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John Gilbert diary entry

20 October 1844 - 21 October 1844

Page 92. Volume 1

having only 9 caps left, besides the continued danger of fal=ling in with the Natives, who would in all probability have massa=cred them both. but providence interfered and thus saved them from a miserable end, and put an end to our painful suspense and anxiety on their account. Alls well that ends well, and our meeting was as warm and pure as it is possible to im=agine the meeting of long separated friends. During our long stay at this Camp I have been constantly out in differ=ent directions, and observed and made out the fol=lowing Species36; Artamus sordidus - A. superciliosus - Microeca macroptera - Seisura volitans - Rhipidura Motacilloides - R. albiscapa - Cincloramphus rufes=cens – Ptilotis chrysops - Myzantha garrula? - Tropidorhynchus carunculata - Entomyza cyanotis - Platycercus paliceps - Platycercus (new)37 - Struthidea cinerea - Grallina Australis - Turnix varius - Cotur=nix pectoralis - Calyptorhynchus Leachii - Geophaps scripta - Phaps chalcoptera - Cacatua galerita - Tal=egalla Lathami - Wonga Wonga Pigeon - Malurus cya=neus - M. melanocephala - Cracticus nigrogularis - C. destructor - Bernicla jubata - Oreica gutturalis - Corvus Coronoides - Gerygone albogularis - G. brevirostris - Pomatorhinus - Halcyon sanctus - Petroica bi=color - Cuculus cinereus - Cuculus (new)38 - Chalcites lucidus - Pachycephala pectoralis - Campephaga humeralis – Haliaster sphenurus - Milvus affinis - Poephila cincta - Estrelda annulosa - Plotus Levaillantii -Aegotheles Novae=Holl. Colluricincla cinerea - Graucalus mentalis - Pardalotus melanocephalus - Corcorax leucopterus - Climacteris scandens - Aprosmictus erythropterus - Trichoglossus pusillus - Oedicnemus longipennes - Ardea Novae-Holl - Anas Novae Holl: Acanthiza -Sericornis39.

Mon Oct 21. At length our long delay at Kents Lagoon was brought to an end this morning. We made a very late start, our Bullocks had so long a rest they had become so fresh, as to give us a good deal of trouble in the first place to catch them, and afterwards in refitting their loads, we thus were delayed in starting till 11 o'clock, we were enabled to make but the short stage of 7 miles in consequence of several of our Bullocks bucking and throwing off their loads, the first four miles in a N.E. course, when we came upon the Creek our lost companions were upon the night of the 17th. we con=tinued up this for three miles through a country very flat and thickly timbered with the narrow leaved Iron bark, smooth barked Gum, Forest Oak - and Cypress Pine. the course up the Creek N by W. In the evening I again met with Struthidea, one of which I disturbed from a nest like the last and from the new appearance of the structure I am almost inclined to believe it is constructed by this bird, although so closely assimilating to Grallina especially as in this case the nest was placed in

Note 36

See Appendix 1, the index of zoological names at the end of this transcription for a modern translation of these names. This is indexed by alphabetical order of the names as Gilbert gave them.

Note 37

Gilbert is again here probably referring to sightings of the Paradise Parrot Psephotus pulcherrimus, of which he had collected the first specimens on the Condamine River on the Darling Downs in May 1844. The bird is sadly probably now extinct. Gilbert's notes on this parrot made during the Leichhardt Expedition have been the subject of much speculation - was he is fact on occasion mis-identifying another species? Particular reviews of the situation were made by Chisholm (Emu 1922, vol.22: 4-17 and 1945, vol.44: 184-186). Could Gilbert’s “Platycercus new” have instead been referring to “Platycercus splendidus”, described by Gould in 1845? This is thought to be a hybrid between Eastern and Pale-headed Rosellas (Platycercus eximius and P. adscitus palliceps). Gould in “The birds of Australia” wrote that the “Splendid Parrot” had been collected by Gilbert “in the newly-located district to the northward of the Darling Downs in New South Wales”, which would fit the area they had reached on 20th October 1844. Do Pale-headed Rosellas and this “splendidus” hybrid exist together in southern Queensland?

Note 38

Chisholm (1945: 187) has in error recorded this section as "Cuculus (new), C. cinereus, Cuculus (new), Chalcites lucidus ..." but he is right in guessing that the "Cuculus (new)" Gilbert recorded could have been either of two species; firstly the Fan-tailed Cuckoo Cacomantis flabelliformis, which Gould had collected specimens of on the Liverpool Ranges in October 1839 - he thought it was new and named it Cuculus insperatus (1845). The other possibility is the Black-eared Cuckoo Chrysococcyx osculans, which Gould had in part described from specimens he had killed himself (near Gundermein on the Lower Namoi) in December 1839.

Note 39

Gilbert also collected several mollusc specimens at Kent's Lagoon. Under 7th October 1846, the Register of the Natural History Museum, London records receiving from John Gould seven Physa collected by Gilbert from this locality, as well as several specimens recorded only as having being collected on the 14th October, when we know the expedition was based at Kent's Lagoon. These latter are four Succinea and four Ancylus. In all, over 200 of Gilbert's shells were registered on this date in 1846; many are from the Leichhardt Expedition, but there are others from Western Australia and Port Essington. It is difficult at present to cross-reference these accession entries with what is actually still in the collections at South Kensington, and what species they represent, but the computerization of the collections there will eventually make this possible.