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John Gilbert diary entry

19 October 1844 - 20 October 1844

Page 91. Volume 1

having blotches principally at the larger end of reddish brown, purplish grey, and greenish grey, some of these blotches assuming the appearance of having been washed with a soft brush. in two of the eggs there were two or three very small blotches towards the smaller end and about the middle32. From the appearance of the nest I should say it was an old one of Grallina, particularly as it contained a much greater quantity of grass for a lining than I ever observed in a nest of Grallina while the latter had possession if it is not the latters nest then Struthidea makes a nest exactly similar placed too as in the former bird on a horizontal branch and built in the form of a basin with mud. Mr Calvert brought me in a nest containing two eggs, which I believe to be Gerygone albogularis33. No intelligence of our lost friends.

Sunday Oct 20. At half past nine we were gratified by the return of our absent companions, the lost two were overtaken last night not more than 12 miles from us. like all cases I have before heard of our companions had never kept in a direct course any length of time or distance, conse=quently they were making a very devious course. some idea may be formed of their rambling, when it is known that the party in pursuit yesterday alone rode 6034 miles, for Charlie when coming upon their tracks in a favorable country, kept the tracks at a full gallop. beyond their coming in a little hungry, they had not suffered the least in bodily health. all they had to eat during the three days was a Pigeon, a Cockatoo and a Lizard, and were at one time 24 hours without water. they were found on the banks of a large Creek east of Kents Lagoon our present Camp, this creek running to the Westward is evidently the same as that Mr Roper and I were upon on the 18th35. The party reports the country as being very open and fine to the Northward. Thus this little mishap has been attended with a val=uable result as showing us at once a way to avoid our present Barrier the scrub, and may be the cause of sav=ing us any further delay to our regular progress, which must of been the case with us had we steered from this in a Northerly direction as the Dr had intended, where we have already ascertained there is an unknown extent of Scrub. we fortunately had our stew pan of Kangaroo Soup in readiness which with a mess of thick Chocolate and a few hours sleep completely restored the whole party to their usual habits, it seems Murphy α Caleb had made up their minds to push on for Jimba, (they were igno=rant of Charlie having remained with us) had they not been overtaken but it is very doubtful if they would have suc=ceeded in the confused manner they were steering, for when they came upon the creek, they commenced ascending the stream instead of following it down, this alone showing that they could not have remarked the character of the country they had been travelling over. thus had they continued they must inevitably of perished, for they would very soon have been without the means of obtaining food

Note 32

This description does match the characteristics of the eggs of the Apostlebird Struthidea cinerea, which are "sparingly blotched with brown, black and grey" (Schodde & Tidemann 1993). All four eggs have been found: BMNH 1962.1.365 (two eggs, originally BMNH 1884.11.20.411 & 412, and both dated 18th October 1844) and WFVZ 178690, 2 eggs labelled by Gilbert as "Struthidea Oct 18. 1844" & "Struthidea Oct 1844". “Grallina” is the Magpie-lark Grallina cyanoleuca.

Note 33

White-thoated Gerygone Gerygone albogularis. No eggs of this species from the Leichhardt Expedition have been found.

Note 34

Leichhardt's Journal records this mileage as 70.

Note 35

This may have been Rocky Creek, which runs into Charley's Creek.