Natural history

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"Soft-tailed Flycatcher", native name "Mereangeree"

Artist: Watling, Thomas
Created: [between 1792 and 1797]
Dimensions: 17.4 x 17.3 cm
Reference: Watling Drawing - no. 262


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Bird in profile, facing to the left, perched on a grassy mound with a landscape of blue hills behind. The upper parts of the bird are brown with black marking, while the underparts are chestnut brown. The tail consists of five long, straight feathers with separated barbs. At top left there is a row of four ink dots, with another dot above the gap between the centre two, and another one below. The drawing is framed by a pencil border and annotated in ink and pencil.


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  • Thomas Watling]
  • The drawing is annotated in ink at bottom "This the Natural Size - The Bird is of a very short flight, seldom exceeding an hundred yards at most. It is so feeble & delicate, as to be run down with the utmost ease.", followed below, in a different hand, by "Native name Mereangeree".
  • The drawing is signed "Thomas Watling, delt.", but is undated.
  • The drawing is inscribed in ink at top right with the number "185.". 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 at top "Soft tailed Flycatcher Sup. 2. 224. female". This has been copied in ink at centre left "Soft tailed Fly catcher. Female. Latham Syn Suppt 2 p. 224.". The page reference is to Latham's Second Supplement to the General Synopsis of Birds (1802).
  • This bird was more recently identified as the Emu Wren, Stipiturus malachurus (female) in Hindwood K. A. (1970).
  • A separate sheet of laid paper measuring 3.6 x 18.4 cm. and inscribed in pale brown ink is mounted below the drawing. It reads "Native name Mereangeree From the resemblance of the Feathers of the tail (when in flight) seems too heavy for the body) to those of the Cassuary in New South Wales and denominated the Emue, or Cassuary Titmouse." The number "185" is inscribed in blue pencil at top right. At top left there is a row of four ink dots, with another dot above the gap between the centre two dots and another one below.
  • 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 12262
  • 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. 'Historical Associations and Early Records of the Emu Wren', The Emu Vol.31 pp.33-110, 1931.
  • 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).