ABSTRACT

Aubrey Elliott (1910–1943), a passionate ‘bird-man’, lived in the suburb of Tapitallee on the south coast of New South Wales until 1940. During that period he and his brother, Arthur kept notes on the birds in the local area and devised a hide that was mounted on a utility that enabled them to take close-up photographs. To augment his observations Elliott interviewed local residents and collated information on the status of the area’s birds. In 1985 I purchased the property next to where Elliott lived and was given access to his notes. This paper presents a comparison of avifauna in the Tapitallee area between 1926–40 and 1985–2020. During that time there have been changes in the distribution and abundance of many birds. Fourteen species have become locally extinct while 28 have colonised/recolonised the area. Combining Aubrey’s and our data a total of 194 species of bird have been recorded in the area. Dams have been constructed and native vegetation has regrown on the steeper slopes. These actions have expanded the habitat for aquatic and forest dependant species but disadvantaged those that occupy grasslands. The Red Fox Vulpes vulpes colonised the area in 1907 and is implicated in the local extinction of the Bush Stone Curlew Burhinus grallarius. Wildfire in January 2020 burnt a relatively small portion of the Tapitallee area but these fires burnt an extensive area of southern NSW and Victoria. These fires were likely to be responsible for the decline in the numbers of Yellow-faced Honeyeaters Caligavis chrysops and White-naped Honeyeater Melithreptus lunatus migrating north in the autumn of that year.

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