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John Gilbert diary entry

10 December 1844 - 11 December 1844

Page 133. Volume 1

from 6 to 5 lbs the reason we do not kill a bullock and thus obtain a good supply of dried meat is that Christmas day being so near at hand everyone feels anxious to put off the killing day in order to have the satisfaction of eating Roast Beef on the 25th. Roper α Brown did not return till the evening their whole days-sport only amounting to 8 small Pigeons. a poor meal for 8 hungry men, however we made it suffice, the Dr. did not return during the night, we all supposing that he had gone too great a distance to return before dark, and thus camp out and return early in the morning. Fine warm wea=ther during the morning with the wind Easterly, in the afternoon cooling breezes from the Northward and Westward, in the evening thunder Storms from the S.W. but we escaped the heavy showers.

Wed 11th Dec. The Dr. not returning this morning makes us all feel anxious as to the cause of his long absence, being with Charlie we are under no apprehen=sion of his being lost, but fear some other serious consequences may of occurred, if he does not return to day it will be necessary for two of us to go in pur=suit of them, Our cattle having strayed away in the night we sent Brown off early to bring them in, they had however not left the fine flat with its rich young grass, being about 3 miles away. Our horses had gone up the creek, these also were brought in. In a ramble with my Gun, I saw nothing new and the only addition to the species met with thus far was the Dicrurus bracteatus. I observed the following species most numerous, Ptilotis fusca - Ptilotis penicil=latus - Ptilotis chrysops -Poephila cincta - Amadina modesta - Malurus melanocephalus - Cinclorhamphus rufescens - Oreica gutturalis - a few specimens of the fol=lowing were observed, Platycercus paliceps - Euphema pulchel=lus - Chlamydera maculata - Halcyon Sanctus - Malur=us cyaneus - Platycercus (new) - Rhipidura motacilloides - Seisura volitans -Glyciphila ocularis - Trichogloss=us pusillus - Trichoglossus Swainsonii - Geophaps scripta - Phaps chalcoptera - Collocalia ariel - Tropidorhynchus corniculatus - Tropidorhynchus citreogularis - Artamus sordidus - Grallina Australis - Strepera - - - Graucalus mentalis - Colluricincla cinerea - Petroica bicolor - Microeca macroptera - Dicaeum hirundinaceum - Estrelda annulosa - Climacteris - Centropus Phasianellus - Scythrops Nova-Hollandiae - Cacatua galerita - Aprosmictus erythropterus - Myzantha

garrula - Melithreptus - Ptilotis auricomis - Sphecotheres Australis - Turtur spilonota -Turtur - Turtur --- Megalurus galactotes - Eurystomus Australis - Artamus leucopygialis -

Perdix Australis - Cuculus cineraceus - Estrelda Lathami - Estrelda temporalis - Milvus affinis - Athene strenua? - Athene Boobook? - Aegothelus Nova-Holl. - Podargus --?-- Merops ornatus - Pachycephala pectoralis - Artamus minor165.

The Dr. put an end to our fears and anxiety by his return in the evening alone Charlie coming in about an hour after. the Dr. and him disagreed as to the course they should steer and they separated 3 hours before making the camp166, the Dr. in this instance fairly distanced Charlie, it seems the Dr. faced a difficulty in finding a pass over the range, and when fairly over had to travel a considerable distance without finding water, and when at last he succeeded was so late

Note 165

See 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 yet another distributional observation by Gilbert concerning the "Platycercus (new)", the Paradise Parrot Psephotus pulcherrimus. Gilbert also collected and prepared as skins several individuals of the species he mentioned above. These specimens can now be found in National Museums Liverpool: on the 9th December a White-plumed Honeyeater Lichenostomus penicillatus (D1015s, male) and an Australasian Figbird Sphecotheres viridis (D5531s, male); on the 10th December a Yellow-faced Honeyeater Lichenostomus chrysops (D1063s, male), two Plum-headed Finches Neochmia modesta (D1757d, female; D5550s, immature male) and a Spangled Drongo Dicrurus bracteatus (D5527s, male). An egg of the Red-backed Wren Malurus melanocephalus, collected on 11th November 1844 - probably by Gilbert from this locality - is in the “Wilson” [= Gould] Collection at Tring. It might be worth recording that the Plum-headed Finch D5550s actually revisited Erythrina Creek in 1990, this time by coach, when I took five of Gilbert’s original birds on the Royal Geographical Society of Queensland’s “Following in the footsteps of Leichhardt” tour.

Note 166

Leichhardt remarked in his Journal (1847) that "My Blackfellow quitted me on the range, as he had done before ... and it was too evident that I could not rely upon him in times of difficulty and danger".