Notes on Cape York Subspecies and Rarities
Notes on Cape York Subspecies and Rarities
Lloyd Nielsen <>
Thu, 28 Jan 2016 00:53:01 +0000
Read your report on Cloudbirders with much interest Josh. Excellent
report. (Fantastic to see the younger generation doing this sort of
thing and getting it all spot on!)
Your comment on Red Boobook is the only thing I picked up which is not
quite correct. I think I can say emphatically that there is no
hybridisation between ocellata and lurida. Not sure about race boobook
in the southern Wet Tropics but neither ocellata nor boobook are
rainforest owls in this region. We have been working on lurida on and
off for more than 20 years and have yet to see an obvious hybrid. I am
fairly sure there are no hybrid specimens in collections. Lurida is
quite common on Mt Lewis whereas ocellata is quite rare in the
surrounding open forest. It seems to be restricted to the very dry open
forest (e.g. Mt Carbine) a fair way from the upland rainforest and then
only in well scattered pairs. In my 25 years in the Wet Tropics I have
never seen ocellata in the wetter open forests closer to the upland
areas (e.g. Julatten) – and never in rainforest.
Some time ago, there was a couple of photos of so-called hybrids pop up
(on Birding-aus?). I had John Young look at these and he said male and
female lurida without hesitation. There seems to be some slight
variation which is probably related to age/sex. Young birds can look a
Also one very important thing which no one seems to have considered is
that there appears to be a considerable gap between their breeding
seasons which would make it harder for widespread hybridisation to take
place. Like nearly all tropical rainforest species, lurida's breeding
seems to take place in November and December. It is very vocal during
September and October. Ocellata is virtually silent at this time and I
suspect that like many other dryland tropical species, breeding takes
place once the Wet Season is under way – or even late in the wet season
– February-April when there is a peak in food supply. Hoping to get more
data on this from here on.
Our collective opinion up here is that lurida badly needs recognition as
a good species and there are a number of good reasons for that. In fact
I have treated it as a distinct species in my recent update of Birds of
the Wet Tropics of Queensland etc. and have already received approval
from the main birders in the Wet Tropics for doing so including
Australia's noted owl expert – John Young.
On another subject, had a good report of a sighting of a pair of
Buff-breasted Button-quail to the west of the Wet Tropics a couple of
weeks ago so it still exists! We are starting to wonder if the birds
which reach the western edge of the Wet Tropics (Mt Molloy etc) might be
stragglers from further inland (sandstone areas ?) although it is a very
rare bird anywhere. Can't divulge the locality at the moment - on
private property and we need to do some work on it while they are there.
I think there is more to the quail-thrush than we realise. Last week I
had a glimpse of two birds which had to be quail-thrush (flushed from
beside the road) in the very dry country well to the north of Ravenshoe
which doesn't fit the Ravenshoe birds at all – which is intriguing. I
have illustrated the Ravenshoe bird from Jonathan Munroe's photos in my
Birds of the Wet Tropics book. It certainly differs from the normal
Spotted and may well fall over the line for a distinct species when it
is finally run to earth.
In regard to the Cicadabirds, that is another group which badly needs
some work done. Most of us here agree that there are three species
inhabiting the Wet Tropics. Again I have covered this in the book.
Another is the honeyeater around the southern Atherton Tablland which is
not Fuscous and does not fit Yellow-tinted and which we have labelled
the Herberton Honeyeater for want of a better name. I have been doing a
fair bit of work on this over the past 5 years and hope to get a paper
published within the next 12 months. Again, covered in the book with
illustrations of several populations.
Keep up the good work Josh!
Mt Molloy, Nth Qld
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