FW: Vagrant White-rumped Swiftlets

To: "'Jolly, Bill'" <>
Subject: FW: Vagrant White-rumped Swiftlets
From: "Atzeni, Michael" <>
Date: Mon, 30 Nov 1998 10:22:45 +1000
> -----Original Message-----
> From:  [SMTP:
> Sent: Saturday, 28 November 1998 20:20
> To:   Atzeni, Michael
> Subject:      Re:Vagrant White-rumped Swiftlets
> Dear Michael A.
> Thank you very much for forwarding on the replies you had received, I have
> interest in any more you might receive also, as I am still trying to
> collect any swift  or swiftlet data to keep up to date witht he whole
> family.
> I am enclosing some of the text I sent to HANZAB on distribution that you
> might find of interest.  When the next volume of HANZAB is out you will be
> able to read the full edited text.
> Mostly over tropical rainforest though wet sclerophyll, and in the
> Chillagoe-Mungana, Mitchell-Palmer and Undarra lava tube areas, savanna is
> used.  Coastal, Mountain, and Tableland forests are all used and as these
> become patchy to the north and south so does the birds distribution.
> Caves
> or dark and damp recesses under granite boulders seem to be needed within
> 30 km of foraging areas for nest and roost sites. (Tarburton 1988b).
> Generally inhabits high and very high rainfall zones (1m-2m) except in the
> monsoon area at the base of Cape York where it utilises areas receiving
> only 800 mm.  This latter distribution may be due to historical and
> geological factors.  These western areas contain rainforest relicts
> particularly in the limestone outcrops where the trees gain access to deep
> water not available in the surrounding chert.  However, the birds
> currently
> forage over the savanna as much as over the remnant rainforest, suggesting
> that it is the proximity to cave roost sites (only found in the limestone,
> forest remnant association) that is the limiting factor rather than the
> absence of rainforest.
> Normally distributed in NE Qld, on islands, coastal plain, and mountains
> to
> over 1 000m in the Great Dividing Range.  Nest and roost sites are mainly
> under granite boulders or other overhangs on the coast or in caves further
> inland.  Foraging in the coast and mountains is mostly over forest and
> agricultural land - particularly sugarcane.  In the savanna it is mostly
> over trees such as Cluster Figs Ficus racemosa  Sandpaper Figs F. coronata
> , Broad-leaved Kurrajong Brachychiton australe,  Red Bauhinia Lysiphyllum
> cunninghamii,  White Bauhinia L. hookerii  and the Helicopter Tree
> Gyrocarpus americanus,  in the limestone outcrops and Cullen's Ironbarks
> Eucalyptus cullenii ,  Ghost Gum Eucalyptus papuana,  Variable-barked
> Bloodwood E. dichromophloia, and Cocky Apple Planchonia careya.... in the
> chert plains (Godwin 1983).
> It will fly below open or isolated trees and will forage low over watered
> lawns in dry areas, such as at Chillagoe.  Many from offshore islands
> forage over the mainland forests and make a marked movement over the water
> at sunset.  Normally flies between five and 50 m but will descend to 10 cm
> and rise to 70 m.
> Preferred breeding habitat is total darkness as all inland birds nest in
> such conditions (Tarburton 1988b).  Coastal birds rarely have this option
> due to a lack of true caves and so roost and nest in twilight, formed by
> boulders, fissures, overhangs and vegetation (Smyth et al 1980).  A colony
> in a mine shaft near the summit of Mt. Peter has used the total darkness
> option (Smyth et al 1980).  This site is one of the highest known colonies
> whereas three of those on Dunk Is. are less than 10 m above sea level and
> are affected by sea spray during storms (Banfield 1911, Schulz 1991).
> Breeding pairs often roost in their nest, though one partner may roost
> adjacent to the nest on an overhanging rock ceiling.  Non-breeding birds
> also roost near or in the breeding site.
> Extralimital distribution includes at least eight subspecies and ranges
> from the Celebes through Ceram, Mollucas, Bismarck Archipelago, Vanuatu,
> New Caledonia, Fiji, Samoa, Niue and Tonga. From these last islands it
> merges into Atiu (Cook Islands) Tahiti, Tuamotu and Marquesas.
> In the HANZAB region it is found as a breeding species only in NE  Qld.
> The southern-most colony is at Finch-Hatton Gorge west of Mackay and the
> northern-most is expected to be in the Iron Range.  The distribution is
> discontinuous with breaks around Townsville, West of Mareeba and Atherton,
> and South of Iron Range and is largely affected by a lack of suitable
> nest/roost sites and marginal feeding (dry) zones.
> Vagrants have been sighted at Booby Is. in Torres Strait [Mar 1975]
> (Stokes
> 1983),  Mt Isa, Qld, (Palliser 1985, Anon 1990a)  Magnetic Island
> [Occasionally]  (Wieneke 1988).   Reserve Creek near Murwillumbah, NSW
> [Sep-Oct] (Pratt, 1979),  Iluka, [Jun]  NSW (Clancy 1980).  Ballina, NSW
> [3/2/1990] (unconfirmed, Anon 1990b).  About 150 below the Towoomba Ra.
> 18/1/1991 (Andrew & Eades 1991).  40-50 at Richmond Hill, Alstonville, NSW
> 21/2/1992, 50-75 at the same place 21/11/1992 (Morris 1994).  A vast flock
> of about 1000 from the north of NSW (Andrew & Eades 1993).  Six seen at
> Broken Head 19/12/1993 with NTS. (Morris & Burton 1995)."
> There have been some other sightings in the last three years, but we were
> having trouble locating them in print.
> One not in that section of text was a sighting of three spodiopygius near
> Mannum in South Australia in March 1985.[Paton et al 1994.  A Second bird
> Atlas of the Adelaide Region.  Part 1: Changes inthe Distribution of
> birds:
> 1974-75 versus 1984-85.  SA Ornithologist 31(7): 151-193.
> Thanks too for your comment on the weather, for spodiopygius should be
> building its nest and laying its eggs now, and it would usually be a
> strong
> wind that sends them south at this time of the year.
> There are breeding colonies not too far from Townsville, so it is not
> surprising that you received some replies commenting on sightings in the
> Townsville, Mt Elliot area.  I have not seen them near the city of
> Townsville, usually near Roleystone? in the north and a bit further south.
> There is a colony 200 km west of there also.
> You mention club sightings of Forktails and neeedletails _ would be
> interested in those aslo as I have a data base of all published sightings,
> those from the Bird Atlas , the Bird Survey and any others I have been
> able
> to gleen.  I always keep track and acknowledge the source and would be
> interested in any you would have time to share.
> WEll thanks again
> All the best
> Mike tarburton

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