Re: Brown Songlark ? in Sandringham, Melbourne

Subject: Re: Brown Songlark ? in Sandringham, Melbourne
Date: Tue, 05 Jan 1999 11:32:05 +1100
Couldn't find it this (Tuesday) morning - neither could Sean who turned
up as well following my posting.

Thanks to those who sent tips on i/d.  I look forward to hearing one in
the future - sounds interesting - but this bird was silent. Even though
judging size can be tricky I've ruled out wagtails, even a giant one.

Having looked through the field guides and consulted a couple of people
I am sure it could not have been anything other than a non-breeding male
Brown Songlark. But there were a number of points that didn't check out
with the field guides. 

First posture, this bird (which was not very approachable and often in
grasses around 15 cm high) stood rather like a Silver Gull with an angle
of about 135 degrees between its back and nape rather than the 170
degrees in the illustrations.  Second I didn't notice any black mark
from the lores towards the eye: the eye stood out.  (Although Pizzey's
old guide has a "?" in its description of sub-adult male plumage
suggesting the black/darker areas may be very muted.)

Its dark axillaries and long tail (for intance) ruled out the two birds
I know that have a jizz nearest to this bird: non-breeding golden plover
and immature starling.

Any other possibilities ?  Brown Songlark has been recorded in Bayside
about every 5 years with records in 1982, 87 and 93. 

Michael Norris

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