European Magpie

To: "birding-aus" <>
Subject: European Magpie
From: "Alan Stuart" <>
Date: Wed, 25 Oct 2000 21:57:05 +1000
A few days ago, somebody (Alan Morris, I think) asked what happened concerning the reports of a European Magpie in the upper Hunter valley from a while ago.  I didn't notice any responses, so I'll fill in a bit on the story as I know it and then add some news from today.
After the reports of a strange bird at a power station (Liddell power station, I believe it was) in the upper Hunter, Phil Hansboro and Dion Hobcroft went there to look for it.  The bird was not found, but they were shown photographs of a definite European Magpie taken at a bird feeder at the power station.  The bird was reported to have been there since about the beginning of this year, but it had disappeared from a week or two before their visit. This coincided with the gentleman who maintained the food supply in the feeder going on leave.  He's since back, and putting out birdseed, but the European Magpie has not come back to the feeder.  Phil Hansboro has told me that he has copies of the photos.
Late last year, there were some stories of a European Magpie having been seen at the Hunter Region Botanic Gardens, near Raymond Terrace.  These sightings were unable to be confirmed - by the time we heard about it, the bird was no longer being seen there.  The disappearance from the Botanic Gardens seems to approximately coincide (slight lag) with the appearance further up the Hunter valley at Liddell power station.
The trail had gone cold after the bird disappeared from Liddell.  However, I received a report just yesterday that somebody had seen what they thought to be a European Magpie at Carrington, which is an inner suburb of Newcastle.  I spoke this afternoon with the guy who had seen it.   He is reasonably knowledgeable about birds and gave me a fairly credible description.  The bird was there all day last Friday, but he hasn't seen it since then.
I think it's a >99% probability that there was a European Magpie in Newcastle last Friday, and which therefore could appear somewhere within the Newcastle/Sydney region at any time (would it be a legitimate tick for those in the Twitchathon??).
How did it get here?  Possibly off a ship coming in to Newcastle Harbour - I've been told that sailors consider it to be a good luck bird and sometimes have it as a shipboard pet.  I don't know if this is correct or not.
Alan Stuart
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