I. Birds actually observed in 1908.
Porzana plumbea (Gray) subsp.?
Crex plumbea Gray in Griffith's ed. Cuvier's “Animal Kingdom,” vol. 8, p. 410, 1829: New Zealand. Ortygometra tabuensis Cheeseman, Trans. N.Z. Inst., vol. 23, p. 220, 1891. Porzana plumbea Buller, Suppl. Birds N.Z., vol. 1, p. 63, 1905.
This bird was commonly heard, though rarely seen, in the swamp close to where we camped in Denham Bay. A dead specimen, unfit for preservation was picked up on the north coast. Though it nested on the island, its nest was not found, but a young one just hatched was obtained on the 5th November. As no specimens were collected, I am unable to decide the subspecific relationship of the Kermadec-breeding form, the range of the species extending over the Pacific islands, Australia, and New Zealand.
Pelagodroma marina (Latham) subsp.?
Procellaria marina Latham, Index Ornith., vol. 2, p. 826, 1790: South Atlantic Ocean. Pelagodroma marina Cheeseman, loc. cit., p. 226; Buller, loc. cit., p. 98.
This species has been recorded as breeding on Meyer Island. I was unable to verify this, but as two dead specimens were picked up on Sunday Island in the spring it is quite likely that a small breeding colony does exist there. Mathews (Birds Austr., vol. 2, p. 24, 1912) has named the Noezelanic form P. m. maoriana, and has suggested that Solander's description of his P. passerina may be applicable to the present breeding race.
Puffinus assimilis assimilis Gould.
Puffinus assimilis Gould, Synops. Birds Austr., pt. 4, app., p. 7. 1838: Norfolk Island; Cheeseman, loc. cit., p. 226; Buller, loc cit., p. 100.
As far as I ascertained, this bird only bred on Meyer Island during the winter months. Arriving in May, its eggs were not laid until the end of June, and chiefly in July. The type locality of the species is Norfolk Island, where the bird also breeds in July and August, and it has recently been again recorded from Lord Howe Island, probably since Oliver's paper was written, as he does not include this species. Gray had, however, noted it at Lord Howe Island fifty years ago (Ibis, 1862, p. 244).
Mathews (Birds Austr., vol. 2, pp. 50–70, 1912) has recently reviewed the allied forms of this species, and has shown that Forster's Procellaria gavia was given to a form of this species, and must be used for the New-Zealand-breeding bird, which differs, as already indicated by Captain Hutton and Buller (loc. cit.). The bird commonly known to New Zealand students as P. gavia, following Hutton (Cat. Birds N.Z., p. 45, 1871), who, however, admitted its doubt, has been renamed by Mathews Puffinus reinholdi (loc. cit., p. 74). I have examined specimens of this species from the type locality of Forster's P. gavia, and there can be no doubt of the accuracy of Mathews's determination. Mathews has also drawn attention to the discrepancies between Reischek's and Sandager's accounts of the breeding of these species, and suggested that possibly there may be a breeding form of Puffinus lherminieri resident in New Zealand which has been confused with P. assimilis Gould and P. reinholdi Mathews.
Puffinus pacificus pacificus (Gmelin).
Procellaria pacifica Gmelin, Syst. Nat., p. 560, 1789: Kermadec Islands breeding. Puffinus carneipes Cheeseman, loc. cit., p. 226. P. chlororhynchus, ibid.; Buller, loc. cit., p. 105. P. c. iredali Mathews, Bull. Brit. Orn. Club, vol. 27, p. 40, 1910.
Probably the most abundant bird breeding on the island. Though Hutton, Buller, Salvin, and Goodman all admitted that the Kermadec-breeding bird was quite distinct, it did not receive a name until Mathews, comparing it with the type of P. chlororhynchus Lesson from Shark Bay, Western Australia, named it as above. However, when he came to monograph the petrels in his “Birds of Australia” he conclusively proved that Gmelin's P. pacifica, which had been previously ignored, should be accepted as the species name, and, moreover, that it was best applied to this large Kermadec race (loc. cit., p. 80). This course I fully approve of.
In the paper quoted in the introduction to this account Oliver includes as breeding on Lord Howe, Norfolk, and the Kermadec Islands Puffinus sphenurus. Puffinus sphenurus Gould is an absolute synonym of P. chlororhynchus Lesson, which name must be restricted to the west-Australian-breeding bird.
Mathews has named the east-Australian-breeding form Puffinus pacificus royanus (Birds Austr., vol. 2, p. 85, 1912), and Lord Howe Island birds agree fairly—one Norfolk Island specimen not quite as close; but with these typical Kermadec birds cannot be confused. So that as far as comparisons go the Lord Howe and Norfolk Island breeding forms must not be confused with the Kermadec form, whether they be called P. pacificus or P. chlororhynchus subspp. The name P. sphenurus must not be used.
Pterodroma neglecta (Schlegel).
Procellaria neglecta Schlegel, Mus. de Pays Bas, vol. 6, Procell., p. 10, 1863: Kermadec Islands. Oestrelata mollis Cheeseman, loc. cit., p. 225. Oestrelata sp., ibid. O. neglecta, ibid. O. mollis Buller, loc. cit., p. 112. O. neglecta, ibid., p. 115. O. phillipi, ibid., p. 119.
The synonymy shows the confusion that has existed regarding the forms of surface-breeding petrels living at the Kermadec Islands. In the Emu, vol. 10, p. 13, 1910, I briefly sketched the problem, and my conclusions that only one species without any well-marked varieties could be recognized by me. Further study has not more enlightened me, but has decided me to withhold the exhaustive account of my researches I had drawn up until I feel better able to give some explanation of the anomalies presented.
The disuse of the familiar Aestrelata is due to the investigations of Mathews (Birds Austr., vol. 2, p. 129, 1912). Mathews has also shown that there is (or was) a bird breeding on Norfolk Island very closely allied to the present species, but that O. montana Hull (= O. phillipi (Gray) = O. solandri Gould = P. melanopus Gmelin) may not at present breed on Norfolk Island, and has confirmed my conclusion that the bird is quite different from P. neglecta Schlegel, and has given a full history of the species under the name P. melanopus Gmelin.
Pterodroma cookii nigripennis (Rothschild).
Oestrelata nigripennis Rothschild, Bull. Brit. Orn. Club, No. x, p. lvii, 1893: Kermadec Islands. O. cookii Cheeseman, loc. cit., p. 224. O. nigripennis Buller, loc. cit., p. 113.
This beautiful little bird is more numerous on the outlying islands and on Macauley Island and Curtis Island than on Sunday Island. It breeds
during the summer months, whilst Puffinus a. assimilis only breeds in the winter on Meyer Island, so that Cheeseman's remark, “Breeds… more sparingly on Sunday Island in company with Puffinus assimilis,” needs correction.
Pterodroma macroptera gouldi (Hutton).
Aestrelata gouldi Hutton, Ibis, 1869, p. 351: New Zealand. Oestrelata gouldi Buller, loc. cit., p. 111. O. fuliginosa, id., ib., p. 118. O. macroptera Ogilvie Grant, Ibis, 1905, p. 554; Oliver, Trans. N.Z. Inst., vol. 44, p. 215, 1912.
A specimen washed up on the beach on the 7th August, 1908, proved sufficient for identification. Another bird, too much damaged for preservation, had been noted on the 25th July. However, it had already been added to the Kermadec avifaunal list by Ogilvie Grant, whose specimen, which I have examined, also proves to be a washed-up bird. It belongs to the New Zealand race, so that I do not doubt Oliver's bird is also referable to that form. The typical subspecies inhabits the Cape seas, whilst Mathews (Birds Austr., vol. 2, p. 139, 1912) has described a west-Australian-breeding race as P. m. albani.
Pterodroma externa cervicalis (Salvin).
Oestrelata cervicalis Salvin, Ibis, 1891, p. 192: Kermadec Island. Oestrelata sp. Cheeseman, loc. cit., p. 224. O. cervicalis Buller, loc. cit., p. 114.
A beautiful bird, which appeared to be decreasing in numbers through the ravages of cats, only a few small scattered colonies now, being known. Its closest relative breeds on Juan Fernandez Island, where also a very close ally of P. neglecta is recorded as breeding.
Diomedea exulans rothschildi Mathews.
Diomedea exulans rothschildi Mathews, Birds Austr., vol. 2, p. 246, 1912: Australian seas. D. exulans Cheeseman, loc. cit., p. 224; Buller, loc. cit., p. 128.
A specimen which had been washed up on the beach at Denham Bay previous to our arrival is the basis of this record. At the place quoted Mathews has given a good history of this bird and of the allied species commonly known under the name of Diomedea regia Buller, but which must bear the older name of D. epomophora Lesson.
Onychoprion fuscatus serratus (Wagler).
Sterna serrata Wagler, Naturl. Syst. Amphib., p. 89, note, 1830: New Caledonia. S. fuliginosa Cheeseman, loc. cit., p. 221; Buller, loc. cit., p. 159.
Bred abundantly on Denham Bay beach, and sparingly on the rocks off the north-west corner and on Meyer Island. The rejection of the well-known specific name of fuliginosa Gmelin is unavoidable, as Linné had previously named a young bird from the Island of Domingo, West Indies, Sterna fuscata. This was founded on the Sterna fusca of Brisson (a post-Linnean (1758) non-binomial writer), and Brisson's description and figure are admirable and unmistakable to one who has seen the young, as I have. The South Pacific birds are easily separable from typical birds, and the name to be used is the one I have given.
Procelsterna cerulea cinerea Gou'd.
Anous cinereus Gould, Proc. Zool. Soc. (Lond.), 1845, p. 104: northeast coasts, Australia; Cheeseman, loc. cit., p. 222. Procelsterna cinerea Buller, loc. cit., p. 161.
Bred sparingly on the cliffs at each end of Denham Bay; more commonly on Meyer Island; also at Macauley and Curtis Islands.
Megalopterus minutus minutus (Boie).
Anous minutus Boie, Isis, 1844: north-east Australia. A. melanogenys Cheeseman, loc. cit., p. 221. Micranous leucocapillus Buller, loc. cit., p. 163.
An increasing colony bred on Meyer Island and one of the other outlying islets, though not on Sunday Island. A flight was seen at Macauley Island, but as there are no trees I do not think it was breeding there. This species has been commonly known as Micranous leucocapillus Gould, but Mathews (Novit. Zool., vol. 18, p. 4, 1911) showed that the correct generic name was Megalopterus Boie, which had priority; whilst more recently (Birds Austr., vol. 2, 1912) the same writer has accepted Boie's specific name, which has also priority over Gould's specific name.
Gygis alba royana Mathews.
Gygis alba royana Mathews, Birds Austr., vol. 2, p. 433, 1912: Kermadec Islands. G. candida Cheeseman, loc. cit., p. 222. G. alba Buller, loc. cit., p. 163.
Only bred sparingly round the sea-coast of Sunday Island. A most delightful account of the habits of this bird has recently appeared from the pen of Mr. Roy Bell (Emu, vol. 12, pp. 26–30, 1912), whose photos, considering the difficulties under which he worked, have scarcely been excelled by any bird-observer. A splendid review of the species of Gygis will be found in the place above quoted, where Mathews has separated the Kermadec-breeding bird under the name given. I have carefully considered all the points, and fully endorse Mathews's conclusions.
Pluvialis dominicus fulvus (Gmelin).
Charadrius fulvus Gmelin, Syst. Nat., p. 687, 1789: Tahiti; Cheeseman, loc. cit., p. 220. C. dominicus Buller, loc. cit., p. 174.
This was the wader met with most frequently on Sunday Island, thirteen being noted during September and October. A flock of thirteen waders seen off Macauley Island on the 12th November seemed to consist mostly of this bird.
Eupoda vereda (Gould).
Charadrius veredus Gould, Proc. Zool. Soc. (Lond.), 1848, p. 38: north Australia.
On the 22nd April Mr. W. R. B. Oliver shot a specimen of this bird on Denham Bay beach. Mathews (Novit. Zool., vol. 18, p. 5, 1911) has shown that Eupoda Brandt, 1845, has seven years' priority over the more familiar Ochthodromus Reichenback, 1852.
Numenius phaeopus variegatus (Scopoli).
Tantalus variegatus Scopoli, Del Flor. Faun. Insule, fasc. ii, p. 92, 1786: Luzon, Philippine Islands. Numenius variegatus Buller, loc. cit., p. 181.
One specimen (out of a pair) was shot on the north coast by Oliver on the 24th September; a few days later three similar birds were seen.
Pisobia maculata acuminata (Horsfield).
Totanus acuminatus Horsfield, Trans. Linn. Soc. (Lond.), vol. 13, p. 192, 1821: Java. Heteropygia acuminata Buller, loc. cit., p. 187.
On the 25th October Oliver shot a specimen on Denham Bay beach. Mathews (Novit. Zool., vol. 18, p. 7, 1911) has shown that Sharpe's identification of the Watling drawing upon which was based Latham's T. aurita was purely an error, and hence the usage of Latham's name incorrect. This is the bird Oliver (loc. cit., p. 221) catalogues under the name Erolia aurita. The generic name Erolia was introduced for the curlew sandpiper, and the present species cannot be considered congeneric with that bird.
Anas superciliosa Gmelin subsp.?
Anas superciliosa Gmelin, Syst. Nat., p. 537, 1789: Dusky Sound, south New Zealand; Cheeseman, loc. cit., p. 221; Buller, Suppl., vol. 2, p. 5, 1906.
This bird was constantly seen on the crater-lakes, and, although noted all the year round, was not observed to breed. I do not know whether the birds were referable to the New Zealand or Australian form.
Sula dactylatra personata Gould.
Sula personata Gould, Proc. Zool. Soc. (Lond.), 1846, p. 21: north Australia. S. cyanops Cheeseman, loc. cit., p. 223; Buller, loc. cit., p. 49.
Did not breed on Sunday Island; a couple bred on Meyer Island; plentifully on one of the less islets, hence known to the settlers as Gannet Island. A fair number breed on Macauley Island and Curtis Island. Mathews (Novit. Zool., vol. 18, p. 9, 1911) has shown that the species name to be used is dactylatra Lesson, that name having six years' priority over the more familiar cyanops, both being given to Ascension Island, Atlantic Ocean, breeding birds.
Phaethon rubricauda novaehollandiae Brandt.
Phaethon novaehollandiae Brandt, Mem. Acad. Sci. St. Petersb., ser. 6, vol. 5, pt. 2, p. 272, 1840: Lord Howe Island. P. rubricauda Cheeseman, loc. cit., p. 223; Buller, loc. cit., p. 53.
Breeding sparsely all round Sunday Island, and more plentifully on Meyer Island. Rothschild separated (Avifauna Laysan, pl. 3, p. 296, 1900) the Kermadec, Lord Howe, and Norfolk Island breeding birds under the name P. rubricauda erubescens. Mathews (Novit. Zool., vol. 18, p. 243, 1912) has shown that Brandt had previously introduced the name here accepted for a young bird described by Latham from a drawing made at Lord Howe Island. The subspecies is well differentiated by its larger size and brighter coloration.
Circus gouldi Cheeseman, loc. cit., p. 218; Buller, loc. cit., p. 54.
There cannot be much doubt that the harrier which frequented Sunday Island during the winter months was referable to the species Circus approximans Peale, but to which race cannot be decided without study of specimens. The species has a wide range over Australia, New Caledonia, Fiji, and New Zealand.
Mathews (Novit. Zool., vol. 18, p. 10, 1911) has noted that Circus approximans Peale, 1848, given to the Fijian race, has priority and must be used as a species name, whilst C. gouldi Bonaparte, 1850, can be utilized, but restricted for the east Australian form. It will be most interesting to learn from which source come the birds which travel to and from the Kermadecs.
Cyanoramphus novaezelandiae cyanurus Salvadori.
Cyanorhamphus cyanurus Salvadori, Ann. Mag. Nat. Hist., ser. 6, vol. 7, p. 68, 1891: Raoul Island, Kermadec Group. Platycercus novaezealandiae Cheeseman, loc. cit., p. 218. Cyanorhamphus cyanurus Buller, loc. cit., p. 87.
A parrakeet bred on Meyer Island; it very rarely occurred in the autumn on Sunday Island. On Macauley Island also not uncommonly was seen a similar parrakeet. Salvadori named a bird procured by Macgillivray at Raoul Island C. cyanurus. The wing-measurement is there given as 6.6 in. This is copied into the Cat. Birds Brit. Mus., vol. 20, p. 587, but reference to the type specimen shows this to be a misprint for 5.6 in. In the Cat. Birds Brit. Mus. the habitat of cyanurus is given: “Raoul Island, of the Kermadec Group, and perhaps also Sunday Island (where it has been exterminated by wild cats), Meyer, and Macauley Islands (Cheeseman). Whether the birds from Sunday, Meyer, and Macauley Islands, also from the Kermadec Group, belong to the same species as those from Raoul Island remains to be ascertained.”
Of course, Raoul Island is Sunday Island, and the bird so labelled by Macgillivray was probably procured on Meyer Island.
Buller's accounts in the Supplement are too confused to be intelligible. On p. 84, under C. novaezealandiae, he wrote: “Specimens brought from Macauley Island, in the Kermadec Group, do not differ from the New Zealand bird…. I have examined a caged parrakeet, brought by Mr. Ernest Bell from Curtis Island, situated a few miles from Sunday Island, in the Kermadec, Group, where also this parrakeet was abundant till the introduction of the domestic cat, which soon killed it off. I can detect no difference from the New Zealand bird…. Macauley Island, where a distinct species closely allied to C. novaezealandiae is said to exist, lies about a degree distant from Sunday Island.” Then on the following page is written: “Mr. Bethune [sic], of the ‘Hinemoa,’ declares that the Macauley Island parrakeet is quite distinct from the one inhabiting Sunday Island. He says he could readily pick a specimen out of a hundred of the others…. Mr. Cheeseman records that he found this parrakeet very plentiful on Macauley Island…. He states that all his specimens were larger than New Zealand ones, but that he could not detect any other difference. It is highly probable, therefore, that this was C. cyanurus, which differs only in having the tail of a bluish hue.” Then on p. 86 occurs: “That from Macauley Island (Kermadec Group), of which several were
brought by the ‘Hinemoa,’ is undoubtedly the same as our Cy. novaezealandiae, which enjoys a wide geographical range.” Then on p. 87 he added, under “Cy. cyanurus”: “Mr. Ernest Bell, of Wellington, had a tame one (obtained at Curtis Island, Kermadec Group).” I do not intend to discuss the preceding contradictory statements, but state the facts, which are simple: The Meyer Island bird, which is the true Cy. cyanurus of Salvadori, is a subspecies of C. novaezealandiae which is distinguished by its larger size and the blue tinge on the central tail-feathers. It seems certain that the Macauley Island bird agrees, and the reference of the Curtis Island specimen to Cy. cyanurus points to all the Kermadec Group birds being different from the mainland New Zealand Cy. novaezealandiae. Whether the Macauley Island birds are separable from the Meyer Island form can only be determined by the examination of series from each locality. In the meanwhile the only course possible is to refer all the Kermadec birds to C. n. cyanurus Salvadori.
Sauropatis sanctus vagans (Lesson).
Alcedo vagans Lesson, Voy. de la “Coquille,” Zool., vol. 1, p. 694, 1830: Bay of Islands, N.Z. Halcyon vagans Cheeseman, loc. cit., p. 218; Buller, loc. cit., p. 97.
Fairly common all over Sunday Island. This subspecies ranges over New Zealand, Norfolk Island, Lord Howe Island, and Sunday Island, Kermadecs. Whether the island forms are separable from the mainland New Zealand birds can only be decided by examination of series. Tristram (Ibis, 1885, p. 49) described the Norfolk Island bird as Halcyon norfolkiensis, but that form has been more recently merged. I shall be surprised if the birds later prove distinct, as I have concluded that they are quite recent immigrants to these island groups. In support of this view I would quote the known history of this bird on Lord Howe Island. In Hill's account of the “Birds of Lord Howe Island,” p. 54, 1869, there is catalogued “Halcyon sp, blue kingfisher; no specimen; only one seen”: whilst in the Records Austr. Mus., vol. 2, p. 89, 1889, we read, “We were told, a comparatively recent addition to the avifauna of the island”; and now, “This bird is found in large numbers,” though “it is therefore generally shot when it approaches too close to the fowlyard” (Hull, Proc. Linn. Soc. N.S.W., vol. 34, p. 677, 1910). Thus in the short space of forty years it has become a common bird, in spite of persecution.
Urodynamis taitensis (Sparrman).
Cuculus taitensis Sparrman, Museum Carlson, fasc. ii, No. 32, 1787: Tahiti. Eudynamis taitensis Cheeseman, loc. cit., p. 218. Urodynamis taitensis Buller, loc. cit., p. 98.
This bird was more commonly heard than seen, but was noted in every month of the time I was on the island. It was more numerous in October than in any other month.
Prosthemadera novaeseelandiae (Gmelin) subsp.?
Merops novaeseelandiae Gmelin, Syst. Nat., p. 464, 1788: Queen Charlotte's Sound, South Island, N.Z. Prosthemadera novaezealandiae Cheeseman, loc. cit., p. 218; Buller, loc. cit., p. 144.
This bird was abundant, but as no series was collected I do not know whether it was subspecifically separable from mainland forms. As it had lost its voice, it seems certain that it would be.