birding-aus Re: Reed-warblers (fwd)

Subject: birding-aus Re: Reed-warblers (fwd)
From: Frank OConnor <>
Date: Wed, 3 Mar 1999 17:36:09 +0800 (WST)

---------- Forwarded message ----------
Date: Wed, 3 Mar 1999 14:06:37 +0800
Subject: Re: Reed-warblers

I already replied directly to Mick Todd, but in reference to Tania Ireton's
message about Fred Smith referring to Oriental/Great Reed-warblers having
pink mouths, I have the following observations.

I organised a two week trip to Kununurra and Broome in January 1995 with
Fred Smith, Gordon Beruldsen and Ken Baker from Melbourne.

At the boat launching ramp at Lily Creek lagoon in Kununurra, and a bit
further around in the Kimberleyland Caravan Park we found three
reed-warblers with pink mouths, and many others with orange mouths as
illustrated in Simpson & Day.  We had a field guide for PNG (or somewhere
close-by) which seemed to suggest that a pink mouth was a diagnostic
feature for Great / Oriental compared to Clamorous / Australian.  The birds
seemed very slightly larger than the 'Clamorous', with faint streaking on
the throat (difficult to see but one was in a tree about 1.5 metres above
us), a much richer range of calls and the rump in flight seemed a uniform
colour compared to the back (while Clamorous to me seems to be a bit
yellower than the back but this may be the light).

However Ron Johnstone at the WA Museum showed me a few reed-warbler skins
labelled pink mouth and Acrocephalus stentorous.  I think that the colour
may have faded or we couldn't open the mouths, as I certainly recall
actually seeing the mouth colour of the specimens.  They were very old
specimens from early this century from memory.  I can't remember if they
were collected in far north WA, or maybe north Queensland where Glenn Storr
did a lot of collecting (the WA Museum has one of the better collections of
Qld birds).  The WA Museum also has a very good collection of Indonesian
birds from islands such as Lombok, but I can't remember if there were any
reed-warblers amongst them.

So were the museum specimens with pink mouths labelled incorrectly?  Can
Clamorous / Australian have pink mouths?

I have since looked a lot more closely at reed-warblers, and while it is
difficult to see the mouth colour, I have only seen orange mouths since.
This has been in Kununurra (different times of the year), Derby, Argyle
Diamond Mine (in north east Kimberley including several in January /
February), Perth, Albany, Brisbane at various times of the year.

The Broome Bird Observatory mist netted and banded a Oriental Reed-warbler
in the Crab Creek mangroves in January or February 1998.  I wonder what
mouth colour this bird had?

Based on the calls (we had Clamorous in the same area), and other features
we were still satisfied that we saw Oriental Reed-warbler, but I have
always wondered about the mouth colour ever since.


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