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John Gilbert diary entry

7 December 1844 - 8 December 1844

Page 130. Volume 1

I saw a Halcyon sanctus enter, and going to the spot, and inserting a stick I heard the cries of young birds, the hole was too small to get my hand in, in cutting away the bank around I found the entrance hole inclined upwards for about 12 inches when it was en=larged into a round hollow about 6 inches in diameter and which formed the nesting place of the bird on some little loose sand for a flooring I found 4 young ones, and 1 haddled [sic] egg. I could not shoot the parent bird to be certain of the iden=tity of the species, as in our preparation against the Natives just before, I had loaded both barrells of my Gun with ball α cartrige [sic], but as I had a fair view of the bird while perched near its hole, I have no doubt of its being sanctus, in every instance in which I have found the nest of this bird, or information from numerous collecters [sic] α settlers, who know the bird intimately I never found that it bred in any other situation but hollows of trees or of a deserted Ants nest, in the branch of a tree, such a change in the usual habit of nidification can only be considered as one of those extraordinary exceptions, which but seldom occur in species155. at the small pool we camped on, I obser=ved the Aegialitis nigrifrons156.


* Thurs 5th Dec157.

The largest Kangaroo hither[to] killed by us was obtained to day. its general lightness of col=oring and fineness of fur was very striking. the following were the measurements.

Total length from tip of nose to extremity of tail. 7 feet 4½ inches

" of Tail " " " " 3 " 10 "

" Face from nose to base of ear " " 9 "

" leg from spine to toe 4 " 6 "

" arm from edge of shoulder to toe 2 " 6½ "

" ear " " " " " " 6½ "

Greatest breadth of ear " " " " 3½ "

General colour light Mouse-grey, throat, chin all the under side and inside of extremities

and under side of tail nearly white, inside of ears and end of tail blackish-brown158.


159 I observed that Zamia Creek as we advanced down it instead of becoming larger as

we have all expected it would do, becomes very small and the banks very contracted, a similar character was observed on some parts of the Daw=son, which afterwards proved such an important water-course. The Dr returned without having seen any thing worth notice.

Spear Horse Camp160.


Sunday 8 Dec. We followed down the creek with the Brigalo scrub on our left, occasionally having to pass through it where it was open on the banks of the creek, at five miles we left

it having made almost a semicircular course round the Peak, which the Dr recognizes as the

Note 155

The Sacred Kingfisher Todiramphus sanctus, according to Schodde and Tidemann 1986, has been known to nest in " ... arboreal termite mound, hollow limb, sometimes earth bank and even fence posts". Presumably Gilbert did not collect the kingfisher chicks, nor the addled egg (which would have been impossible to blow cleanly).

Note 156

Black-fronted Dotterel Elseyornis melanops.

Note 157

The following note should be added to Gilbert's entry for Thursday, 5th December (see page 127).

Note 158

This description and the measurements would indicate they had killed a male Eastern Grey Kangaroo Macropus giganteus.

Note 159

Gilbert then continued his entry for 7th December.

Note 160

Spear, or Speared Horse Camp was estimated by McLaren to be on Comely Creek at GR 125 423 on Bauhinia sheet 8748, a little south-west of Mount Aldis. McLaren had much difficulty relating Gilbert's and Leichhardt's directional assessment of the location of this campsite, but no other suitable spot could be found. See the transcriptions of Gilbert’s diary for the 30th April and 18th May 1845 for the true story behind the name of this campsite.