Notes from Guildford, W.A.
By H. E. Hill.
On first seeing this district, with two rivers—the Helena and the Swan—innumerable swamps, and the Darling Ranges (granite) close by, I expected to find a large number and variety of birds. This expectation, however, was doomed to disappointment, as birds of all kinds were scarce except in a few favoured patches. It is hard to say why this should be so, but it is certainly not due to any scarcity of food.
As I was not often able to get out into the field, my notes are of the briefest. A complete list might include about 120 species, but I only observed about half that number; there are only about half of these again which are in any way common.
Ninox boobook.—Two specimens only noted.
Grallina picata.—Rather uncommon.
Collyriocincla rufiventris.— Very local.
Graucalus melanops.—Abundant round Guildford during the latter part of 1902; scarce in 1903.
Petrœca campbelli.—Fairly common.
Smicrornis brevirostris.—Seen in parts.
Pseudogerygone culicivora.—Extremely abundant; can be heard anywhere throughout the district at all times.
Malurus splendens.—Common; clutch usually two eggs.
Rhipidura preissi—Common; 6/9/03, nests just started, few straws only in place; 9/9/03, nest complete; 19/10/03, nest just begun. I am unable to see the difference between R. preissi and R. albiscapa of Eastern Australia.
Rhipidura tricolor.—Very common and tame, except during the winter; sings day and night throughout the year.
Sisura inquieta.—Have seen a single bird only.
Acrocephalus longirostris.—Not to be seen during the winter; appears in spring, and makes its nest in the first week in December; eggs not often to be found before the tenth of the month. Will desert the nest if it has been touched. A much quieter bird than A. australis.
Acanthiza inornata, A. apicalis, A. pyrrhopygia, A. chrysorrhoa.—All fairly common where there is any timber. A. chrysorrhoa perhaps the most frequently seen.
Ephthianura albifrons.—Seems to move about a good deal; in 1902 I did not see a single individual, but it was pretty common in February and March, 1903; have not seen it since.
Gymnorhina dorsalis.—Not in very great numbers.—5/8/02.—Nest started. 28/9/02.—Nest noticed on 5th August, now has young birds. 18/10/02.—Birds just ready to fly. 28/10/02.—Same pair of old birds have started a fresh nest. 15/12/02.—New clutch reared, young just flying. 5/8/03.—Nest half finished in next tree to the one mentioned above in August, 1902. 10/9/03.—This nest now has three eggs. 14/10/03.—Nice young birds, can just fly.
Cracticus destructor (leucopterus).
Eopsaltria georgiana.—Observed on one occasion only.
Pachycephala rufiventris.—Very common wherever the trees grow at all thickly, but oftener heard than seen.
Climacteris rufa.—Observed on one occasion only.
Sittella pileata.—In one or two parts of the district.
Acanthorhynchus superciliosus.—Very common everywhere.
Zosterops gouldi.—Another very common bird; known locally as the "Greenie."
Melithreptus chloropsis.—Have seen two or three birds only, both in thickish timber.
Ptilotis sonora.—Common; known locally as the "Trooper."
Meliornis longirostris.—Common wherever the adenanthos grows; have seen it nowhere else; shy at all times. When nesting it may be observed without much difficulty, as it remains close by the nest, though it shows great agitation if this is approached; at other times it is hard to get even a glimpse of the bird. 19/(5/03.—Empty nests in adenanthos at Bennett's Brook. 30/9/03.—Nest with two sets eggs at Bennett's Brook. 3/10/03.—A good many nests (empty) at same place, all in adenanthos. 17/10/03.—Nest with two eggs barely set. In all its habits M. longirostris closely resembles M . mystacalis.
Manorhina obscura.—Not very common; warier than M. garrula, but quite as noisy.
Acanthochæra carunculata.—Very plentiful at times; scarce from May to August; when not nesting collects in flocks, sometimes of large size.
Acanthochæra lunulata.—Very local; fond of patches of thick scrub. 27/9/03.—Nest at Lockridge, in banksia, one egg; birds very quiet and feeding close by; one or two empty nests at Bennett's Brook; birds very wild.
Pardalotus ornatus.—Very common.
Petrochelidon nigricans.—Saw none in 1902. 6/5/03.—Was fairly plentiful through summer; not visible since end of March. 16/5/03.—Abundant on river. 25/11/03.—A good number nesting in hollow tree by river.
Artamus sordidus.—Usually Wood-Swallows are not very common, but there are a few about occasionally; this is the only species I have identified.
Merops ornatus.—Reported; have not seen it myself nearer than Perth.
Dacelo gigas.—Some years ago a number of "Laughing Jackases" was released in various parts of the south-west. In 1902 I saw a single pair only (near the Mundaring Weir), but since then they seem to have grown rather common. There were a good many all along the Swan during the latter half of 1903, and I found a nest on the Helena River in the middle of October.
Halcyon sanctus.—A common bird; nests abundant in trees along the Swan during November, 1903.
Chalcococcyx plagosus.—Have not seen the bird, but a single egg of this species was shown to me.
Glossopsittacus porphyrocephalus.—At odd times small flocks of Lorikeets appeared; never saw any at close quarters, but believed they belonged to this species.
Calyptorhynchus baudini.—The White-tailed Black Cockatoos were frequently seen flying across or feeding in the timber.
Barnardius semitorquatus.—Occasionally reported.
Microtribonyx ventralis.—On the river.
Burhinus grallarius.—From July, 1902, to June, 1903, I only heard a single bird; after that they were to be heard almost every night.
Ægialitis melanops.—26/4/03.—Flock of about a dozen Dottrel on river; appear to be the Black-fronted, besides another species.
Plegadis falcinellus (?).—There were a few Ibis about in the spring of 1902. I think this was the species. Saw none in 1903.
Notophoyx novæ-hollandiæ—Common on the river.
Ardetta pusilla.—28/11/03.—Nest with three fresh eggs in rushes on river; nest consisted merely of a handful of fragments of rushes, and fell to pieces on being removed. I had unfortunately neglected to photograph it. 30/11/03.—Flushed bird at same place; discovered another egg on ground close by where the nest had been.
Dupetor gouldi.—Saw the Black Bittern twice on the Swan. Reported also from Helena.
Phalacrocorax carbo, P. hypoleucus, P. melanoleucus.—Cormorants always plentiful on the river; P. hypoleucus the commonest. 2/3/03.—Noticed a Cormorant on a log in the river; it remained in a peculiar attitude, swaying in the wind with both wings half-spread for a long time, as if it were trying to dry them in the breeze.
Podicipes poliocephalus.—Reported on river.
Chenopis atrata.—Have only heard Black Swans flying across.
Nettion gibberifrons (?).—Saw a small flock on the Swan once only.
Nyroca australis.—Saw none in 1902; very common in the early part of 1903, after which they gradually grew scarcer as the year advanced, but they never disappeared altogether; no doubt they left for breeding. 19/3/03.—Large flock on river, a considerable difference in the shading of the birds; the general body colour of some individuals was chestnut, while that of others was very dark. The white under tail coverts were very conspicuous as the birds swam about.
Biziura lobata.—Reported on river.