Vol. 5 No. 1-text

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Published by the Gould League Birdwatchers
Vol. 5 No. 1 1st July, 197 0
F. R. Z.S.
10 Loquat Valley Rd. Bayview
Hon. Secretary & Treasurer: Mrs. L. Smith
84 Arabella St, Longueville
Hon. Assistant Secretary: R. Cooke
111 Maroubra Rd. , Maroubra
Field -day Organiser: G. Dibley
18 Russell St, Oatley
Annual Subscription – due 1st July each year. Single Member –
$1, 50; Junior Member -$1. 00; Family -$2. 00
(Registered at the G. P. 0. Sydney for transmission by post as a
There has always been doubt in my mind about truth of claims
that the Lyrebird has been heard to mimic mechanical sounds –
for example, the sounds of chain saws, axes cutting wood,
motor horns, noises emitted by timber mills and sounds of a
like nature which it hears in the bush. A celebrated mimic of
bird calls, yes; but does its mimicry actually go beyond bird
calls? There are several reports saying it does.
In fact the Lyrebird is said to be able to mimic almost any
kind of sound, even the human voice as represented by the
“cooee” of one man to another in forest country. One report
even has it that a bird in the Dandenong Ranges near Melbourne
used to mimic the sound of a train puffing up the steep grades
of the mountain line penetrating Lyrebird territory, There are
also reports of its imitating the sound of self-starters on motor
cars.BIRDS -2- July 1970
To me these sound somewhat fanciful and I believe them to be
the outcome of some person’s imagination, with an anthropomor-
phic slant. It is not so much a question whether the bird is
capable of producing this kind of mimicry – I think it is – but
whether in fact it really does so, sporadically or as a regular
thing. It would be interesting to have authentic instances of
“mechanical” mimicry if they exist. have spoken to exper-
ienced ornithologists on the point, and though some have said
they had heard of cases of the kind they admitted that the inform-
ation was given them by someboay else, and thus was second-
hand. They themselves had not heard the bird to mimic anything
but the calls of other birds.
My own association with the Lyrebird goes back some thirty
years, in N. S. W. Victoria and Tasmania. During four consec-
utive breeding seasons I devoted almost every weekend to making
a photographic record of the birds life history as far as this
could be pictured. Neither my hearing nor my interpretation of
calls was considered to be at fault; but though I listened care-
fully and analysed the calls, no “foreign” sounds ever came into
the mimicry. All of it was confined to bird calls.
Thus, through the years, whenever I have seen references to
the bird’s being heard to reproduce all manner of mechanical
sounds, I never failed to wonder whether the statement was
based on fact or fiction. What is the truth?
During the Wallacia excursion led by Athol Colemane on
Sunday, 22nd February, 1970, a visit was made to the property
“Maryland” at Bringelly, which holds some excellent dams.
These dams held a number of interesting species including
40+ Wood Duck, Musk Duck, Black -fronted and red -kneed
Dotterell, Greenshank, Sharp -tailed Sandpiper, Little Grebe
and Great Crested Grebe.BIRDS -3- 1 July 1970
As the party were about to depart, I noticed a Great Crested
Grebe amongst some bushes growing in the dam and with the
aid of a telescope was able to note that the bird was sitting on
a nest. This is the first record of the Great Crested Grebe
nesting in the County of Cumberland.
The following weekend it was found that the nest contained
three eggs and the weekend after, the nest was empty.
On this second weekend, when I observed the nest from the
position of my first sighting, it appeared that one of the
parent birds was sitting and as the nest was approached, the
bird probably left the nest accompanied by the chicks and hid
them amongst other bushes on the dam. This action has been
reported by observers of the Great Crested Grebe previously
and although I have not been able to return to the area to
affirm that the young were hatched, it is probable that the
parents would have left the area had the clutch been destroyed
by a predator.
RICHARD M. COOPER, Hornsby. N. S. W.
On 13th May 1970 between 1030 hours and 1400 hours I obser-
ved a migration of Yellow -faced Honeyeaters (Meliphaga chry-
sops) at Tesselate Hill near Mt. Irvine in the Blue Mountains.
The size of the flocks varied from 7 to about 250 and the
lapsed time between successive flocks ranged from less than a
minute to 33 minutes. In all 17 flocks totalling about 2, 000
birds were observed. No observations were made after 1400
hours and I do not know if the migration was in progress before
1030 hours. It is possible that other species were present in
some of the flocks but none were observed.
The direction of flight was from S S, E. to N. N. W. and fol-
lowed a narrow ridge. The altitude was also constant at an
estimated 20 metres (treetop level). The day was sunny and
calm with no wind and the mean temperature was 60oF. 23
points of rain had fallen overnight.BIRDS -4- July 1970
Details of Observations of Migration of Yellow -faced Honey-
eater at Tesselate Hill, near Mt. Irvine on 13th May 1970:
Flight No. Time Observed Number in Flock
1035 hrs. 50
2 1036 hrs. 70
3 1040 hrs, 50
4 1052 hrs. 150
5 1102 hrs, 250
6 1105 hrs, 150
7 1120 hrs. 200
8 1135 hrs, 150
9 1143 hrs, 100
10 1216 hrs. 200
11 1222 hrs. 150
12 1250 hrs, 250
13 1306 hrs, 150
14 1326 hrs, 50
15 1326 hrs, 30
16 1346 hrs,
17 1348 hrs. 20 Apprpx.
2027 (total)
Mrs, Molly Thomas of “Oakvale” Albion Park N. S. W. tells of
the playfulness of young Magpies. -“We have semi -tame Magpies
which have been coming for food for some years and I feel that I
must report on the antics of the last pair of young.
They are as playful as kittens, most trusting (of us) and of a
generally humorous disposition and we are very fond of them.
Whilst waiting to be fed they pick up pieces of grass or small
objects left for them, such as tin lids and strings etc. The birds
chase each other for possession, catching each other at times by
toes or wings.
My husband built a very light swing for them and one bird fre-
quently jumps on it, balancing and swinging upside down. They
are both most diverting and friendly birds”.BIRDS -5- July 1970
About 50 birdwatchers were at the rendezvous on Captain
Cook driveway on the morning of March 14, to be led by
Arnold McGill across the sandhills to overlook the mudflats at
Quibray Bay. With the tide rising fast, birds were feeding
busily and we had soon identified a good sample; notably a
dozen Sea Curlews, 80 odd Grey -tailed Tattlers, lesser num-
bers of Golden Plovers and Mongolian Dotterels, with an im-
mature White -breasted Sea -Eagle overhead. As the water
rose to cover the best feeding places, it was noticeable that the
piles projecting above the water were utilised by the Tattlers
as perches, but not by any other waders.
Boat Harbour was the next stop, after negotiating with var-
ious degrees of skill a very rough road over the sandhills.
Whilst eating lunch Gannets were diving just offshore and
Skuas could be seen chasing Silver Gulls, but much too far
away to be labelled as anything but Skua (sp. ),
After lunch a short walk brought us to the rock platform.
The tide by now was nearly full, which meant that the off-
shore reef was awash and the birds that shelter there had been
obliged to move onto the main platform -where we could get a
close range look at them! Mr, McGill was able to illustrate
his little lecture on the differences between Mongolian and
Double -banded Dotterels with specimens side by side and
beautifully lit. There were large groups of Turnstones, Gold-
en Plover (many changing into breeding plumage), a pair of
Reef Heron and three Sooty Oyster -Catchers. Little Tern
were abundant, and one bird, lacking a black loral streak,
might have been a Fairy Tern -much discussion, but no finality.
However, a few Common Tern were observed,
To round off the day, a visit was made to the swamp near the
refinery, where about 100 Little Pied Cormorants were nest-
ing (building, incubating and tending young). While the party
watched a Skua flew in and spent five minutes bathing only 30
yards away from us! It is hard to imagine how anyone could
get a better view and Mr. McGill had no hesitation in pro-BIRDS 6- July 1970
nouncing it an Arctic Skua,
Altogether a very fine day’s birding, and members deeply
appreciate the privilege of sharing it with an authority of such
stature in the bird world as Arnold McGill.
E ROBERTS Mt. Kuring-gai N. S. W.
18th -19th April, 1970
This was our first outing to a more distant area, involving a
return trip of approximately 200 miles. Despite the early start
necessary, 20 members plus some visitors attended. Also, camp-
ing was optional and 10 members camped overnight. Weather was
Cars were left at the top of the pass and the party walked down
the old road which was the original way down to Kangaroo Valley.
Those who walked the furthest and stayed the longest saw the
most along this fascinating road, traversing changing habitats.
The 64 species observed included 4 Lyrebirds on the road and
two others giving a marvellous duet of imitations, Pilot Birds,
3 Grey Currawongs, Square -tailed Cuckoo, several Rock Warb-
lers, Large -billed Scrub Wrens, Red-browed Tree Creepers,
Rose Robins, Barking Owl and a White -throated Nightjar.
This outing proved very worthwhile and it was agreed that one
or two outings of this nature should be included in each year’s
M. DIBLEY, Oatley, N. S. W.
Sunday, 24th May, 1970
The day proved to be typical of those presently being exper-
ienced in Sydney and as such was an excellent day for the birds.
The outing was led by Mrs. M. Barnes whose knowledge of the
park was excellent.
A total of 36 species were recorded and the most interesting
fact was that approximately 28% (10 species) were membersBIRDS -7- July 1970
of the Meliphagidae and included:
White-naped Honeyeater Eastern Spinebill
Fuscous Honeyeater Yellow -faced Honeyeater
White -eared Honeyeater Yellow -tufted Honeyeater
New Holland Honeyeater Little Wattle -bird
Red Wattle -bird Noisy Friar -bird
Other species of interest included the Spotted Pardalote,
Mistletoe -bird, Variegated Wren, Gang -Gang Cockatoo (4),
Rock Warbler, Rose Robin and one little Pied Cormorant.
Approximately 100 yards upstream from the Causeway the
party stopped for lunch. The area proved to be an extremely
favourable habitat for birds and, as a result, lunch consisted
of quick bites between observations.
Our thanks to Mrs. Barnes for introducing us to an excel-
lent bird -watching area.
List of Birds Recorded
Magpie -lark White -eared Honeyeater
Black -backed Magpie Spotted Pardalote
Pied Currawong Grey Fantail
Red-browed Finch Grey -backed Silvereye
Grey Butcherbird Fantailed Cuckoo
Red Wattle -bird Mistletoe -bird
Noisy Friar -bird Welcome Swallow
Crimson Rosella Yellow Robin
Yellow -faced Honeyeater Raven
Eastern Spinebill Brown Thornbill
Superb Lyrebird Golden Whistler
Fuscous Honeyeater Gang -Gang Cockatoo
White-naped Honeyeater Little Wattle -bird
Rock Warbler Little Pied Cormorant
Grey Thrush Rose Robin
White -throated Treecs. eeper Yellow -tufted Honeyeater
Variegated Wren Striated Thornbill
R. M. COOPER, Hornsby, N. S. W.BIRDS -8- July 1970
Sunday – 19th July Between Kurnell and Boat Harbour.
Leaders G. & M. Dibley,
Meet 10.00 a. m. in Sir Joseph Banks Drive where it joins
Captain Cook Drive. This is the turn-off for A. L.O. R. and
Boat Harbour, but we later turn left behind the refinery instead
of right for Boat Harbour. Albatrosses and coastal heath.
Carry lunch.
Sunday – 23rd August Pennant Hills
Organiser Mrs. C. M. Bonser
Meet 10.00 a. m. at Koala Park Sanctuary, Castle Hill Rd.
West Pennant Hills. To proceed and visit the N. S. W.
Forestry Commission, Castle Hill Rd. West Pennant Hills.
Gregory Map 67. Leaving cars at entrance it is an easy walk
to check on the Bower Bird and Bower, the small colony of
Bell Birds and many other species of birds.
After lunch exploring another area of Bushland.
Saturday – 19th September Annangrove, Maraylya,
Windsor Swamps.
Leader E. Hoskin – 88-2900
Meet 9.00 a. m. at Rogans Hill in Old Northern Road as
soon as parking is available for us, north of Castle Hill
Road. We will first visit Blue Gum Creek and Murphy’s
This is the best bird trip in the Sydney area,