Natural history

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"Axillary Falcon"

Artist: Port Jackson Painter
Created: [between 1788 and 1797]
Dimensions: 38.5 x 27.6 cm
Reference: Watling Drawing - no. 98


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Bird with white head and breast with black markings above the eye. The eye is red, the bill black, and the legs yellow. The back, wings and tail are grey, with black markings on the wing. The bird is facing to the left and perched on a tree branch that cuts diagonally across from the bottom left of the picture, and set against an otherwise plain background. The picture is framed by a pencil border and annotated in ink and pencil.


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  • Port Jackson Painter]
  • The drawing has been annotated in ink at bottom "Natural size. The head of this Drawing is rather too large and long, the Bill should be smaller and more rounded in towards the Breast. I had the Bird alive three months and fed it on small Birds and Fish & c.".
  • The drawing is unsigned and undated.
  • The drawing is annotated in ink in the top right corner with the number "4". This refers to the catalogue list compiled by John Latham c. 1801 which was acquired with the drawings, and is filed with them at the end of the Watling Drawings series.
  • The drawing is annotated in pencil in the top left, "Axillary Falcon Syn Sup ii 42". This has been copied in ink at bottom "Axillary Falcon Lathams Syn suppt. ii - 42 same as No. 5-6-7-8". The page reference is to Latham's Second Supplement to the General Synopsis of Birds (1802).
  • This bird was more recently identified as a Black-shouldered kite, Elanus notatus, or the Letter-winged Kite E. scriptus, ("but more likely the former which is relatively common in the Sydney area whereas the latter is only a very rare straggler") in Hindwood K. A. (1970).
  • The drawing is annotated in pencil at upper left "Lambert Drawing I. 39". This refers to a related set of drawings from the collections of the 13th Earl of Derby, held in the Library at Knowsley Hall, Lancashire.
  • The author of this catalogue record is Suzanne Stenning.
  • By permission of the trustees of the Natural History Museum (London)
  • Two sets of transparencies held in the Natural History Museum (London) Zoology Library and Picture Library: Picture Library reference number 12098
  • James Lee of Kensington : purchased ; 1902
  • Data sheet available
  • Latham, John. Supplement II to the General Synopsis of birds. London: Leigh, Sotheby, 1802.
  • Hindwood K. A. 'The "Watling" drawings with incidental notes on the "Lambert" and the "Latham" drawings', Proceedings of the Royal Zoological Society of New South Wales for the years 1968-69 (1970).