RE: Yellow-tinted and Grey-fronted Honeyeaters on Cape York Peninsula

To: <>, <>
Subject: RE: Yellow-tinted and Grey-fronted Honeyeaters on Cape York Peninsula
From: "Tim Dolby" <>
Date: Tue, 24 Nov 2009 17:51:25 +1100
Thanks for comments Lloyd. Really good.

Yes, I think you're absolutely right about the 'Grey-fronted' being 
Yellow-tinted Honeyeater. Looking at a few images of Cape York birds, 
particularly immature birds, they seem to have a darker tinge to them.

In terms of Zitting Cisticola, I'm interested to hear about follow up reports, 
particularly in the grassy areas near the turn-off to Lockhart River. The group 
that I was with felt that the song was distinctively different to a 
Golden-headed, but I'm keen to know more. I've noticed that some data records 
show that Zitting is actually reported more often (at Iron Range) than 
Golden-headed. (One figure has Zitting being a 7 percent report rate while 
Golden-headed is 5 percent). But as you mention this may mean nothing, being 
such a tricky little bird outside breeding plumage I reckon they could easily 
all be miss-identified records.

In terms of Mangrove Gerygone, my feeling is that the birds we saw was a 
Mangrove Gerygone, with the call and bird being Mangrove Gerygone like. In 
terms of the Iron Range, we'd been seeing and hearing Large-billed for well 
over a week (they were a garden bird at Portland Road). Again looking at Atlas 
records they seem to be regularly reported from around Lakefield NP, 
particularly around the North Kennedy River, Princess Charlotte Bay, Mariner 
Plains area. However given your comments about local knowledge (which I reckon 
is usually spot on) it may be worth further ups.

If someone is up that way I recommend entering Lakefield NP via Musgrave 
Station along Lilyvale Rd, and then accidently miss the turn-off to Lakefield 
Rd :-) and take Marina Plains Rd. Keep driving until you hit Annie River/North 
Kennedy River (it's a bit confusing which is which), and the gerygone was seen 
here. Be very careful though: the mosquitoes in the area are the worst I've 
ever experienced! Once the mosquitoes have found you, it will be like a scene 
from a cartoon, where the bear is being chased by swarm of bees.

Thanks again. I hope to get to sunny FN Qld soon.


Tim Dolby

> Great report Tim - very helpful for future travellers to this
> fascinating area. Those honeyeaters would be Yellow-tinted. There are
> quite a number throughout middle Cape York Peninsula. Some populations 
> are probably quite isolated, probably because of habitat preference.
> Southern range seems to be about the Musgrave-Lilyvale area though I
> have often tried to find them around Laura where there seems to be
> suitable habitat - without success. They range north at least to
> Piccaninny Plains and Weipa and again, I have tried to find them further
> north than that, again without success. They are mostly associated with
> the tall Eucalypt woodland - Darwin Stringybark (Eucalyptus tetrodonta)
> & Bloodwood (Corymbia  spp.) - which is common over much of the
> Peninsula. They spend nearly all of their time in the high canopy and
> can be quite difficult to observe. Their call is a bit different from
> the Yellow-tinted further south and inland - e.g. Georgetown.
> Grey-fronted Honeyeater would be way out of range. The nearest I have
> seen them is down around Charters Towers-Torrens Creek which would be
> about 800 km S. There are records from the SE Gulf of Carpentaria though
> I have never seen them there. This would be about 400 km to the SW.
> There are a couple of others in your list Tim which caught my eye. The 
> Zitting Cisticola at Iron Range - could have been that species though I
> have never seen them in denser grassy habitat on the Peninsula. It is
> mostly a bird of the more saline areas in NE Qld - e.g. Couch Grass
> (Sporobolus sp.) rather than grassland, often just behind mangroves
> though it does occur away from those areas at times. It has been
> recorded from Nifold Plain in Lakefield NP and there is a population at
> Marina Plains, east of Musgrave though I have never checked this out. It
> only occurs in a small number of areas throughout the entire area. This
> race (laveryi) is difficult to distinguish from Golden-headed in
> non-breeding plumage - song is the best guide.
> The other is Mangrove Gerygone - your record from the Alice River. There
> is a considerable break in range up the N Qld coast. It occurs fairly
> commonly to as far north as Townsville on the E coast but then drops off
> and is quite rare by about Ingham. From there north, right up and around
> the tip of Cape York it seems to be absent. It extends north on the west
> coast probably to as far as about Weipa - much of the western side of
> the Peninsula is difficult to access. I regularly assist Klaus Uhlenhut
> with his annual Bird Week at Bamaga at the Tip each year and we have
> never recorded it there - Large-billed is common though. In fact
> Large-billed is the common gerygone of the mangrove habitat north from 
> about Ingham and right around the Peninsula.
> There are a few older records of Mangrove Gerygone from the northern Wet
> Tropics and I chased all of these up when I was researching for my Birds
> of Queensland's Wet Tropics. There was nothing convincing about any of 
> the records and it seemed highly likely that they were all juvenile
> Large-billed (which is easily confused with adult Mangrove). Certainly 
> none of us who live here, at that stage, had any records of Mangrove on
> the E side of the Peninsula north of about Ingham. I am unaware of any 
> sightings since then.
> Anyway, thanks for reporting all of that - keeps some of us who
> regularly visit the Cape on our toes.
> Best wishes,
> Lloyd Nielsen
> Mt Molloy  Nth Qld

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