More on Cape York Subspecies and Rarities

To: 'Tim Siggs' <>, 'Lloyd Nielsen' <>
Subject: More on Cape York Subspecies and Rarities
From: Mike Carter <>
Date: Fri, 19 Feb 2016 04:40:38 +0000
Yes Lloyd, I too found your comments on Collared Kingfisher, i.e. the
Australian Torresian Kingfisher Todiramphus sordidus very interesting. They
are timely and pertinent to a claim just submitted to BARC on a nominate
race Collared Kingfisher T. chloris seen on a Kimberley Birdwatching Trip
last November on Browse Island, WA. Not only do we have three breeding
subspecies in Australia but at our northern extremities we have as rare
visitors at least 2 (possibly 4) taxa of the now widely split Collared

Mike Carter, 03 5977 1262
181/160 Mornington-Tyabb Road
Mornington, VIC 3931, Australia

-----Original Message-----
From: Birding-Aus  On Behalf Of
Tim Siggs
Sent: Wednesday, 17 February 2016 8:22 PM
To: Lloyd Nielsen
Subject: More on Cape York Subspecies and Rarities

Hi Lloyd, your comments on the Collared Kingfisher are interesting. In 2014,
I filmed them in the tropics and noted the massive Bill. On my return, I
compared them to footage of Collared Kingfisher in SE Queensland and the
difference was even more pronounced that I had thought.

This and your other observations and comments are really interesting, as

Tim Siggs.

On Wed, Feb 17, 2016 at 10:59 AM, 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
> 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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