For the purpose of ‘BPP’
(below) the divide between the palearctic and oriental regions runs south of
Japan, through the middle of China, south of the Himalayas, meeting the Arabian
Sea in the vicinity of Karachi. The answer to the below question depends
on what would seem to be some fairly precarious judgments about species,
particularly given Leo Joseph’s talk on speciation at the last COG
The answer does not include a
reed-warbler, overshoots by the migratory Oriental RW giving it only vagrant
status in Australia. The other widespread Asian RW, the Clamorous, is
regarded as largely sedentary, so the splitting off of the Australian RW leaves
no room for the Clamorous on the Australian list. It occurs in New
Guinea, though, and presumably no-one should feel discouraged about reporting
one, and I’m sure the Acrocephalus Sub-committee of BARC would give
it fair and sympathetic consideration. Kelly’s might not be
the most advantageous locality.
There have been so many yellow
wagtail reports in Australia that they are no longer regarded as
vagrants. BPP does not split the yellows, but C&B2 does, which means
that both ‘Eastern Yellow Wagtail’ and ‘Green-headed Yellow
Wagtail’ are on the Australian list – and as non-vagrants, the only
wagtails in that category. That makes at least one wagtail species shared
with the palearctic.
Another species is the Zitting
Cisticola, more a vagrant at the northern end, being recorded from Japan.
That brings us to the curious
case of the House Crow. C&B2 is prepared to promote this to ‘ship-assisted
vagrant’ and gives it with the ‘v’ superscript in the text
section. However in the definitive ‘Species List’ the House
Crow is there, at least in my copy, without the ‘v’. Is this
an error or is it deliberate, for reasons that are not disclosed? Should
I point this out to anyone?
Incidentally a recount of the
palearctic-shared vagrants gives 16 rather than 17, unless the House Crow
should be in there.
Well done to John Rawsthorne who
got 2.5 out of 3. Marnix tells me he finds BPP a ‘great little book’
and has advice on how it might be bought more cheaply, although for local birds
you’d better stick with your Taylor&Day.
From: Geoffrey Dabb [
Sent: Wednesday, 5 March 2008 5:59 PM
Subject: [canberrabirds] Zosterops corner
I was just flicking through the little Collins ‘Birds
of the Palearctic: Passerines’, from Norman Arlott, nice little
book if your tastes run in that direction, but a bit expensive for the
size. I thought I’d use it to see in the light of the latest
C&B2 how many passerines the Australian list still had in common with the
Palearctic (as defined). Excluding vagrants (now up to 17!) and
introductions the answer is ‘3’. If anyone wants
to guess which these are, I’ll tell you whether you’re right.
In this message I didn’t get around to making the
interesting point I picked up from this book about zosterops. Maybe next