FW: [canberrabirds] Zosterops corner

To: <>
Subject: FW: [canberrabirds] Zosterops corner
From: "Geoffrey Dabb" <>
Date: Thu, 6 Mar 2008 15:29:12 +1100

Whoops sorry, forgot to mention the Barn Swallow, one of my original  ‘3’ –


1        Barn Swallow

2        Zitting Cisticola

3a,b  Yellow Wagtail

4         House Crow (maybe)     g


From: Geoffrey Dabb [
Sent: Thursday, 6 March 2008 1:19 PM
Subject: FW: [canberrabirds] Zosterops corner


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 meeting.


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 time.

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