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The talk by Dr Alex Bond (described below) was preceded by the Chairman's Review and the Trustees' Report and Accounts for 2016. Chris Storey reminded the meeting of the sequence of events leading up to the acceptance by the Charity Commissioners of the BOC's new status as a Charitable Incorporated Organisation (BOC CIO) with a revised Constitution and a newly appointed Board of Trustees. The CIO came into existence on 18 October 2016. During 2016 the Trustees had taken the decision to publish the Bulletin in electronic format alone: during 2017 the four issues of Vol. 137 would be issued as .pdfs on the BOC website and from the beginning of 2018 the next volume, Vol. 138, would be published on the website of the American online academic publisher, BioOne. BOC had signed a three-year agreement with BioOne and looks forward to working with them to optimise the accessibility and visibility of BBOC Online.
While participating in a Rapid Biological Inventory (RBI) to the Santuario Nacional Megantoni, Cuzco department, Peru in May 2004, we encountered Scimitar-winged Pihas Lipaugus uropygialis in tall cloudforest at our high-elevation camp ‘Tingkanari’ (c.2,100–2,300 m; 12°16′S, 72°06′W). The species previously was known in Peru from only one site nearly on the Bolivian border c.400 km to the south-east: Abra de Maruncunca, in Puno department. Over two days, we observed the pihas several times and documented them with photographs and sound-recordings, including the first known observations of the species' display flight, in which it produces mechanical sound with its uniquely modified primaries. We also present information from the four Peruvian specimens of the species, and discuss various characters, including the voice, display, probable subadult plumage and modifications of the primaries, and their implications for taxonomic relationships between this species and other pihas. We suspect Scimitarwinged Piha is restricted to tall humid forest on ridgeline ‘saddles’ at 1,800–2,750 m. These sites probably represent desirable sites for human colonists to clear for pasture and agriculture, and thus are of conservation concern. However, with the potential size of the species' distribution nearly doubled by the discovery of a Cuzco locality, more of its habitat may be protected than previously thought.
The natural history of most Pittidae is understudied, but the breeding biology of the genus Erythropitta, a recently recognised grouping of red-bellied pittas, is especially poorly known. We monitored and video-recorded a Blackcrowned Pitta E. ussheri nest in Sabah, Malaysian Borneo, during the nestling period and found that the male had a higher visitation rate and the female was the sole adult that brooded. We clarify this species' nestling development and describe two vocalisations: (1) the first instance of a fledgling-specific song in Pittidae and (2) a soft grunt-like sound given by adults arriving at the nest early in the nestling period. We analysed the structure of each visit, finding that the longest segment of most parental visits was the period between food delivery and parental departure. We hypothesise that adults linger to await the production of faecal sacs and aid nestlings to process food.
We inventoried seabird specimens—skeletons and skins—collected during beach surveys of Paraná, south Brazil, both the mainland coast and offshore islets during the period 1992–94. We found 184 specimens comprising four orders and 17 species. This represents the most important collection of seabirds from Paraná and includes three new records for the state, Cory's Shearwater Calonectris borealis, Sooty Shearwater Puffinus griseus and Snowy Sheathbill Chionis albus. We recommend the removal of two species from the avifauna of Paraná—Shy Albatross Thalassarche cauta and Broad-billed Prion Pachyptila vittata—due to the lack of tangible evidence. All of this material is held in publicly accessible natural history museums.
There is an isolated breeding population of Blue Cranes Anthropoides paradiseus around Etosha Pan, in northern Namibia, despite a lack of regular reports of the species from adjoining regions of Botswana, southern Namibia or even north-western South Africa. A search for historical records of Blue Cranes north of South Africa suggests occasional vagrancy to southern Namibia, eastern Botswana and perhaps Zimbabwe, with consistent sightings of resident, breeding birds only from Etosha since 1918. It is apparently not a relict population. While the natural establishment of a breeding population by rare vagrants appears unlikely, there is no documented evidence for the alternative explanation that birds were deliberately introduced to this locality.
Van der Vliet & Jansen's (2015) review of the provenance of museum specimens and field sightings of Chattering Kingfisher Todiramphus t. tutus, intended to resolve long-standing confusion with respect to the identification and type locality of the species, led them to conclude that it never occurred on Tahiti. They also concluded that Society Kingfisher T. veneratus, previously considered to be sympatric with Chattering Kingfisher throughout the Society Islands, never occurred in the Leeward group of those islands. However, the historic reports and specimens of the naturalist R. P. Lesson of 1827, which were overlooked by van der Vliet & Jansen, and the published field records for T. tutus on Tahiti by D. T. Holyoak in 1972, which were dismissed by these authors, suggest their conclusions are misconceived.
Lee & Holyoak (2017) focused on Lesson as a source that we had neglected in our discussion of Chattering Kingfisher Todiramphus tutus on Tahiti. They are apparently confident in the accuracy of specimen labels from Lesson's era despite that the labelling of even Lesson's own specimens is poor. Based on meticulous notes taken during the Whitney South Sea Expedition by Beck and Quayle in the early 1920s, as well as their specimen material, we demonstrate that they never collected T. tutus on Tahiti, where they collected only Society (Tahitian) Kingfisher T. veneratus. Lee & Holyoak's suggestion that both species occurred in the Society Islands but became extinct in either the western Leeward Islands (veneratus) or eastern Windward Islands (tutus) seems to be a case of selective extinction following an established biogeographical divide. We believe that the observed pattern is best explained by the fact that veneratus was never present on the Leeward Islands and tutus never occurred on Tahiti: this represents the most parsimonious interpretation of the available data.
We present observations of five little-known tubenoses made during a pelagic expedition from Vanuatu to New Ireland, Melanesia, in January 2017: Beck's Petrel Pseudobulweria becki, an all-dark Pseudobulweria, Magnificent Petrel Pterodroma (brevipes) magnificens, Vanuatu Petrel P. (cervicalis) occulta and Heinroth's Shearwater Puffinus heinrothi. Our observations provide some new insights into the following issues: Beck's Petrel—timing of breeding and search for the breeding grounds; all-dark Pseudobulweria—possible existence of an undescribed taxon in seas north-east of Papua New Guinea; Magnificent Petrel—sightings consistent with the argument for a distinct population; Vanuatu Petrel—variation in the underwing pattern and implications for its separation from White-necked Petrel Pterodroma (c.) cervicalis; and Heinroth's Shearwater—timing of breeding and search for the breeding grounds.