Re: Wompoo Pigeon Distribution in NSW

To: "Chris Chafer" <>, "alan morris" <>, <>
Subject: Re: Wompoo Pigeon Distribution in NSW
From: "Ian McAllan" <>
Date: Wed, 7 Sep 2005 08:33:09 -0000
Thank you for that Chris,

However you are not strictly correct.

John Gilbert never went to the Illawarra, though we know John Gould did go
there during the period 25 February to 7 March 1840.

This is what I have written on it for the "historical" section of the NSW
Atlas, so far ...

This species was scientifically described by Coenraad Temminck from
specimens in the collection of the Linnean Society of London collected at
Red Point opposite the Five Islands near Wollongong (Temminck 1821). The
usual sources for the Australian specimens in the collection were Caley and
Robert Brown, however in this instance neither are known to have visited the
Illawarra. Brown may have obtained the specimens in Sydney in August 1803
when he examined a specimen of Koala Phascolarctos cinereus that was
collected at 'Hat Hill', now known as Mt Kiera (Vallance et al. 2002; Watts
et al. 1997). Although the Wompoo Fruit-dove was originally found in the
Illawarra, it was evidently not common (Gould 1865). Its numbers dwindled in
this area with a final sighting of the original population in the 1920s
(Gibson 1977).

In the following 50 years all records of the species were from north of the
Hunter River and it was considered a rare species in the State (McGill
1960). However, in August 1973 a bird was found injured on Kooragang Island
in Newcastle, the first local record for more than a century (AM O.44726;
Rogers 1974). This record signalled a general increase in the species
numbers in the south of its range, including several records from the
Central Coast, Sydney and the Illawarra during the 1980s and 1990s. The
abundance of the species also increased farther north, and it is no longer
rare in NSW. Nevertheless the Wompoo Fruit-dove has yet to recolonise the
Illawarra. This change in status is no doubt largely a result of hunting
during the 19th and early 20th centuries. The Wompoo Fruit-dove is a large
and conspicuous species and was evidently eaten in great numbers. It was
only legally protected in 1955, though illegal hunting may have occurred for
some years afterwards (Frith 1982). With the cessation in hunting its
numbers have recovered, though clearing of rainforest means it can never
return to its former numbers.

Ian McA.

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