Vol. 9 No. 1-text

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Journal of the
N.S.W. FIELD ORNITHOLOGISTS CLUBVolume 9, Number 1 September 1974

Registered for Posting as a Periodical, Category B Price $1.00.THE N.S.W. FIELD ORNITHOLOGISTS CLUB
PATRON A.H. Chisholm, O.B.E.
R. Cooke
Dr. R. Mason
The object of the Club is to promote the study and conservation of Australian birds and their
Annual subscription rates to the Club are
Ordinary Member $4.00
Family Member $5.00
Junior Member (under 17) $1.00
All members receive a quarterly newsletter and a copy of the quarterly journal, Australian Birds.
The price of the journal is $1.00 per issue to non-members. The Club holds a general meeting and
a field excursion each month.
All correspondence, including membership fees, should be addressed to the Secretary. The Club’s
address is:
18 Russell St., Oatley, 2223.
Manuscripts should be sent to the Editor at
20 Harrison St., Old Toongabbie, 2146.Volume 9, Number 1 September 1974
During 1973, 623 km of the New South Wales coast was patrolled
by 52 members and friends of the Field Ornithologists Club and 2189
dead seabirds were found. Three large seabird wrecks were
recorded, those in January and December containing mainly Short –
tailed Shearwaters but the other in July included many seabirds,
prions being the commonest group. Prions were recorded in the
greatest numbers since 1954 when a similar wreck occurred.
Rare specimens found included two Grey -headed Albatrosses, four
Grey -mantled Albatrosses, three Blue Petrels and two Arctic Terns.
This paper reports on the results obtained by the New
South Wales Field Ornithologists Club beach patrol scheme in 1973.
The coastline of the State has been divided into 10 zones (See
Fig. 1 in Morris 1972) each zone representing one degree south in
latitude. Coverage was good in all zones except Coffs Harbour
and Bega. A total of 2189 dead seabirds of 38 species was found
in 355 patrols covering 623 km patrolled and 927 km travelled.
(“Total km travelled” is the sum total distance of all walks,
whilst “total km patrolled” represents the monthly total distance
of beaches walked at least once in each zone). A mean mortality
of 2.4 birds per km travelled was achieved which compares with2. AUSTRALIAN BIRDS 9 (1)
8.0 per km in 1970, 4.1 per km in 1971 and 5.7 per km in 1972.
Table 1 indicates the number of dead seabirds recorded and kilo-
metres patrolled in each zone in 1973.
Table 11 lists the coastal distribution of the seabirds
found in 1973, whilst Table 111 provides details of the monthly
distribution of seabird mortality. Table 1V gives details of
unusual seabirds recorded.
93.3% of all seabirds collected were Procellariformes,
the remainder comprising 148 other seabirds of 11 species.
Species names and the order in which they occur are in accordance
with “An Index of Australian Bird Names” CSIRO Division of Wild-
life Research, Tech. Paper No. 20, 1969.
Results indicate that as the distance walked by members
increases there is a corresponding decline in the number of sea-
birds found per km travelled. This is inevitable because in the
past walks were only made following storms or at other times con-
sidered favourable for finding dead seabirds. Nowadays members
make more regular walks and submit “nil” returns.
A feature of 1973 was the unusually large mortality in July.
In typical years the mortality pattern is high in January then
dropping away but gradually increasing towards the end of the year.
46 Little Penguins Eudyptula minor was the largest number
recorded in the Scheme greatly. exceeding previous figures. Most
died in storms during March and July with the greatest mortality in
the Mallacoota zone.
The only Wandering Albatross Diomedea exulans was found
alive at Bondi on 9 July – it was an adult bird and had been banded
at Malabar some years previously. The bird was looked after and
released 11 days later. All the Black-browed Albatrosses D. meZ-
anophris that were aged were immatures. Those found between
Evans Head and Ballina in July were further north than normally
recorded. The two Grey -headed Albatrosses D. chrysostoma were
only the third and fourth records for the State and the first pos-
itively identified since 1952. Both were found on Patch’s Beach
near South Ballina, one on 14 and the other on 22 July, the finders
being G. Fraser and W. Watson, The Grey -mantled Albatross Phoeb-
etria palebrata has not previously been recorded in the State.September, 1974
The heads of specimens found in July were taken to the Australian
Museum for identification. All three were juvenile birds; with
bill size less than that given by Serventy et al (1971); each
exhibiting the diagnostic blue sulcus. The fourth bird found
at Evans Head by G. Bryant on 7 October, had measurements comp-
arable with adult birds. This bird was found alive, fed by local
people and subsequently banded and released – see Rogers (1974)
for more details.
Giant Petrels were found from June to December but pred-
ominantely during July storms. Six were identified as Southern
Giant Petrels Macronetes giganteus, one at Ballina on 11 July
having been banded previously off South America (Anon. 1974a).
Another at Evans Head on 9 June was banded in Adelie Land, Ant-
arctica (Anon. 1974b). A Silver-grey Petrel Fulmarus glacialoides
was again found in the Ulladulla Zone at Wairo on 16 June, the
fifth record for the State. Specimens were also taken in Tas-
mania, South Australia and Victoria during the year (Morris 1974).
A record number of Great -winged Petrels Pteradroma macroptera was
found in 1973 – four in July being unusual although evidence
is accumulating to suggest that the birds are present in New South
Wales offshore waters throughout the year. Four White -headed
Petrels P. lessonii died in the July storms. Two collected south
of Ballina on 14 July were unusual in that this petrel has only
been recorded north of Newcastle on two previous occasions, one
on 10 July near Ulladulla was the first record for that section
of the coast. Indications are that the White -headed Petrel is
also present in offshore waters throughout the year. The Gould
Petrel P. leucoptera and the Brown -headed Petrel P. melanopus
records are in accordance with previously published data (Morris
1973). The Black -winged Petrel P. nigripennis found at Durras
on 7 March was only the second State record. Blue Petrels Hal
obaena caerulea have only previously been recorded for this State
in 1954 when a number of specimens were procured during the large
Prion wreck at that time (Hindwood & McGill, 1955). The three
specimens found this year were all from the Sydney region, one at
Boatharbour on 14 July and the other two at Palm Beach on 13 July
(Finch and Bruce in press).
During July exceptional cyclonic conditions occurred causing
consideralbe seabird mortality. A remarkable feature of this
washup was the incidence of tropical forms viz. Little Shearwaters
and White-tailed Tropic -birds as well as many southern forms4. AUSTRALIAN BIRDS 9 (1)
occuring so far north.
The unusual storm conditions were caused by an intense low
pressure system off the Queensland Coast and a strong high pressure
system in the Tasman Sea. These systems caused south to east
gales and strong winds in N.S.W. coastal and ocean waters from 5
to 10 July, bringing heavy to flood rains on the north coast
(Anon 1973a). This unusual cyclonic situation over eastern Aus-
tralia had a serious effect on our seabird populations causing
heavy mortality particularly in the Ballina– Evans Head area,
although it did occur elsewhere throughout the State. At Ballina
following the storm 146 birds of 24 species were found in 30 km
travelled. The July seabird wreck was dominated by prions with
the Dove Prion Pachyptila desolata the commonest seabird found
dead. The 194 Dove Prions that died in July were the greatest
number recorded since a similar storm in July 1954 when many were
washed up between Sydney -Wollongong and 18 specimens were lodged
in the Australian Museum. Most of the unidentified prions found
in July 1973 were thought, based on the wing measurements, to have
been Dove Prions. Dove Prions, Thin -billed Prions P. beicheri
and Fairy Prions P. turtur were found all along the coast. These
records extend the range of the Thin -billed Prion in this State
because formally it was known to occur north to Newcastle. Only
one Medium -billed Prion P. salvini was found on 7 July at Wreck
Bay, Sussex Inlet. The last two species are rarely recorded in
N.S.W. waters.
Hindwood and McGill (1955) discussed the July 1954 wreck
when 260 prions were examined and the percentage of each species
estimated. These figures are re -produced below and in parenthesis
is the equivalent percentage of the 1973 prion mortality.
Broad -billed Prion 2% (1.5%) Thin -billed Prion 6% (5%)
Medium -billed Prion 60% (0.3%) Fairy Prion 15% (20.7%)
Dove Prion 17% (72.5%)
Large numbers of prions were seen offshore in the Malla-
coota zone in July (pers. obs) but few birds were found dead des-
pite good coverage of the beaches. The remarkable similarity of
the cyclonic conditions in July 1954 and July 1973 should be noted,
the strong onshore winds causing the death of seabirds through
exhaustion on both occasions.
There were no Wedge-tailed Shearwaters Puffinus pacificus
found dead between May -July confirming the suggestions of PurchaseSeptember, 1974 5
(1974) and Swanson (1974) that this species is migratory. Little
Shearwaters P. assimilis, which are generally absent from N.S.W.
waters in winter, were also a feature of the July seabird wreck.
With the exception of the one at Wanda on 7 July the remainder
were found from Evans Head to Ballina between 8 and 22 July.
Fluttering Shearwaters P. gavia were found throughout the year
confirming the previous pattern.
In contrast to previous years the percentage of Short –
tailed Shearwaters P. tenuirostris at 67% declined considerably
from the usual 92% to 97%. The decline was brought about by two
factors – one being that the actual mortality of the Short -tails
was less this year than in previous years, and the heavy mortality
of other seabirds in July. Two large wrecks were found, the
first in January as a result of storms in the previous December
see Morris and Sawyer (1973). In this wreck 335 Short -tails
were found in 9 km of beach on 4 – 5 January in Nadgee Nature
Reserve, Mallacoota zone. All had been dead for 10-12 days.
In December a small wreck occurred on the northern beaches of
Sydney when 257 birds were found in 12 km on 13-14 December;
smaller wrecks were also found in the Ulladulla zone. The
weather conditions at this time appeared typical for that time of
year. From 8 to 15 December an intensive high pressure system
remained over the Tasman Sea, this was followed by a trough moving
rapidly northwards up the coast (1973b). Such fast moving troughs
often cause considerable mortality of mutton -birds. All winter
records July (3), August (1), September (1) were dry remains
found on beaches not regularly patrolled.
White-tailed Tropic -birds Phaethon lepturus also turned up
in the July wreck near Ballina. All were immature and the circ-
umstances were unusual in that until now the majority of records
have been for the summer period (November – March) and have only
been recorded on the central coast from Ulladulla to Buladelah.
The Southern Skua Stercorarius skua at Ballina on 8 July was
unusual as there are no records so far north in this State.
Until 1973 the Arctic Tern Sterna paradisea was only known
in N.S.W. from a band recovery at Bega in 1966 (banded in United
Kingdom) and a sight record at Newcastle (Holmes 1969). During
the year two specimens were found; at Batemans Bay on 15 September
and at Thirroul on 4 December. The first had been banded in the
United Kingdom in July 1969 as a pullus (Anon 1974a). These two6. AUSTRALIAN BIRDS 9 (1)
band recoveries plus a number of recent sight records (Sawyer
1974) suggest that the bird is an uncommon summer migrant from
Europe during the period September -May passing unnoticed in the
flocks of the Eastern Common Tern S. hirundo. The number of
Sooty Terns S. fuscata recorded this year is unprecedented and
almost totals the previous known records 1892 – 1972. All prob-
ably perished in February and all but three were immatures. They
were found from the Queensland border to Wollongong with a major-
ity in the Coffs Harbour area. They were first recorded on 10
February following strong northerly winds ahead of strong squally
southerly winds during 6 to 8 February and the development of a
small depression off the north coast leading to strong south to
easterly winds in the region from 12 to 14 February (1973c). The
Common Noddy Anous stoZidus at Dee Why on 10 January was only the
eighth State record.
In addition to seabirds, 29 land or freshwater birds were
found; 1 Black Duck, 1 Brown Quail, 8 Feral or Racing Pigeons,
1 Gang Gang Cockatoo, 1 Crimson Rosella, 2 Budgerygar, 1 Tawny
Frogmouth, 1 Fairy Martin, 1 Red Wattle -bird, 1 Finch sp., 1 House
Sparrow, 2 Starlings, 1 Indian Myna, 1 Raven and 3 Black -backed
During the year 52 members and friends took part in the
beach surveys. All credit is due to them for the extensive and
valuable results obtained.
A. Bainbrigge, J. Benham, D. Bleach, J. Broadbent, P. Broad-
bent, M. Burt, M. Crossland, W.J. Cunningham, G. Dibley, M. Dibley
R. Draisma, J. Eckersley, B. Fennessy, B. Forest, A.M. Fox,
G. Fraser, P.J. Fullager. G. Clarke, D.G. Cooper, M. Gray,
R. Gray, J. Hobbs, G. Holmes, E.S. Hoskin, W. Horton, F.J. John-
stone, the late B. Jones, R.T. Jones, S.G. Lane, D. Larkins,
A. Leishman, A.R. McGill, J. Mcllroy, A. Morton, A. Mothersdill,
J. Mylrea, P. Mylrea, G. Palmer, E. Petrie, K. Purches, H. Recher,
P.E. Roberts, J. Robertson, D. Sawyer, A.R. Sefton, A. Sefton,
C. Sonter, M. Stokes, D. Voitl, W. Watson, H. E. Wilton.
A.E.F. Rogers and Narelle Swanson read the draft and I
am indebted to them for their helpful advice and suggestions.September, 1974 7
Anon 1973 a Monthly Weather Review July 1973 N.S.W.
Anon 1973 b Monthly Weather Review December 1973 N.S.W.
Anon 1973 c Monthly Weather Review February 1973 N.S.W.
Anon 1974 a Recovery Round Up, Aust. Bird Bander
Anon 1974 b Recovery Round Up, Aust. Bird Bander 12:42
Holmes, G. 1968 In “Bird Notes 1967-68” The Bird Observer,
Hindwood K.A. 1955 “Sea -bird Mortality in Coastal N.S.W.”
& McGill A.R. EMU 55:148-156
Finch B. 1974 The Blue Petrel in Australian Waters
& Bruce M. Aust. Birds (in press).
Kenny, T. 1972 The White -headed Petrel off Sydney Heads,
Birds 7:21-22
Morris A.K. 1974 Seabirds Found Dead in Victoria, Tasmania
& South Australia in 1973 Aust. Birds9:12
Morris A.K. 1973 Seabirds Found Dead in N.S.W. in 1972 Birds
& Sawyer D. 8:21-30
Purchase D. 1974 First Overseas Recoveries of Wedge-tailed
Shearwaters Banded in Australia.
Aust. Bird Bander 12:34-35.
Rogers, A.E.F. 1973 N.S.W. Bird Report for 1972. Birds 7:89-108
Rogers, A.E.F. 1974 N.S.W. Bird Report for 1973. Birds 8:97-122
Sawyer, D. 1974 Artic Terns in Botany Bay. Birds 8:39
Serventy, D.K. 1971 The Handbook of Australian Seabirds.
Serventy, V. & A.H. and A.W. Reed, Sydney.
Warham, J.
Swanson, N.M. 1974 The Breeding Cycle of the Wedge-tailed
& Merritt, F.D. Shearwater on Muttonbird Island, N.S.W.
Aust. Bird Bander 12:3-9
A.K. MORRIS, 20 Harrison St., Old Toongabbie 2146.Birds
ISeptember, 1974 9
Species J F M J J A S Total
Little Penguin 6 16 1 12 2 1 5 2 3 48
Albatross Sp. Unid.
1 1
Wandering Albatross
1 1
Black-browed Albatross
3 1 2 6
White -capped Albatross
1 1
Grey -headed Albatross
2 2
Grey -mantled Albatross
G Soia un tht eP rne tr Ge il a nS tp . P eU tn reid l . 3 4 1 1 1 1 4 7
1 4 1 6
Silver-grey Petrel
Cape Petrel 1 9 1 3 1 1 3
Great -winged Petrel 1 1 4 1 7
White -headed Petrel
4 4
Gould Petrel
1 1
Black -winged Petrel
1 1
Brown -headed Petrel
Blue Petrel 1 1
3 3
BPr roio an d S -bp i. l leU dn i Pd r. ion 99 2 11 2 1 114
4 4
Medium -billed Prion
1 1
Dove Prion 1 194 5 3 203
Thin -billed Prion 14 14
Fairy Prion 3 43 5 7 58
Shearwater Sp. Unid. 5 5 1 2 13
Fleshy -footed Shearwater
Wedge-tailed Shearwater 2 10 4 6 16 1 3 1 1 3 5 475
Sooty Shearwater 1 1 2 5 6 15
Short -tailed Shearwater 446 10 4 9 3 3 1 1 64 280 652 1473
Fluttering Shearwater 8 1 1 2 5 1 2 20
Little Shearwater
9 9
White-faced Storm Petrel
6 6
Australian Gannet
Black Cormorant 1 1 2 2 1 2 1 2 12
White-tailed Tropic -Bird 1 1 1 3
4 4
Southern Skua
Silver Gull 5 2 1 1 1 1 1 7 13 401
Arctic Tern
Common Tern 1 1 2
White -fronted Tern 1 1
Sooty Tern 17 2 1 1 201
Crested Tern
2 1 1 2 3 3 3 15
Common Noddy
1 1
Total 469 58 32 18 7 3 444 30 11 114 307 696 218910. AUSTRALIAN BIRDS (9)
Species TH MC CH HS NC SY WG UL BG MA total
Little Penguin
Albatross Sp. Unid. 1 3 5 13 5 1 20 48
Wandering Albatross 1 1
Black-browed Albatross 1 1
White -capped Albatross 2 1 1 2 6
Grey -headed Albatross 1 1
SG G So iir luae vn ty h et – e rm P -r gnea rtn eGrt yel ie l a d PnS t
pA t. P
l eeb U lta n rt eir do l. ss 1 1
3 2 31 2 11
2 4 7 62
GC ra ep ae t P -we it nr ge el d Petrel 1 4 4 1 31 131
2 3 2 7
White -headed Petrel
Gould Petrel 2 1 1 4
Black -winged Petrel 1 1
Brown -headed Petrel 1 1
Blue Petrel 1 1
Prion Sp. Unid. 32 32 8 51 28 11 1143
Broad -billed Prion
Medium -billed Priori 1 1 1 1 4
Dove Prion 39 57 24 70 5 81 2031
T Fh ai in ry – b Pil rl ie od n Prion 41 3 5 6 2 8 1 1 0 3 4 7 1 54 8
S Flh ee sa hr yw -a ft oe or
eS dp .
hU en ai rd
w ater
2 2 1 1 7 13
Wedge-tailed Shearwater 2 1 43 1 1 8 3 1 1 9 475
Sooty Shearwater 1 1 4 5 3 1 15
Short -tailed Shearwater 71 2 13 72 402 201 123 138 451 1473
F L Wl iu t htt ilt tee e r -Si fn ah cg e e a dS r wh Se a ta oter rw r m a t Pe er trel 4 42 1 8 5 1 3 1 20 9
6 6
Australian Gannet
Black Cormorant 5 1 1 1 3 1 12
White-tailed Tropic Bird 1 1 1 3
3 1 4
Southern Skua
S Ai rl cv te icr G Tu el rl n 1 3 17 14 1 3 2 401
Common Tern 1 1 2
White -fronted Tern 1 1
S Co ro et sy t eT de Trn e rn 2 6 1 10 1 1 201
Common Noddy 1 1 3 4 1 4 1 15
1 1
Total 142 99 23 150 634 277 222 144 498 2189VI
As the convenor of the beach survey section of the
Australian Seabird Group, I received a number of beach survey
forms from Victoria, South Australia and Tasmania for 1973.
These reports have been summarised in the accompanying tables.
However, it is hoped that in future years, separate reports will
be prepared for each, particularly as it is beyond the scope of
this author to comment on the importance or otherwise of the

results obtained. No details of walks for the period January

May were received.
In Victoria beach survey forms were provided by Dr. K.
Kerry (2) and Mrs. B. Temple -Watts (1). In line with previous
practise, three zones have been recognised, each consisting of one
degree of longitude. The zones are Portland (141° – 142°), Port
Phillip (144° – 145°E) and Mallacoota (149° – 150°E). Nine seabirds
of four species were found in 9 km travelled in Victoria.
In South Australia J.B. Cox (11) and Mrs. B. Temple -Watts
(1) provided forms. Surveys totalling 116 km travelled were
carried out in which 93 seabirds of 15 species were found. Three
zones were patrolled viz Rapid Bay (Adelaide to CapeJervis.- 35 S

  • 36°S), Encounter Bay (Cape Jervis – Ewe Island 138 – 139 E)
    and Cape Banks (Beachport S.A. – Nelson Vic. 140° – 141°E).
    In Tasmania, N.W. Shepherd provided details of 15 walks
    covering 52 km travelled during which time 73 seabirds of 8
    were found. Two zones are recognised viz Trial Harbour (41. –42 S)
    and Queenstown (42 – 43 S). All the walks were carried out in the
    Queenstown zone with the exception of one in December in the Trial
    Harbour zone. The initials of each zone have been used in Table 1.
    Table 1 lists the species found dead in each zone of
    South-east Australia whilst Table 11 gives details of the monthly
    mortality pattern. No birds found in the survey showed any degree
    of oil pollution. The high incidence of Silver -Grey Petrels
    Pulmarus glacialoides being found dead in all south-east Australian
    States is of interest because of its rare status in this region
    (Serventy et al 1971 Handbook of Australian Sea -Birds pp. 86 – 87).
    A.K. MORRIS 20 Harrison Street, Old Toongabbie 2146.September, 1974 13
    (a) List of Species Found Dead in Each Zone of
    South-east Australia.
    Species P PP M Total QU TB Total CB EB RB Total
    Vic. Tas. S. A.
    Little Penguin 3 3 1 4 5
    White -capped Albatross 2 2
    U S Ci an l pi vd ee. r P-G G e. trP re e. y l Petrel 1 1 41 ‘ 41 1 1 2
    1 1
    Kerguelen Petrel 6 6
    White -headed Petrel. 1 1
    Dove Prion 17 17
    Thin -billed Prion 1 4 5
    Broad -billed Prion 1 1
    Medium -billed Prion 20 20
    Fairy Prion 1 1 7 7 1 2 3
    Unid. Prion 6 6
    Blue Petrel
    1 1
    Fleshy -footed Shearwater
    1 1
    Short -tailed Shearwater 6 6 28 20 48 3 14 17
    Unid. Shearwater 7 7
    Common -Diving Petrel
    1 1
    Pied Cormorant
    Black -faced Cormorant 1 1
    Silver Gull 1 1 2 1 1
    (b) Monthly Mortality of Seabirds in South-
    eastern Australia
    Species J F M A M J J O N D Total
    Little Penguin
    White -capped Albatross 1 6 1 8
    Unid. G. P. 2 2
    Silver -Grey Petrel 1 1
    Cape Petrel 1 1 2 3 7
    Kerguelen Petrel 1 1
    White -headed Petrel 1 5 6
    Dove Prion 1 1
    Thin -billed Prion 1 14 2 17
    Broad -billed Prion 1 1 3 5
    Medium -billed Prion 1 1
    Fairy Prion 17 3 20
    Unid. Prion 1 2 4 3 1 11
    Blue Petrel 2 4 6
    Fleshy -footed Shearwater 1 1
    S Uh no idrt . -t Sa hil ee ad r wS ah te ea rr water 11 3 1 1 2 4 19 31 1 7 1
    Common -Diving Petrel. 7 7
    Pied Cormorant 1 1
    Black -faced Cormorant 1 1
    Silver Gull 1 1
    1 1 2
    Monthly Totals – – – 11 3 3 3 42 24 21 28 34 16914. AUSTRALIAN BIRDS 9 (1)
    In mid -May 1971 we were fortunate to inadvertently photograph
    the Black Tern ChZidonias niger at the Paroo channel in north-
    western New South Wales. The bird was thought when photographed
    to be a Whiskered Tern C. hybrida as scattered groups were feed-
    ing throughout the Paroo wetlands at the time. The photograph
    was taken through a 500 mm Hanimex lens at f8 – 125/second, hand
    held from a moving boat. This fact accounts for the indistinct
    “fuzzy” features caused by camera shake.
    The Paroo channel is an inland stream which rises in the
    Moriarty Hills, about 126 km west of Charleville in south-west
    Queensland. It flows in a southerly direction, past the village
    of Hungerford (on the New South Wales/Queensland border) to lose
    itself in a series of swamps and lagoons in north-western New
    South Wales. In very wet years it contines past these to reach
    the Darling River near Wilcannia. During our visit the swamps
    were drying out following the flood earlier in the year. The
    photographs were taken near Wanaaring, 212 km west of Bourke.
    A Black Tern near Wanaaring, May 1971. Photo – C. Lalas.September, 1974 15
    The bird appears to be a Black Tern in non -breeding or juvenile
    plumage, identified by the finger of black in front of the base of
    the wing. These plumages are very similar and differ only slightly
    in colour of back, bill, legs and degree of fork of the tail; all
    of which are indistinguishable in the black and white photograph.
    The photograph was referred to Mr. D.I.M. Wallace, an editor
    of “British Birds” and Chairman of the Rarities Committee. Mr. Wall-
    ace is well known authority on Chlidonias terns. On 11 February,
    1974, Mr. Wallace wrote –
    “It is undoubtedly a ChZidonias tern and the plumage pattern
    shown is compatible only with niger. The shoulder mark is
    pronounced and the depth of the head cap is also indicative
    of niger. The bird is a sub -adult (and probably in portland-
    ica * phase plumage). The strong hint of black feathers on
    the flanks suggest a bird about one year old. The strongly
    marked under -wing is typical of portZandica in this species.
    The bill does look rather heavy but the angle of the photo-
    graph may be exaggerating this appearance, I do not consider
    that it bars identification of niger. There is no good reason
    to doubt that the bird is Australia’s third Black Tern”.
    The Black Tern has a holarctic distribution, breeding in north-
    ern Europe, Asia and North America, migrating southwards to Chile
    in South America, Africa and South-east Asia. There are only two
    previous sight records of this Tern in Australia, one bird in nupt-
    ial plumage was observed by Bell (1959 Emu 59:62-3) on 18 September
    1958 on a sandspit 90 km north of Sydney and another observed in
    non -breeding plumage near Newcastle on 13 January 1968 (Rogers,
    1969 Emu 69:237-9).
    Ferguson – Lees (1970 Birds of the World 4:1043) states that
    first and second year birds often summer in Africa instead of
    accompanying the adults that return to breed in Europe. This bird
    may have been overstaying in Australia although immatures of the
    very similar White -winged Black Tern C.leueoptera often do not
    depart northwards from the New South Wales central coast until May.
  • (Editor’s Note: Portlandica phase plumage in Sterna and ChZidon-
    ias Terns is considered to be due to an uncompleted moult resulting
    in a contrast of old and new feathers. This may be the normal
    dress of terns during their period of breeding immaturity when the
    vast majority remain on or near the wintering grounds, at least
    during their first summer. See Scott and Grant (1969 British Birds
    62:93-97) and Grant, Scott and Wallace (1971 British Birds 64:19-22).16. AUSTRALIAN BIRDS 9 (1)
    We wish to acknowledge the assistance of A.K. Morris and
    D.I.M. Wallace in the preparation of this note.
    MR. B. MILLER, Zoology Department, University of Sydney,
    Glebe, N.S.W. 2006.
    MR. C. LASAS, New Zealand.
    Hindwood (1970 Emu 70:32) recorded that I identified a White –
    capped Noddy, Anous minutus, dipping into foaming water near the
    outer rocks at Long Reef, 20 km north of Sydney on 8 February 1969.
    Since there were no previous records for these birds in New South
    Wales the record was held in suspense. On 15 March 1969 a spec-
    imen was collected by Mr. S. Goddard 10 km off Terrigal and was
    the subject of Hindwood’s article. Subsequently, another specimen
    was taken at Forster on 3 April 1972 by Mr. J. Debert (Rogers 1973
    Birds 7:99).
    At the time of submitting the record I was only 16 years of
    age and lacked any experience in these matters. As time has prov-
    ed me right and my observation could possibly have been the same
    bird that was collected by Goddard, notes on the observations are
    now submitted.
    On 8 February 1969 the weather was unsettled with a north-east
    wind when I first observed this noddy at 1700 hours as it repeat-
    edly dipped into foaming water at the eastern -most extremity of
    Long Reef. The bird was under observation for ten minutes using
    8 x 4.0 binoculars at a distance of 10 m. Notes taken at the time
    describe the flight as very bouyant, constantly dipping to the
    surface. During the period of the observation no calls were
    heard. The white forehead and crown stood out very clearly from
    the rest of the plumage which was sooty blackish. The bill was
    black and the tail was of medium length for a tern and rather
    distinctly forked. The size of the bird appeared to be somewhat
    about that of a Common Tern Sterna hirundo, although it may have
    been smaller.
    MR. D. SAWYER, 11 Perrey St., Collaroy Plateau, N.S.W. 2098.September, 1974 17
    M. D. BRUCE
    The Red -backed Quail Turnix macuZosa is represented by 14 sub-
    species from the southern Philippines, Celebes and Lesser Sunda
    Islands to eastern New Guinea and Guadalcanal (Sutter 1955). It has
    a disjunct range in Australia (two subspecies) mainly extending
    through the coastal areas of the north pseutes and east melanota.
    It is mostly found in the wetter coastal grasslands but its status
    is not well known. Storr (1973) noted that in Queensland it is rare
    south of the Herbert River.
    In the south-eastern States it is also regarded as rare and
    the general southern limit of its range was considered to be the
    north-east of New South Wales, south to the Clarence River (McGill
    1960). Since then four sightings have been recorded for N.S.W.:
    Broadwater-Wardell (Rogers 1972); Broadwater Beach (Hoskin pers.
    comm.); Tyagarah (McGill pers. comm.); and Diamond Head near Wool-
    goolga (Hobbs & Kaveney 1962). An enquiry by Mr. A.K. Morris
    (pers. comm.) has revealed some records for the Red -backed Quail
    from the Finley area, in the Riverina near the Victorian border,
    with two chicks taken and raised in captivity during early 1954
    and subsequent sightings (Thomas in. litt.). It formerly occurred
    in the Sydney area with records for Botany, La Perouse and Rand –
    wick (North 1891; 1914) from 1864 to 1904 (Hindwood and McGill
    1958; Hoskin pers. comm.). There are also two old records for
    Victoria: Mt. Dryden, near Stawell; and Dowling, near Ballarat
    (Wheeler 1967:10) where it is considered an accidental nomad. The
    Stawell record was of a nest (Howe 1928). An error in the type
    locality of the subspecies meZanota lead to Tasmania being incl-
    uded in its range (Mayr 1938). The correct locality is Moreton
    Bay, Queensland and it apparently “does not occur in Tasmania at
    all” (Mayr 1944; cf. Sutter 1955).
    I recorded this species along Hall’s Lane, a turnoff about
    12 km north-east of Braidwood, N.S.W. on 30 November 1973. A
    pair was flushed from thick grass cover and a clear, though brief,
    view was obtained of them. The distinctive and diagnostic rufous
    patch on the upper back of the female was unmistakable for this
    species. Also noted were, female:- contrasting blackish markings
    on the middle and lower back and rump, indication of small spots18. AUSTRALIAN BIRDS 9 (1)
    on the sides of the upper breast (which has a pale rutous wash),
    whitish belly; male:- slightly smaller, no rufous patch and gener-
    ally paler. Confusion with the Red -chested T. pyrrhothorax and
    Little T. velox Quails is unlikely (cf. Morris 1971), as also

with the larger Painted Quail T. varia, observed south of Braid

wood (cf. Slater 1970). Previous field experience with T. macuZosa
in Timor, the study of captive birds in Taronga Zoo, Sydney and
Adelaide zoo and of specimens in the Australian Museum, Sydney,
have confirmed my observations and notes for this record. I was
accompanied by Dr. J.A. Broadbent at the time but he was not able
to see the quails clearly.
Recent studies of the Red -chested Quail have shown that
heavy summer and autumn rains result in large increases in their
numbers. It was apparently during such times that Red -backed
Quails were found in the Riverina area and the pair observed near
Braidwood may have wandered from there. This species is undoubt-
edly more widespread than present records indicate. Its status
in south-eastern Australia is probably that of a nomadic resident
but normally in small numbers. The recent records for N S.W.,
except one (July), cover November to January.
I thank Messrs. A.R. McGill and A.K. Morris for advice dur-
ing the preparation of this note and Messrs. A.E.F. Rogers and
G.D. Thomas for checking records of the species. Also, I thank
Mr. H.J. deS. Disney for permission to examine specimens in the
Australian Museum and Mr. E.S. Hoskin for consulting the records
of the late Keith Hindwood.
Hindwood, K.A. & McGill, A.R. 1958. The Birds of Sydney.
Sydney: Royal Zool. Soc. N.S.W.
Hobbs, J.N. & KAVENEY, M. 1962. Notes on the Birds of the Central
Coast Areas of New South Wales. Emu 61:295-300.
Howe, F.E. 1928. Notes on some Victorian Birds. Emu 27:252-265.
McGill, A.R. 1960. A handlist of the Birds of New South Wales.
Sydney: Fauna Protection Panel.
Mayr, E. 1938. Birds collected during the Whitney South Sea
Expedition. XL. Notes on New Guinea birds. V. Amer. Mus.
Novit. 1007:1-16.
Mayr, E. 1944. The Birds of Timor and Sumba. Bull. Amer. Mus.
Nat. Hist. 83:123-194.September, 1974 19
Morris, A.K. 1971. The Red -chested Quail in New South Wales.
Emu 71:178-180.
North, A.J. 1891. Note upon the Nidification of Turnix melanotus
Gould. Rec. Aust. Mus. 1:195.
North, A.J. 1914. Nests and Eggs of Birds Found Breeding in
Australia and Tasmania. Vol. 4 Sydney: Aust. Mus.
Rogers, A.E.F. 1972. N.S.W. Bird Report for 1971. Birds 6:77-97.
Slater, P. 1970. A Field Guide to Australian Birds. Non -Passerines.
Adelaide: Rigby Ltd.
Storr, G.M. 1973. List of Queensland Birds. Spec. Pubis. West.
Aust. Mus. 5:1-177.
Sutter, E. 1955. Ueber die Mauser einiger Laufhuhnchen and die
Rassen von Turnix maculosa and sylvatica im indo-austral-
ischen Gebiet. Verh. Naturf. Ges. Basel 66:85-139.
Wheeler, W.R. 1967. A Handlist of the Birds of Victoria.
Melbourne: VORG.
MR. M.D. BRUCE, 8 Spurwood Rd., Turramurra, N.S.W. 2074.
In my book (1970 Australian Warblers p.129) I remarked that
the distribution of the White-tailed Warbler Gerygone fusca (prob-
ably better known as Western Warbler or Inland Warbler, although
both names are erroneous and should be discontinued) occurred over
most of that large part of Australia not occupied by the other
eight Australian species of that genus and which are all limited
to higher rainfall regions. However, there are still large gaps
in its distribution, no doubt influenced by ecological factors,
for small eucalypt growth seems essential to its requirements.
Little has been recorded on its occurrence east of the Great Div-
iding Range in New South Wales.
Probably the first definite evidence in that area is for the
upper Hunter River where it was found breeding by Hoskin (1957 Emu
57:289). However, on 3 March 1955, L.C. Haines, K.A. Hindwood and
E.S. Hoskin, and over two years later, on 21 September 1957, Hind –
wood, Hoskin, S.G. Lane and R.P. Cooper saw a greyish plumaged20 AUSTRALIAN BIRDS 9 (1)
warbler near Plumpton which was thought to more closely resemble
the Mangrove Warbler but could possibly have been a White-tailed
Warbler. Full data on both records are given by Hindwood and
McGill (1958 The Birds of Sydney p.111). J.N. Hobbs and M.T.
Kaveney (1961 Emu 61:298) refer to records of it in the Belford
National Forest near Branxton, first obtained in June 1959, and
P.A. Bourke has since seen the species at Black Hill, close to
Newcastle. On 8 December 1968, Wayne Longmore had a bird under
observation for a few minutes “resembling the Inland Warbler with
greyish plumage, white breast, white eyebrow and much white on
the tail” at Scheyville.
The species can now be safely included in the Sydney bird
records. On 16 January 1974 in company with Mrs. H.B. Gill of
Innisfail, Queensland, a lone bird was kept under observation
for a while in the Greendale area. The call -notes could be
clearly distinguished and the amount and pattern of white on the
tail were well seen several times in flight. E.S. Hoskin was in
the same area a few days later and he took with him recordings of
the White-tailed Warbler he had taped previously at Canberra. He
did not hear or see the bird for a while after his arrival but
very soon after playing the recorded calls one flew immediately
to him from a patch of low eucalyptus growth a little distance
away and at once became very agitated whilst the calls came over
the recorder. Again good views were obtained and the call of
the Greendale bird was clearly discernible.
I understand there is a recent Port Lincoln Peninsula (S.A.)
breeding record, the first known occurrence in Melbourne has been
published and it has bred at Canberra. So some extensions to the
eastern and south coast of Australia indicates a “stretching out”
in this normally “western” bird’s range.
My appreciation to E.S. Hoskin for publishing his records and
for forwarding required information from the “Keith Hindwood Bird
Recording Service”.
MR. A.R. McGILL, 95 Nuwarra Road, Moorebank N.S.W. 2170.k’r ,,i ::CONTENTS
Morris, Alan K. Seabirds found dead in N.S.W. in 1973 .. 1
Morris, Alan K. Seabirds found dead in South Australia, Tasmania and Victoria
in 1973 .. 12
Miller, Ben and Lalas, Chris. A Black Tern photographed in inland N.S.W. .. .. 14
Sawyer, David. First sight record of a White -capped Noddy .. 16
Bruce, M. D. A review of the Red -backed Quail in South-eastern Australia. .. .. 17

McGill, A. R. The White-tailed Warbler in the Sydney District .. .. 19

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