Vol. 8 No. 4-text

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new south wales
field ornithologists club
No. 4 PRICE 25c.1
BIRDS 61. 1 January 1974
On 4 March 1973 I took part in a game fishing contest off Port
Stephens on the central coast of New South Wales. At 11.30 hrs when
on board the “Pavia” skippered by P. Owens, I saw a Diving Petrel
(Pelecanoides sp.) about 1 km south east of Broughton Island. I could
not of course determine if it was P. urinatrix or P. georgicus, but it
was most probably the former because of the latter’s restricted breeding
distribution in Australasian waters. This is one of the few sightings
I have made of this bird in the Port Stephens region during the last 40
years. Unfortunately many of my early notes together with hundreds of
photographs were destroyed in the 1955 Maitland flood and although I
have searched through what I was able to save, there was no mention of
my earlier sightings.
This Diving Petrel was feeding in a slick made of chopped up bits
of fish and shark liver. There was the usual mob of shearwaters,
including Wedge-tailed, Fleshy -footed and Sooty (one got caught on a
fishing line), milling around the slick when I saw this bird surface,
flutter quickly over the water and dive well back amongst the shear –
waters. It surfaced fairly soon afterwards and then dived again. The
small size, glossy black upperparts, white underparts and quaint flutt-
ering flight readily distinguished it as a Diving Petrel. It all
happened very quickly but more than one bird was probably present because
this bird or another was seen again later on. There are no published
records of these seabirds north of Sydney (Sefton, 1973 Birds 7:75).
Athol D’Ombrain.
Lorn. 14.3.73BIRDS 62. 1 January 1974
Published observations of the Black -tailed Godwit (Limosa limosa)
over the past 20 years indicate that, whilst this species occurs reg-
ularly in parts of south-eastern Australia during southern summers, it
is seldom encountered in large assemblages. Similarly, sizeable over –
wintering flocks are not often reported. It is also of note that the
breeding plumage of L. limosa has hitherto remained undescribed in the
Australian literature. In the light of present knowledge of its status
in N.S.W. and south-eastern Australia as a whole, it is appropriate to
review recent records of this species from the Hunter Estuary, Newcastle,
(a) Summer Populations.
The Black -tailed Godwit had, in recent years at least, been an
annual summer visitor to the Hunter Estuary although generally in con-
siderably fewer numbers than the Bar -tailed Godwit (L. lapponica).
Prior to 1970 there are few published records of substantial numbers
although Holmes (1970) reviewing his observations over the period 1965-
69 reported assemblages up to 100 birds. In subsequent years the specie:
has been recorded in increasing numbers. Sightings of sizeable flocks
(i.e. 150 birds or more), only, over the past three summers are summar-
ised below. Initials used: F. Van Gessel (F. VG), T. Kendall (T.K.),
G. Holmes (G.H.), A. Morris (A.M.), and R. Cooper (R.C.). All other
observations refer to those of the writer who throughout the period made
regular weekend surveys of estuarine habitats on the Hunter as part of a
broader wetland study.
Feb: Stockton 6.2.71 (150+ – P.C.)
Mar: Stockton 18.3.71 (150 – A.M.)
Nov: Kooragang Island 27.11.71 (150+)
Dec: Stockton 7.12.71 (200 – G.H.); Stockton 12.12.71 (200+);
Stockton 22.12.71 (150 – 200 – P.C.); Stockton 30.12.71 (200 -F.VG,
Jan: Stockton 14-16.1.72 (200 – GH.) T.K)
Feb: Kooragang Island 5.2.72 (200); Stockton 14.2.72 (300 – F.VG.)
Stockton 20.2.72 (350 – F.VG.)BIRDS 63. 1 January 1974
Mar: Stockton 5.3.72 (500 – F.VG.); Stockton 8.3.72 (150 – A.M.);
Stockton 11.3.72 (300); Stockton 12.3.72 (800 – F.VG., T.K.)
*Stockton 18.3.72 (400 – A.M.); Stockton 18.3.72 (800 – F.VG., T.K.)
Apr: Stockton 15-16.4.72 (220).
1972-73 (to April 1973)
Oct: Stockton 12-13.10.72 (150, 200 – A.M. and others)
Nov: Stockton 4.11.72 (160+); Stockton 18.11.72 (160+)
Dec: Kooragang Island 1.12.72 (290)
Jan: Stockton 11.1.73 (350+); Stockton date not given (400 – F.VG.)
Feb: Stockton date not given (200 – F.VG.)
Mar: Stockton date not given (700 – F.VG.)
Apr: Stockton date not given (350 – F.VG.)

  • The apparent discrepancy existing in the figures for Stockton on
    18 March 1972 can probably be attributed to the timing of the visits by
    the respective observers in relation to the state of the tide. Maximum
    wader numbers can only be gauged during the period irmediately following
    high tide, after which time the birds commence to disperse and do not
    re -assemble in total until forced from feeding grounds up river by the
    next high water.
    From the above data it is evident that at least 400 birds were
    present during the consecutive summers of 1971-72 and 1972-73. This
    would appear to represent a sharp upturn in the number of Black -tailed
    Godwits reaching this region.
    The true extent of the increase is not entirely clear as the imp-
    ortant wader loafing area at Stockton was not included in the area visited
    during the year round census of wader populations in the estuary until
    late in 1971 when the Stockton Bridge was opened allowing convenient
    access to the area. Prior to this Stockton had been visited only occas-
    ionally and counts of waders had been confined to those feeding grounds
    and loafing areas on Kooragang Island. This has been found to give an
    inaccurate picture of total populations in respect to many wader species
    using the estuary and hence the number of Godwits in earlier years may
    have been greater than indicated. Other published accounts of numbers
    of L. Limosa comparable with those recently recorded at Newcastle refer
    to the northern parts of Australia. Crawford (1972) noted up to 319
    at Leanyer Swamp (near Darwin) between 1967 and 1971 whilst 200 were
    recorded near Brisbane in January 1972 (Anon. 1972).BIRDS 64. 1 January 1974
    (b) Overwintering.
    Following the high concentration of the 1971-72 summer an unusually
    large proportion of Black -tailed Godwits overwintered on the Hunter
    Estuary. With the departure of the bulk of the summer population by
    the end of April 1972, a flock of approximately 75 birds remained. A
    fortnightly census of waders using the loafing area at Stockton revealed
    that the composition of the flock remained constant throughout the
    period from May to September, at which time numbers began to build up
    again with the arrival of returning migrants.
    The Black -tailed Godwits usually associated loosely with an over –
    wintering flock of about 130 Bar -tailed Godwits. None of the latter
    species and only three or four L.limosa attained full breeding dress
    suggesting a high proportion of juveniles in overwintering flocks.
    Where breeding plumage was acquired it was almost completely moulted
    again by the end of August.
    Condon and McGill (1970) state that the Black -tailed Godwit is an
    early arrival. However, evidence gained in 1972 from the fortnightly
    census of waders showed the first returning birds did not appear until
    between 9 September and 23 September. Between these dates the number
    of Black -tailed Godwits increased from 75 to 140, with a solitary bird
    among the new arrivals in full breeding dress. In comparison the first
    returning Bar -tailed Godwits appeared between 19 August and 28 August.
    (c) Breeding Plumage.
    On 15, 16 April 1972 the wader loafing area at Stockton was visited
    and about 360 Godwits were found to be still present. A large prop-
    ortion of these were in full breeding plumage and on approach it was
    soon obvious they were not all L. lapponica, but rather composed of some
    220 L. limosa and 140 L. lapponica. Approximately three quarters of
    the former were in breeding plumage but none of the latter.
    As the Australian field guides known to the writer contained des-
    criptions of L. limosa in eclipse plumage only and not having previously
    witnessed the species in nuptial dress a detailed plumage description
    was compiled over the two days. When a subsequent search of the Aust-
    ralian literature available revealed only passing references to the bird
    in breeding plumage (Smith 1962, Lenden 1971, Beruldsen 1972) the desc-
    ription was forwarded to Mr. A. R. McGill for scrutiny. The absence of
    published details of this nature in Australia was confirmed by Mr. McGill.
    It is therefore worthwhile to include the field description of the birds
    seen at Stockton.BIRDS 65. 1 January 1974
    UPPER PARTS: Crown mid brown with rusty tinge, finely striated buff.
    Prominent creamy buff line extending from bill and narrowing over eye.
    Nape, hind and side neck, throat and breast a uniform rich rufous hue.
    Face and chin slightly paler. In comparison with the breeding plumage
    of other species the rufous colour is less orange than in the Mongolian
    Dotterel (Charadrius mongolus) and not as dark as that on the underparts
    of the Curlew Sandpiper (Calidris ferruginea). Back and wing coverts
    heavily mottled blackish and rufous. The distinct white rump, black
    tail and white wing stripe of the eclipse plumage are retained.
    UNDER PARTS: Lower breast, upper abdomen and flanks heavily barred
    black. Where the bar lines commence on the breast they are narrow and
    compressed but extending down the flanks they become increasingly thicker.
    The underlying rufous colouration of the breast is gradually replaced by
    white on the flanks and abdomen. The undertail area is white and
    When not in flight the distinct barring of the underparts in
    L. limosa is the main diagnostic feature distinguishing the two Godwits
    in breeding plumage.
    The limited evidence gained from the above observation suggests that
    the development of breeding plumage in L. limosa takes place later than
    in L. lapponica. On a survey on 19 March 1972 some 27 days previous to
    the occasion described above, no trace of breeding plumage was noted in
    L. limosa. It is possible that some were overlooked in the large wader
    assemblage which contained numerous L. lapponica in breeding colours but
    in most of the population the transformation must have taken place after
    that date, that is, during late March, early April. None of a flock of
    50 birds observed in the previous season on 28 March 1971 were in breeding
    In contrast, observations of the Bar -tailed Godwit over a number of
    years show that this species regularly commences to acquire breeding
    dress during February with some birds in full colour by the end of that
    month and by mid -March the transformation has taken place in a large part
    of the population.
    The assistance of A. R. McGill who examined and commented upon the
    breeding plumage description is gratefully acknowledged. The writer
    also wishes to thank F. Van Gessel, G. Holmes and A. Morris who made
    available their observations for inclusion in this paper and A.E.F. Rogers
    who supplied details from contributions to the N.S.W. Annual Bird Report.
    A. Morris and F. Van Gessel commented upon drafts of this report.BIRDS 66. 1 January 1974
    Anon. 1972 – The Queensland Ornithological Society
    First Annual Bird Count.
    Sunbird 3:28-33.
    Beruldsen, G.R. 1972 – “Notes on Waders in South Australia”
    Australian Bird Watcher 4:149.
    Condon, H.T. & McGill, A.R. 1970 – “Field Guide to the Waders” 5th ed.
    Melbourne. Bird Observers Club.
    Crawford, D.N. 1972 – “Birds of the Darwin Area with Some
    Records for other Parts of Northern
    Territory” Emu 72:131.
    Holmes, G. 1970 – “The Birds of the Hunter River Estuary”
    Hunter Natural History 2:13.
    Lendon, A. 1971 – “Some Unusual Wader Records” South
    Australian Ornithologist 25:240.
    Smith, F.T.H. 1962 – “Some Recent Wader Records for the
    Vicinity of Melbourne, Victoria”
    Australian Bird Watcher 1:212.
    D. G. Gosper
    Casino, N.S.W. 1.6.73
    On 14 December 1970, Yellow -tailed Thornbills (Acanthiza chrys-
    orrhoa) were nest building in a Bunya Pine (Araucaria bidwillii) in a
    garden at Hoxton Park. Bunya prickles grow either in a “horsetail”
    along the branch or cluster in a bunch at the end. These thornbills
    built in the centre of the bunch, drooping prickles hiding the nest.
    Nests observed in this tree since 1970 have been in the lowest bunching
    branches at approximately 8m on the N.E. side of the tree.
    In October 1973, thornbills were entering a nest in the Bunya. On
    25 November the nest had fallen. It consisted of an open upper cup with
    a domed chamber beneath. Both chambers were so small that I wondered
    whether a brood had been raised successfully in this nest. The material
    used was predominantly grass with a small amount of cotton flock, a scrap
    of newsprint and spiders’ egg bags.
    On 18 November a second nest was located in a Golden Cypress 25m
    from the Bunya. The site was an outer thicket of the cypress slightly
    less than 2m from the ground. Close inspection on the nest was possible
    and observations of the birds’ behaviour made while lying under the nest.BIRDS 67. 1 January 1974
    2nd Nest – a soft mass of grasses, fleece wool and cotton flock
    with spiders’ egg sacs and scraps of cotton cloth, bound with cobweb,
    more compact than the 1st nest. Width across top, 18cm. Height 23cm.
    Roughly heart shaped.
    There were chambers on three levels. At the top, two open chambers
    of unequal diameter were built side by side. The circumference of each
    of these was incomplete and the floors sloped slightly down to the gaps.
    Behind the smaller bowl was a hooded chamber, entered through another
    gap in the wall of the open bowl.
    At middle level, under the smaller bowl, a chamber with 2 openings
    led through from 7 to 11 o’clock on the nest wall. There was no attempt
    to camouflage the openings although they were concealed in the foliage of
    the tree.
    The nesting chamber was at the lowest level with an entrance out of
    alignment with those of the middle level. Access was through an “awn-
    ing” of nesting material built downwards and out from above the opening
    to a position approximately 8cm out from the nest base. The end of
    this tunnel was lower than the bottom of the nest. Width of tunnel at
    its mouth 3.5 cm.
    A deep indentation on the outside of the nest suggested another
    entrance to the third level at about roof height but it did not penetrate
    to the nesting chamber.
    Feeding Behaviour: Birds bringing food to the nest flew first to the
    top of the tree and called. Young usually responded with subdued buzz-
    ing. Adults then moved to the nest vicinity and finally up the tunnel
    to the nesting chamber. Young were fed through the entrance without
    adults entering. Young were not visible from the observation point but
    left the nest seven days later. Spiders, wax scale, larva and a variety
    of flying insects were offered. Fecal pellets were removed by adults.
    Without buzzes from the nestlings, birds bringing food sometimes
    explored the whole nest before finding the correct entrance to the nest-
    ing chamber. When their movements around the nest base provoked buzzing
    food carriers went confidently to the correct entrance.
    It was noticed that measurements taken at the top of the nest did
    not result in buzzing from the nesting chamber. Measurements around
    the base provoked agitated nestling calls that were answered by loud
    sound from an adult 5m away. Thorpe (1961) suggests that song often
    serves as a substitute for physical attack and I interpreted these calls
    as aggressive song in response to alarm calls from the nestlings.
    There were no flying attacks.BIRDS 68. 1 January 1974
    Discussion: Nest 1. Ford (1963) refers to the Yellow -tailed Thorn –
    bills’ constancy of nest site selection over a long period. Nests were
    observed in the Bunya Pine for three years but the owner of the garden,
    with 40 years memory of it, recalls “there have always been little yellow
    birds in the pine tree”, and it could be a traditional nesting site.
    The exposed swaying branch results in fallen nests and those collected
    have consisted of two chambers as described. The size of nests in the
    Bunya is probably related to the size of the prickle bunches which limit
    expansion of the nest.
    Nest 2: Ford observed that early nesting pairs may raise 3 or 4
    broods in a season, the size of the nest increasing by the addition of
    new nesting chambers. Hindwood (1947) showed the male is chiefly res-
    ponsible for the open cup and Immelmann (1960) concluded the open cup
    was not used for roosting.
    Edden (1972) 3 times observed behaviour in the top cup which he
    thought acted as a distraction against predators. The display described
    by Edden suggests that the excessive nest building urge of the Yellow –
    tailed Thornbill, also referred to by Chisholm (1948) and McGill (1970),
    does serve a practical purpose. The display Edden describes appears
    comparable in function to the “broken wing” display in other species.
    Floors of the open chambers sloped down to openings in the nest
    edge. An Indian Mynah’s egg placed in the larger open cup rolled out
    from some positions. The top nest is not recorded as a nesting chamber.
    The Pallid Cuckoo (Cuculus pallidus) is the common cuckoo in the
    vicinity of this garden. The Fantail Cuckoo (Cacomantis pyrrhophanus)
    is rarely recorded. I have not recorded bronze cuckoos within 500m and
    they evidently stay in the forest beyond the open paddocks. The tunnel
    to the nesting chamber just admitted the thornbills and parasitism by
    larger cuckoos would be difficult without damaging the nest. On the
    other hand, bronze cuckoos would reach the nesting chamber more easily.
    Both Chisholm and Ford refer to the Golden Bronze Cuckoo as parasitizing
    Yellow -tailed Thornbills.
    Ford made one observation of a cuckoo depositing its egg in an old
    dome instead of the current nesting chamber and found that nestings
    early in the season are not parasitized as often as later nestings.
    Birds bringing food to the nesting chamber were guided by buzzing
    from the young. These noises were responses to adult calls or to move-
    ments at the nest base. Without the buzzes some adults could not imm-
    ediately find the nesting chamber. Frith (1969) and Ford state that
    individuals from earlier broods sometimes help to feed young and it isBIRDS 69. 1 January 1974
    probably these birds that could not locate the nesting chamber without
    guiding calls. Both parents would have experience of the nesting
    chamber during building.
    There was a level of movement around the nest base at which the
    young produced alarm calls instead of feeding calls. Ford thought that
    Kookaburras (Dacelo gigas) and the Grey Butcherbird (Cracticus torquatus)
    were probable predators of nestlings but quoted Lack (1954) who consid-
    ered that birds building closed nests suffered less predation than open
    nesting species.
    Wax scale seems an unsuitable food item for nestlings but Yates
    Garden Guide states that wax scale is best treated “about the end of Nov-
    ember … before it has secreted a heavy film of protective wax”.
    Between 18-25 November the thornbills visited a thornbush close to the
    Golden Cypress. In that week all visible wax scale disappeared from
    the bush.
    Thorpe, W.H. 1961 – “Bird Song” Cambridge Monographs No. 12 p.15.
    Ford, J. 1963 – “Breeding Behaviour of the Yellow -tailed
    in South -Western Australia”
    Emu 63:185-200.
    Hindwood, K.A. 1947 – “Nest -building Habits of the Yellow -tailed
    Thornbill” Emu 46:321-3.
    Immelmann, K. 1960 – “Behavioural Observations on Several Species
    of Western Australian Birds” Emu 60:237-44.
    Edden, R. 1972 – “Observations of Yellow -tailed Thornbills
    at Their Nests” Birds 6:4.
    Chisholm, A.H. 1948 – “Bird Wonders of Australia” p.225
    McGill, A.R. 1970 – “Australian Warblers” p.110.
    Frith, H.J. 1969 – “Birds of the Australian High Country” p.321.
    Yates Garden Guide 28th edition, p.246.
    Dariel Larkins.
    Turramurra. N.S.W. 1.12.73IRDS 70. 1 January 1974
    The present state of the project survey is indicated by the accom-
    panying cumulative totals map. Coverage is good for many squares in
    the northern half of the area but is still scanty in the inland areas of
    the south. A comparison of the results during the four -month period
    early August to early December gives some idea of the scheme’s progress.
    The number of squares visited rose from 145 to 157 during this period
    leaving only eleven squares unvisited. These are all in the southern
    half of the area and should be covered during a trip over the Christmas/
    New Year period. The total number of species recorded has risen from
    233 to 265, with new species still being recorded regularly. There is
    a pressing ne/ ed to . assess. the v_ alidity of t/ he mor-e unusua l observations
    and ways of doing this are being considered.
    2S 26 Z7 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38
    24 0 48 65 GI 39 65 35 65 60 5 ‘ 27
    0 68 62 22 61 70 52 23 18 41 54 ‘ , 0
    51 55 55 75 22 64 4.8 9 40 62
    51 35 20 70 48 65 69 49 53 37 155
    61 55 48 69 47 29 45 25 52 SO 6
  1. 62 66 71 42 76 44 34 41 102?91
    35 47 46 86 65 68 36 45
    34 38 36 44 51 K) 46 82-535
    61 26 43 34 16 611 33 56
    44 32 85 I 41 55 119
    19 36 66 32 17 “-k 1
    24 2.4. 17 17 47
    20 30 15 33 631
    29 16 23 11 as 53 137
    53 i
    10 30 47 21 15 13
    6 32 8 17 20 $7 I %
    19 10 8 8
    50BIRDS 71. 1 January 1974
    The total number of observations has more than doubled during the
    four month period from 8499 to 20205. An interesting statistic is the
    average number of species recorded for each square visited. This was
    31 in August and is now 50. Distribution maps have been prepared for
    each species recorded and, for the commoner species at least, a fair
    picture of their range in the survey area is emerging.
    While these trends are encouraging, there is still a great need
    for more work. With the start of summer the whole area must be surv-
    eyed again to supplement the seasonal distribution data already obtained.
    Most especially experienced observers are needed to help determine the
    distribution of those species which are either difficult to identify, to
    detect, or simply occur sparsely in the survey area. Examples of such
    species include most of the seabirds, the quails, nocturnal birds,
    Ground Thrush, Quail Thrush, Large -billed and Yellow -throated Scrub -wren,
    Pilot Bird, Olive Whistler, Fuscous Honeyeater, Chestnut -tailed Heath –
    wren and Beautiful Firetail4 Striated Field -wren.
    Twenty-two observers had a most enjoyable week -end at Braidwood on
    December 1st/2nd. We camped in idyllic surroundings on the property of
    two Canberra atlassers, Pat and Arminel Ryan. The Braidwood area was
    extensively covered and, although the results are not yet fully analysed,
    over 1000 observations were made in some thirty grid squares. This
    provided over 300 completely new records for the scheme and much more
    information on seasonal distribution.
    JBIRDS 72. 1 January 1974
    The accompanying distribution maps for the Hooded Robin and Eastern
    Rosella show the detail which has been obtained for some species. The
    Hooded Robin has the most restricted distribution of any robin in the
    survey area. It occurs on the tablelands to the west of the coastal
    ranges, but is absent from the eastern slopes of these ranges and the
    coastal plains. Interestingly, its absence from squares 2555 to 2559
    is probably because these squares straddle a narrow spur of the Great
    Dividing Range.
    The Eastern Rosella is more widely distributed, occurring both on
    the coastal plains and the tablelands. Like the Hooded Robin it shuns
    the wooded ranges. In this way it differs from the Crimson Rosella
    which occurs in every major geographical division of the area. The
    range of the Eastern Rosella can also be related to topographical detail,
    its presence in squares 2858 and 2958 coinciding with the deep cut made
    by the Moruya River in the coastal ranges.
    1973 BIRD REPORT.
    Members are reminded to send in their records for the 1973 Report
    as soon as possible after 31st December and not later than 31st January.
    Contributions have recently been received from the foll-
    owing people and are gratefully acknowledged: B. Amey, C. Bonser,
    P. Cooper, M. Crawford, G. & M. Dibley, S. G. Lane, B. & D. Larkins,
    R. Miller, K. Legh, R. Noske and L. Smith.
    As the report is now being used as a source of information for some
    detailed papers the authenticity and accuracy of records is essential.
    Thus with species which present problems in identification e.g. Pectoral
    Sandpiper, records must be accompanied by substantiating details.
    For various reasons (rare or uncertain status, subject of special
    study, apparent expansion of range etc.) information on the following
    species would be particularly welcome and all records will be published:
    Little Bittern, Plumed Tree Duck, Freckled Duck, Bustard, Australian
    Dotterel, Australian Pratincole, White -winged Black Tern, Glossy Black
    Cockatoo (inland only), Long -billed Corella, Turquoise Parrot, Bourke
    Parrot, Pink Robin, Red-lored Whistler, Eastern Bristle -bird (excluding
    Barren Grounds), White-browed Tree Creeper, Yellow -fronted Honeyeater,
    Dusky Miner and Plum -headed Finch (south of Sydney -Parkes).
    Please note that contributions should be sent directly to the
    Records Officer at 9 Golden Grove, WESTLEIGH, N.S.W. 2120 and not C/o
    The Secretary as in previous years.
    Alan E. F. Rogers,
    Records Officer.BIRDS 73. 1 January 1974
    DDT – Last year, after the publication of the Australian Academy of
    Science’s Working Group report on DDT (with a dissenting opinion which
    expressed some concern about the long-term effects of heavy use of DDT
    and other pesticides), the Secretary wrote to the Premier and responsible
    ministers urging that research be undertaken on the effect of pesticide
    residues in N.S.W., especially in the Namoi and Macquarie cotton growing
    areas. We were concerned at the somewhat complacent attitude of the
    report as overseas evidence suggested a strong correlation between pers-
    istent pesticides and declining bird populations, particularly raptors
    and ducks. The Premier in his reply assured us that the Government,
    on the best advice and knowledge available, was convinced that there was
    no danger in the use of pesticides in N.S.W., in fact that “there is an
    overwhelming weight of evidence indicating the outstanding effectiveness
    and safety of DDT”.
    Since then papers have continued to appear in overseas scientific
    literature reporting declining populations of some species of birds (the
    most susceptible being falcons) and describing experiments carried out
    to determine the effects of particular pesticides on different species
    of birds. In the February 1973 issue of Environmental Pollution
    A. S. Cooke reviews the literature on shell thinning in avian eggs by
    environmental pollutants and concludes that there are three main reasons
    why a raptor population may suffer loss of embryos or young chicks as a
    consequence of prior exposure to organochlorine insecticides:
  2. Thin shells may be cracked during laying or become cracked and the
    embryos die. Parental destruction of such eggs may occur before or after
    death of the embryos.
  3. Eggs, embryos or chicks may be destroyed or eaten because of aberrant
    behaviour by the adults.
  4. Embryos or young chicks might die because of residues mobilised from
    the egg contents and again this may be followed by being eaten.
    Meanwhile, closer to home, careless and excessive use of pesticides
    in the Namoi cotton area has affected people working there and this has
    apparently at last forced the government to face up to the detrimental
    effects of these chemicals. The Secretary has now had a letter from the
    Minister for Environmental Control:
    “You will appreciate that the environmental effect of DDT and other
    pesticides in these areas is part of a State-wide problem. The Depart-
    ment of Environment and the State Pollution Control Commission have hadBIRDS 74. 1 January 1974
    continuing discussions with a number of Government departments and
    authorities about the usage and effects of pesticides in New South Wales.
    The consensus of opinion is that a co-ordinated effort must be made
    towards establishing a State-wide pesticide monitoring programme. Only
    by such an effort can a true picture of the overall effect of pesticides
    on the environment be established.
    As a result of these discussions, the Technical Advisory Committee
    of the State Pollution Control Commission has established a sub -committee
    to draw up a programme on monitoring of pesticides in New South Wales.
    This sub -committee consists of experts from the Department of Environ-
    ment, the Department of Agriculture, the Fisheries Branch of the Chief
    Secretary’s Department, the Health Commission, the National Parks and
    Wildlife Service, the Australian Museum and the School of Natural
    Resources, University of New England.
    A broad investigation into all aspects of pesticide usage in the
    State is now progressing as far as available resources will allow.
    believe that this investigation will result in a far-reaching benefit to
    the environment in New South Wales”.
    While it is gratifying that an investigation is now to be made, it
    is a great pity that so much time has been wasted when overseas research
    had already shown how serious the problem is.
    Wader Habitat – The problem of wader habitat remains the most frustrating
    subject of conservation correspondence. Almost since its foundation the
    Club has been making representations to the Premier and to various Min-
    isters about the need to preserve adequate areas of mudflats, mangroves
    and saltmarshes for wading birds. In July 1971, and several times since,
    we were advised that the whole question of land use in the Towra Point
    area is under consideration by an inter -departmental committee. No
    decision seems to have been reached by the committee, meanwhile the
    southern end of the peninsula is being ravaged – horses, trailbikes and
    beachbuggies dash about on the mudflats disturbing the birds on their
    roosting and feedings grounds. Wader habitat is being reduced in area
    by “development” and reclamation or spoilt by lack of protection during
    long periods of indecision. This is not merely a local issue: destruc-
    tion of the feeding grounds of migratory birds which must leave their
    breedings areas to escape the northern winter can decimate a species.
    The international aspect of this question was illustrated by the report
    in the press (SMH 30.10.73) that the Japanese Environment Agency had
    approached the Australian Government about an international agreement for
    the protection of migratory birds which regularly travel between
    Australia and Japan.BIRDS 75. 1 January 1974
    17 January E. McNamara “Birds in Colour”
    21 February D. Milledge “Albatross Island, Bass Strait”
    21 March Dr. & Mrs. Bigg “Birding Around the World”
    18 April M. Bruce and R. Orenstein “Simpson Desert”
    (All meetings commence at 8.00 p.m. in the Lecture Room, Australian
    Museum, College Street, Sydney. Meetings close 10.00 p.m.)
    18 October 1973 Members Night, slides were shown by J. Francis,
    A. McGill, L. Lavender, Mr. Nardin, R. Johnstone, R. Noske, J. Chalmers,
    J. Robinson, T. Lindsay, A. Bainbrigge, and included Plain Wanderers at
    Ivanhoe, Squatter Pigeons in South Queensland and many fine slides of
    seabirds. Dr. and Mrs. Bigg screened a movie film.
    15 November 1973 At short notice Mr. S. G. (Bill) Lane came to our aid
    and spoke on “Wader Banding”. Mr. Lane detailed his experiences in
    banding waders both on the freshwater marshes of the Hawkesbury Valley
    and near Kooragang Island mentioning the difficulties involved. The
    keen sight of most waders makes it necessary to do most of the netting at
    night. Many hours may be spent setting up the nets only to find that
    there are only few birds present. Rocket nets have been used, again
    with varying degrees of success. Some of the slides with which he ill-
    ustrated his talk included Sharp -tailed, Pectoral, Curlew and Broad –
    billed Sandpipers; Common Knots, Bar -tailed Godwits and Japanese Snipe.
    One slide of a Mongolian Dotterel in breeding plumage was particularly
    impressive. Other waders illustrated were Red -capped and Black -fronted
    Dotterels and Red -necked Stint. Mr. Lane outlined the overseas recovery
    data of banded waders, being very few in number but enough to make the
    banding effort worthwhile.
    11 March A. R. McGill “Speciation and Classification”
    8 April A. E. F. Rogers “Seabirds”
    (All meetings commence at 6.15 p.m., 7th Floor, G.U.O.O.F. Building,
    149 Castlereagh Street, Sydney. Meetings close 7.45 p.m.).
    A lecture fee will be charged.BIRDS 76. 1 January 1974
    Sunday 20 January – Botany Mud Flats.
    Leader: G. & M. Dibley – Tel. 570-1298
    Meet 9.30 a.m. at Bay end of Hale Street, Botany to view waders.
    Morning outing only, lunch and afternoon could be spent in Centennial
    Park where waterbirds are easy to see.
    Saturday 26 to Monday 28 January – Atlas Camp at Bateman’s Bay.
    Leader: J. Broadbent – Tel. 666-9211 (9 to 5)
    For full details contact leader.
    Saturday 9 February – Boat Trip off Sydney Heads.
    Leader: A. Rogers – Tel. 848-9520
    Meet 7.00 a.m. McMahon’s Point Wharf. Bookings only. Cost $5.
    Saturday 23 February – Newcastle – Kooragang – Stockton.
    Leader: To be arranged. Contact M. Dibley 570-1298
    A coach has been arranged. Fare $4 – to be in hands of Mrs. Dibley by
    9 February. Cheques payable to NSWFOC. Coach will pick up: –
    7.00 a.m. City, eastern side of York Street, corner of Druitt Street.
    7.15 a.m. Chatswood Public School, Pacific Highway.
    7.35 a.m. Hornsby, bus stop east side of Station – in George Street.
    7.30 p.m. Coach arrives back in City.
    Saturday 23 March – Vale of Avoca Reserve, North Kurrajong.
    Leader: A. Colemane – Tel. 630-6504
    Meet 8.30 a.m. North Richmond, 0.8 km north of Bridge near Coffey’s
    Factory on right. Do not go beyond Grose Vale Road on left.
    Saturday 27 to Sunday 28 April – Barren Grounds Nature Reserve.
    Leader: G. Dibley – Tel. 570-1298
    This trip has been arranged for members to view Ground Parrots and
    Eastern Bristle -birds. Meet 10.00 a.m. at Shelter Shed in Reserve.
    Please advise leader by 23 April of your arrangements. Camping
    permitted at Reserve.BIRDS 77. 1 January 1974
    20 October 1973 – Swampoak Creek, Kenthurst. 30 members enjoyed a good
    days birding on this return trip to Swampoak Creek. 53 species were
    recorded although the leader, Athol Colemane, expected more summer
    migrants. Highlights were a pair of Leaden Flycatchers starting to nest
    on a dead limb below a horizontal live limb (see Birds 7: 7-8); Black –
    chinned Honeyeater, Black -faced Flycatcher, Rufous Fantail, Brown Tree –
    creeper and Satin Bowerbird. Five Forest Bronzewings were observed
    later that day along Shopland Road, near Blue Gum Creek. (R. Bigg)
    17 November 1973 – Hawkesbury Swamps. This trip was disappointing as
    far as waterbirds were concerned, the reason being that good falls of
    rain inland have attracted the birds away. However, members were shown
    the location of all the principal swamps of the Hawkesbury and the lack
    of waterbirds was compensated by a delightful spot near Wilberforce
    where bushbirds were plentiful in a typical shale area. Speckled
    Warblers, Trillers, Fuscous and Brown -headed Honeyeaters, Sittellas and
    Warblers were the main attractions. The area was “alive” with birds
    even though it was the middle of the day when we were there. At Baker’s
    Lagoon members were shown the differences in the field in the Horsfield
    Bushlark, Pipit and Skylark of which several birds were seen. It was a
    trying day in the heat and those members who stayed on till the late
    afternoon were rewarded at Wheeney Lagoon with the sight of a Sea -Eagle
    attacking a cygnet with a pair of Black Swans without success. Three
    Ravens were also observed attacking an immature White-faced Heron but a
    young horse interferred by running up to the male and driving the Ravens
    away. The parent heron standing nearby seemed concerned but made no
    attempt to defend its young. The Swamps are in particularly good cond-
    ition with plenty of water and vegetation. By the middle of summer,
    providing we get no more heavy downpours the receding water should
    attract many waders. (E. Hoskin).
    27 October 1973 – Sea -bird Trip. Once again the N.S.W. Field Ornith-
    ologists Club was cursed with bad weather for its boat trip. Although
    it was planned to go out as far as 18 miles offshore to the edge of the
    Continental Shelf to see pelagic sea -birds, choppy and rising seas
    forced us to return only after 10 miles. The bad weather also meant
    disappointing bird watching for those few hardy souls who were not too
    sea -sick to care! No unusual species were seen but Wandering and Black-
    browed Albatrosses (no D.M. impavida though!) were present. Other
    species seen included both species of Giant Petrel, Three Little Penguins,
    Australian Gannets (all immatures), Cape Petrels (one large flock but
    otherwise not numerous) together with Short -tailed, Fluttering and many
    Wedge-tailed Shearwaters. Arctic Skuas were seen inside the harbour
    close to the Heads.BIRDS 78. 1 January 1974
    Diving Petrel off Port Stephens. 61
  • A. D’Ombrain
    Black -tailed Godwit on the Hunter Estuary. 62
  • D. G. Gosper
    Nesting of the Yellow -tailed Thornbill 66
  • D. Larkins
    R.A.O.U. Atlas Pilot Survey. 70
  • J. Broadbent
    Notices 76
    Patron: A. H. Chisholm, O.B.E.
    Hon. Sec. -Treasurer: Mrs. L. Smith 42-2418
    84 Arabella St Longueville. 20 66
    Field Day Organiser: Mrs. M. Dibley 570-1298
    18 Russell St. Oatley. 2223
    Hon. Editor: A. K. Morris 631-7892
    20 Harrison St., Old Toongabbie. 2146
    ANNUAL SUBSCRIPTION – Due 1 July each year.
    Single member – $2.00; Junior member – $1.50; Family – 52.50
    Scientific and Vernacular names used in this journal are in accordance
    with “An Index of Australian Bird Names” C.S.I.R.O. Tech. Mem. No.5 1969
    (Registered for posting as a periodical – Category B)