For what it is worth, Frith 1967 Waterfowl in
Australia: Angus & Robertson Ltd, on p.223 records an obseravtion of a
Northern Shoveller by John Gould in 1839 who wrote:
"..I must ask my ornithological readers both in
Australia and Europe to take my word for the occasional appearance of the bird
in Australia. When I visited New South Wales during the rainy season of 1839,
all the depressed parts of the land were filled with water. and the lagoons
here, there and everywhere tenanted by hundreds of ducks of various species, and
every now and then one, two or more beautifully plumaged Shovelers were seen
amongst them; but I did not succeed in shooting one of them and must have left
the matter in doubt as to the particular species if the late Mr Coxen of
Jarrundi had not had the skin of a splendid old male in his possession, which he
himself had shot and which after careful examination I found to be identical
with Spatula clypeata of Britain and the European
Frith records that .." unfortunately "vermin"
destroyed Mr Coxen's specimen before it reached a Museum, so we are left only
with Gould's word. It is impossible to imagine a man of Gould's knowledge to be
mistaken but no more specimens have been seen, and so the Northern Shoveler has
been added to the Australian list of birds on the basis of a sight record.
Perhaps a reader of this note will secure a properly authenticated specimen and
settle the point".
Harry Frith would be pleased to know that the point
is well and truly settled.
NSWFOC Records Officer