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WILLIE WAGTAIL (Rhipidura leucophrys)
Biodiversity > Birds > Rare visitors and vagrants

Vagrant. Two positive records. Le Souef (1924) wrote that one bird had been present on the main Island for some time but had been ‘collected for an English ornithologist’, in other words collected by Roy Bell for Gregory Mathews. His correspondent, Mr. P. Dignum later told Keith Hindwood that it had been seen ‘on many occasions’ (Hindwood 1940). Even so, Hindwood considered that this species had no confirmed observations. Dean Retmock also wrote to Hindwood in the late 1960s listing the Willie Wagtail as one of the species he had seen, but again giving no precise details (K.A. Hindwood papers, ML). Finally a bird was recorded by Glenn Fraser in October 1980 (G, Fraser in litt.). A bird was seen by Hutton at the Airstrip on 4 September 2000. This bird remained until at least 6 October 2000.


On mainland NSW this species is at least a partial migrant with most birds vacating higher altitudes and many moving north to winter in Queensland (NSWBA data; Storr 1984). The September and October dates correspond with birds returning southwards in spring. This species has also occurred as a spring vagrant at the Chatham Islands, east of New Zealand (Gummer 2002). 

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