Saturday, April 14, 2007

The Elusive Striated Fieldwren

I have spent several hours in the heath around Goat Bluff in recent times and published some of the observations on this blog. This visit was while on the way to a family outing at South Arm. I suggested we might stop and show the elder of my daughter's children, Caitlyn, all of 6 years old, the magnificent views from the lookout (and I might just get a few minutes birding in). It was a very blustery day with intermittent cloud cover and there were few obvious birds about. We did get a distant view of a young White-breasted Sea Eagle floating above Hope Beach to the West but little else, so we quickly returned to my daughter's 4WD. Just as I was getting back in, she remarked that there was a bird atop a low shrub on the cliff edge about 20 metres away. There had been so few bush birds about, that I took keener interest than usual, and even with the naked eye, immediately realised it was a Striated Fieldwren. I grabbed the camera and 'begging' an indulgence of a few minutes of the family's time, headed for the bird.
It's not that they're particularly uncommon. I had briefly heard one here on a previous trip, and when I had a banding site close by
, had caught a few over the years. No, it's just that I seldom see them, or if I do, it's a brief view as one passes from one piece of low cover to another. I've even seen them go into a lone bush, circled round and round it trying to flush the bird, all to no avail. But today they seemed eager to show themselves, and I managed the accompanying shots in about a quarter of an hour, as I wandered through the low scrub, much of it less than a metre high. They're fascinating to watch, sometimes flying from bush to bush with much whirring of wings, their wings seemingly too small for their fairly corpulent bodies. At other times running rapidly across the open spaces between cover.
In an area of no more than a hectare of windswept clifftop, I estimated there were perhaps as many as a dozen birds. Why they were so active under the blustery conditions I don't pretend to know, but they are early breeders and they may just have been staking out their territories. I can only feel grateful for the brief acquantaince. A bird the family now refers to as "Vanessa's Bird". I'm just glad she noticed it!


Duncan said...

Great little birds, wish I could get shots like yours Alan.

BirdingTas said...

Hi Duncan,
Thanks for the compliment, but there was a deal of luck attached to getting these shots. I have walked over the area many times without even seeing or hearing a fieldwren, On this particular day they were very obliging!