Vol. 1 No. 6-text

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Price 10c. Published by the Gould League Birdwatchers
Vol. 1, No. 6. 1stQ:–;11 1967.
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: HINDWOOD and A.R. McGILL.
Field -day Organiser: P.E. ROPERTS. (47-9240)
26 Bayview Street, Mt. Kuring-gai.
Art Adviser: E.S. HOSKIN.
Photographic Adviser: NORMAN CHAFFER
The White -winged Widow -bird (Coliuspasser albonotatus), some-
times called the Golden -shouldered Wydah, was first noted in the
Hawkesbury district in the early 1930’s. Presumably the species,
an African weaver -finch, had built up to a considerable population
(on occasions 100 or more individuals were seen in a flock) from
birds that had originally escaped from aviaries, or from some that
were purposely liberated.
The Widow -birds were frequently observed in the Wilberforce,
Cattai, Pitt Town and Longneck Swamp areas until 1953; then they
seemed to disappear. Recently (March -April, 1967) numbers were
again noted, and nests found, in a spot not far from the junction
of Cattai Creek and the Hawkesbury River.
Males in breeding dress are black with golden -yellow wing
shoulders and with white on their wings. The rather broad and
comparatively long tail is almost 4″ in length. In eclipse plum-
age males resemble females which are sparrow-like in size and
appearance but with brighter back markings, paler underparts and2.
and a whitish eyebrow.
The polygamous males have the habit of flying into the air above their
territories and then fluttering down to an elevated perch, where they
flick their wings and spread their tails. Wing flicking is also a habit
of hen birds.
In the non -breeding period (Autumn and Winter) Widow -birds have been
seen in considerable flocks, which wheel and turn with speed and precision
when disturbed from their feeding grounds: they are seed -eaters, though
insects are also eaten.
Following the absence of records between 1953 and 1966, Mr. Tony Lucas
reported the species at Cattai in March, 1967. Widow -birds should be
looked for in open areas bordering fields and swamps where rank vegetation
grows in profusion. K.L. HINDWOOD.
Travelling recently along the Newell Highway in mid -western New South
Wales I saw a large bird, somewhat battered and dead, lying near the road.
On examination the bird proved to be an adult ( or an almost mature) White
–breasted Sea -Eagle, a surprising fact because the area was a dry plain
bordered by a fringe of light timber, but with no trees near the road. A
map indicated that the nearest water was at Lake Cowal some five miles
distant; but I found, when talking to a tourist at the Forbes Caravan
Park that evening, that the Lake was quite dry. Possibly the drying up
of such a large lake forced the Sea -Eagle to move away and, in so doing)
it probably rested on a telephone post close to the road and was there
unlucky enough to meet with a trigger-happy vandal who just could not re-
sist shooting the noble bird which was then left by the roadside as a
“fitting memorial” to one who had destroyed a “dangerous and savage”
eagle. ARNOLD R. McGILL.
A very determined pair of Magpie -Larks have tiny nestlings now (April
16) and this is their third nest for the season. Their first nest, built
in November, 1966, was abandoned after a Koel added its egg to the three
Magpie -Lark’s eggs. A second nest was then built and into this the Koel
laid an egg. The young Koel, soon after hatching, ejected the nestling
Magpie -Larks.
A prolonged dry spell was followed by mild flooding; the local swamps
then became well stocked with bird -life. I counted one flock of about
210 egrets, mainly composed of the Plumed (intermedia), though quite a3.
few Large (alba) and Little (garzetta) were also present. Japanese
Snipe were numerous in muddy areas bordering the swamps.
On Pelican Island in the Claremont Isles, Queensland, in
August 1860, the naturalist John Macgillivray made the following
notes which may not be well known to ornithologists for they
appeared in his “Wanderings in tropical Australia” in the Sydney
Mail, 25th January 1862, page 6 (consulted in the Public Library
of New South Wales, Sydney): —
“Having secured about thirty-five pelicans in good condition,
we tried upon them the experiment of boiling down to extract the
oil, which served for burning and other useful purposes. As an
external application in cases of rheumatism it was found benefic-
ial. It burns with a clear flame, without smoke, and was consider-
ed by Captain B. (i.e. Captain W. Banner of the brig. Julia Percy)
to be better for the binnacle that even sperm oil. These pelicans
were either nearly fledged, young, unable to fly, or old birds
which were moulting their wing feathers. On Pelican Island, after
six had been bagged as the result of two shots, and seeing that
none of the rest attempted to fly; a party of our natives went
into the shoal water on the reef, and succeeded in driving on
shore and capturing the remainder of the flock, fourteen in number.
It was highly diverting to witness the scene. A little Tanna-Jman
might have been seen with a couple of pelicans nearly as big as
himself, holding each by the beak with one hand, and lugging them
along very reluctantly, violently struggling and flapping their
wings in a vain attempt to rise but still obliged to ‘move on’.
Then one would get adrift, squat down when closely approached,
snap at anyone coming near, and present quite a formidable appear-
ance with its great sixteen -inches bill and snake -like neck moving
as on a pivot to meet the hand attempting to seize it. Many eggs
were picked up, white and chalky, laid in a slight saucer -like
excavation occasionally lined with a little grass”.
The following is a list of the parrots I have observed in the
Bayview district.1. RAINBOW LORIKEET: Rather common, particularly when the coral trees
are flowering.

  1. MUSK LORIKEET: With its powder -blue crown and other lovely colour
    combinations, this small lorikeet is one of the most beautiful. Here
    it is extremely common when the swamp mahoganies and coral trees are
    in bloom. It also likes to feed on the green seed -pods of the black
  2. SCALY -BREASTED LORIKEET: Occurs in threes and fours; this species
    is also attracted to the bright red flowers of the coral trees.
    RAINBOW X SC:LY-BREAS.LED LORIKEET: This natural hybrid appears to
    be becoming more plentiful; some individuals are more attractive
    than others.
  3. GALAH: Increasing in numbers. I noted with interest several young
    birds flying with the main flock this season. Patches of grey on
    the breasts of immature Galahs distinguish them in the field from
    adult birds.
  4. KING PARROT: One of our finest parrots, which occasionally visits
    us in small flocks.
  5. CRIMSON ROSELLA: Numbers of these birds have been recorded, always
    adult males in immaculate plumage. They like to feed on she -oak
    and black wattle seeds.
  6. EASTERN ROSELLA: Small numbers only; sometimes a Golden- mantled
    Rosella is seen flying with ordinary Eastern Rosellas. As Golden –
    mantles are a northern sub -species, the Bayview bird is no doubt
    an aviary escapee.
  7. RED- BACKED PARROT: Two observations only, both male birds.
    L. COURTNEY HAINES, Bayview.
    November, 1966 — March, 1967.
    TURNSTONE: On two visits to Bellambi Pt., a flock of approximately 20
    birds was seen on both occasions.
    GREY PLOVER: Seen at the entrance to Lake Illawarra During Dec -Jan.
    GOLDEN PLOVER: Four seen in January on Shell Harbour swamp.
    DOUBLE- BANDED DOTTEREL: First bird of the season seen on 23.2.1967 at5.
    Lake Illawarra; their numbers increased
    sharply after this date.
    RED -CAPPED DOTTERL: Common at all times in suitable haunts.
    BLACK -FRONTED DOTTEREL: Only observed at North Woolongong on
    25.2.1967. Usually seen at Coomaditchy
    Lagoon near Port Kembla.
    BANDED STILT: A single bird observed at Lake Illawarra on many
    occasions until 2.12.1966; thereafter absent.
    EASTERN CURLEW: Observed in moderate numbers.
    BAR- TAILED GODWIT: Flocks present at Lake Illawarra at all times.
    BLACK- TAILED GODWIT: One or two birds observed from 23.2.1967
    onwards, at Lake Illawarra.
    GREENSHANK: Four birds present near the mouth of Lake Illawarra in
    November, and during March the following numbers were
    seen:- 3rd(6), 8th(10), 12th(12), and 16th(3).
    RED -NECKED STINT: Observed regularly in all areas.
    SHARP TATTED SANDPIPER: Birds recorded frequently throughout the
    summer, mainly in the area south of
    CURLEW SANDPIPER: As above species, although not so numerous.
    LESSER KNOT: Seen for approximately one month, November -December,
    25th, 1967.
    Beautiful Firetail Finch; Rock Warbler; Ground Thrush; Large –
    billed Scrub -Wren; Yellow -tailed Black Cockatoo; King Parrot
    and Rose Robin. At the end of a six -mile hike 42 species had
    been logged. Observations by A. COLEMANE, in the oompany of
    J. Harrison and W. Longmore.6.
    Fluttering Shearwater, one dead on Long Reef 19.2.1967; White-faced
    Storm -Petrel, three off Long Beef 19.2.1957; Turnstone, 16 on Long Reef
    28.2.1967; Scaly -breasted Lorikeet, flocks of 20 or more seen at Palm
    Beach on Maroh 5; Keel Cuckoo, two immature birds seen in Mrs Barter’s
    garden, Collaroy Plateau, being fed by Red Wattle -birds; Regent Honey-
    eater, one seen Rickaby’s Creek on March 4; ]1’ongo, one recorded on
    Collaroy Plateau on February 12; Grey -faced Petrel, decomposed bird
    found on Long Reef at end of April, 1967. DAVID SAWYER.
    Eight Yellow -tailed Black Cockatoos noted on April 27, 1967.
    J. DISNEY.
    Full Member $1.50; Family Membership $2.00; Junior Member 31.00;
    Please note that subscriptions for 1967-68 are due on July 1, 1967.
    Your oo-operation would be appreciated. Hon. Treasurer, L.C. Haines,
    10 Loquat Valley Road, Bayview,
    THURSDAY, MAY .18: This meeting will feature colour -slides and commentary
    by Jack Purnell, of Wahroonga. Mr. Purnell has recently visited the
    North Coast of New South Wales (where he was successful in photographing
    Regent Bowerbirds at their bowers), and the Cape York Peninsula (where
    he obtained interesting photographs of the birds of that remote area).
    BIRD OF THE MONTH: Fairy Martin, which will be compared with the
    Tree -Martin.
    THURSDAY, JUNE 15: This will be the ANNUAL MEETING with the customary
    address by the Chairman, Mr. Peter Roberts, who will speak on the subject
    of Australian Cuckoos, with particular reference to nest -parasitism
    and the calls of the various species of Cuckoos.7.
    SATURDAY, MAY 27: ROYAL NATIONAL PARK: Leaders, Marie and George
    Dibley. Meet at 10a.m., at the Upper Causeway picnic -ground
    (where the McKell Drive meets Stevens Drive). Bring lunch and
    boil the billy. Train travellers to catch the 8.50 a.m. from
    Central, arriving at Waterfall at 9.62, where transport will be
    available (please ‘phone 57-6298 to make sure).
    SUNDAY, JUNE 18: JERUSALEM BAY: Leader, Peter Roberts.
    Jerusalem Bay is a deep inlet of Cowan Creek, and can be reached
    only on foot, or by boat. It is proposed to walk down the steep,
    but well -made hikers’ track which traverses interesting heath-
    land and wet sclerophyll forest. Some aboriginal carvings
    will be viewed en route.
    Lunch will be taken at the Bay, where Sea -Eagles can usually
    be seen. Return distance about 5 miles, with a descent of 700
    feet. Meet on the Pacific Highway at 10 a.m., at Cowin Station.
    Train travellers take North Shore train from Central at 8.40,
    change at Hornsby to the 9.37 Cowan train.