Vol. 5 No. 5-text

PDF version available here: Vol. 5 No. 5

Published by the N. S. W. Field Ornithologists Club.
Price 25c.
Vol. 5 No. 5. 1st March, 1971
Bakers Lagoon
No recent information on the progress of acquisition of the
Lagoon has been forthcoming so the Secretary has written to the
Minister for Lands again.
Dr. H. J. Frith, Chief, Division of Wildlife Research,
C. S. I. R. 0. has recently published Technical Memorandum No. 6,
November, 1970, entitled “The Japanese Snipe”. A preliminary
report, available from the C. S. I. R. 0. , the Memorandum deals
with the status of the Japanese Snipe in Japan.
Mutton Bird Island, Coffs Harbour
Still awaiting reply from the Minister for Lands concerning
progress in having the island made a Nature Reserve.
Macquarie Marshes
A nature reserve of 45, 000 acres, in two separate areas,
has been established in the Macquarie Marshes. The areas, situ-
ated north and south of the Sandy Camp – Quambone Road on the
Macquarie River, will provide breeding and feeding habitat for
waterbirds. Additional areas will be acquired as Game Reserves
and will link the two portions of the Nature Reserve. The Water
Conservation and Mitigation Commission has guaranteed 15, 000
acre feet of water per year to fill the Marshes. However, the
grazing leases over the area are being maintained so it is
assumed that access by bird -watchers or any other person will be
difficult. No staff have been appointed to manage the area. The
Secretary has written to the N. P. W. S. for further details. Per-
haps a visit could be arranged for members at a suitable time.BIRDS 54, ist March, 1971
Loss of Wader Habitat
The announcement in the Sydney Morning Herald of 21,1,71,
by the Maritime Services Board to reclaim the northern shores
of Botany Bay from Bare Island to the Airport Runway Extensions,
sound the death knell for that delightfully smelly place known
as Old Cooks River Entrance – home away from home of the
migratory waders, It looks as if this place is going the same way
as Homebush Bay and Ash Island and together with increased human
activity at Boat Harbour, Long Reef and Quibray Bay, waders
around Sydney may soon be a thing of the past.
The Committee has written to the Maritime Services Board
seeking their co-operation to retain the Old Cooks River area as
it is, if feasible, and to the Premier, calling for the establishment
of a Nature Reserve embracing Towra. Point, Quibray Bay and
Boat Harbour in Botany Bay in order to preserve the wader habi-
tats there. The difficulty is, that whilst the N, P. W. S. is author-
ised to “protect” wading birds, they cannot control any lands below
the high water mark! That is the domain of the Fisheries
Department and the Maritime Services Board.
Murramurrang State Park
Members of the organisation recently visited the Pebbly
Beach area which is to be incorporated into the proposed Murr-
amurrang State Park. On an adjoining piece of freehold land,
proposed to be included in the State Park, logging had taken
place and the timber was being taken out via an illegal road
pushed through the public reserve at Pebbly Beach, The Secretary
wrote to the Minister for Lands who advised that the boundaries
of the Park were reaching finality – he also promised to investi-
gate the matter of the illegal road, Advice was also received
that some additional areas of land were being added to Gurumbi
Nature Reserve,
Conservation Officer.
At Yerambe Lagoon on 24th January, 1971, Mr. & Mrs. DibV
and Mrs, Goldstein observed a pair of Grey Teal with 8 tiny
ducklings,BIRDS 55. 1st March, 1971
The Owlet -Nightjar has been successfully bred in an aviary
at Taronga Zoo and is the first time that this tiny nocturnal bird
has been bred in captivity.
Some time ago Mr. Allan Foster of Sydney, Aviculturist and
Field Ornithologist, rescued two baby Owlet -Nightjars which had
apparently been deserted. Mr. Foster took the two babies to
Taronga Zoo, where they were received with great enthusiasm by
Mr. Les Clayton, the well known head bird -keeper at the Zoo.
Under the skilful and devoted care of Mr. Clayton, together with
presents of insect food taken regularly to the Zoo by Mr. Foster.
the two Owlet -Nightjars grew into healthy adult birds.
Mr. Foster told me personally that he felt the birds were a
true pair as there appeared to be a slight difference in the shape
of the head; and now they have proved he was correct in his
assumption by going to nest and raising two young.
The breeding in captivity of the unique and lovely little
Owlet -Nightjar is a magnifident achievement and apart from the
help freely given by Mr. Foster, full credit must unreservedly go
to Mr. Les Clayton whose uncanny skill in the art of avicult ure
is gradually becoming known far and wide.
It will be remembered that in “Birds” Vol. 4 No.4, page 41,
a short note appeared telling of Mr. Clayton’s astounding
success in breeding the Kiwi at Taronga Zoo.
The name “Soldier -bird”, commonly applied to the Noisy
Miner, may have been derived from the remarks on a painting by
Thomas Watling, the convict artist, at Sydney in the early 1790’s.
On this particular painting (No. 96 of the “Watling” drawings in the
British Museum) is written:- “This chattering bird often gives
notice to the Kangaroo when the sportsmen are after them. It is
pretty numerous, and always at war with others of the feathered
kind it In other words, like a soldier, it gives the alarm
and fights.
K. A. Hindwood, Lindfield. N. S. W.BIRDS 56. 1st March, 1971
Birds react quickly and noisily to the presence of an outsider
in their territories, One morning recently (December 18, 1970,
at 8 a, m. ) there was such a commotion among the Noisy Miners
or Soldier -birds, Indian Mynahs and Peewees in my garden that
I went to investigate. The cause of the disturbance was a Coucal
or Swamp Pheasant in a leafy gum tree. It was an adult bird with
the black body feathers which are assumed by both sexes during
the breeding season. The harassed bird flew clumsily to the
shelter of a weeping willow and then to the upper foliage of a
nearby turpentine tree. It was still being chivvied by the Miners
and Peewees, as it occasionally moved to adjoining trees, some
eight hours later.
The locality is one of the older settled parts of Lindfield
with plenty of trees and shrubs in the surroundings. However, it
is a most unsuitable habitat for a Coucal, a bird which likes
scrubby hillsides, damp heathlands and the thick, rank vegetation
of swampy areas in which to live. The nearest natural haunts of
the species are at Upper Middle Harbour, a mile or more from
where the bird was seen.
The above happening called to mind that one night in October,
1938, at about 9 p. m. , a Coucal settled in a small, high -walled
enclosed courtyard on the second floor of the Commonwealth Bank
in the commercial centre of North Sydney. The incident was
discussed in THE EMU (Vol. 41, 1942, p. 249).
All the speculation in the world will not solve the
mystery” of the presence of these two Coucals in settled
districts: they are ungainly and clumsy in flight and, apparently,
do not travel any great distance.
Such unusual occurrences do indicate that there must be a
lot of irregular movements going on among birds; there are the
lost migrants like the Rufous Fantail that sheltered in a second-
hand bookshop in George Street, Sydney, and the nomads whose
journeys are unpredictable; also the wanderers, perhaps dis-
placed by disturbances and changes in their usual retreats.
K, A. Hindwood, Lindfield. N. S. W,BIRDS 57, 1st March, 1971
During the Christmas -New Year period I decided to carry
out some ornithological beachcombing along Wanda Beach in order
to improve my knowledge of seabirds.
The first such trip was on 7th November, 1970, when, along
with my wife, Arnold McGill, Athol Colemane and a number of
other people, we did the Wanda – Boat Harbour walk. Beach
washed specimens found that day in the 3 mile walk included 17
Short -tailed Shearwaters, 2 Sooty Shearwaters, 1 White-faced
Storm Petrel, 1 Dove Prion and 9 Fairy Prions. Arnold McGill
and Ken Simpson did the identification of the lesser known birds.
The second walk was on 28th December, 1970, when just my
wife and I did the walk – it was a very hot day and there was
little of interest to see. 12 Short -tailed Shearwater carcases were
found along with a large dark shearwater which had flesh coloured
feet and bill but the tip of the bill was dark grey. This bird was
identified as a Fleshy -footed Shearwater, (Puffinus carneipes), a
bird that is occasionally washed up during the summer months
along our coasts. Measurements of this bird were – Tarsus 55mm.
and Bill 41.5 mm. The nearest breeding place to Eastern
Australia of this shearwater is Lord Howe Island, but birds are
regularly observed offshore during the summer months.
The most recent walk was that of 23rd January, 1971, when,
after a week of heavy rain and rough seas coming in from the
north-east, Freddy Johnston, his son and I made the trip.
Despite the rain we managed to locate 12 Short -tailed Shearwaters
and a pair of prion wings (species?). After Freddy left me I
continued to walk and located, near Boat Harbour, a partly eaten
and decomposed shearwater that had a black tail, dark grey back
and greyish -brown wings, whilst all the underparts were white.
The specimen was missing its left wing and by co -incidence,
K. Hindwood found the wing whilst walking along the beach later
that day. This bird was identified at the Australian Museum as
a Buller’s Shearwater (Puffinus bulleri) being only the 9th record
for Eastern Australia, Measurements being Bill 40.5 mm.
Tarsus 47 mm. and length 17″.
See “Birds” Vol. 4 No, 4, for a summary by K. Hindwood
of the occurrence of this bird in Eastern Australia,
A. Morris,BIRDS 58, 1st March, 1971
Spangled Drongos (Chibea bracteata) have been news in
“Birds” of late, so perhaps a little further observation won’t go
amiss. We have just enjoyed the delightful company of a pair of
Drongos, first observed on 25th May and with us until 31st
These Drongos were occasionally catching bees. The bird
would swoop low over a flower bed and back to its branch with the
catch. There were signs of an action that could have been wiping
the bee against the branch, but for certain the bird would hold the
insect in its claw against the branch from where it pulled at the
bee, then nonchalantly tossed it in the air and swallowed it down.
This holding of food with a foot on the branch, and the pulling,
tossing actions were carried out with all types of food, including
bread and meat picked up from the lawn and pieces of cheese that
were too large to swallow straight down. One Drongo became an
expert cheese catcher. He would swoop from one tree to another
catching the flipped cheese in mid air. If by chance he missed,
he would follow the cheese to the ground letting out a raucous
chuckle. I was not sure whether he was angry with me or himself,
The pair were seldom together and communication between
them seemed tacit though a single bird often produced a very
melodious song and the harsh cackle always announced their
presence and accompanied their activities,
Jean S. Armstrong, Cromer, N. S.
Recent interesting discussions on bee -eaters calls to mind
the behaviour of a pair of Spiny-cheeked Honeyeaters (Acanthagenys
rufogularis) which nested somewhere within a tangled mass of
orange Hebe, 15 feet high and 100 feet in circumference.
Although a clearance sale was in progress and many people
milled about the shrubs, the birds continued to fly quickly to a
blossoming pear tree 30 yards away returning each time with a
bee,BIRDS 59. 1st March, 1971
No attempt was made to rub the bee and so remove the sting,
the birds flew straight into the shrub remaining about 30 seconds
to feed the young.
When I stood near the opening to the nest the adults continued
their quick visits but entered on the opposite side of the shrub where
they could be heard urgently pushing their way through the branches.
Wagtails have been seen to feed very young nestlings on large
winged insects by offering only the abdomen which the young
“milk”, the adult retaining the thoraz and wings which are carried
off and dropped if not palatable enough to consume.
Perhaps the Spiny -cheek feeds its nestling similarly by
holding on to the sting which is later cast aside?
(Mrs.) Merle Baldwin
Gilgai, via Inverell, N. S. W.
Boat Trip
Mr. Tim Kenney has offered to arrange one or more boat
trips outside the Heads in July or August. Boats will carry 10
member ms e ach trip and will leave about 7 a. m. , return at

  1. 30 p. and travel about 8 miles out to sea. Cost will be
    $4. 00 per person. Would interested members please contact
    Mr. Kenney, 13 Parklands Ave. , Lane Cove. 2066.
    Museum Meetings
    Thursday 18. 3. 71 – “Wildlife Habitats of the Future. “
    Mr. P. Barnes.
    Thursday 15. 4. 71 – Members’ Night.
    Thursday 20.5.71 – “Far Western N. S. W. “- Mr. K. A. Hindwood
    Thursday 17.6. 71 – Annual Meeting & Chairman’s Address,
    (R. Z. S. Ornithology Section).
    Subscriptions – 1971-72
    Because of the increasing costs of producing and posting
    “Birds” the Committee has reluctantly decided that an increase
    in the annual subscription rates is unavoidable. The new rates
    for the year commencing 1, 7. 71 will be: –
    Full Member $2. 00, Family Member $2.50, Junior Member $1. 50BIRDS 60. 1st March, 1971
    The Gould League of N. S. W. offers annually an award known
    as the Cayley Memorial Scholarship, for an approved project or
    undertaking designed to promote wildlife management, particularly
    in relation to bird -life.
    The value of the award is $500. One Scholarship only will
    be awarded annually and the Council of the Gould League reserves
    the right to make no award in any one year in the event of applicat-
    ions being considered of insufficient merit. The successful
    applicant will be required to make available a report on the project
    undertaken. The work must be done in N. S. W.
    Applications are invited from interested persons who should
    indicate their qualifications and provide an outline of their pro-
    posed project or study.
    Closing date for receipt of applications for the award is
    30th November each year and should be forwarded in duplicate to: –
    The Secretary,
    The Gould League of N. S. W,
    Public School,
    Crown St.
    Darlinghurst. N. S. W. 2010.
    Buying Bird Books these days is certainly a tricky business,
    Last year in the city I was asked $5. 00 for a 75 cent book
    by J. A. Leach D. Sc. because it was out of print at the time.
    Last week I went to town to buy an “Australian Bird Book”
    and was quoted three different prices from various shops, A
    friend told me to try the “Nature and Field Hobby Centre”,
    24 Burlington St. Crows Nest (about 75 yards down Willoughby Rd!
    so over the Bridge I went and was I happy I did because I learnt
    that if you are a bona -fide student of natural history or an
    ornithologist, you are made especially welcome and given a very
    good deal. I know, because I saved myself $3, 25!
    R, Fordham, Randwick. N, S. W.BIRDS 61, 1st March, 1971
    Minnamurra Falls – 5th December, 1970
    Despite extremely hot weather in Sydney, conditions at
    Minnamurra Falls were very pleasant and there were very few
    visitors besides ourselves. A rewarding morning yielded
    excellent view of Yellow -throated Scrub -Wrens feeding young in
    nest. Another nest with eggs was found.
    For some time we watched a Rose Robin building a nest. The
    female did all the work while the male was up in other trees.
    Thirty four species were recorded including Top -knot
    Pigeons, 2 Brown Pigeons, 4 King Parrots, Brush Cuckoo,
    Lyrebird, Large -billed Scrub -Wren, Black -faced Flycatcher and
    Satin Bower -bird.
    M. Dibley, Oatley, N. S. W.
    Long Reef – 16th January, 1971
    During the afternoon, fifty members of the Club visited
    Long Reef for the purpose of observing sea birds and waders.
    The birds observed were – Silver Gull, Crested Tern,
    Fluttering Shearwater; a number of Shearwaters observed out at
    sea were presumed to be the Short -tailed Shearwater, Turnstone,
    Sooty Oyster -catcher, Eastern Golden Plover, Whimbrel – 3 birds,
    Red -necked Stint and Grey -tailed Tattler – bird.
    L. C. H.
    MEETING, 17th DECEMBER, 1970
  2. Case for Conservation – Australian Waterfowl.
  3. Pearson Island, South Australia.
  4. Life of the Humming Bird.
    These three excellent films were obtained and projected
    by Mr. Harry Battam.
    Osprey, Wooli, North Coast, 6th -10th December (H. Battam).
    Terek Sandpiper Great Knot. Boat Harbour, 12.12.70 (A. McGill),
    3 Great Knots. Boat Harbour, 5th December (K. Hindwood).BIRDS 62. 1st March, 1971
    Rufous Songlark. Nest with 4 young. Yarramundi, 11th December
    (E. Hoskin).
    2 Grey Currawongs, one large flying young. Royal National Park,
    Heathcote. 13th December (G. Dibley).
    Pair Dollar -birds with large flying young. Oatley Bay, 13th
    December (G. Dibley).
    MEETING, 21st JANUARY, 1971
    Illustrated Address – Mr. Ellis MacNamara.
    Mr. Ellis MacNamara gave his annual talk and slides.
    These included many he made on a recent trip to Western
    Australia. Western Magpie, White -breasted Robin, Twenty-eight
    Parrot, White-tailed Black Cockatoo.
    Closer home, he showed slides taken of Grey Goshawk,
    White Goshawk; Wonga, Common and Brush Bronzewing Pigeons and
    many others, ending with his beautiful slides of the Grey Grass
    Wren and Rufous Scrub -bird displaying.
    Arctic Skua. Cooks River, 21st January (A. Morris).
    Little Bittern – male. Yeramba Lagoon, 20th Dec. (M. Dibley)
    Albino Starling. Burradoo, before Christmas
    (Mr. Mrs. Hutchinson).
    Wandering Tatler, Terek Sandpipers, Great Knots,
    1 2 3
    Sanderling, Large Sand -Dotterel, 42+ Common Terns. Boat
    1 1
    Harbour, 20th December (E. Hoskin).
    Saturday and Sunday, 20th & 21st March, 10.30 a.m.
    Munghorn Gap Nature Reserve, Mudgee.
    Leader:- A. K. Morris.
    Meet 10.30 a.m. Saturday at Munghorn Gap N. R. located 22
    miles east of Mudgee on the Mudgee – Wollar – Muswellbrook Road.
    This is a major road and passes right through the Reserve which
    extends for miles along the road.
    The campsite will be at “The Gap” and will be well posted
    and is located just off the main road. Persons coming early canBIRDS 63, 1st March, 1971
    camp overnight on Friday as well if they so desire, The visit
    will conclude midday Sunday and thus should provide ample
    time to observe the 86 or more species of birds recorded there
    including Lyrebirds, Rock Warblers, Little Eagles and
    Turquoise Parrots. Water and fire places will be provided at
    the campsite, Good Motels are located at Mudgee viz. Motel
    Cudgegong Valley, Tel, 22308 and The Mudgee Motel, Tel, 21122,
    Mr. Morris has banded a number of Red -chested and Little
    Quail locally and a local farmer and Bird Bander, N. Kurtz,
    will direct us to them if they are present.
    Travel from Sydney via. Lithgow to Mudgee as this is the
    best route and the only gravel road is the last 10 miles to the
    Reserve from Mudgee, Distance from Sydney 202 miles.
    Further details may be obtained by telephoning either
    Mr. Morris – 631-7892 or Mrs, Dibley – 57-6298,
    Sunday, 18th April, 9,30 a, m, (NoteĀ° Change of Date)
    Greendale – Bent’s Basin,
    Leader:- A. Colemane, 630-6504,
    Meet miles east of Wallacia where the road from
    Wallacia joins the Kingswood Narellan Road,
    Future Excursions
    Saturday, 22nd May – Towra Point.
    Sunday, 20th June – Waterfall, Heathcote State Park.
    “Birds of Victoria. The Ranges 2”, Gould League of
    Victoria – $1.50.
    This book, dealing as its name implies with the birds of
    the ranges is the second in a series of four books that are
    being published by the “Gould League of Victoria”,
    “Birds of Victoria, The Ranges” is precisely similar in
    format to “Urban Birds” reviewed in “BIRDS”, Vol, 4, No, 3 and
    describes and illustrates in full colour 73 species, Also
    illustrated in colour are seven birds, typical of the five types of
    habitat and each habitat is illustrated by a two tone photograph.BIRDS 64. 1st March, 1971
    The book also contains 33 coloured marginal figures of similar
    species, or of females of species described in the text.
    A very interesting feature of the book are the line drawings
    depicting in some detail the food of the various birds discussed.
    The preface, by the President, W. H. Cumming, is followed
    by three short, but interesting lectures. Birds and Their Forest
    Associations by R. Cowley; Ground Dwelling Birds by Jack Hyett
    and Birds Found Above 5, 000 feet by R. Wheeler.
    A brilliantly coloured map with key at the beginning of the
    book plots the forests of Victoria while towards the end of the
    book is a shaded map showing the location of National Parks,
    Forest Parks and Alpine Reserves. An Index and Bird List con-
    cludes the book.
    The illustrations are quite well drawn and painted by the
    League’s artist, Margo Kroyer-Pederson and among various per-
    sons who contributed to the production of “Birds of the Ranges”,
    the League’s Organiser -Secretary, Mr. Jack A. Doherty partic-
    ularly mentions Messrs. Roy Wheeler, Alan Reid and Noel Shaw,
    “who are the real authors of this book”.
    This well produced little field guide is worthy of careful
    study and will be of real interest to field bird -students, no matter
    in which State of Australia they may dwell.
    L. C. H.
    Hon. Secretary – Mrs. L. Smith – 42.2418
    84 Arabella St. Longueville. 2066.
    Activities Officer – Mrs. M. Dibley – 57.6298
    18 Russell St. , Oatley.
    Hon. Editor – L. Courtney Haines,
    10 Loquat Valley Rd. Bayview. 2104
    (Registered for Posting as a Periodical – Category B).