New Zealand Oystercatchers

To: "crompton" <>, "birding aus" <>
Subject: New Zealand Oystercatchers
From: "John Layton" <>
Date: Mon, 10 Jul 2006 21:36:45 +1000
Hi everyone

This is our first post to Birding-Aus.

We agree with G. Crompton's criticism that the "The Hand Guide to the Birds
of New Zealand" cites, 'more like slang or just plain uncommon or ambiguous'
common names, rather than the official English names'. This can be
frustrating and confusing, particularly to tyro birders.

However, I believe that other field guides (Pizzey and Knight, for example)
circumvent this problem quite well, insomuch that, after the 'official'
English name, they list 'Other Common Names'. We find this approach
extremely helpful.

Here in Canberra, the buds on our flowering plum trees are beginning to
burst into blossom. And, right on cue, Silvereyes are combing through the
branches, gleaning a little nectar here, a tiny insect there. The majority
have yellow-plumaged chins which seems to indicate they're local yokels. But
every day or so lately, we notice a silvereye or two sporting a grey chin.
This appears to indicate that the grey-chins have travelled from southern
Victoria and Tasmania, and we guess they're currently enroute back to their
southern breeding grounds. According to our books, some ventured as far
north as central Queensland.

During late April, we began to look for Striated Pardalotes bearing a yellow
'wing-spot' which indicates they're of the Tasmanian race, and we checked
off a couple 'yellow-spots' at the Australian National Botanic Gardens. The
local striated pardners have a red 'wing-spot'.

So, we began to delve into the the different races of species, and a whole
new widow on birding opened up before us. Accordingly, we've found "The
Directory of Australian Birds - Passerines" by Schodde and Mason to be a
source of information and inspiration. Although we've owned it for a good
while, we never referred to it much until twelve months ago when the
southern silvereyes tweaked our  interest in different races.

A couple of points re Schodde & Mason though: We often notice the specific
parts of the scientific names used differ from those in the field guides,
and even from those used in Christidis & Boles. Why is this so? It often has
the Laytons scratching his laypersons' heads. And what happened to the
subsequent volume(s) of The Directory of Australian Birds? Did the wheels -
wings - fall off ?


John & Stephanie Layton.

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