Vol. 29 No. 1-text

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Journal of the
Volume 29 No.1 September 1995NSW FIELD ORNITHOLOGISTS CLUB Inc
The object of the Club is to promote the study and conservation of Australian birds and
the habitats they occupy.
President Stuart Fairbairn
Vice -President Penny Drake -Brockman
Secretary Sheila Witt
Treasurer Cindy Ryan
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All members receive a bimonthly Newsletter and the journal Australian Birds,
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Correspondence should be addressed to:
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Australian Birds is published quarterly.Original articles and short notes on
Birds are invited, especially those relating to field observations in New South Wales.
Line drawings and good quality photographs are welcome.
Please refer to Advice to Contributors, inside back cover.
Editor Peter Roberts
Production Stuart Fairbairn
Front Cover : Cattle Egrets in flight
Back Cover : Little Terns on left (fledgling at rear) and Fairy Tern on right. N.W. Cayley, by
permission Harper Collins.
Please address manuscripts to the Editor at
33 Carlyle Rd, LINDFIELD, NSW 2070
ISSN 0311-8150
Printed by The Village Scribe, 56 Thompson Street, Drummoyne 2047AUSTRALIAN
Volume 29 No.1 September 1995
Shortland Wetlands Centre, PO Box 130, Wallsend 2287.
The sizes of Cattle Egret flocks using flooded foraging sites in the Williams River
valley in the Lower Hunter Region of NSW during flood episodes between April 1989
and February 1992 were compared with those of flocks using sites between December
1988 and March 1989 when no flooding occurred. Flocks occupying the flooded sites
were significantly larger than on all non -flooded sites. Sites attracted significantly more
and larger flocks when flooded and were used more often than when not flooded.
Association with grazing stock was significantly less on flooded sites than on sites not
under flood.
The association of Cattle Egrets Ardea ibis with grazing stock while foraging is
well recognised (e.g. Jenkins and Ford 1960, Heatwole 1965, Thompson et al 1982,
McKilligan 1984). However, they often feed independently (Rice 1956, McKilligan 1984)
and are opportunistic foragers, taking advantage of a wide range of available prey (Jenni
1973, McKilligan 1984, Ruiz 1985). Although orthopteran arthropods appear to be their
favoured food, other arthropods, earthworms, frogs and reptiles, mice and small birds
have been identified as prey items (e.g. Cunningham 1965, Heather 1982, McKilligan
1984, Maddock 1986, Baxter and Fairweather 1989, Rounsevell 1993). Foraging areas
Australian Birds Vol.29 No.1
1include dry pasture, wet pasture and irrigated meadows, edges of temporary marshland,
wet ricefields and flooded pasture (e.g. Siegfried 1971, Siegfried 1978, Heather 1982,
McKilligan 1984, Ruiz 1985).
This paper looks at the effect of flooding on the foraging habits of Cattle Egrets in
the lower Williams River Valley area, near Newcastle NSW. It addresses the following
do Cattle Egrets congregate in larger flocks in flooded areas than in
areas which are not flooded ?
are flooded areas more attractive to the egrets than the same areas when
not flooded ?
do the egrets associate more or less with grazing stock in flooded areas
than in areas that are not flooded ?
The flood plain at the confluence of the lower Hunter, Paterson and Williams
River valleys near Raymond Terrace in NSW (Figure 1) has been identified over a number
of years as a favoured foraging area for Cattle Egrets. It is used by birds which breed at
the two local breeding colonies at Shortland and Seaham and in winter by migratory birds
from northern NSW and southern Queensland colonies (Maddock 1990, Maddock and
Geering 1993, 1994).
Data on the use of habitat and foraging behaviour of the Cattle Egret were gathered
over a period of six years from 1986 in a study monitoring the number of local and
immigrant Cattle Egrets on road transects from Glen Oak to Hexham in the Lower Hunter
valley of NSW (Figure 1). The transects follow the Williams River until it joins the Hunter
River and then follows the Hunter to Hexham.
The country is mainly pasture land grazed by cattle with some reedy, permanently
wet, swampland and the floodplain land is protected from the river by levee banks.
Channels with floodgates at the river bank drain the area. It is subjected to flooding from
three causes:
heavy rainfall in the upper catchment of the Williams River,
heavy rain in the catchments of tributary creeks which cause surface runoff
and localised flooding behind the levees,
flooding due to heavy rainfall in the catchments of the Hunter and
Paterson Rivers, which causes backup into the Williams, and
overtopping of the levees, particularly if it coincides with upper Williams
During 1986-88, I had noticed that Cattle Egrets along the route travelled tended
to congregate in larger flocks than normal in flooded pasture or swampland after heavy
2 MADDOCK : Cattle egrets September 1995rain. During 1989-92, as part of the monitoring program, records were maintained of
flood incidents and the sizes of flocks using flooded land. A flood incident was defined
as one in which the normally water -free location was inundated by water, from the time
a covering of water began moving over the land until it receded.
The route was traversed twice daily (morning and afternoon), usually five days
per week, as I travelled to and from my place of employment in Newcastle. Newline
Road on the east bank of the Williams River was the most frequently travelled, but the
road between Seaham and Raymond Terrace on the west bank was also used. Thirty
sample locations, based on paddock and property boundaries and easily recognised land-
marks, of which 21 are flood -prone and suffered at least one inundation during the study,
were selected. At each location en route, records were made of the number of Cattle
Egrets present (classified on a scale 1-6), and their behaviour (feeding or loafing), weather
conditions, and the presence or absence of stock.
Table 1: Rainfall (mm) during study period.
Dec 88 Jan 89 Feb 89 Mar 89 TOTAL MEAN SD
74 149 107 117 447 112 30.
Apr 89 Jun 89 Feb 90 Apr 90 Feb 92
227 271 633 240 212 1583 317 177.5
Significant difference in mean rainfall 205 mm higher in flood months of 1989-92
than in non -flood period, December 1988 -March 1989.
Mann Whitney U = 0, p < 0.05.
Table 2 : Comparison of all sites occupied by Cattle Egrets during flood and absence
of flood.
COUNT CODE 6. 5. 4. 3. 2. 1 Total
FLOOD SITES 13. 19. 11. 8. 6. 1 58 NO FLOOD 33. 148. 100. 100. 110. 56 547 Chi Square 24.8, p< 0.001, df 5 Australian Birds Vol.29 No.1 3Table 3 :Comparison of flock sizes at 11 flooded sites with the same sites when not flooded whether occupiued or not. Count total code. # 5-6 3-4 1-2 0 Total FLOOD SITES 15 8 5 82 110
NO FLOOD 9 19 14 287 329
DEC 88 -MAR 89
Chi Square 19.9, p< 0.001 df 3
Count Code 6: more than 100 3: 6-10
5: 21-100 2: 2- 5
4 :11- 20 1: 1 bird
0 0 birds

  • Includes flocks of more than 2000 birds June 29-30 1989.

Count Code cells combine because of frequencies less than 5

Table 4 : Association of Cattle Egrets with grazing Stock
NO FLOOD 480 67 547
88% 22%
FLOOD 36 22 58
62% 38%
Chi Square 24.7, p < 0.001, df 1
The size of flocks and the presence or absence of grazing stock at locations covered by
floodwater between April 1989 and February 1992 were compared with December 1988
to March 1989, when no flooding occurred, judged to be a typical period of no floods for
the area. Flooded sites used were compared with all sites used in the transect during the
non -flood period. Not all sites were flooded during all episodes. However, 11 were
inundated for 10 days during the study period but not always used by egrets. These,
when flooded, were compared with themselves during the no flood period, including
occasions when no birds were present. Association of the birds with stock during flood-
ing was compared with association when no flooding occurred.
4 MADDOCK : Cattle egrets September 1995Vacy
Flooded location
Movement of togged blr
June Flood 1989
The Wetlands Centre
1sloanradg ang
Shortland Breeding Colony kyzz
o Scale 5
Kilometres Fig ‘tqe
Mean rainfall in the Newcastle area as measured at the Hunter Valley Research
Foundation’s Maryville weather station, was significantly less for the four months of no
floods December 1988 – March 1989 (112 mm) than for the five months in which flood-
ing occurred in 1989 – 1992 (317 mm, Mann Whitney U = 0, p < 0.05, Table 1), although
the major floods of June 1989 and February 1990 were more due to upper catchment than
local rain.
Between Easter 1989 and February 1992, climatic conditions were characterised
by a higher than usual number of floods. This paper deals with observations made during
19 days on which one or more sites were inundated in April and June 1989, February and
April 1990 and February 1992.
The Cattle Egrets tended to congregate in larger flocks than normal at inundated
locations during flood episodes, with less tendency to associate with stock. Flock sizes at
flooded sites were significantly higher (Table 2) during flood episodes than at all sites
during periods of no flooding. The 11 sites compared when under flood and not under
flood attracted Egrets more often, and in significantly larger flocks, during floods than
during the four months when no floods occurred (Table 3). Feeding was the predominant
activity (95% of 55 observations) and there were significantly less associations with grazing
stock during flooding (62% of flocks compared with 88%, Table 4).
A spectacular manifestation of this phenomenon happened in June 1989. The whole
of Newline Road became inundated on 20 June and I was unable to travel the east bank
of the Williams until 25 June. Between June 25 and 30, as the flood gradually receded
from the pastures at locations 18 – 21 (Figure 1), the egrets began to gather to forage in
the shallow water along a kilometre of road. On 29th and 30th there were about 2000
birds, by far the largest flock ever recorded in the study area, 20 times larger than the
largest foraging flock located at any one site and about seven times more than the total
number of birds counted at any time along the road transect in the weeks preceding the
flood (Table 2).
Eight wing -tagged birds were located. One had been using the nearby Richardsons
Swamp roost (Figure 1) about a kilometre away during the preceding weeks. One had
been previously located at Clarence Town, 24 km to the north, on 10 May; one had been
resident in the Seaham area, 12 km north, during the months preceding; another, a winter
migrant from Lawrence, near Grafton, had been regularly using the Bolwarra night roost,
near Maitland, 22 km west, from the end of April, prior to the flooding. The other tagged
birds, including another Lawrence bird, had not been reported in the Lower Hunter since
6 MADDOCK : Cattle egrets September 1995the end of the breeding season in February. The Seaham bird had returned to Seaham on
1 July, after the flood subsided, and the second Lawrence bird was located in a flock at
Butterwick Road, near Woodville, 20 km north west on 9 July.
McKilligan (1984) stated that the density of egrets feeding on moist pasture in his
Queensland study was always at least twice that for dry pasture and that flooded pastures
were especially attractive, causing the birds to forego feeding with nearby cattle. Signifi-
cantly more egret flocks fed in flooded pasture than could be expected from the propor-
tion of cattle herds grazing. Egrets were attending every herd in the flooded area, but
82% fed independently of the cattle (McKilligan 1984). This is despite the increased
prey capture rate that association with cattle apparently endows (Heatwole 1965).
Thompson et al. (1982) found that in excess of two thirds of Cattle Egrets
accompanied cattle, the time of day or month not affecting the degree of association. In
both the McKilligan (1984) and this study the degree of association was also in excess of
67% but the pattern of independence was related to the moisture characteristic of the
pasture. In very dry conditions in the McKilligan study, 4% of flocks fed independently,
compared with 26% during the wet season. Siegfried (1978) also referred to a closer
association with grazing stock in dry conditions. In this study, 22% were independent
under all but flood conditions and 38% during flood.
In the June 1989 flood, some stock were present in the receding flood water, but
the egrets ignored them and fed quite independently. Flood conditions apparently induce
even greater independence from stock than moist to wet conditions, such as those occurring
during the very wet summer in McKilligan’s study.
McKilligan (1984) reported that the Cattle Egrets in his Queensland study had
never been observed feeding in open water and other reports refer to foraging around the
margins of water such as temporary marshland (Siegfried 1978) and rice fields (Ikeda
1956, Ruiz 1985). Lowe -McConnell (1967) stated that young Cattle Egrets ‘kept their
feet dry’. I have frequently seen the birds sitting in water at pre -roost time in the evening
and have observed a fledgling swimming across quite deep water. In most of the flooding
episodes in this study, the egrets tended to gather around the margins of the flood, although
some were in the water some distance from the edge. In the June 1989 event, however,
they were wading in the whole extent of shallow flood waters and catching prey.
Identification of prey species would have helped in the interpretation of the foraging
behaviour but because of the time schedule in travelling to and from my place of
employment in Newcastle I was unable to spend time collecting invertebrate flood victims
Australian Birds Vol.29 No.1 7or to identify by observation through binoculars any of the prey items captured. However,
Cattle Egrets have been recorded as feeding on earthworms in wet winter pastures in New
Zealand (Heather 1982) and in wet seasons in South Africa (Siegfried 1971). Earthworms
are forced to the surface during a flood and may have been available to the Egrets in the
episodes reported in this study. I have observed grasshoppers and black field crickets
being taken as prey items in Lower Hunter pastures throughout the year. These species
would also have been flushed during the inundation and would no doubt have been easily
available to birds foraging in the receding flood waters, being rendered helpless in the
water. In a subsequent flood in March 1994, which again caused aggregation of flocks
on flooded land, I was able to spend some time at site No. 2 with a telescope watching
Cattle Egrets foraging in the floodwater and saw them catching black crickets floating on
the surface. Other invertebrates such as beetles, flies and spiders would also have been
flushed and frogs would probably also have been present.
During a breeding season flood event at Grafton, David Geering (pers. comm.)
found that all nestlings handled during banding operations at the Lawrence colony
regurgitated caterpillars (army worms). The majority of parent birds were feeding in
flooded pasture. Army worms feeding on grass roots in pasture had probably been forced
to the surface by the flooding.
Research is needed to determine whether the birds feed selectively on any of these
items or take all available. This would require detailed surveying of the invertebrate and
small vertebrate populations of the sites frequented by the egrets during different seasons
and the way they are affected by flood, as well as obtaining data on the prey items taken
by the birds. However, it is obvious that the flood episodes provide a readily available
source of food to which the egrets respond in characteristic opportunistic fashion.
The large number which gathered on the one- kilometre section of Newline Road
on 28-30 June 1989 raises the interesting question as to why this particular section of
flooded pasture should be chosen. The whole of the lower Hunter, Paterson and Williams
valleys were inundated and extensive areas normally used by Cattle Egrets along all three
rivers were to the human eye in similar condition to the Newline Road section.
The presence of the tagged birds in the June 1989 flock showed that groups had
travelled across floodwaters from at least 20 km away, as far afield as Maitland to the
west and Clarence Town to the north. How did these birds receive the message that the
Newline site was the most favoured foraging site of the whole area? When travelling
between foraging and roosting areas the Egrets generally fly low, up to about 15 metres,
and often follow river courses just above the water, not high enough to see conditions and
other flocks from a distance of more than 20 km, unless the flood conditions stimulated
them to fly at high altitude.
8 MADDOCK : Cattle egrets September 1995After the flood episode, the birds dispersed back to their normal foraging areas.
Flocks were again found in the usual Maitland, Woodville, Paterson, Seaham and
Clarence Town pastures and one tagged bird was definitely identified back in its well
established home range around Seaham, where it remained until the breeding season.
This study was not planned as a definitive study on flooding and Cattle Egret
foraging, the data being collected opportunistically as part of a larger project on
migration. The absence of detailed data on prey items is a limiting factor but the
results provide information to help clarify the current state of knowledge on Cattle
Egrets’ behaviour during flooding and indicate directions for further research.
Baxter, G.S. & Fairweather, P.G. 1989, Comparison of the diets of nestling Cattle Egrets and Intermediate Egrets in the Hunter Valley, NSW', Australian Wildlife Research, 16, 395-404. Cunningham, R.L. 1965, 'Predation of birds by the Cattle Egret', Auk, 82, 502-503. Heather, B.D. 1982, 'The Cattle Egret in New Zealand 1978-1980', Notornis, 29, 241-68. Heatwole, H. 1965,Some aspects of the association of Cattle Egrets with cattle’, Animal
Behaviour 13, 79-83.
Ikeda, S. 1956, ‘On the habits of the Indian Cattle Egret’, Japanese Journal of Applied Zoology,
21, 83-6.
Jenkins, C.F.H. & Ford, J. 1960, The Cattle Egret and its symbionts in south-western Australia', Emu, 60, 245-49. Jenni, D.A. 1973, 'Regional variation in the food of nestling Cattle Egrets', Auk, 90, 821-26. Lowe -McConnell, R.H. 1967,Biology of the immigrant Cattle Egret Ardeola ibis in Guyana,
South America’, Ibis, 109, 168-179.
Maddock, M. 1986, Fledging success of egrets in dry and wet seasons', Corella, 10, 101-107. Maddock, M. 1990, 'Cattle Egret: South to Tasmania and New Zealand for the winter', Notornis, 37, 1-23. Maddock, M. & Geering,D. 1993,Cattle Egret migration in south-eastern Australia and New
Zealand: an update’, Notornis, 40, 109-22.
Maddock, M. and Geering, D. 1994, ‘Range expansion and migration of the Cattle Egret within
Australia and New Zealand: Implications for the species’, Ostrich, (in press).
McKilligan, N.G. 1984, ‘The food and feeding ecology of the Cattle Egret Ardeola ibis when
nesting in south-east Queensland’, Australian Wildlife Research, 11, 113-44.
Rice, D.W. 1956, Dynamics of range expansion of Cattle Egrets in Florida', Auk, 73, 259-66. Rounsevell, D. 1993, 'Metallic skinks Niveoscincus metallicus sampled by a Cattle Egret Ardeola ibis in Hobart', The Tasmanian Naturalist, 112, 7-8. Ruiz, X. 1985,An analysis of the diet of Cattle Egrets in the Ebro Delta, Spain’,Ardea,73,49-60.
Siegfried, W.R. 1971, The food of the Cattle Egret', Journal of Applied Ecology, 8, 447-68. Siegfried, W.R. 1978,Habitat and modem range expansion of the Cattle Egret’, Wading Birds,
Research Report, 7, 315-324.
Thompson, C.F., Lanyon, S.M. & Thompson, K.M. 1982, `The influence of foraging benefits on
association of Cattle Egrets (Bubulcus ibis) with cattle’. Oecologica, 52, 167-170.
PO Box 180, Pambula 2549
This paper details a number of significant records for Wallagoot Lake dur-
ing the spring and early summer of 1994; the first report of Fairy Terns
nesting and the fourth confirmed report of these birds in NSW (A.K.Morris,
pers. com.), the first report of Caspian Tems breeding in NSW since 1964(at
Menindee Lakes: Morris et al. 1981), new breeding sites for the Little
Tern, Crested Tern and Silver Gull, and a new locality for the Ground
Wallagoot Lake is situated within Bournda National Park c. 10 km north of
Merimbula on the far south coast of New South Wales. Tidal fluctuation is controlled by
the sand build up at the opening to the sea at Turingal Head.
Little Terns Sterna albifrons have in the past gathered on a small island within the
lake, 75 m long and with varying widths averaging 5 m. The island was protected by a
pine log fence which had become a favoured roosting site for many waterbirds.
In August 1994 the NSW National Parks & Wildlife Service (NPWS) authorised a
working bee of volunteers to part- clear the island of overgrown vegetation and remove
the fence, in the hope of making a site that might attract Little Terns to breed without
threat from roosting predators. The results were not as anticipated.
By late September 50 pairs of Silver Gulls Larus novaehollandiae had claimed
the northern section of the island and soon began nesting in the remaining low vegetation.
All appeared successful.
Cont from page 9
I thank Kristen Ducat for collating the results for the flood periods from the data
sheets, Neville Foster for his assistance with tagged bird sightings in the Hunter and
David Geering for information on the Grafton episode and constructive comments on the
manuscript. The project was undertaken as part of the Shortland Wetlands Centre Project
Egret Watch in which patagial tagging was carried out under licence from the Australian
Nature Conservation Agency Bird and Bat Banding scheme.
10 September 1995Pied Oystercatchers Haematopus longirostris, Little Pied Cormorants
Phalacrocorax melanoleucos, Little Black Cormorants P. sulcirostris, White-faced Herons
Egretta novaehollandiae, Pelicans Pelecanus conspicillatus, Royal Spoonbills Platalea
regia and a pair of Caspian Terns Sterna caspia all made use of the remaining area and
the two small sand spits extending from the island as rest areas.
By mid -November 200 pairs of Crested Terns Sterna bergii had assembled, claimed
the remaining area and begun nesting. Results appeared to be totally successful. It has
been estimated that 13 000 pairs of Crested Terns nest in NSW on 12 marine islands from
Montague Is. to Julian Rocks (Lane 1979); this is the first record of breeding on an estuarine
At the same time the Caspian Tern pair began nesting on the highest, most southerly
part of the island. Although they had often been seen singly patrolling the foreshore,
nesting had not been observed before. Two young were reared.
By the time Little Terns arrived their attempts to land were hampered as the site
was overcrowded. Another small uncleared islet 150 m north with a narrow uncleared
border became their site and by November 1994 nesting had begun.
Two pairs of Little Terns nested, joined a little later by three nesting pairs of other
small terns. These three pairs were a puzzle, not looking the same as the Little Terns;
eventually the arrival of a telescope enabled me to confirm that they were in fact Fairy
Terns Sterna nereis. Observation of the progress of the chicks was difficult as they ran in
and out of the rushes to be fed and seek shelter. The final count was put as Little Terns 2

  • 3 fledged, Fairy Terns 2 near -fledged plus 3 chicks. Regrettably I was unable to continue
    observations after 9 February 1995.
    Both sites were approached along an arm of land vegetated by rushes and scattered
    low Acacia spp. The Pied Oystercatcher pair nested at the end of this arm. Unfortunately
    their one egg was found destroyed in the nest.
    Red -capped Dotterels Charadrius ruficapillus were also present here and although
    I was aware of their presence insufficient attention was given to them in favour of the
    terns. My notes only recorded two pairs, each with one young.
    The walk along the foreshore to this area is where a Ground Parrot Pezoporus
    wallicus flushed on three occasions, adding another new species to the Bournda NP birdlist.
    Wallagoot Lake is a popular prawning and recreational area for summer tourists
    but the birds did not seem to suffer any human disturbance. Small terns were seen dive –
    Australian Birds Vol.29 No.! 11bombing Silver Gulls bathing too close to their nests, chasing a White -bellied Sea Eagle
    Haliaeetus leucogaster in flight and defaecating on a Pied Oystercatcher which landed
    nearby. Otherwise within the colonies all species lived harmoniously. Kangaroos and
    foxes inhabit the area, the latter to be targeted by NPWS rangers before the next breeding
    This small area had seven breeding species for the season and the writer awaits the
    coming season with interest. The record of breeding Fairy Terns has been submitted to,
    and accepted by, the NSW Ornithological Records Appraisal Committee (Case No. 161)
    Lane, S.G. 1979, ‘Summary of breeding seabirds on NSW coastal islands’ Corella 3 pp. 7-10)
    Morris, A.K., McGill, A.R. & Holmes G. 1981, Handlist of Birds in NSW, NSW FOC,
    Sooty Owl
    Further to the note on page 84 of Vol. 27 No. 3: the same Sooty
    Owl Tyto tenebricosa, wearing CSIRO band No.121 22 120.was again
    found beside the Princes Highway at Engadine in May 1995 appar-
    ently having been struck by another vehicle. On 4 June he was re-
    leased again by Dr Richard Jackson, a WIRES carer, after being fitted
    with a radio tracking device.
    Dr Jackson has since located the bird on numerous occasions, at
    daytime roosts and moving around at night, mainly along the edges
    of the Hacking River, where it is possibly hunting rats.
    In the Bullers Shearwater article on page 76 of Vol.28 No.3 and in the Table of
    Contents, the names of the authors were inadvertently mis-spelt.They should have appeared
    as David Priddle & Nicholas Carlile; my apologies to both.
    Varro Ville House, St Andrews Rd, Varro Ville 2565
    We moved into Varro Ville House at the end of October 1992 and shortly thereafter
    we identified a pair of mature Channel -billed Cuckoos Scythrops novaehollandiae
    frequenting our large garden. They spent most of the time high in our Port Jackson fig
    trees Ficus rubiginosa, usually quiet but then suddenly winding up their raucous calls
    while jumping around in the trees and then occasionally swooping around the garden and
    roof between the larger trees.
    One morning early in November there was an almighty chorus of trumpeting and
    when we rushed outside to investigate we saw a young but very large Channel -billed
    Cuckoo screaming for food in the lower branches of a fig tree. The pair of mature Cuckoos
    had joined in high up in the same tree and the young Cuckoo was being fed by a pair of
    very busy and frantic Australian Magpies Gymnorhina tibicen.
    We observed this ritual on a number of occasions, although we were never able to
    locate the actual nest. We are certain that the birds attending the young Cuckoo were
    Magpies and not Pied Currawongs Strepera graculina, which we are familiar with but
    have never seen on our property.
    All three Cuckoos disappeared some time in February or March 1993, and what
    we assume to be the original two birds returned to the garden in September 1993. We did
    not observe any offspring that breeding season.
    Four Channel -billed Cuckoos arrived late in September 1994 and one pair drove
    the other two away after a couple of days of confrontation in the trees and in flight.
    Again, we observed no offspring.
    Historical Note on Varro Vile House
    Dr Robert Townson arrived in Sydney in 1807. A keen naturalist, he is regarded
    as Australia’s first scientist- settler. In 1810 Townson was granted 1000 acres (400 ha) in
    the Minto district by Governor Macquarie. Here at Varro Ville he established the finest
    orchard in the colony and a vineyard secong only to Gregory Blaxland’s. Townson died
    in 1827 and Varro Ville passed to Thomas Wills and then to the explorer Charles Sturt.
    Australian Birds Vol.29 No.1 13In 1838 John Gould visited Varro Ville and admired Sturt ‘s collection of Austral-
    ian parrots in watercolour, offering a large sum for the paintings. Sturt would not sell.
    Gould’s offer was apparently overheard, as the paintings were stolen from the military
    chest where they were kept, and were never found although the thieves were tracked to
    The Port Jackson fig trees featured in the above observations are very old. Their
    natural habitat is the side of inlets and gullies (Beadle, N.C. W., Evans, O.D. & Carolin,
    R.C. 1978, Flora of the Sydney Region, Reed, Sydney). Growing on an exposed emi-
    nence, the trees are probably relics of Dr Townson’s garden. According to long-term
    neighbours, Channel- billed Cuckoos turn up at Varro Ville every year and the fig trees
    appear to exert a strong attraction.
    The above observations raise a number of interesting questions about the Cuck-
    oos. As the birds are faithful to the locality, there should be further opportunities to
    explore the species’ behaviour.
    The historical notes herein were prepared from an unpublished paper on Robert
    Townson by Olive Havard, read before the Royal Australian Historical Society in Sep-
    tember 1946, and from Letters to the Editor and historical notes, Sydney Morning Her-
    ald, July 1935.
    225 Kissing Point Rd, Turramarra 2074
    14 September 1995Red-tailed Black- Cockatoo
    Calyptorhynchus banksii
  • One of the maps, reduced to 85% of actual size, from The Birds of Western New
  • South Wales : A Preliminary Atlas by Richard Cooper and Ian Mc Allan. Spiral bound
  • book, 240 pages, 354 maps, published by NSW Bird Atlassers Inc. in Albury, 1995. Price
  • $ 32.50 incl. postage & packaging, from,
  • R.M.Cooper
  • P.O.Box 652
  • Albury, NSW 2640
  • Australian Birds Vol.29 No.1 15OBITUARY
  • Roger Golding 1926 – 1995
  • Roger was born in Rangoon and brought up in England. He joined the British
  • Army during World War II, and afterwards served with a paratroop regiment in the fight-
  • ing that led up to the establishment of the new state of Palestine where he was commis-
  • sioned as Captain.
  • Upon discharge he worked for three years as a wildlife warden on the island of
  • Skokholm off the Welsh coast where he developed a life long interest in bird photogra-
  • phy.
  • In 1956 he arrived in Melbourne as a trainee manager with William Angliss and
  • Co, a subsidiary of the international Vestey empire. He moved to Sydney in 1962 and I
  • can vividly recall a lecture he delivered to one of our meetings illustrated by his splendid
  • colour slides and tape-recorded birdcalls, a technique that was new to most of his audi-
  • ence.
  • Roger travelled extensively, and his life list included birds from six continents.
  • His career took him to live in various parts of Australia and New Zealand until, in 1973,
  • he was appointed General Manager for the whole of the Australian operation and he
  • settled permanently in Glenhaven. For his birdwatching friends, one of the perks of
  • office was access to the otherwise restricted Riverstone Meatworks paddock. Roger played
  • a vital role in the negotiations between Angliss and the NP&WS that resulted in the
  • dedication of part of the Riverstone property as the Windsor Downs Nature Reserve.
  • Roger died at his home on 23 April after a brief illness; our sympathy is extended
  • to his brother Norman of Sussex.
  • 16 September 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
  • elsewhere.
  • 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.
  • Scientific names of birds and their classification should follow Christidis & Boles
  • 1994, The Taxonomy and Species of Birds of Australia and its Territories, RAOU
  • Monograph 2.
  • References to books appear in the form
  • Marchant, S. & Higgins,P.J.(eds) 1990, Handbook of Australian, 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 29 No. 1 AUSTRALIAN BIRDS September 1995
  • Max Maddock Response of Cattle Egrets to flood
  • 1
  • Barbara Jones Breeding Birds at Wallagoot Lake 10
  • K.Pearson-Smith Magpies feeding young Channel -billed Cuckoo 13
  • Birds of Western NSW; A Preliminary Atlas 15
  • Obituary Roger Golding 1926-1995 16
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