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A History of the Birds of New Zealand.

Phalaropus Fulicarius. — (The Grey Phalarope.)

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Phalaropus Fulicarius.
(The Grey Phalarope.)

  • Tringa fulicaria, Linn. Syst. Nat. i. p. 249 (1766, ex Edw.).

  • Tringa glacialis, Gmel. Syst. Nat. i. p. 675 (1788).

  • Phalaropus lobatus, Lath. Ind. Orn. ii. p. 766 (1790).

  • Phalaropus glacialis (Gmel.), Lath. tom. cit. p. 776 (1790)

  • Phalaropus rufus, Bechst. Naturg. Deutschl. ed. 2, iv. p. 381 (1809)

  • Phalaropus platyrhynchus, Temm. Man. d’Orn. p. 459 (1815).

  • Phalaropus griseus, Leach, Cat. M. & B. Brit. Mus. p. 34 (1816).

  • Crymophilus rufus (Bechst.), Vieill. N. Dict. viii. p. 521 (1817)

  • Lobipes hyperboreas, Ross in Ross’s Voy., 8vo, ii. App. p. 167 (1819, nec Linn.).

  • Phalaropus fulicarius (Linn.), Bonap. Comp. List, p. 54 (1838).

  • Phalaropus platyrostris, Nordm. in Démidoff, Voy. Russ. Mérid. iii. p. 250 (1840)

  • Phalaropus asiaticus, Hume, Stray Feathers, i. p. 246 (1873).

ad. ptil. æst. pileo, nuchâ, mento et plumis ad basin rostri nigris, pileo saturatiore, maculâ magnâ albâ periopthalmicâ ferè ad nucham productâ: collo postico nigricante: dorso et scapularibus nigris, plumis omnibus rufescenti-ochraceo marginatis: primariis nigricanti-cinereis, rhachidibus albis, pogonio externo ad basin albido: secundariis cinereis albido marginatis, intimis nonnullis brevibus ferè omnino albis, secundariis intimis elongatis nigricanti-cinereis versùs apicem albido vix marginatis: tectricibus alarum nigricanti-cinereis, medianis albido vix apicatis, et majoribus conspicuè alto terminatis: uropygio cinereo: supracaudalibus ferru-gineis medialiter nigro notatis: rectricibus centralibus nigricantibus, reliquis saturatè cinereis, duabus extimis versùs apicem rufo notatis: corpore subtùs saturatè ferrugineo: subalaribus albis cinereo notatis: pedibus sordidè olivaceis: rostro flavo, ad apicem nigro: iride fuscâ.

ad. ptil. æst. minor et sordidior: pileo haud nigro sed nuchâ et dorso nigricantibus, brunnescenti-ochraceo notatis, maculâ capitis laterali indistinctâ, et corpore subtùs pallidiore, abdominis plumis albo marginatis facilè a feminâ distinguendus.

Ptil. hiem. fronte, gulâ, collo et corpore subtùs purè albis, pileo nigro, plumis albis immixtis: nuchâ, collo postico et dorso antico nigris vix albido notatis: dorso et uropygio cum scapularibus pallidè cærulescenti-cinereis vix nigro notatis: alis ut in ptilosi æstivali, sed nigricantibus nec nigricanti-cinereis: fasciâ nigrâ per oculos productâ: rostro olivaceo: pedibus grisescenti-olivaceis.

Adult female in breeding-plumage. Crown, nape, chin, and all round the base of the bill black, this colour being most intense on the crown; a large white patch covering the sides of the head round the eye, and extending backwards to the nape, where it nearly joins; entire underparts and neck all round, except a narrow central black line at the back, rich dark rusty red; back and scapulars black, the feathers all margined with rusty yellow; primaries blackish grey on the outer web and on the central and terminal portion of the inner web, the outer and basal portion being white; shafts white; secondaries dark greyish, margined with white, one or two of the inner short ones nearly pure white; elongated inner secondaries blackish grey, narrowly edged with white at the tip; wing-coverts dark grey, the median coverts slightly edged with whitish, and larger wing-coverts broadly terminated with white, forming a broad white bar across the wing; rump greyish; upper tail-coverts dark rusty red, marked with dark brown or black along the centre of some of the feathers; central rectrices blackish, remainder dark slate-grey, the two outer ones on each side marked with dark rufous towards the tip; under wing-coverts white and grey varied. Irides dark brown; bill flat, in colour yellowish, page 31 except at the tip, where it is black; legs dull olive. Total length 8·5 inches; wing, from flexure, 5·4; tail 2·5; bill, along the ridge ·9, along the edge of lower mandible 1; tarsus ·75; middle toe and claw ·95.

Adult male in breeding-plumage. Differs from the female in being much duller in colour; the crown, nape, and back are black, marked with rusty or yellowish brown, all the feathers being margined with this colour, so as only to allow the black to appear through here and there; the white patch on the side of the face is almost obsolete, and the underparts are much duller in colour, the feathers on the lower abdomen being edged with white.

Winter plunage. Differs from the summer plumage in having the upper parts generally black and grey, and the underparts pure white; forehead, throat, neck, and entire underparts pure white; crown, nape, a narrow line down the back of the neck, and the fore part of the back black, slightly marked with whitish; on the crown several pure white feathers; back, rump, and scapulars dark French grey, intermixed with a few blackish feathers, one or two of which latter are slightly margined with yellowish brown; wings as in the summer dress, but much blacker, the grey shade being almost absent; through and behind the eyes a broad blackish streak. Bill dark olive; legs greyish olive.

With a few unimportant alterations and additions, I have availed myself of Mr. Dresser’s permission to use the excellent description of this species given in his ‘Birds of Europe.’

The only hitherto recorded example of this Palæarctic species in New Zealand was shot, in June 1883, by the late Mr. Michael Studholme on the narrow strip of sandy beach which separates the Waimate lagoon from the sea. He observed it flying alone, without any companions; and on discerning that it was something new he sent the specimen to the Canterbury Museum.

The late Sir Julius von Haast, who brought the occurrence under the notice of the Philosophical Institute of Canterbury, gave the following interesting account of it *:—

“Unfortunately I did not receive the bird in the flesh, but, judging from its total length (8·25 inches), it is most probably a female. The plumage, fully agreeing with the descriptions of European and North-American specimens, proves that this Waimate example is in its breeding or fine summer dress. The occurrence of this bird is, therefore, one of the most curious facts on record as an addition to our New-Zealand avifauna; but as it resembles in general appearance, at least at a distance, some of our smaller Wading-birds, it may, although probably only an occasional straggler, have hitherto escaped detection by our naturalists.

“The following remarks as to its habits and migrations may demonstrate this strange appearance in the southern hemisphere still more clearly. In winter the Grey Phalarope is found regularly in Scotland and England, but not so frequently on the coasts of Germany, France, Italy, or North Africa. In Asia it has often been observed in the Black, as well as in the Japanese, Chinese, and Indian seas; and, though essentially a marine bird, it winters regularly in some parts of the interior of Asia, as, for instance, in Persia. It also occurs in the Arctic regions of America, leaving for the south when the arctic autumn fairly sets in, and travelling as far as Mexico and Guatemala. The occurrence of this bird in the southern hemisphere, as far as the latitude of New Zealand, is therefore very remarkable, especially in the middle of the arctic summer, and can only be accounted for by assuming that this bird, or more probably a flock, had been driven southwards by stress of weather when the time arrived for their returning to their home in Eastern Siberia or Western North America. However, the most curious fact is that the specimen before us is in its most brilliant summer or breeding-dress, and quite in accordance with the time of the year when it is breeding in the arctic regions; while, according to all accounts accessible to me, it has always been observed after its emigration to its winter-quarters in the more southern regions to be clothed in its more sober white and ash coloured winter dress, instead of the rich rufous and black tints our specimen possesses so conspicuously.”

* Trans. N.-Z. Inst. vol. xvi. p. 279.