Vol. 2 No. 1-text

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rice 100. Published by the Gould League Birdwatchers.
Vol. 2, No. 1 1st July, 1967.
Patron: ALEC H. CHISHOLM 0.3%E.,
Secretar and Editor: L. COURTNEY HAINES.
10 Loquat Valley Road, Bayview.
Observations Committee: K.A. HINDWOOD and A.R. McGILL.
2191a=laygrganiser: P. E, ROBERTS
26 Bayview Street, Mt. Kuring-gai. (47-92)10)
Art Adviser: E.S. HOSKIN.
Photographic Adviser: NORMAN CHAFFER.
In a booklet termed Nature’s Linguists (1946), based on a series
of articles discussing vocal mimicry by birds which I wrote for the
Victorian Naturalist, reference was made to the fact that imitative
ability in the little Mistletoe -bird had been detected by E.P. Ramsay,
of Sydney, as early as 1866. Now I find, from another old diary,
that the same keen naturalist heard mimicry from a Shriketit even
earlier — in 1862.
After remarking on the usual peculiar whistle of the Shriketit,
the young listener (Ramsay was then aged 20) told his diary he was
surprised to hear an example imitating the notes of the “Blackcap,
Yellow Robin, Sacred Kingfisher, and Ubane”– the last odd term
being, apparently, a by -name of the day for the Yellow- tufted
Honeyeater. “I was highly delighted by this discovery” Ramsay
records, “for I have never heard the Shriketit mock any bird before”.
In the booklet mentioned above I cited several notes on mimicry
by the Shriketit, the earliest of them being dated 1932 and referring- 2
to a specimen placed in an aviary. It is seemly, therefore, to acknow-
ledge that Dr. Ramsay preceded us moderns by seventy years.
It may be added that I was asked recently fora list of papers deal-
ing with vocal mimicry among Australian birds. This would be rather
difficult to assemble, for in my own case (as one example) they Are
scattered throughout the Emu, the Victorian Naturalist, the Ibis (Eng-
land), and some few popular journals. Perhaps the most useful examples,
from my point of view, are Nature’s Linguists (now out of print) and
an article entitled “Further Remarks on Vocal Mimicry”, which appeared
in the Emu in 196 (Vol. 65, pp. 57-64.)
The list of mimics recorded in that article numbers 54, excluding
four introduced species. Since then I have been given these additions:
Figbird, Brown Songlark, King Parrot, Crimson Parrot, and Palm Cock-
Especially notable are the records relating to the three birds last
mentioned, all tendered by reliable observers and concerned with free –
flying specimens. For, of course, the question has frequently been
asked, ‘Why is it that parrots can be taught to mimic freely in cap-
-tivity and yet do not, apparently, ever use imitations in a state of
nature?” Now, it would seem, they do so — sometimes. A.H.CHISHOLM.
The Ring, or Co11,3.red, Dove (Streptopelia decaocta) has been a pop-
ular cage -bird for many years and aviculturists have bred a ‘domestic-
ated’ variety in which the plumage is mostly white. Birds in normal
plumage are generally pale -grey and fawn, with darker wings and a
narrow black collar on the hind -neck; they are lighter in colour,
and slightly smaller, than the spotted -necked Indian Turtle -Dove
(S. chinensis) now well -established in the more settled parts of
eastern and southern Australia.
It is surprising that the Ring Dove has not taken to the wild
because numbers must have either escaped or been liberated from
aviaries over the years. I remember seeing them breeding at the
Currumbin bird sanctuary, southern Queensland, in 1965; these
‘feral’ individuals were said to remain mostly within the grounds
of the sanctuary, there being no indication of any widespread
colonisation by the species in that locality.- 3 –
The first published record of a “wild” Ring Dove near Sydney is
that by Arnold McGill who saw a single bird near Hurstville in August
1946, (Emu, 47, p. 232). Recently I saw three of these doves in the
grounds of a home at Gordon, a northern suburb of Sydney. Two of the
birds appeared to be courting, the third was uttering its pleasant
“Kook-coO-kook” call from a nearby T.V. aerial. The householder
Kelaher) said he had seen about half a dozen of -the doves in his
garden on occasions and that originally, they had been liberated
from a neighbour’s aviary some twelve months previously.
During the past fifty years the Ring Dove has colonise- western
Europe and England, having spread westward from the Balkans. The
ancestral home of the species seems to have been the Indian Region.
Perhaps this dove may yet become a common “town” bird like its close
relative, the Indian Turtle -Dove. K.A.HINDWOOD. 22.5.1967.
A lone bird was observed at Bayview, Pittwater, N.S.W., on 1st
July, 1967. – L.C. Hi ZEES.
A surf -washed specimen was collected on 20th January, 1967 at
Long Reef, – D. SAWYER.
On the 13th May, 1967, six Magpie -Larks came to my garden for water.
LocomPanying them was a pure white bird possessing red eyes and black
legs. Its call -notes and behaviour were similar to those of its
normally -plumaged companions. Not at any time was the white bird
regarded as an intruder by the other Magpie -Larks.
This species was recently reported as occuring in the Neutral Bay
District. The birds were observed as they fed on cones high up in
pine trees. EDITOR.
NOTE:- The 1967-68 subscriptions are now due.- 4 –
Full member $1.50; Family member $2.00
Junior member $1.00 ; Supporting member $3.00
The following suggestions regarding the field notebook will be of
interst to those members who are beginners in the art of bird, –
FIELD NOTEBOOK. This is a most important item of the bird-
watcher’s equipment and some thought should go into choosing just the
right kind of book.
Thin, cheap books with limp covers are of no use at all.
The field notebook should be a good, fat book possessing a hard
cover and bound in black. The hard cover is important as it provideE
a firm backing when writing on the sheet, while the black binding
seems to be the only colour that does not run should the book get wet.
Ls an added precaution against riverside and marshland accidents the
field book should be enclosed in a waterproof pouch. A book 6″ x1+2′;
known in the trade as cap 8vo, is a handy size, slipping easily into
one’s pocket.
An ordinary lead pencil is the best to use when making “rough”
notes in the field. On no account should indellible pencils, foun-
tain -pens, or boll -point pens be used.
Keep the book in diary form, beginning each outing with a fresh
page. Before starting, write at the top of the page the locality and
date; followed by a short account of the type of country, e.g.
“heathland adjoining wooded hillside”; “sand- dunes running down to
sea” “reedy riverside” etc… Weather conditions and bird -watching
companions should also be noted.
WHAT TO RECORD. There is one answer only -EVERYTHING. The most
trivial observation may shed new light on some problem years later.
Do not make the least attempt to list birds in taxonomic order, just
record them as observed. If a bird seen cannot be determined for
certain, a description should be taken and its tali -notes recorded,
phonetically if possible, as these are important. Other points to
note include display, breeding activities, p.lumages, numbers anaibod.- –
Rough notes should be as full as possible. However, one should
guard against wishful thinking. The fuller the notes the better
the mental re-construction later when transferring observations fry
the field-book to one’s permanent records. EDITOR.
During two visits to the Hawkesbury River Swamps on 10th and 12th
June1.1967, the following interesting species were observed.
LOTUS BIRD: Two birds observed on. 10th and 12th.
JARIBU: A solitary bird seen standing near cattle on
MANED GOOSE: Two recorded on each visit, 10th and 12th.
WHITE NECKED HERON: Two seen on 10th, and four on 12th.
GLOSSY IBIS: Two observed feeding in water on 12th.
BLUE-WAGED SHOVELLER: Four observed on 12th.
PELICAN: Two recorded on 10th.
COOT: Sixteen observed in the centre of Lagoon
STREW-NECKED IBIS: Flock of twenty-four 10th.
WHITE IBIS: Six birds feeding in paddock 10th.
CHESTNUT TEAL: Sixteen standing along waters,edge 10th.
GREY TEAL: A count of fifty in flight 10th.
ROYAL SPOONBTM: Twelve feeding in shallow water 12th.
MUSK DUCK: Two observed swimming among -,reeds 12th.
BROWN HAW:: One watched as it ate its prey on the ground
WHISTLING EAGLE: Two flying overhead 12th.
A. COLEMANE , NORTHMEAD, & A.R. McGILL, ARNCLIFFE,Of interest at Pitt Town Bottoms on June 2′, 1967, were the follow-
ing birds: Cattle Egret (10), Glossy Ibis (2 2 Pacific Heron (about
12), Blue winged Shoveller (between )0 and 50 , Lotus -bird (2), Sea-
gull (2), and several other species, such as Black Swans, Ibis, Spur –
winged Plovers, etc usually to be seen in the locality. E.S. HOSKIN.
In this part (Casino) of Northern New South Wales Yellow Robins
inhabit small, dense brushes composed of grey ironbard bloodwood
forest oak and white honeysuckle trees, usually well interlaced with
lantana bushes and climbers, with ground cover of bracken fern. They
also seek the seclusion of dense, black tea- tree stands having a
ground -cover of tangled lantana and cockspur bushes.
These birds are permanent residents and by no moans plentiful,
usually keeping in pairs. They have the habit of frequently alight-
ing on the upright sides of tree -trunks. The flight is quick and.
undulating and a wing -flapping “burr” can be heard. Food consists of
various insects, mostly secured on the ground or from low bushes. One
peculiar habit is that of staring at certain objects in a fixed man-
ner, another habit is that of flicking the tail upright two or three
times immediately after alighting.
The main call -note is a long succession of strong, clear whistle-
peeps, not unlike certain notes made by the White -throated Tree- –
creeper. These notes vary in tone, making it difficult to locate the
singer who appears to be something of a ventriloquist. When in low
bushes, or when disturbed, the robins also utter a series of low,
quick “tig-tig-tig” notes which can only be heard at close range. For
much of the time, however, the birds remain silent.
The breeding season commences during July or Laigust and extends ‘to
November. The nest is a cup -shaped structure about three inches
across and two -and -a- half inches deep. Made mainly of soft strips of
bark with the inside walls lined with thin leaves. The outside as
well decorated with lichen and soft green moss. Nests:are Situated
either on the lower horizontal forked branches of large trees or the
upright forks of smaller saplings or bushes. Bloodwood treep.are of=-
ten selected as nesting sites which are Usually from nine to eighteen
feet from the ground. The robins are rarely observed sitting on the
nest because they quickly take wing when approached.Two egge are usually laid; they are pale -green with faint fawn
blotches and reddish -brown spots sparingly distributed over the shell
but mainly forming a zone at the*larger end.
hike most fly catchers the immature robins are dark- brown, mott-
led with whitish streaks; they retain this pattern until they are
about six months of age.
Altogether, the Northern Yellow Robin is a delightful, beautiful
and attractive bird. A. BOND, Casino, N.S.W.
It would appear that bird –tables are becoming more popular with
Sydney bird enthusiasts. Miss Gwen Peden, of Roseville, informs me
that all kinds of birds are now coming to her garden table for their
daily food ration. In a future issue of BIRDS suitable foods attrac-
tive to birds will be listed.
Mrs. Bonser of “Valley Farm”, West Pennant Hills, who is at pre-
sent -touring the British Isles wishes to be remembered to her Gould
League Bird -watcher colleagues.
Miss Helena Doyle, a well-known bird -watcher living near Muswela-
brook, has listed 161 species for the district since 1957.
From Pine Creek, N.T., Mrs. June Mifsud infoniis me of a success-
ful Guinea-fowl-doMeSticated fowl cross. The hybrid, Mrs. Mifsud
says, is not unlike a small white turkey, with White Leghorn feather-
ing. The bird acts like a Guinea Fowl and has a blend of ca11-
notes resembling those of a young Guinea Fowl and an ordinary farm-
yard chicken. EDITOR.
Bird -banding Demonstration, 29th April, 1967.
Led by Mr. S.G. (“Rill”) Lane, a most instructive and interest-
ing field outing was enjoyed by about forty members and friends.
The venue was the upper reaches of Middle Harbour, near St.
Ives, Harry Battam, Ray Lonnon andPeter Spurge had everything ready
for a display of bird- banding procedure. Although the heat had8 –
driven most of the bords into the undergrowth, the species banded in-
cluded White-browed Scrub -wrens, New. Holland, Yellow -tufted, White-
cheeked and White -eared Honey -eaters, Brown Thornbills, Eastern Spine –
bills and Little Wattle -birds. Mist note were set up over an area
of several hundred yards Where Banksia shrubs were flowering. As the
birds were removed from the nets they were banded and details such
as plumage, wing -span, tail length, date and_place of banding, were
recorded. It was interesting to note the behaviour of the different
species; some were lively, others placid; some put on an act of ex-
haustion when held in the hand, but were off like a shot when released.
They n11 seemed to enjoy a drink of sugar and water while held in the
It was all so interesting and, as we wended our way up the hill
in the cool of the evening, we expressed our appreciation to Bill
helpers. E. J. GADSDEN.
A party of 24. adults and some 8 juniors assembled at the Upper
Causeway at 10 a_m. Mr. & Mrs. Dibley led the way to the bower of a
Satin Bowerbird, close to the picnic area. The presence of small
yellowish -green flowers, quite fresh, showed that the bower was in
Yellow faced Honeyeaters and Eastern Spinebills were numerous and
a female Golden Whistler and several White -throated Tree -creepers
were seen. Across the road wandering parties of Buff -tailed, Brown

  • and Striated Thornbills were noted; several Rock Warblers were hopp-
    ing about the sandstone rocks. High up in a gum -tree a Mistletoe –
    bird was heard giving its high-pitched call.
    After a couple of hours spent at this pleasant spot we moved fur-
    ther down the road and had lunch at a small, grassy clearing bordered
    by .jungle. Here we had a look at another bower, close to the path
    under some low bushes. A couple of Lyrebirds were heard calling on
    the other side of the stream and, as we were leaving, another was
    calling in fine voice nearby.
    During a short walk along the creek two Wonga Pigeons were flush-
    ed and Brown Warblers, a male Golden Whistler, and the Rose Robin
    were recorded. Several Yellow- tailed Black Cockatoos were observed
    .cracking gum -nuts in the treetops. Other birds seen were the King
    Parrot, an Eastern Shriketit and a Large -billed Scrub.4ren.- –
    Later in the day, in heathy country near Steven’s Drive, Tawny –
    crowned Honeyeaters and Emu-4rens were watched.
    In all 36 species were listed for the outing. Our thanks to Mr.
    & Mrs. Dibley for a most interesting day. DAVID SAWYER.
    The morning of this Field Day was so damp, and the weather so
    dull, that all the ,bird- watchers who arrived at the meeting place
    fully expected to find the place deserted. However, seventeen mem-
    bers attended, including Jim Gray who came from as far away as
    Blackalls Point, Lake Macquarie.
    We were “welcomed” at Cowan Station by a pair of Scarlet Robins,
    and soon afterwards we saw a male Mistletoe -bird.
    As we walked along a wet and squelchy track in heathland to some
    aboriginal carvings we heard and saw many honeyeaters including the
    White -eared, White-cheeked, Yellow- faced and Lewin. Buff -tailed,
    Brown and Striated Thornbills were also abserved. Perhaps the most
    interesting rock -carving, to a bird student at least, was one that
    appeared to represent a swimming penguin.
    A highlight of the day was the sight of a Lyrebird. which had been
    scratching in the damp leaf -mould when our presence caused it to fly
    into a tree where it remained for about a quarter of an hour7preen-
    ing itself, quite unconcerned. Finally, it glided to the ground
    and out of sight.
    An Eastern Whipbird was heard calling in thick scrub, and two
    Rock Warblers were seen hopping over the rocks.
    It was low tide when we reached Jerusalem Bay where a Mangrove
    Heron was observed in the company of some Silver Gulls on a sandspit.
    As we watched, the Heron stretched out its neck, poised for a moment,
    and then stabbed into the water catching a small, silvery fish which
    it promptly swallowed.
    During lunch an informal Meeting was held and two resolutions
    passed:- (1) Confidence in the manner in which Mr. Haines is conduct-
    ing the “Gould League Bird -watchers”,, and (2) that first -aid kits be-10-
    obtained and carried on field excursions.
    Ehank.you, Peter Roberts, for an enjoyable day during which 37
    species were recorded. ROBIN BIGG.
    Your Organizer of Excursions is running out of ideas and he would
    like to hear from members familiar with suitable places for excursions.
    Finding leaders is a problem, as it is not fair to expect the same people
    to keep on shouldering the burden. The main qualification is that he
    (or she) must be familiar with the proposed locality. It is not nec-
    essary to be an expert on birds and one is not required to deliver a
    lecture — all that our members want is for sorn.one to take them were
    the birds are: if a few nests have been located beforehand, then all the
    If you know a good place but still feel diffident about volunteering
    to lead a group, please ring the Organizer (47-9240) and talk the matter
    over with him.
    The solution might be to appoint a Leader who may not know the area
    with Y 0 U as a guide.
    “BY THE WAYSIDE”. with “SPURWING” (Jack Debert)
    A flocK of .eight Royal Spoonbills, feeding
    in First Creek, Tuncurry, early on Saturday
    morning, January 21, was my first sighting of
    this species of wader for 1967. Normally, there
    are, at least, 26 Royal Spoonbills frequenting
    this particular area, and it will be interest-
    ing to see if these eight birds are the advance
    These Spoonbills are terrific feeders and
    keep their peculiar ‘spoon-shaped’ bills almost
    continuously in the water of the lake whilst
    feeding. They wander along the shallow edges
    fairly shovelling small fish, molluscs and
    aquatic insects into their bills as they walk.
    At times, after long periods with their bills-11 –
    immersed under water, I have noticed these birds
    vigorously shaking their heads. In response to
    my enquiries of this habit Keith Hindwood feels
    “they may be getting. rid of moisture, or even
    shaking off flies or other insects that may be
    annoying them.”
    So far only Little Egrets have returned
    from their breeding grounds. Their reappear-
    ance has been some later this year. Discussing
    this matter early in January with Arnold McGill,
    he said reports revealed that these graceful,
    wading birds were finding an abundance of food
    in their breeding localities and were in no
    hurry to leave.
    Elsie Gogerley and brother John reported
    flushing a pair of Nightjar6 from off the
    ground, Whoota way, early in January. Finding
    the remains of an egg they spent considerable
    time trying to locate the young bird without
    Shown the cream -coloured ugg with black narks
    we decided the birds wero.thc lihito-throated
    Nightjar. This bird lays but one egg2- does
    not bother to build a nest, but merely de-
    posits its egg on the ground. No doubt a
    young bird was about but according to
    Hindwood, “they are rusty brown and looking
    much like a reddish, rather shapeless stone,
    matching the surrounding ground so perfectly
    they are difficult to see. Young birds often
    move some distance from ihe site where they
    were hatched, but if the old birds are about
    then the young birds should be nearby.”
    extract from the Cape Hawke Advocate.4.”
    Saturday, July 22nd, 9.30 a.m. MALABLR. Leader Harry Battam.
    Wandering Albatrosses and Giant Petrels should be present in
    force and, with a little bit of luck, there may be a Black-browed
    albatross or two to be seen.
    Meet near the eastern end of Cromwell Park, off Dacre St.,
    (Gregory’s map 22, A. 14). This will be a morning excursion, and
    should be completed by mid- day.
    PLEASE NOTE: The cliffs are dangerous – children must be closely
    Sunday, 13, 10 J.D.
    The excursion that Mr. Waterhouse led to this area last
    year was all but washed out by rain. The heathland here is rich
    birds,country, and well north another visit.
    Drive along Mona Vale Road to Terry Hills and proceed
    about one mile along McCarr’s Creek Road to the junction of the
    Coal and Candle Creek road (Liberator General San Martin Drive,
    on Gregory’s Map 107, F. 2). Bring lunch.
    If you have room in your car for someone without trans-
    port please ring Peter Roberts (I7-9240).