I started looking into the origin of these things in 1991, after the Newcastle
sighting and before I joined the HANZAB team for Vol 2. By the time we were
ready to write Gull-billed Tern for Vol 3 I was busy in NZ with large skuas,
gulls, southern ocean terns etc. Paul Scofield had stepped in to take a few
species off Danny and I as were behind schedule (as usual). I begrudgingly
handed Gull-billed to Paul. I gave him my data and historical literature
(mostly breeding records for Asia) and tried my best to influence him
completely, but naturally he drew his own conclusions. I guess he saw my point
but couldn't confirm it. Danny was working on other species at the time, but
developed an interest a few years later when banding significant numbers in
Broome. His findings were therefore based on an entirely different set of
data. I can't remember why he stuck with affinis either, but I seem to
recall classifying it as "plausible but not compelling".
This compares with my own conclusion of nilotica which might also be
"plausible but not compelling". As you say, we are all agreed they are not
--- On Fri, 18/3/11, Jill Dening <> wrote:
Many thanks to David and Denise for enlightenment. I had already gleaned from
hanzab that there had been the odd earlier NT record, but found it odd that
birders don't seem to report them nowadays. Clearly they ARE there, and I
wasn't reading the right literature. And David, back in 1996 when hanzab V3 was
published, there was doubt even then about it being affinis, or the nominate
nilotica. It seems that in recent times the term affinis has become more widely
accepted. Can't recall on what basis, but I guess in the coming years we will
learn more. This is really tricky stuff. From memory, I think Danny Rogers'
paper favoured affinis.
The point is that they certainly aren't macrotarsa, and thanks for taking the
time to communicate.
Sunshine Coast, Queensland, Australia
26° 51' 41"S 152° 56' 00"E
On 18/03/2011 1:09 PM, Denise Goodfellow wrote:
> Hi David and Jill
> In Annotated Birds of the Top End (Thompson and Goodfellow, 1990), several
> sightings of S.n. addenda (as we knew it) are reported from Leanyer Sewage
> Ponds, Fogg Dam and Kakadu by John McKean and others. These birds visit
> Darwin during the Wet Season.
> A specimen from the sewage ponds was found in December 1989, and I assume
> this in the the NT Museum collection, if anyone is interested.
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