsia
    flowers, presumably for nectar, as did Yellow -faced Lichenostomus chrysops, Tawny –
    crowned Phylidonyris melanops and White-cheeked Honeyeaters P. nigra on occasions.
    Flowers are sessile with a tubular white corolla 10 – 12 mm long. As the flowers
    mature (from the base of the inflorescence) the petals shrivel, turn brownish and fall. The
    flowers observed being consumed were at the fresh petal stage. Removal of the petals
    exposes a firm green ovary (or developing fruit), 3 x 2 mm, at the base of the tube. Its
    firmness may account for the relatively long time taken by the Ground Parrots to consume
    the remainder of the flower after the rapid shedding of the petals.
    Australian Birds Vol.28 No.3 63Standard references (e.g. Forshaw 1981, Schodde & Tidemann 1986) state that
    Ground Parrots are largely nocturnal and the few reported observations of feeding
    behaviour in the wild refer to the period around dusk and dawn. However McFarland
    (1991a:I) has shown that Ground Parrots are active throughout the day especially in the
    early and mid -morning and in late afternoon. Observations reported here provide further
    evidence that Ground Parrots feed throughout the day.
    Although Ground Parrots are said to be good climbers (see McFarland 1991b)
    published accounts of foraging appear to refer to feeding on or from the ground (Forshaw
    1981, Meredith et al. 1984, McFarland 1991a:1). Ground Parrots have been reported
    climbing about on the tops of matted reeds to get to seed heads (Forshaw 1981), and
    Favaloro (in Forshaw 1981) observed a single bird climb a Xanthorrhoea spike to feed on
    the seeds, although this was questioned by Meredith et al. (1984). In Bundjalung Ground
    Parrots were were observed perched in shrubs, flying between perches and climbing about
    in the branches to feed at flowers, showing that they are capable of accessing suitable
    food sources which cannot be reached from the ground.
    Ground Parrots appeared to use the unburnt sand ridge (Site A) as a short-term
    refuge following the January 1994 fire. A count two weeks after the fire recorded seven
    Parrots. However a survey five weeks after the October 1989 fire located only two Ground
    Parrots, consistent with counts of 0 -2 at this time of year (Table 1). In contrast exceptional
    numbers of several resident core heath species, notably Brown Quail Coturnixypsilophora,
    Southern Emu -wren Stipiturus malachurus, Red -backed Fairy -Wren Malurus
    melanocephalus and Tawny Grassbird Megalurus timoriensis were concentrated on the
    ridge after both fires.
    I wish to thank Carl Gosper for help in various ways, and two referees whose suggestions
    improved the paper. Bob Moffat of the National Parks & Wildlife Service ofNSW provided
    assistance with records of fire history and past mining activity in Bundjalung NP. Jenny
    Holmes identified plants, as did Seanna McCune of the National Herbarium of NSW.
    Beadle, N.C.W., Evans, 0.D., & Carolin, R.C. 1972, Flora of the Sydney Region, Reed, Sydney.
    Bryant, Sally L. 1994, ‘Habitat and potential diet of the Ground Parrot in Tasmania’, Emu 94: 166-171.
    Forshaw, J.M. 1981, Australian Parrots, Landsdowne, Melbourne.
    McFarland, D.C. 1991a, ‘The biology of the Ground Parrot, Pezoporus wallicus, in Queensland: I. Microhabitat
    use, activity cycle and diet, and III. Distribution and abundance’, Wildlife Research 18, pp. 169-
    184 and 199-213′
    McFarland, D.C. 1991b, ‘Flush behaviour, catchability and morphometrics of the Ground Parrot in south-
    eastern Queensland’, Corella 15: 143-149.
    Meredith, C.W., Gilmore, A.M. & Isles, A.C. 1984, ‘The Ground Parrot (Pezoporus wallicus Kerr) in south-
    eastern Australia: a fire adapted species?’, Aust J Ecology 9: pp. 367-380.
    Schodde, R & Tidemann, S.C.(eds) 1986, Complete Book of Australian Birds, Reader’s Digest, Sydney.
    46 Yeramba Street, Turramurra 2074
    and New South Wales Bird Atlassers, PO Box 652, Albury 2640.
    This paper is an attempt to define the distribution of the Grey Grasswren
    Amytornis barbatus in New South Wales. Although not threatened, the
    Grey Grasswren has an extremely small range within the State and was
    considered by Gamett (1992) to be a species of special concern. Knowledge
    of its distribution can only help with any future conservation measures
    directed towards the species.
    Listed are the small number of published records from the State. Also included are our own unpublished
    records. In recent years the New South Wales Bird Atlassers have made an effort to go to those areas in New
    South Wales not visited during the Royal Australasian Ornithologist’s Union’s Field Atlas. In the process we
    have been to most of the New South Wales section of the Bulloorine', the floodplain of the Bulloo River. This area in the far northwest of the State is the suspected, and often quoted, distribution of the Grey Grasswren (e.g. Favaloro & McEvey 1968, Morris et al. 1981, Schodde & Weatherly 1982). PUBLISHED RECORDS The first probable record of the Grey Grasswren is hidden in a paper by Arthur Chenery written in 1922. This paper primarily concerns an account of a trip to the corner country of New South Wales in the second half of 1921 by Chenery, William Macgillivray and Macgillivray's son Ian. At the end of the paper Chenery notes that they travelled east to the Bulloo floodwaters, but they had dried up and gone back through the fence
    into Queensland. Our observations of bird life were barren of interest except that I struck
    an Amytis [=Amytornis] – very shy – in a canegrass swamp, but had no gun at the time,
    and could not get a specimen’. The species concerned could possibly have been a Thick –
    billed Grasswren A. textilis, however it is more likely to have been a Grey Grasswren.
    The Grey Grasswren is still found in the area while the Thick -billed Grasswren is probably
    extinct in the State, though its last definite report was made only nine years before
    Chenery’s record (McAllan 1987). Unfortunately there is no way of knowing exactly
    where Chenery saw his bird.
    The next report from New South Wales was when N.J. Favaloro and W. Adams
    collected the type specimens of the species on 7 July 1967 (Favaloro & McEvey 1968).
    Australian Birds Vol.28 No.3 65Favaloro had previously seen the bird 25 years before across the border in southern
    Queensland. He did not state the precise locality where he collected the birds in 1967,
    though it was within a ’25 mile [40 km] radius of the Teurika homestead’. One can
    assume that it was collected to the north of the homestead as he was trying to get from
    there to ‘the island’, an area surrounded by water when there are floodwaters in the swamps
    of the northern part of the Bulloorine.
    Later visitors to the area (e.g. S.A. Parker pers. comm., G.S. Chapman in lift.)
    have assumed that the crossing of the channel some 20 km north of Teurika homestead or
    10 km south of the border at Adelaide Gate was the probable type locality at 29° 05’S,
    142° 37’E (see map). Several other observers have since seen the species at this locality,
    including J.R. Ford and S.A. Parker on 22 December 1971 (Parker pers. comm.); K.
    Bartram, C. Doughty, R. Drummond, L. Joseph and M. Schulz on 17 May 1978 (RAOU
    Atlas record); R. Jaensch and L. Pedler on 31 August 1978 (RAOU Atlas record); G.S.
    Chapman during the 1970s (pers. comm.); and NSW Bird Atlassers on 19-20 October
    1988 and again in September 1991 (pers. obs. IAWM & RC).
    The next recorded locality was near Teurika homestead itself. Hans and Judy
    Beste recorded Grey Grasswrens close to the homestead in May 1971 and again in July
    1971 (RAOU Atlas record). They did not specify where in the 10 -minute block they
    recorded the birds, however the most likely locality is the channel 4 km to the north of the
    homestead; Grey Grasswrens were recorded at this locality on 5 January 1979 by L.
    Joseph, A. Lees and J. Reid (RAOU Atlas record). Visits to this channel in 1988 and
    1991 by NSW Bird Atlassers failed to record the species.
    Other published records are all from further west. On 12 May 1975, J. Izzard and
    W. Watson recorded around 14 Grey Grasswrens some 10 km to the northwest of
    Caryapundy Tank not far from the road crossing of Narcowla Creek (J. Izzard in lift.; see
    also Bird Report 1975). A bird reported in the 1984 Bird Report as having been found
    dead at Caryapundy Swamp on 28 August 1984 was actually found in the southern
    Queensland sector of the swamp (J.W. Hardy & W.E. Boles pers. comm.). Several small
    groups were recorded along the border in the Caryapundy Swamp between Wompah
    Gate and Adelaide Gate on 28 September 1985 by P. Maher and G. Holmes (NSW Bird
    Atlas records, 1985 Bird Report). Birds were also reported from this general area by J.
    Molan in the 1990 Bird Report.
    Our own observations largely come from two visits to the area in October 1988
    and September 1991. In addition we have investigated various localities to the south of
    the Bulloo Overflow and near Lake Altiboulka (Salisbury Lake) on an opportunistic level
    66 McALLAN & COOPER Grey Grasswren March 1995
    :from 1972 onwards. Localities in which we have recorded Grey Grasswrens are indicated
    with large dots on the map; those localities where we have stopped and searched with no
    result are recorded with small dots. Published localities are numbered.
    The habitat in which Grey Grasswrens were observed includes areas dominated
    by lignum Muehlenbeckia florulenta, canegrass Eragrostris australasica and old man
    saltbush Atriplex nummularia, though they were also recorded in adjacent areas of samphire
    Halosarcia pergranulata ssp. pergranulata. As can be seen from the map the Grey
    Grasswren has not been found on the Bulloo Overflow proper, nor in areas to the south of
    the Overflow. Its range is thus much more restricted in New South Wales than suggested
    by Favaloro & McEvey (1968). However our records show that it is found much further
    to the east than previously documented.
    The dynamics of the Bulloorine are worth noting. The whole area is the termination
    of a number of watercourses, in particular the Bulloo River from the north and distributaries
    from the Yancannia Creek system in the south. The Bulloo River terminates in the swamps
    to the north of the Bulloo Overflow which are at their lowest elevation at around 75
    metres above sea level (m.a.s.I.) in Caryapundy Swamp (see Milparinka 1:250,000
    topographic map). Between this point and the Bulloo Overflow the land rises to a low
    ridge of around 79 m.a.s.l. before falling again to around 76 m.a.s.l. in the Overflow
    proper (see Urisino 1:250,000 topographic map). To the south the distributaries from
    Yancannia Creek end in Lake Altiboulka, which is at 78 m.a.s.l., with another low ridge
    of around 79 m.a.s.l. separating it from the Bulloo Overflow. Thus for the Bulloo Overflow
    to fill with water, the Caryapundy Swamp must fill to a depth greater than 3 metres, or
    Lake Altiboulka must also overflow. Such events are evidently rare (Goodrick 1984).
    The lack of records of the Grey Grasswren from the Overflow is very real. We
    visited the northern part of the Overflow proper in the company of Don Howarth on 26
    September 1991 and found that the area was largely covered in dry samphire. There were
    also a few tufts of canegrass and other dried halophytes. The vegetation crushed into dust
    as one walked on it, indicating that there had been little water in the soil for some time.
    This was the habitat as far as the eye could see and presumably covered most of the
    Overflow, as also indicated by aerial photographs held in the NSW Department of
    Conservation and Land Management.
    The area to the southeast of Teurika within 10 km of the Overflow also has no
    records of Grey Grasswren. This area is almost entirely canegrass and the absence of
    Grasswrens suggests that it may be unsuitable in dry years. At no time were Grey
    Grasswrens seen in areas that contained only canegrass, there always being either lignum
    or old man saltbush also present. Birds were seen in areas that were entirely lignum on
    Australian Birds Vol.28 No.3 67numerous occasions while they were also seen in areas that were entirely vegetated by
    old man saltbush some 400 m from the nearest lignum.
    QUEENSLAND 142°30’E 143°E
    0 10 20
    140 km
    75 km
    La e Altiboulka
    Fig. 1: Records of the Grey Grasswren from New South Wales
    1 Presumed site of N.J. Favaloro’s collection of the type -specimens in 1967:Several other records this
    2 The channel north of Teurika homestead: H. & J. Beste in 1971, also Joseph et al. in 1979 .
    3 Narcowla Creek crossing: J. Izzard & W. Watson 1975.4 Central Caryapundy Swamp along the
    border fence: P. Maher & G. Holmes 1985.
    A Adelaide Gate T Teurika homestead D Delalah Downs homestead W
    Wompah Gate
    Large dots = localities of our positive records of Grey Grasswrens 1988 & 1991. Small dots = localities
    where we have searched but not found Grey Grasswrens. Hatched = area dominated by a ground cover
    of lignum and/or canegrass .
    There are some Grey Grasswren records from areas that are largely canegrass.
    The channel immediately to the north of Teurika is one such place, though Grey Grasswrens
    were not observed here during the visits of the NSW Bird Atlassers. Similarly the first
    nest was found in canegrass during a period of flooding (Favaloro & McEvey 1968).
    This suggests that they will move into canegrass during flood years, but withdraw from
    these areas in drier years. The fact that the Yancannia Creek catchment is much smaller
    than that of the Bulloo River suggests that if the Grey Grasswren was previously found in
    68 McALLAN & COOPER : Grey Grasswren March 1995this part of the Bulloorine, it must have been under much wetter conditions when lignum
    and canegrass were more widespread around the Bulloo Overflow than they are today.
    This has important implications for the conservation of the species in New South
    Wales. If any reservation of land for the Grey Grasswren is to take place it must be in
    areas to the north of the Bulloo Overflow as these are the only known, and likely, localities
    in New South Wales for the species. Reservation of other areas such as Lake Altiboulka
    and the Bulloo Overflow will not at present advantage the Grey Grasswren in any way.
    In 1973 a press statement was issued by the NSW National Parks & Wildlife Service
    claiming that suitable habitat for the Grey Grasswren had been reserved in the newly
    declared Sturt National Park. This was clearly an error, as noted by Cameron (1973).
    At present the area in which the Grey Grasswren is found in New South Wales is
    included within only five properties, and three of these hold over 95% of the suitable
    habitat. Local graziers are generally aware of the species, largely through repeated visits
    by birdwatchers. These graziers carry out control measures for feral animals such as pigs
    and rabbits; however other possible predators such as feral cats are not controlled.
    As there may be more than one habitat used by the Grey Grasswren depending on
    the level of water in the swamps, it is essential that all habitats are kept intact for the
    survival of the Grasswren. Whether or not any reservation of land for the Grey Grasswren
    should take place will depend on any perceived threat to the species.
    For details of their observations and specimens in their care we thank Kevin Bartram
    (RAOU), Walter Boles, Bert Bolton, Graeme Chapman, Jeff Hardy, Don Howarth, John
    Izzard, Leo Joseph, Dariel Larkins, Joan McGregor, the late Shane Parker, the late John
    Waugh and the other NSW Bird Atlassers on the trips of 1988 and 1991. The Department
    of Conservation and Land Management allowed IAWM to view aerial photographs of
    the Bulloorine and Liz Norris (Royal Botanic Gardens, Sydney), helped with some plant
    Bird Reports, NSW Annual, Aust Birds, 1975 10: 4 (A.E.F. Rogers), 1984 20: 4
    (T.R. Lindsey), 1985 22: 1 (R.M. Cooper), 1990 26: 4 (A.C.G. Burton & A.K. Morris).
    Cameron, M. 1973, ‘Conservation notes’, Birds 8, 55.
    Chenery, A. 1922, ‘Notes on birds seen during a recent visit to the Western Darling, N.S.W.’, S
    Aust Orn 6, 110-114, 134-138, 153-155.
    Favaloro, N.J. & McEvey, A. 1968, ‘A new species of Australian Grass- wren’, Mem Nat Mus
    t’ict 28, 1-9.
    Garnett, S. 1992, Threatened and extinct birds of Australia, RAOU Report 82, RAOU,
    Australian Birds Vol.28 No.3 69Goodrick, G. 1984, Wetlands of north-western New South Wales, Occasional PaperNo. 6. NSW
    N.P.W.S., Sydney.
    McAllan, I.A.W. 1987, ‘Early records of the Thick -billed Grasswren Amytornis textilis and
    Striated Grasswren Amytornis striatus in New South Wales’, Aust Birds 21, 33-43.
    Morris, A.K., McGill, A.R. & Holmes, G. 1981, Handlist of birds of New South Wales, NSW
    FOC, Sydney.
    Schodde, R. & Weatherly, R.G. 1982, The Fairy -Wrens. A monograph of the Maluridae,
    Lansdowne Editions, Melbourne.
    Southern Hemisphere Ornithological Congress
    Professional and amateur ornithologists are advised of the Southern
    Hemisphere Ornithological Congress, an international conference that has
    been scheduled for early October (5 – 9) in 1996. This meeting will be
    conducted in Albany, Western Australia, and organised by the Royal
    Australasian Ornithologists Union.
    Major Theme: the ecology, conservation and management
    of Southern Hemisphere birds.
    Further Information: the President, RAOU, Professor Brian Collins (c/ –
    School of Environmental Biology, Curtin University of Technology, GPO
    Box U1987, Perth, WA 6001; Phone 619 351 7041; Fax 619 351 2495;
    Email B.Collins@info.curtin.edu.au).
    23 Murray Ave, FORSTER 2428
    Observations of (Southern) Figbirds (Sphecotheres viridis sub -species
    vieilloti) at Booti Booti National Park over the 1990 – 1994 breeding
    seasons showed that this species may raise more than one brood per year,
    re -use a nest, probably build more than one nest before actually breeding,
    and nest colonially. The birds were also observed nesting in tree species
    not previously reported.
    Booti Booti National Park, formerly Booti Booti State Recreation Area, is located
    on the mid north coast of New South Wales, approximately 120 km north of Newcastle.
    Figbirds had been regularly recorded in the park, but it was not until November 1985 that
    I observed them breeding. The first nest located was built in a tuckeroo Cupaniopsis
    anacaedioides, about 2.5 m above the ground. During that season a second nest was
    found at The Ruins camping ground. In the 1986-87 season many nests, mostly unoccupied,
    were found in paperbark trees Melaleuca quinquinervia, again at The Ruins. No more
    nests were recorded until the 1989 – 90 season, when four nests were found at Santa
    Barbara picnic ground in a coral -tree Erythrina sp. As there are few reports of Figbirds
    nesting in colonies or small groups, the Santa Barbara record provided the impetus for a
    survey into the local nesting habits of the species.
    The survey commenced in December 1990 with observation of nesting in the
    coral -tree at Santa Barbara. With subsequent seasons the survey was extended to determine
    the actual length of the breeding season and include other trees. In 1993 – 94 the survey
    ran from August to February. All surveys were carried out at Santa Barbara. Details
    recorded were dates when the nest was sighted, estimated height above ground, estimated
    distance from the end of the branch (these last two criteria were originally intended to
    assist in re -finding the nest but were useful when making comparisons with nests recorded
    by other observers), contents, and sex of the bird on or at the nest. Surveys were carried
    out at various times of the day as some nests were very difficult to see under certain
    lighting conditions; this also allowed details of nest duties to be documented.
    Australian Birds Vol.28 No.3 71TABLE I
    Estimated numbers of nesting pairs at Santa Barbara
    Season 1989-90 1990-91 1991-92 1992-93 1993-94
    Pairs 3+ 1+ 10+ 20+ 6+
    1990 – 1991 Season
    The only nest found during this season was in the coral -tree. One young was seen
    apparently ready to fly.
    1991 – 1992 Season
    Thirteen nests were located; four were in the coral -tree and nine in Norfolk Island
    pines Araucaria excelsa. One of the coral -tree nests was used twice. Initially three
    young were raised and were last seen on 24 December 1991 being fed by a female. A
    female was seen sitting on the same nest on 14 January 1992; two of three eggs were
    successfully hatched, with the young leaving on 6 or 7 February 1992. A total of 16
    young were raised from eight active nests; the other five were not used.
    1992 -93 Season
    Fifty one nests in 19 trees were recorded. Forty nine were in 17 Norfolk Island
    pines, with a maximum of six nests in each of two of the trees. One nest was in the coral –
    tree and one was in a banksia Banksia integrifolia. At least one nest, in a pine tree, had
    survived from the previous season. Other nests were considered to have survived from
    the previous year but this could not be confirmed; however no nests remained in the
    coral -tree. The banksia nest was used twice during the season; two young were observed
    in the nest up to 14 November, on 28 November two eggs were seen in the nest, on 27
    December two young were seen being fed, last seen at the nest on 28 December.
    Little Wattlebirds Anthochaera chrysoptera took over one of the nests in a Norfolk
    Island pine. This nest had been occupied by a male and a female Figbird at various times
    but no actual breeding activities were noted. Another nest, in the coral -tree, was
    investigated by Little Wattlebirds on 3 January 1993; three days previously the nest had
    contained three eggs. Of the 21 nesting attempts made, ten succeeded in raising 17 free –
    flying young. Thirty-nine nests were still evident at the end of the season.
    1993 – 94 Season
    The survey commenced in August 1993. Ten nests survived from the previous
    season, one of which (in a pine tree) was first recorded in the 1991-2 season. Another
    72 TURNER Nesting Figbirds March 1995
    :three nests could not be confirmed as last season’s. The banksia nest survived, but no
    nests remained in the coral -tree.
    Fifty two nests were recorded during the season, 50 in Norfolk Island Pines, one
    in the coral -tree and one in the banksia. A maximum of nine nests were found in one pine
    tree and eight in another. Of the nests that survived from the previous year only the
    banksia nest was attended, although it was not used for breeding. One of the nests that
    may have been built in 1992-93 was used to raise two young to the pin -feather stage
    before it collapsed. The nest and young were returned to their original position, but were
    subsequently abandoned. 35 nests remained at the end of the season, four of them (and
    possibly another two) from the 1992-3 season. Two nests were falling to pieces, including
    one from the previous year
    The nesting season ended very abruptly when temperatures over 40°C were
    recorded on 6-8 January 1994; afternoon sea breezes usually keep the temperature down
    around 30°C.
    Nesting Period
    The earliest nesting record was 25 November 1991 when there was a nest containing
    two young and one egg which hatched before 28 November. On 15 December three
    young were still in the nest. The only young bird seen on 17 December was out of the nest
    and on 18 December all three were seen out of the nest, being fed by the female. By 24
    December the young still remaimed within 3 m of the nest; on 29 December two had left
    the area, and by 3 January 1992 all had left. From these records, it takes approximately
    23 days from hatching to fledging, and another 11 days before the young leave the nest
    vicinity. The same nest contained one egg on 14 January 1992 and three eggs on 16
    January; three eggs were still present on 31 January. On 1 February two young were
    recorded, the third egg had gone. This gave a maximum of 18 days for the incubation
    period, three days shorter than previously accepted (O’Grady et al. 1979). Unfortunately
    all young had been lost by 7 February. The latest sighting of young still adjacent to a nest
    was on 24 February 1992.
    These records indicate that the nesting period extended from November to February;
    if nest construction was included, it would have been October to February. This time
    span agrees with both Campbell (1900) and North (1901).
    Nest Details
    Only nests that could be reached from the ground were measured accurately for
    height, distance from the outer end of the branch and distance from the trunk. All other
    measurements were estimated.
    Australian Birds Vol.28 No.3 73The lowest nest recorded was 1.5 m from the ground and the highest was estimated
    at 10 m. Most nests were at 3 to 8 m with an average of 6 m. Campbell (1900) noted nests
    at 26 feet and 40 feet (8 and 12 m), and North (1901) said nests were found from 30 to 70
    feet (9 to 21 m). At Santa Barbara, trees were not tall enough to allow nesting so high.
    The maximum height of the Norfolk Island pines was 16 m, the coral -tree 9 m, and the
    banksia 7 m. It was also possible that nesting high in the pines was impractical owing to
    the branches being too flexible or the leaves too sparse.
    Both North and Campbell reported that nests were built at or near the extremity of
    a branch and well away from the trunk. Nests in the pines were typically 1 – 2 m from the
    end of the branch and 5 – 7 m from the trunk. Only one was differently positioned; it was
    4 m from the end of the branch and only 2 m from the trunk. Nests in the coral -tree and
    banksia were near the extremities of branches.
    Nests were described by Pizzey (1980) as shallow and cup -shaped with the fabric
    often loose enough to see the eggs through. Campbell (1900) said the nest is open,
    shallow and thinly but firmly constructed. At Santa Barbara most nests agreed with
    these descriptions, but some were very solidly built and could not be seen through. The
    difference in the nests was the density at which tendrils and fine branches were woven.
    Both types of nest were used successfully to raise young.
    Nests in the Norfolk Island pines were constructed between the branch and the
    leaves, in the ‘V’ formed by sets of leaves, or on top of branches. Campbell (1900) gave
    the nest size as 7 inches by 2.75 inches deep (18 x 7 cm), and North (1901) said nests
    averaged 6 inches by 21/4 inches (15 x 6 cm). Whilst most nests were not measured, the
    smallest recorded was 10.0 – 12.5 cm across and 7.5 cm deep. This nest was used to raise
    two young.
    Survival of nests was not dependent upon their construction; both ‘see-through’
    and ‘solid’ types survived between seasons. No nests survived in the coral -tree, apparently
    related to the total loss of leaves by the tree each winter which exposed the nests to the
    weather. Loss of nests during the season cannot be defmitely explained. Apart from
    degradation of nests from wear and tear and weather, it is possible that the nests were
    dismantled and used to build other nests. The only observation of a nest being dismantled
    was by an immature Australian Magpie Gymnorhina tibicen, before the 1993 -94 season.
    Only one nest was observed being constructed; however the birds were not successful in
    raising any young.
    Nests were found in all parts of trees except where trees overlapped. There did not
    appear to be any minimum distance required between nests, either vertically or horizontally.
    74 TURNER : Nesting Figbirds March 1995Both males and females were seen sitting on nests. It appeared that males brooded more
    during the period immediately after laying and in the mornings; however, insufficent
    data were gathered to confirm this.
    Colonial Nesting Colonial nesting of Figbirds was recorded by Campbell (1900), who
    said that they ‘nest in small families’. Discussing the northern sub-speciesflaviventris,
    he reported that ‘several nests are often placed in the topmost horizontal branches of a tall
    Eucalypt’. North (1901) reported two nests in a tree, adding forficrviventris that ‘frequently
    several pairs build in the same tree’
    Figbirds nest in both introduced and native tree species, information that had not
    been previously recorded.
    The incubation period for the eggs was more accurately assessed (on the basis of
    one clutch) as 18 days, rather than the generally accepted 21 days.
    Nestlings fledged from one nest in 23 days and remained in the vicinity a further
    11 days.
    The survey showed that the situation and structure of nests was more variable than
    previously reported. New information concerning nest durability and re -use has also
    been provided. Some initial information was gathered on nesting duties, but was insufficent
    to be conclusive.
    Questions raised by these observations:
    Does a pair of Figbirds construct more than one nest to choose from before
    Does a pair of birds breed more than once per season and use the same nest, or are
    Figbirds opportunistic and take over other nests?
    What interaction, if any, do Little Wattlebirds have with Figbirds?
    I thank Walter Boles for commenting on a draft of this paper, and staff at Booti
    Booti National Park for their assistance in finding nests.
    Campbell, A.J. 1900, Nests and Eggs of Australian Birds, Vol. 1, the author, Melbourne.
    North, A.J. 1901, Nests and Eggs of Birds Found Breeding in Australia and Tasmania, Vol. 1,
    Aust Museum, Sydney.
    O’Grady, G.Y. & Lindsey, T. 1979, Australian Birds and their Young, Cassell, Sydney.
    Pizzey, G. 1980, A Field Guide to the Birds of Australia, Collins, Sydney.
    Australian Birds Vol.28 No.3 75BULLERS SHEARWATER ASHORE
    Environmental Survey and Research Branch, National Parks
    and Wildlife Service, PO Box 1967, Hurstville, 2220.
    Bullers Shearwater Puffinus bulleri breeds only on Poor Knights Islands, off
    Northland, New Zealand (Marchant & Higgins 1990). This pelagic species disperses
    widely within the Pacific Ocean and is a regular summer visitor, in small numbers, to the
    western side of the Tasman Sea. Bullers Shearwater has been recorded in New South
    Wales waters on at least 69 occasions (Holmes 1975, Milledge 1977, Morris et al. 1981,
    NSW FOC Annual Bird Reports 1982-1992, Hurley 1988), including 15 beach -cast
    specimens recovered from along the NSW coast (Marchant & Higgins 1990). On only
    two occasions previously, however, has a live specimen been found ashore. These were
    both in 1960 (D’Ombrain & Gwynne 1962); one on Montague Island near Narooma (10
    October), the other on Cabbage Tree Island near the entrance to Port Stephens (11
    December). Both birds were found alone in a burrow; neither was with an egg, and
    neither appeared to be breeding. This paper reports the third occurrence of a Butlers
    Shearwater ashore in Australia, again on Cabbage Tree Island, NSW.
    Cabbage Tree Island is the sole breeding site of the rare and endangered Goulds
    Petrel Pterodroma leucoptera (Marchant & Higgins 1990). We were on the island to
    study this pelagic seabird which breeds in two large gullies dominated by the cabbage
    tree palm Livistona australis. Around 2330 h on 8 February 1992 we were passing from
    the North Gully to our campsite in the South Gully. At a point roughly midway between
    the two gullies was an area of loamy soil riddled with the burrows of Wedge-tailed
    Shearwaters Pujfinus pacificus. Among the numerous Shearwaters sitting on the surface
    was a single bird conspicuous by its slate -grey back. It was sitting alone and did not
    appear to be associated with a burrow. The bird was caught by hand and examined. It
    was a large, grey and white shearwater with a dark -grey crown, grey nape, back and
    rump, and black and grey upper wings. Its long body (45 cm), broad wings, 95 cm wing
    span, and conspicuous dark M -pattern across the upper wings confirmed the identification
    as a Bullers Shearwater. We were unable to band the bird but a photographic record was
    made before it was released.
    The site of the previous (1960) record of Bullers Shearwater on Cabbage Tree
    Island was described as, ‘a patch of loamy soil, about half- way to the top of the island’
    (D’Ombrain & Gwynne 1962) approximately 50 m uphill (east) of the campsite in the
    South Gully (D’Ombrain in litt.). The recent sighting was in similar habitat approximately
    60 m to the north.
    76 March 1995Since February 1992, several nocturnal searches of the locality have been made
    but no Bullers Shearwater has been found It appears that this species does not come
    ashore onto Cabbage Tree Island to breed.
    Bullers Shearwaters usually occur over
    deep offshore waters beyond the
    continental shelf where they aggregate,
    often together with several other
    species, into large feeding flocks. It is
    believed that occasionally the odd
    Bullers Shearwater associates with
    local shearwaters and simply comes
    ashore with them at night (Schodde &
    Tidemann 1988).
    Bullers Shea rwater on Cabbage Tree Island
    Photo: S. Sheely
    Research work on Cabbage Tree Island for the conservation of Goulds Petrel was
    funded by the NSW National Parks and Wildlife Foundation, and the Australian Nature
    Conservation Agency Endangered Species Program. Stephen Sheely provided invaluable
    voluntary assistance
    D’Ombrain. A. & Gwynne, A. 1962, ‘Buller’s Shearwater on Cabbage Tree Island, New South
    Wales’, Emu, 61, pp. 274-6.
    Holmes, G. 1975, ‘The Australian status of the Grey -backed Shearwater’. Aust Birds, 9: 4, 98-9.
    Hurley, J. 1988, ‘Unusual sighting reports: series 72’, Bird Observer, 682, pp. 140-1.
    Marchant, S. & Higgins. P.J. (eds) 1990, Handbook ofA ustralian, New Zealand and Antarctic
    Birds, Vol. 1, Oxford University Press, Melbourne.
    Milledge, D. 1977, ‘One year’s observations of seabirds in continental shelf waters off Sydney,
    NSW’, Corella, 1: 1, pp. 1-12.
    Morris, A., McGill, A.R. & Holmes G. 1981, Handlist of birds in New South Wales, NSW FOC,
    NSWFOC Annual Bird Reports 1982-1992, Australian Birds, 1982 18: 3, 1983 19: 4, 1984 20:
    4 (T.R. Lindsey), 1986 23: 4, 1987 24: 3, 1988 25: 4 (R.M. Cooper), 1989 26: 2, 1990 26: 4,
    1991 27: 2, 1992 27: 4 (A. K. Morris & A. C. G. Burton).
    Schodde, R. & Tidemann, S. C. (eds) 1986, Complete Book of Australian Birds,Reader’s Digest,
    Australian Birds Vol.28 No.3 77GREBES FORAGING WITH A PLATYPUS
    33 Carlyle Rd, LINDFIELD 2070
    A recent article in The Sunbird describes how two Kingfishers persistently dived
    into water stirred up by a foraging platypus, apparently hunting fish disturbed by the
    mammal (Troughton & Wray 1994). The authors comment that they have been unable to
    locate published accounts of similar feeding associations except for that between Cattle
    Egrets and various large mammals.
    This has prompted me to report an event I observed on the Little River, c. 50 km
    south-west of Grafton on 6 July 1975. On our way to a family picnic, we stopped by the
    road near Dalmorton to watch a platypus in the middle of the river and noticed that it
    seemed to be accompanied by five Australasian Grebes Tachybaptus novaehollandiae.
    It soon became apparent that the Grebes were following a definite pattern of
    behaviour. They would float on the surface until the platypus dived, then within the next
    few seconds all five birds would disappear under the water. After c. 35 seconds the birds
    would resurface one at a time near the same spot and wait, facing in various directions.
    The platypus would stay down longer, always more than a minute, and would reappear
    usually five to ten metres away, whereupon the Grebes would swim over and take up
    positions within a metre or two of the platypus. There would be no obvious activity then
    for several minutes until the platypus dived again and the pattern was repeated. The
    platypus made seven or eight dives during the half-hour I was watching and on each
    occasion was followed down by all five Grebes.
    While all six participants were underwater I had opportunities to move in closer
    for a better view, and I finally was able to watch from a distance of c. 25 metres. Using
    a 150 mm lens I took a number of Kodachrome photographs which, although not sharp,
    allow the Grebes and platypus to be identified.
    The platypus feeds underwater; smaller prey are sifted from bottom silt or gravel
    by the bill (Strahan 1983), an activity which could well disturb some of the small pond
    animals on which these Grebes feed. A possible explanation for the behaviour I observed
    might be that the birds had learned that following a platypus could lead them to some
    easy prey.
    I am grateful to Reg Angus for producing a print from a difficult slide.
    78 March 1995Platypus (left) and Australasian Grebes PHOTO: P. E. Roberts
    Strahan, Ronald (ed.) 1983, Complete Book of Australian Mammals, Angus & Robertson,
    Troughton, Guy J. & Wray, Stephanie 1994, ‘An apparent feeeding association between the
    Azure Kingfisher Ceyx azurea and the Platypus Ornithorhynchus anatinus’, Sunbird 24 (2).
    Australian Birds Vol.28 No.3 79GREAT FRIGATEBIRD AT YAMBA, NSW
    56 Armidale Road, COUTTS CROSSING 2460
    On the afternoon of 21 February 1987, as a group of bird banders was loading
    gear into a boat at Yamba a bird was noted flying over the estuary. It did not associate or
    interact with any other birds, but its shape and size allowed it to be easily identified as a
    The bird was observed for about one minute as it flew in a northerly direction
    away from us. The weather was fine and light conditions were good.When first observed
    it was c. 100 metres from the observers who included S.G. (Bill) Lane, David Geering
    and David Page as well as the author. The bird was generally black with some white
    colouring but the only distinctive characters noted were a pale (? white) throat and a dark
    hindneck, which lacked a white collar.
    Following a check of field guides the members of the group were in agreement
    that the bird was a female Great Frigatebird Fregata minor, probably an adult. Chris
    Corben (pers. comm.) supported our identification of the Yamba bird as a Great Frigatebird
    on the basis of the pale throat, dark crown and lack of a pale collar.
    McAllan and Bruce (1988) list two records of the Great Frigatebird for New South
    Wales, one from Terrigal on 8 April 1930 and one from Cardiff, Newcastle in 31 January
  2. Neither of these has been verified. A further record was made by David Secomb
    at Nambucca Heads on 15 February 1981. This bird was an adult male and was described
    as being totally black in colour; the record has been accepted by the Atlas of Australian
    Birds and by the NSW Ornithological Records Appraisal Committee (ORAC) on the
    basis of details provided by the observer (A.K.Morris, pers comm.).The Yamba record
    has been considered by ORAC (Morris 1993) and accepted. It therefore constitutes the
    fourth published report and the second confirmed NSW record of the species.
    Another frigatebird was observed by David Geering, at Brooms Head on 31 January
  3. There was some doubt as to its specific identity, but Geering considered that it was
    most likely a Least Frigatebird Fregata
    McAllan, A.W. & Bruce, M.D. 1988, The Birds of New South Wales: a Working List, Biocon
    Research Group, Turramurra.
    Morris, A.K. 1993, ‘Second Report of the NSW Ornithological Records Appraisal Committee’,
    Aust Birds 26: 4, p. 122.
    80 March 1995Advice to contributors
    Manuscripts should be typed with double spacing and wide margins at top and sides, and submitted
    initially as an original and two duplicates. Tables and figures must be in the form of reproducable
    hard copy, having due regard to the journal page size and format. If extensive re -typing or
    drafting is required publication may be delayed or prevented. Photographs should be submitted
    as glossy black and white prints of size and contrast suitable for reproduction.
    Upon acceptance, it is most helpful if the final manuscripts of substantial articles can be
    submittes in word processor format. The editor will advise details of acceptable formats.
    Contributions are considered on the understanding that they are not being offered for publication
    Authors are advised to consult a current issue of Australian Birds as a guide to style and
    punctuation, which conform in general to the Commonwealth Style Manual.
    Spelling follows the Macquarie Dictionary. In particular:
    dates are written ‘January 1990’, but may be abbreviated in tables and figures;
    the 24 hour clock is used with Eastern Standard Time, e.g.
    0630 for 6.30 am and 1830 for 6.30 pm. Daylight Saving time should
    be corrected to EST;
    in the text, single -digit numbers are spelt out; 10 000 and larger numbers are
    printed with a space (not a comma) separating the thousands;
    English names of bird species (but not group names) are written with an initial capital
    for each separate word.
    References to books appear in the form
    Marchant, S. & Higgins,P.J.(eds) 1990, Handbook ofA ustralian, New Zealand and Antarctic
    Birds, Vol. 1, OUP, Melbourne.
    and to journals as
    Morris,A.K., Tyler,V., Tyler, M., Mannes, H.& Dalby, J.1990, ‘A Waterbird survey of the
    Parramatter River wetlands, Sydney’, Aust Birds, 23:3, pp, 44-64
    These are cited in the text as Marchant & Higgins (1990) or (Morris et al. 1990),respectively.Volume 28 No.3 AUSTRALIAN BIRDS March 1995
    D.G. GOSPER Notes on the activities of Ground Parrots 57
    I.A.W. McALLAN &
    R.M. COOPER Distribution of the Grey Grasswren 65
    D. TURNER Colonial nesting of Figbirds 71
    N. CARLISLE Bullers Shearwater ashore 76
    P. ROBERTS Grebes foraging with a platypus 78
    G.P. CLANCY Great Frigatebird at Yamba 80
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