40 Spots and Corvids

To: "birding-aus" <>
Subject: 40 Spots and Corvids
From: "Tony Russell" <>
Date: Sun, 22 Dec 2002 09:29:50 +1030
Morning all,
Having recently returned from a sojourn in Tasmania I thought I'd make a few observations about the 40 Spots and Corvids - the Corvids on King Is  that is.
On King we found whole paddocks full of corvids which we physically ID'd as Little Ravens but which had voices much deeper than mainland Littles. There were other corvids in pairs or small groups which to us looked like Forest Ravens and which had very gutteral voices.
 Local birders (anon) assured us that we were mistaken about the Little Ravens and that we had been seeing large numbers of Forest Ravens, which seemed odd to us as previous experience on the mainland with Forest Ravens was that they occur in pairs or small groups, whilst Littles do often flock in large numbers. 
However, Watts D. 1999. A Field Guide to Tasmanian Birds, p170,  states that there are no Forest Ravens on King Is. !!  ( both map and distribution notes)
All the "regular" field guides - Pizzey, Simpson and Day, and Slater- all say that both occur there.
Schodde & Mason, 1999, pp 609 - 611 state that both Corvus mellori ( Little Raven) and Corvus tasmanicus tasmanicus ( Forest Raven ) occur on King Is, and refer to Littles as the flocking species. They also say that
" known morphological and voice traits suggest that mellori may form a superspecies with C. tasmanicus " and that " a molecular survey of differentiation in this morphologically cryptic group is overdue"
Does anyone have a really definitive view on this ?
40 Spots;
Part of our itinerary was of course to locate some Forty-spotted Pardalotes.  At first we checked at Tinderbox but although there were lots of Pardalotes about they were all regular Spotted's.  I had previously reported 40-spotteds from a section of the Peter Murrell reserve in 1998 - not the Coffee Creek section - so we headed off to Howden in search of these. We went through Howden from south to north and found a small track going off to the right, just on a curve near a house with a sign " Phillip Barrender , Builder" , adjacent to power pole 28 and opposite a blue letterbox and sign saying " Horses, shut the gate". 
The track led in between back gardens and was cluttered with old household junk , old trucks and other vehicle parts.  This looked interesting so in we went and at about 200 metres in we quickly found a pair of 40-spotteds flying to and from a nest hole. We also found several more 40-spotteds in the same area. There were some very fine leaved eucalypts in the area which the birds were frequenting which we thought might be White Gums.
We actually thought we'd stumbled on the Coffee Creek site as reported on b-a ( or was it Wingspan ?), but as we left and went on a further half kilometre or so we came to the actual Coffee Creek site and sign. Had we discovered yet another small colony ?
Later in our trip we also found Forty-spotteds in the  large fine leaved eucalypt at McCrackens Gully ( Thomas & Thomas 1996 p27), about 1.5km south of Barnes Bay, (couldn't exactly find Waterview Hill though, p26 ), and of course also found them in the garden at Inala Cottage.
Any comments/ additions or contributions welcome.
Tony Russell.
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