Friday, August 30, 2013

La Billardiere's Ground Parrot

The item is acknowledged: 
         State Library of New South Wales – X980/15B

Image 13 from La Billardiere's folio published 1799: an Eastern Ground Parrot.

La Billardiere's Ground Parrot

In 1786, a French expedition was commissioned to visit New Holland to search for an apparantly lost French expedition that had been captained by La Perouse, and also to do some scientific study. 

This new expedition was commanded by D'Entrecasteaux and comprised two vessels: 'La Recherche' and 'L'Esperance'. 

One of the scientists on board was Jacques-Julien de la Billardiere, primarily a botanist. The Ground Parrot was collected in late 1792 or early 1793 when they were anchored at an inlet, that they called Rocky Bay, off Storm Bay,south of Hobart, Tasmania(then van Diemen's Land).  They named the bird a Black-spotted Parrakeet and noted

 it was green in colour, spotted with black, and moving constantly among the grasses, the bird did not perch in trees.

The expedition came to grief on the way back to France. In Java both D'Entrecasteaux and his second in command died,and then the ships were captured by the Dutch as France was at war with Holland. The collection of specimens was confiscated. On its way back to Amsterdam it was seized by the British who were also at war with the Dutch. Eventually, thanks to intervention by Sir Joseph Banks, it was restored to La Billardiere who had by then made his way back to France.

 La Billardiere published an account of the voyage in 1799 accompanied by a folio of 47 illustrations. Only four of the illustrations are birds, and the Ground Parrot is one of them. La Billardiere's 1799 publication was titled "Relation du voyage a la Recherche de la Perouse", and the folio of illustrations, "Atlas pour servir de la relation du voyage a la Recherche de la Perouse".

La Recherche and L'Esperance

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