Lloyd Nielsen <>
Coxen's Fig Parrot
Lawrie Conole <>
Tue, 14 Dec 2004 09:23:58 +1100
Lloyd Nielsen wrote:
Stinging Tree when suddenly a Fig-Parrot flew out above us,
unfortunately above a mid-layer of foliage where we could not see it.
The bird performed the distinctive "circle" flight so typical of
Macleay's, returning to the spot it flew from, and uttered the typical
"zit-zit" Fig-Parrot call. There is no mistaking this for anything
else - nothing else does it.. Had that happened to me while I was
working there, I would not have known what it was and passed it over
as a small rainforest species, simply because I had had no experience
with Fig-Parrots. I immediately drew everyone's atttention to it and
all agreed that it was different from anthing they had heard
previously. Later that night, tapes of Macleay's were played and all
8 people agreed that the calls were identical.
Lloyd's account reminds me of my own brief encounter with Coxen's
Fig-Parrot - on 29 January 1994, at Cambridge Plateau Flora Reserve in
the Border Ranges of NSW.
I had not long before spent about a month in the Wet Tropics, and had
become very familiar with the calls and behaviour of Macleay's
Fig-Parrot. I was walking along the road through the ecotone between
rainforest and wet eucalypt forest with two American birders, when I
heard the fig-parrots approaching from behind. As I turned around they
flew straight overhead, two of them, calling, and disappeared into the
forest up ahead. We had no luck in relocating them.
Neither of the American birders was familiar with fig-parrots or
lorikeets, but I had absolutely no doubt. The combination of calls and
the dumpy tailed in flight silhouette were diagnostic as far as I was
concerned - I knew what they were as soon as I heard the call. At that
time I was living in Geelong, and had regular contact with both Little
and Purple-crowned Lorikeets, and know their calls and flight
characteristics off by heart. The NSW rarities committee did not accept
the record - though saying it had some credibility!
I found out later that Glenn Holmes had a sighting from some years
earlier (in the 1980s I guess) in a fruiting fig tree very close to
where I saw my birds!
So - Lloyd says Coxen's Fig-Parrots were still around in November 2001 -
and I'm sure they were still around in 1994. The continued searches are
warranted - but from Lloyd's experience and mine, a few weeks chasing
Macleay's Fig-Parrots in the Wet Tropics would be the ideal pre-survey
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