Musk Lorikeets in Sydney and species diversity

To: Chris Lloyd <>
Subject: Musk Lorikeets in Sydney and species diversity
From: Andy Burton <>
Date: Sat, 17 Dec 2016 05:59:30 +0000
Haha, I’ve been lurking Chris, and involved in other projects. 

Re the change in vegetation, particularly canopy:

In the Lane Cove, Roseville, Lindfield, Killara area, especially around Fiddens 
Wharf Road, the timber getters had moved in during 1804 and had taken all the 
timber that they wanted by 1819. After this there were various horticultural 
and animal husbandry projects set up by individuals. Post WW2, the ridges were 
built on and ridgetop birds e.g.., White-throated Gerygone, disappeared. Where 
I live, on the ridge overlooking the short Blue Gum Creek tributary of the Lane 
Cove River, there were three small dairies and a rifle range alongside the 
creek. It is still possible to see where the rifle range existed until it was 
decommissioned in 1965. At the risk of stating the bleedin' obvious it is not 
possible to have a rifle range in the middle of a forest, and so it was not 
until 1965 that eucalyptus regrowth commenced. That forest is now dense and 
quite mature, as are the areas where the dairies (and their cattle) were. At 
about the same time many of the tributaries of the Willoughby, North Sydney, 
southern Kuingai and Ryde municipalities were reserved allowing for the 
regeneration of vegetation along these narrow reserves of the valley bottoms. 
At about the same time a local nursery must have marketed Flooded Gums 
Eucalyptus grandis to the local populace and so in places, that species has 
joined the regenerating Blackbutts and Blue create a new canopy. It is 
my belief that this is what has recently attracted Musk Lorikeets to the area 
and for a few years I have predicted that the species will become a common 
breeding resident throughout most of northern Sydney.


> On 17 Dec 2016, at 2:07 pm, Chris Lloyd <> wrote:
> Long-time no speak Mr. Burton. 
> I am glad to hear some confirmation but I am still a little mystified as to 
> why they suddenly appeared in these numbers this year. I can faithfully say I 
> have never had a Musk Lori in our backyard even growing up in the Georges 
> River bush in the 1960s now they are all over our callistamon and seem to see 
> the cogeners, the Rainbow, off the block. 
> It would be a rare piece of positive if the increased bush regeneration was 
> responsible but over here one of the things the POWL project indicated was 
> the loss of vegetation through the McMansion cancer and that nice Mr. 
> Baird-Stokes and the fellow spivs and their 'give them flats' approach to 
> housing over here in the Badlands. Ciao
> -----Original Message-----
> From: Chris Melrose  
> Sent: Saturday, December 17, 2016 1:46 PM
> To: Andy Burton <>
> Cc: Chris Lloyd <>; 
> Subject: Re: [Birding-Aus] Musk Lorikeets in Sydney and species diversity
> Hi All
> I live in Wollstonecraft and can confirm your sightings Andy. In 1995 or 
> thereabouts I saw them feeding in Red Ironbarks up near the railway bridge. 
> This summer as two years ago the Sydney Blue Gums and Resinifera in the area 
> are flowering well. Although the Angophoras are not flowering profusely, 
> there have been a few hanging about in them as well. 
> Great to see these little pocket rockets about!
> Cheers
> Christine
> Christine Melrose
> 0407705140
>> On 17 Dec 2016, at 12:37, Andy Burton <> wrote:
>> Hi Chris, the increase in Muskie numbers is interesting. 
>> In much of northern Sydney they were a rarity in my experience, and then in 
>> the late summer and autumn of 1995 they appeared throughout much of the 
>> area. Since then they have been seen annually at that time of year. We moved 
>> to Roseville - Lindfield in Jan 2001 and Muskies have been visitors to the 
>> garden every Autumn since. They appear to be following the flowering eucs.. 
>> Then during the summer of 2014 -2015 (from memory) they appeared for much of 
>> the summer, for the first time, and stayed on through autumn. Last year they 
>> weren’t noticeably present in Summer.  This year for the second time during 
>> summer we had the first first local records at the end of Spring or early 
>> December. Whilst I haven’t birded widely in northern Sydney recently I can 
>> confirm that I have seen Muskies at home in the Lance Cove catchment on the 
>> borders of Roseville and Lindfield, Sydney Olympic Park, Macquarie Uni, and 
>> last weekend quite good numbers at Barton Park in North Parramatta.
>> I suspect that recently there has been an increase in euc canopy cover in 
>> northern Sydney and this has provided a food resource for this species and 
>> also partly accounts for the annual sightings of Pacific Bazas these days. 
>> Bazas have been annual visitors to our garden for a good number of years and 
>> almost certainly nest locally. A big change from the 1970s when they were 
>> virtually unknown in Sydney.
>> Andy
>>> On 17 Dec 2016, at 11:12 am, Chris Lloyd <> wrote:
>>> I live on the Georges River on the south side of Sydney and have been 
>>> bird watching the sandstone headlands along the river for a few 
>>> decades. Over the last five years I have coordinated a group 
>>> volunteers to watch Powerful Owls along the river leading to 
>>> extensive observation on any of the 25+ territories from Campbelltown 
>>> to Tom Ugly's. All this has meant walking the suburbs and river sides 
>>> for a couple days of each week. What both my partner and I have 
>>> noticed this year is the dramatic increase in the number of Musk 
>>> Lorikeets which APPEAR to be present. Not only do their numbers seem 
>>> significantly higher but they are coming much lower in the foliage to feed.
>>> In previous years this species could frequently be heard high flying 
>>> or in the tops of eucalypts. This year, and on more than one 
>>> occasion, we have been able to literally walk up to eye level and 
>>> about an arms length away for one or a number of birds. Are we 
>>> imagining this or are others seeing Mush Lorikeet numbers increase?
>>> Arguments about species numbers seem to have a long history and I 
>>> vaguely recollect Darwin suggesting a number above 30k. Cracraft and 
>>> others of the PSC bent came up with similar figures in there endless 
>>> polemic with Meyer and BSC crowd and, of course, there are "ultrataxon" 
>>> sleights of hand.
>>> Having spent a fair bit of life playing with seabirds I have often 
>>> wondered about the shearwaters in general and the Wedgetail in 
>>> particular. I think these may be the second most common species but 
>>> in the hand birds from one part of the Pacific seem different to 
>>> others. One of the seabirder's party tricks is calling up birds and I 
>>> note that what works on the Cap-Bunker islands is not effective on the NSW 
>>> south coast. Just sayin'
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