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John Gilbert diary entry

14 December 1844 - 15 December 1844

Page 136. Volume 1

any way likely to be the cause of our wanting Ani=mal food, our living stock being ample under almost any circumstances for our supply. The loss of our dogs may be attributed to a combination of causes the constant and daily march, without being suf=ficiently supplied with food is perhaps the prin=cipal, more especially at first when at Kents Lagoon the dogs at that time were brought to so low a con=dition, that up to the time we killed the Bullock at Dry Beef Creek, they with difficulty could follow us, another cause of Death in two (and the best) was from injuries received in attempting to kill a large Kangaroo in the water; but the primary cause I have always considered was the mistaken plan of the Drs. in taking from the dogs even their legitimate share in every Kangaroo they did kill, viz. the forequarters which I believe every Kangaroo Hunter, considers the dogs right, but the Dr is not or ever has been a hunter and in his constant endeavours to save as much of the dried beef as possible, has always taken this part from the dogs, and allowanced them after=wards to perhaps half a pound per day for two or three days only then they had to go without till they were expected to again kill, this system of course ruined the dogs, from always keeping them in a low con=dition, and consequently incapable of sustain=ing a length of run sufficient to catch their game.

In the afternoon I took a stroll with my Gun but obtained nothing new excepting specimens

for the first time of Ptilotis Chrysotis or a nearly allied species169, in the scrub I saw several Brush Turkey's mounds, but none of them containing eggs.

Days dist 8 miles α course from

Erythrina Camp West 18 miles.

Myall Camp170.

Ptilotis Chrysotis has a conspicuous broad naked skin α c rounding the gape which is of a reddish fleshy-white. irides Bluish, bill dark olive brown, front of tarsi greenish grey - back of tarsi flesh colour, feet greenish grey; inhabits the secluded parts of thick scrub. Has rather a quiet whist=ling like call171. Thunders Storms during the early part of the evening, but we escaped the rain.

Sunday 15 Dec. Following down the water holes - from Myall camp, we began to imagine we were at the head of a water course as the flood marks showed a great gush of water to the westward, and there began to shew an appearance of regular Creek banks, however we were doomed to be mistaken, the first seven miles through a rather thick Vitex brush172 which ultimately brought us fairly into the Brigalo Scrub, through about four miles of which

Note 169

It is hard to imagine Gilbert mistaking another species for Lewin's Honeyeater, but the "quiet whistling like call" seems ill-fitting for the latter. Unfortunately no specimens collected on 14th December appear to survive. However, this specimen could be a Lewin's Honeyeater now in the collections at the Academy of Sciences, Philadelphia (ANSP 18515, Verreaux number 956, female), which is labelled "Port Essington". Lewin's Honeyeater does not occur in Northern Territory, and here "Port Essington" must refer to the Expedition, not the locality.

Note 170

Myall Camp was at about GR 850 718 on Warrinilla sheet 8648, south of a small basalt hill and near where Crescent and Wangalee Creeks are closest to each other.

Note 171

See footnote on previous page.

Note 172

At this point Gilbert has inserted what looks like “with patches of Chrysops. Struthidea & Mutton Bird:”, which does not seem to make sense (Yellow-faced Honeyeater, Apostlebird and Short-tailed Shearwater; the latter is a petrel only found off the coast).