Vol. 4 No. 2-text

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Price 25c Published by the Gould League Birdwatchers.
vol. 4 No. 2 1st October, 1969.
Patron: ALEC H. CHISHOLM 0.B.E., F.R.Z.S.
Hon. Secretary and Editor: L. COURTNEY HAINES
10 Loquat Valley Road, Bayview.
Observations Committee: K.A. HINDWOOD and A.R. McGILL
Field-day Organiser: G. DIBLEY
18 Russell Street, Oatley (57-6298)
Art Adviser: E.S. HOSKIN
Photographic Adviser: NORMAN CHAFFER
Assistant Secretaa: R. COOKE
Situated not far south of Sydney and easy of access, the
Royal National Park is a wide expanse of mostly natural bush –
land. Here, coastal plateaux, ocean beaches, heathland, some
low swampland, open forest and brush entices the ornithologist.
My first visit there was a little over 40 years ago when the
only trafficable road traversing the area ran through one-way,
from Waterfall to Audley, with a spur at Audley going to spots
on Port Hacking for those venturesome enough to try out their
cars up the steep and narrow Artillery Hill. There was an
entrance gate not far from Waterfall and an exit gate the other
end. A car trip through Lady Carrington’s Drive was then a
genuine experience and a visit to an avian wonderland. Nothin,:
stirred my eagerness during the 1930’s more than a week -end
with an earlier colleague, Frank Clarke, at the old Zoologist’s
Cabin. I have little doubt that birds were more abundant then,
than now and Catbirds, Satin Bower -birds and Lewin Honeyeaters
readily perched on the lunch -table.- 8 –
In one of my early scrap -books (at that time I did
not consider it important to add the date and reference
to paper cuttings, but the publication date would be before
1940) there is an article on the bird life of “The National
Park” (the “Royal” prefix was not added until later)
commencing — “That whereas birds in The National Park have
not been disturbed with the advent of the motor car, they have
been affected by domestic cats and dogs gone wild, is revealed
in a report on the status of the bird life in the area
prepared by Mr. Neville Cayley, well known Australian Orni-
thologist”. Neville Cayley was then a Park Trustee. In
the report are some matters that need emphasis and comment.
“Over 200 species of birds are listed … With one exception,
the Ground or Swamp Parrakeet, which disappeared over 30
years ago, and Accidental (sic!), the Pacific Gull, all are
still to be found within the area”. I have made over 250
trips there, covering most parts that are readily accessible,
purposely to assess the bird life and my personal species
total is 167, which includes such “accidentals” as the Plumed
Tree -Duck, Painted Snipe, Spangled Drongo, Royal Spoonbill,
Hoary -headed Grebe and about six kinds of derelict sea -birds.
Not many species are mentioned in the Cayley report, but
the statement that “Honeyeaters, such as the … Fuscous,
White -plumed and Scarlet, were in thousands” is surprising.
The first -mentioned two move in during irregular nomadic
movements, but hardly in thousands, whilst the White -plumed
would be unlikely to be even seen back in the 1930’s.
Another extract, The heath lands teamed (sic!) with bird life”,
is a rare event nowadays. I have often walked through so
much of the extensive heathy areas and frankly have been dis-
appointed with the general scarcity of birds. There is little
doubt that the ravages of bushfires in recent years have
taken serious toll, and have been the largest destroying fact-
or, and I agree readily with Cayley when he states — “Undoubt-
edly the worst bird -pest in the area is the Pied Currawong,
which takes heavy toll annually of the eggs and young of
others.” This bird is far too abundant and the Part author-
ities might think seriously of a long-range plan of their nests
and eggs destruction.
The Royal National Park can be both a recreation area and
a wild -life refuge. I can assure anyone that a list of 150- 9 –
species of birds over a long period depicts able observing, and
should this fine park be spared the ravages of bushfires for son,
years and predator control be applied, then it can again become
the place that Neville Cayley described so enticingly over 30
years ago.
Arncliffe, N.S.W.
From 4.50 a.m. till 10 a.m., 7/9/1967, fellow Gould League
Camper, Mervyn Grahame and I were in rainforest of a western
McPherson Range escarpment. Nearby spring water erupted in farm-
ing land and, overhung by rainforest and debris -like Yellow –
throated Scrub Wrens’ nests, dropped almost sheer from waterfall
pool to waterfall for about 400 yards and disappeared underground
in the cunjevoi covered depression of a false crest.
Apart from ledges, false crests and steep saucer -shaped
slopes, most negotiable terrain was one -in -one gradient, but with
plent of midginbils, vines and saplings to grasp. Cold light
rain fell as we moved at just over and under the 3,000 feet level.
We tape-recorded three male Albert Lyrebirds who called off
and on from 5.30 a.m. to 10 a.m. and observed at distances of 40
yards to about 25 feet a foraging female Alberti, tail curved
sideways from brooding.
A male Alberti was performing on the mossy ground of a very
small clearing. My final approach with Gould League Tape Record-
ing equipment, through wild grape tendrils, made it difficult to
aim the Parabolic Sound Reflector. Chances of a first class
recording were ruined by my failing to notice a mound -raking
Scrub Turkey which, with a perched bird unrecognizable in the di,
light, gave the alarm. With available time exhausted, our
departure was rewarded by the finding of an Alberti’s grey, main
tailfeather, 18 1/8 inches long.
Arriving noon, 16/1/1969, with Mr. E.J. Hayes who had
observed Albert Lyrebirds there for over 50 years, we made un-
successful attempts to photograph. We saw two male and two
female Alberti, one male being twenty feet away as he balanced
for 20-30 seconds on the top wire of the boundary fence
between rainforest and farmland. No Lyrebirds called until- 10 –
just before sunset to dusk when two called from below where
the male had balanced. Three rufous tipped Alberti “flank”
feathers were found, 6Y4 inches long.
On 17/1/1969 attempts at photography failed.
On 14/6/1969, arriving 10 a.m. with Messrs. E.J. Hayes and
E. Bell we descended the escarpment. No Lyrebirds were call-
ing. We erected a prefabricated hessian and green mosquito
net hide near the mossy ground, a favourite male performing
spot. There I waited with Tape Recorder and cameras while
my companions unsuccessfully sought elsewhere for nests but
collected a specimen of Umbrella Fern, Sticherus flabellatus.
Soon after playing my tape made on 7/9/7T-three male Alberts
were answering, mainly with territory calls. On my way out
my companions pin -pointed five males calling with much mimicry.
Berries fell from feeding Wompoo, Green -winged and Brown
Pigeons, but only the Wonga called. One giant Broad -leafed
Stinging Nettle Tree was glorious with large pink flowers.
Study that night showed the territory calls I had taped
matched those of Graeme Pollock’s gramaphone record of a
Mt. Tamborine Albert Lyrebird.
At 5.40 a.m. on 15/6/1969 a dawn chorus of birds and
three male Albert Lyrebirds were taped as we entered the rain-
forest. Yellow -throated Scrub -Wrens came close with lively
warbling, Lewin Honeycaters called vigorously and two excited
Spine -tailed Logrunners scurried between us as the dawn tape
was re -played. Ned Hayes saw one male Albert Lyrebird’s
rufous, reaping hook -shaped, central tail feather with a
narrow inner web increasing in width towards the tip 22 7/8
inches long. The outer webs were about an inch wide for the
first three inches above the quill and were replaced by short,
well -spaced bristles growing longer towards the tip. Two
large grey tail feathers with dainty herringbone tips and a
score of thistledown texture rufous tipped “flank” feathers
were found. I taped territory and alarm, calls and varied
mimicry. The hide was left to moulder and better merge
into landscape for future use.
Alberti occupation seemed near capacity, as over half
the area was freshly and lightly raked Lyrebird fashion or
deeply raked and dug in places by Scrub Turkeys.We formed the opinion that from the top of the scarp, tree,
log and stump perches with vast panoramas, which with the tall
rain -forest, its undergrowth and shrubby fringes provided for
the aesthetic and material needs of Albert Lyrebirds, while the
steep slopes, cliffs and trees gave adequate scope to outwit
traditional and introduced enemies.
Any suggestions to help with photography would be appreciateJ
Mr. Ned Hayes and I wish to record that for over fifty years
he has often camped in, worked and observed in, while for over
twenty years I have spent considerable time in that “Tooloom
Scrub”, part of Mandle and Beaury State Forest No. 2, which
between Legume and Urbenville dips in and out of Wallaby Creek,
Tooloom. have not met any person who has heard, seen, or
found evidence of any Lyrebird in this scrub.
Road signs and maps show about twenty miles away, between
Urbenville and Bonalbo, another “Tooloom Scrub” which is part of
Yabbra State Forest. There are reports of Lyrebirds there and
nearby, but we have yet to identify them positively.
The following list with brief notes, are the Hawks and
Eagles that frequent the Casino district in North-eastern N.S.W.
The surrounding countryside is mostly woodland and open forest
with areas of flat and hilly grassland.
Nankeen Kestrel. A resident species and quite plentiful during
breeding season. Two or three pairs nest within one square mil(,
of territory. Hollows in dead trees of the open woodland are
selected for nesting sites.
Black -shouldered Kite. Pairs arrive here during April or May and
depart by the end of October. Construction of nests generally
commences during 1st or 2nd week of arrival. Favourite sites
are the top most leafy branches of Rough -barked Apple trees, then
usually adjoining corn or other crop paddocks.- 12 –
JAttle Falcon. Single birds mostly observed throughout the
year in lightly timbered areas. During their hunting hours,
which are early morning and again from 3.30 p.m. until dusk,
they may be seen harassing Starlings or Sparrows from trees
or cockspurs. To -day, 3rd June, a Little Falcon made a
lightning attack on a Crested Pigeon, the Pigeon although
flying swiftly itself was quickly overtaken and struck from
below, slightly wounded, it escaped to a nearby thicket.
Black Falcon. Rarely observed in the district. Odd birds
have been observed to sweep rapidly over open grass -land only
to brake and dive to retrieve a fallen Quail or other ground
Peregrine Falcon. Odd pairs are sighted throughout the year
with extra arrivals during the winter months.
Collared Sparrow -hawk. Occasionally observed, singly or in
pairs. Timber fringed creek areas are mostly favoured.
Crested Hawk. Most pairs arrive during September or October
and depart in February and March, though a few pairs are
occasionally seen feeding through the forest tree -tops in
winter. The unique whistle notes, ”weft -chew weit-chew”,
often draw attention to a pair of these Hawks high in the sky.
The species nests regularly in the district.
Brown Hawk. Resident species. Territories are large areas
covering roughly eight square miles of flat grass -land or
hilly open woodland. A graceful Hawk in appearance and in
flight it is capable of great speed. A very useful species
destroying many snakes during breeding seasons on which they
feed their young in nest.
Goshawk. Pairs arrive during February departing again in
October or November. The species is often observed singly.
Food sometimes consists of Butcher -birds and Tawny Frogmouths
as well as smaller species of birds. Breeds here in swamp
areas and tall trees are chosen as nest sites.
Swamp -harrier. Odd pairs on the larger swamplands.
Little Eapile. A rare species. Pairs some years frequent
the oak -fringed creeks and dry forest ridges. Little Eagles
have sometimes nested at the extreme top of large Spotted
Gum trees. In this district they prey chiefly on rabbits.- 13 –
Whistling Eagle. With possible exception of the Kestrel, this
species is more numerous and widespread in its distribution than
any of the other Hawks or Eagles in the Casino area.
White -breasted Sea Eagle. Occasional single Eagles may be seen
flying along the creeks and over lakes.
Wedge-tailed Eagle. Occurs throughout the year with an increase
during winter and breeding season which is from June to October.
Territories then are roughly eight square miles with any type of
suitable large trees selected as nesting sites. The Wedge -tails’
Eagle is a magnificent bird and is the second largest Eagle in the
world. It is a very useful species, as it destroys countless
rabbits throughout Australia.
Casino, N.S.W.
Correction – Regarding my article on “Some Avicultural Nesting
Notes” which appeared in “BIRDS” Vol. 3, No. 2, page 15; a sen-
tence dealing with the Dartford Warbler reads
Warbler is an all the year round resident of Britain and its only
‘breeding’ warbler.” The latter -.dart of the sentence should
read as follows – “and its only endemic warbler.”
Apart from the resident and very local Dartford Warbler,
eleven other species of warblers, all migratory in their habits,
also nest in the British Isles. They are, the Whitethroat;
Lesser Whitethroat; Garden Warbler; Blackcap; Grasshopper
Warbler; Reed -Warbler; Sedge Warbler; Marsh Warbler; Willow –
Warbler; Wood -Warbler and the Chiffchaff. Of these by far the
rarest is the Marsh Warbler which is very local and only nests
regularly in a few southern counties, especially Somerset,
Gloucester and Oxford.
On Rodd’s Peninsular, Iron Cove Bay, I observed on 25th May.
1969, 50 plus Bar -tailed Godwits. They were very quiet and I
was able to approach very close to them. Other birds of interest
were eight Hoary -headed Grebe, three Little Pied Cormorants and
two Crested Terns.
A fine Winter’s day and prospects of birds being plenti-
ful greeted the 40-50 people (21 cars) who attended this
An area of heathland and nearby parkland, adjoining the
Elouera Estate, proved productive and observations included
the New Holland, Yellow -faced and White-naped Honeyeaters,
Little and Red Wattle -birds, Golden Whistler, Eastern Rosella,
Nankeen Kestrel and a Mistletoe -bird.
Old Quarter Sessions Road provided an excellent area
for lunch, beside an old sandstone quarry and White -eared
Honeyeaters called frequently. A number of parties searched
for the Rock -warbler, a bird often seen here, but to no avail.
An excellent view of the extent of the Elouera Reserve was
obtained from this area and other points of interest included
some aboriginal rock -carvings and an excellent view of a Fan –
tailed Cuckoo.
The party then split up, one group walking down the fire –
trail to the Hornsby Valley floor and the remainder drove to
the opposite side of the Valley and met the first party at
the bottom of the fire -trail. Interesting observations by
both parties included White -eared Honeyeater, King Parrots,
the Grey Thrush, Brown Warbler and a large flock of Red-
browed Finches.
A total of 32 native species were recorded and our thanks
go to Dr. Mason for providing an interesting outing in this
area, my personal thanks are twofold, as being a “local”, I
was able to add 3 new species to my list for the area.
Hornsby, N.S.W.
Monday, 20th July, 1969. Heathland survey at Heathcote.
This was a most successful outing and a pattern for
future field work. At first, the party split into very small
groups and combed the heathland surrounding the playing
fields. The most common bird here was the Tawny -crowned
Honeyeater. Its appearance, song, flight and perching habits- 15 –
were observed by all. Next most common was the Yellow -winged
Honey eater.
The party re -assembled at the Fire Trail to compare notes
and have morning tea, but the latter was interrupted by the report
of a Beautiful Firetail Finch in the vicinity. Altogether, four
of these birds were seen – interesting, because the Dibleys had
never seen them in this area before. Since the playing fields
have been developed and extended, the Pipits have moved in. In
the hunt for the Firetails a Heath Wren was discovered.
Two groups were then formed, one going to the Dam by the
track, the other by the fire trail. Returning in the afternoon,
routes were reversed. The track didn’t yield much except numer-
ous raucous Little and Red Wattle Birds – an interesting compar-
ison; two White-cheeked Honeyeaters were observed by both partic
One party beat through a swampy area near the fire trail and
flushed Emu Wrens. But a hunt for these birds in an area where
they are always found near the Dam proved fruitless. It had bee’
badly burnt out.
Lunch was had in a compact group and much useful ornitholog-
ical discussion took place. These discussions are regarded as
an important feature of the outings. 32 species were seen in th
relatively small area covered by the survey. Four species of
Banksia were in flower.
Oatley, N.S.W.
Saturday, 16th August 1969. Windsor District, Scheyville, Catta
Creek and Blue Gum Creek.
This is about the best district near Sydney for an outing
and all were highly delighted with the day. 83 species were
observed, the following nesting:- Black Swan, Dusky Moorhen,
Little Cuckoo -shrike, Striated Thornbill, Buff -tailed Thornbill,
Yellow -tailed Thornbill, Brown Weebill, Jacky Winter, Grey Thrush
Other interesting observations were the Cattle Egrets and White –
backed Swallow at Pitt Town, two Red -kneed Dotterels at Bushell’s
Lagoon and the group of Yellow -tufted Honeyeaters resplendent in
the late afternoon sunlight. Our thanks to Ernie Hoskin for
leading a most rewarding trip.
Oatley, N.S.,.- 16 –
Notes of Field Trip to Dharug National Park.
After a cold wintery week, Saturday, 20th September
dawned sunny and warm – a perfect day for the outing to
Dharug National Park led by Mr. & Mrs. G. Dibley.
A group of 24 bird -watchers met at Mangrove Creek and a
short time was spent here before moving on. The main area
visited was Sugee Bag Creek which was followed along in to the
foothills and the party soon found that here was an excellent
place for bird watching and a number of those present had no
difficulty in adding more “first sightings” to their lists.
The variety of wildflowers added another attraction to
the day and Mr. Dibley pointed out some orchids growing in
the trees.
Among the species of birds sighted, those worthy of
special note were a male and female Spotted Quail -Thrush, 2
Ground Thrush, a White -throated Treecreeper and, within a
short time, a Red -brewed Treecreeper, making this an interest-
ing comparison, as these two birds are similar in habits.
There were two separate sightings of the Glossy Black
Cockatoo. In Casuarinas along the roadside a male and
female were observed feeding, the female having yellow mark-
ings on the head and, it was thought, the female was a larger
bird than the male. The second sighting was a group of 3
birds, again in Casuarinas, near the creek.
In all a total of 65 species of birds were observed and
everyone felt that the day had been really enjoyable. We are
indeed grateful to Mr. & Mrs. Dibley for making this a day to
Sunday, 19th October, 10 a.m. Plumpton. Leader: Ernie Wood.
Meet in the Richmond Rd. just past the Rooty Hill Rd.
junction. Object of excursion is to see birds of the shale
area. Many of them should be nesting.
Saturday, November 22. Bulli Pass Natural Park.
Leader: Peter Roberts (479240)
This is normally the habitat of many rainforest birds- 17 –
some of them rarely seen elsewhere in the County of Cumberland
despite severe damage in the bushfires last November, many specie:.
remained in the area. There will be a walk of about one mile
each way along a well -graded track.
By car: On Princes Highway, 19 miles south of Waterfall turn left
at Bulli Pass signpost; park 1 – 2 miles from signpost, 400 yard
below the sharp left-hand bend, on the “uphill” side of the road
10 a.rn.
By rail: Catch 8.20 train from Central, arriving Bulli Station at
9.57. Train will be met if leader has been notified beforehand.
Sunday, 7th December, Heathland Survey No.2 (Summer).
Leaders: G. & M. Dibley.
Meet at east side of railway station at Heathcote 9.45 a.m.
Public Transport: Train departs Central at 8.50 a.m. change into
motor train at Sutherland.
Private Transport: Follow Princes Highway through Engadine, turn
off to left over railway line near Liverpool Road, just before
Heathcote and follow railway south to Heathcote Station.
Lunch will be had away from cars. Bring pencil, paper.
Aim of the outing is to follow the procedure of the July outing
and compare our observations with tnose of the winter survey.
“An Australian Bird Book” J.A. Leach revised by P. Crosbie
9th Edition, 3rd impression. Whitcombe and Tombs Pty. Ltd. $3.60.
The edition of Leach under review, with the exception of the
tabulated list of species and their brief descriptions and distrib
utions is almost a completely different book to earlier editions
bearing the same title.
The lecture has been rewritten by the reviser – author
Crosbie Morrison and all the coloured plates and half tone figures
of birds have been re -drawn by Anne Lissenden.
It is possible that the older generation of bird watchers,
literally “reared” on the earlier presentations of “An Australian- 18 –
Bird Book” will miss the intrinsic charm of “those old mag-
nificient plates,” as one bird -lover perhaps over enthusiast-
i thc ea ll ay
tid se ts cr Mi ib se sd Et th he em l;
t Phe
tep rl sat oe ns fri on
q mu oe us nt ti eo dn w me ur se
umd ra sw pn
dlb -y
mens. However, despite the drastic changes, the enthusiastic
spirit of Dr. Leach still seems to pervade the pages of the
new revised edition.
The new lecture is interesting and informative and the
Bowdler-Sharpe arrangement of families and species has not
hb ae ve en d br ea em na t ai mc ea nl dl ey
wc hh ea rn eg ed n.
cessT ahe
r y
in ad ndi vi bd ru ia el
a dc ec so cu rn it ps
ioo nf s ofp ecies
nest and eggs have been added. The latter is a decided
The book has xvi, 224 pages, 32 coloured plates depicting
224 birds and 103 birds drawn in black and white. Though the
majority of coloured figures merit commendation, some lack
pc ao gl eo ur
hos tt or ge rn ag pt hh
.a nd design; included also, are eight full –
An interesting table well worthy of study compares bird
orders in earlier and the present editions and that of
Alexander ‘letmore. Other useful tables give particulars of
protected birds in Australia.
The new edition is beautifully produced and in this
regards far exceeds all previous editions. The book is
strongly bound and has a limp water -proof plastic cover;
the title and motif is blocked with bright orange -gold and
the paper is of a good quality. The book fits easily into
one’s coat pocket.
The new edition deserves a place on all bird students
book -shelves and is especially recommended to members of the
“Gould League Bird Viatchers Club”.
L. C. H.