Art. XXXIV.—Notice of the Occurrence of the Eastern Golden Plover (Charadrius fulvus) in the Auckland District.
[Read before the Auckland Institute, 13th June, 1881.}
Few birds have a wider geographical range than the Eastern Golden Plover (Charadrius fulvus). Drs. Finsch and Hartlaub, in their work on the avifauna of Central Polynesia, give an excellent sketch of its distribution. According to them, it ranges along the whole of the eastern shores of Asia, from Northern Siberia and Kamtschatka through Japan and China to the Malay Archipelago and India. Eastwards and southwards, it extends to New Guinea, Australia, and Tasmania, and has been recorded from almost every group of islands in Polynesia. Its breeding quarters, however, are confined to Northern Asia, and it thus exists as a migrant only in countries to the south of China.
The Golden Plover was first recorded from New Zealand by the late Mr. G. R. Gray (under the name of C. xanthocheilus, Wagl), in his catalogue of the birds of New Zealand, printed in vol. ii. of Dieffenbach's “New Zealand,”
published in 1843. The only specimen known to Mr. Grray appears to have been one presented to the British Museum by Miss R. Stone. From Gray's list the species was copied into all subsequent catalogues; but I cannot ascertain that any further examples found their way to Europe, with the exception of one stated by Finsch and Hartlaub, in their work already quoted, to exist in the Bremen Museum. With the history of this specimen I am not acquainted. * Dr. Buller, in his “Birds of New Zealand” avowedly bases his description upon Miss Stone's specimen. As far back as 1856 there existed in the old Auckland Museum a single specimen said to have been obtained somewhere in the Auckland district; but this was forwarded to Dr. Finsch for examination some ten or twelve years ago, and has not been returned. None of the other museums in the colony have ever contained specimens; and although New Zealand ornithologists have often searched for the bird during the last twelve or fifteen years, no further examples were procured; and doubts have even been expressed as to whether any of the specimens mentioned above were really killed in this country.
The two examples now exhibited were shot by Mr. E. A. Plumley near Penrose, on the Manukau Harbour, early in December, 1880. In all, ten or twelve individuals were observed, three of which were killed, but one proved to be unfit for skinning. Mr. Plumley was kind enough to immediately forward the birds to the museum, so that I was able to examine them in a fresh condition. They proved to be male and female respectively. Like all the specimens hitherto obtained in New Zealand, they are in winter plumage, but show signs of being about to put on their summer dress. It is not improbable that birds in summer plumage may. sometimes occur here; indeed, I have had particulars given me by Mr. Plumley which seem to show that this is the case.
[Footnote] * Dr. Finsch has since informed me that he is by no means certain that this specimen actually came from New Zealand.