More on Cape York Subspecies and Rarities

To: Michael Ramsey <>
Subject: More on Cape York Subspecies and Rarities
From: Iain Campbell <>
Date: Wed, 17 Feb 2016 02:50:47 +0000
Thanks very much for these insights lLoyd.

On Tue, Feb 16, 2016 at 8:59 PM, Michael Ramsey <>

> Thanks Lloyd, very interesting reading. Any other subspecies that may
> warrant specific status? Facinating area!
> Sent from my iPhone
> > On 17 Feb 2016, at 11:59, Lloyd Nielsen <>
> wrote:
> >
> > A bit more to add to the recent discussion about Wet Tropics/Cape York
> subspecies and rarities.
> >
> > I had John Young look at the boobook photo taken on Mt Lewis by Josh and
> his mates and he was satisfied that it was lurida. Even though the quality
> of the photo was not the best, jizz and markings were right for lurida in
> his opinion. He also said there did not seem to be any indication of
> ocellata in the plumage, despite the quality of the photo. Further, he is
> confident it is a fairly young bird - even younger than I would have said.
> He said that whitish under the throat indicates a young bird and that they
> lose that after a while. The fact that the bird did not move probably
> indicates a young bird as well for lurida is often very skittish and can be
> very difficult to get sight of.
> >
> > I also asked him about the probable difference in breeding seasons of
> lurida and ocellata and he agreed with my experience. He has found a number
> of nests of lurida over the years, all in November, and more of ocellata
> which were in the early to mid dry season - up until about
> August-September. This would mean that it could be difficult for
> hybridisation to take place. His opinion is that when one form is brooding
> eggs, the other would probably have large young on the wing or vice versa
> and then be in a different stage of moult. Like myself, he has never seen
> any indication of hybridisation in lurida and both of us doubt that it
> takes place, or if it does, very rarely. If there was hybridisation, we
> should be seeing in-between birds from time to time but we aren't. All are
> fairly standard lurida. There seems to be some small differences, probably
> between sexes, and we think possibly age variation as well. Young birds
> differ slightly again. We suspect this may be the reason people are seeing
> "hybrids". Young lurida are on the wing right now (January-February).
> >
> > One is a rainforest bird and subject to rainforest conditions while the
> other is an open forest bird and subject to very different conditions, more
> so here in the tropics. Seasons in the tropics (just two - the Wet and the
> Dry) can be very harsh and distinct. Even the eggs of lurida are quite
> noticeably different in size and texture from the other two races of
> Boobook. If there is extensive hybridisation, we have yet to be convinced.
> I have been recording sound in September-October just as the breeding
> season commences when birds are quite vocal and all sighted have been
> normal lurida. We have both spent more time in those forests than most
> people, both by day and by night, myself on Mt Lewis and John in the
> Wallaman area.
> >
> > I did not ask him about race boobook which seems to replace ocellata in
> the very southern part of the Wet Tropics but the chances must be that it
> is similar to ocellata in its breeding in these tropical areas.
> >
> > Another interesting bird from the tropics - Rogers Pipit (race rogersi
> of Australian Pipit - Anthus australis) inhabits mostly the estuarine and
> saline flood plains in a fairly narrow strip right across the tropics from
> about Lakefiled NP on Cape York to NW WA. Simpson & Day show its range
> well. It seems to be habitat specific and never seems to occur away from
> that habitat. It is worth looking for it on Nifold Plain in Lakefield NP or
> Marina Plains to the north-east on Cape York Peninsula where it is fairly
> common. When you see it, you wonder what you have got - heavily
> spot-breasted, long-legged, a different jizz from australis (more upright)
> and noticeably darker plumage. The first time I saw it, I thought I had a
> vagrant species from Asia or elsewhere. It does look like a distinct
> species but it needs someone to do some work on it in the future to arrive
> at the correct answer.  The race closest to it superficially is exiguus
> from the highlands of New Guinea according to Schodde & Mason in their
> Directory.
> >
> > I have never seen it south of Nifold but Tony Ashton photographed a bird
> south-east of Ingham from similar habitat a short while back, which appears
> identical to the birds from Nifold and Marina Plains. So there could be an
> isolated population in the Ingham area. If so, it would be an extension of
> known range. I included it in my Wet Tropics book mostly to entice people
> to watch for it and to create some discussion. Where one gets Zitting
> Cisticola on the short-grassed marine plains, I would be looking for this
> Pipit. Their habitat preference is similar.
> >
> > Another which needs to be looked at more closely is the Collared (now
> Torresian ?) Kingfisher group (within Australia). Despite what genetics
> might say, if the southern race colcloughi is not a different species from
> northern sordidus I will give up birding! I haven't seen the recent paper
> by Anderson and others but in the field colcloughi is so obviously
> different from the tropical sordidus which inhabits the entire Wet Tropics.
> When I was guiding 15 years and more ago, people who were familiar with
> southern colchloughi were always amazed at the difference when first seeing
> sordidus. They usually doubted that it was a Collared Kingfisher. When I
> lived behind the Gold Coast in southern Queensland, one would sometimes
> have to look at a bird about the mangroves several times to decide whether
> it was a Sacred or a Collared. One doesn't have to do that in North
> Queensland where they might come together - the difference is very obvious.
> >
> > Colcloughi is a much smaller and perhaps daintier (different jizz) bird
> with a proportionate bill while sordidus is noticeable larger (contra
> Bergman's rule), sturdier, almost lanky with a very obvious large,
> disproportionate bill. Some males have an almost massive bill. I have
> played sound of colcloughi in territories of sordidus without a response.
> However, play sordidus sound within a sordidus territory and the reaction
> is immediate. David Hollands has photographs of sordidus (taken at
> Innisfail) in his book Kingfishers and Kookaburras. Compare them with
> photos of birds taken in southern Queensland.
> >
> > Our race of Bassian Thrush (cuneata) also needs attebtion - another
> which defies Bergman's rule.
> >
> > Lloyd Nielsen
> > Mt Molloy  Nth Qld
> >
> >
> >
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Iain Campbell
Tropical Birding Tours
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