Thursday, June 21, 2007

Striated Pardalote......Overwintering

Read many of the bird books and the general consensus is that the Striated Pardalotes migrate across Bass Strait to mainland Australia for the Winter. However, from my observations of recent years, increasing numbers don't. Perhaps we might put this down to global warming, but standing, watching and photographing the accompanying birds a few days ago, there was a noticeable lack of any warming!
I had gone to the nearby grounds of the old gun battery atop Bellerive Bluff. These grounds afforded an excellent view of the snow covered flanks of Mt. Wellington, but this was
n't a day to stand around admiring the view, as there was a stiff westerly blowing and a temperature around 4C. My first sighting on arrival was the resident pair of Yellow Wattlebirds, giving their guttural contact call as they independently feed in the tall gums. I headed for the southern side of the bluff, knowing there were several Yellow Gums just starting to flower. While not an endemic Tasmanian species, the Yellow Gum euc. leucoxylon (red flowering form), is an excellent bird attractant, with a long flowering period, and widely grown here--I have 3 in my garden. I was not disappointed. As I approached I could see several Spotted Pardalotes, a Crescent Honeyeater, briefly an Eastern Spinebill and a large flock of Silvereyes that erupted from the trees and flew off as I arrived. As I stood in the shelter of the battery's defensive wall and watched the flock of Spotted Pardalotes through my binoculars, I noted first one, then several Striated Pardalotes among them. I was interested to see what the interactions were, as the slightly larger 'Striateds', are often accused of bullying, at least during the breeding season. In fact they appeared to be feeding close together in complete harmony, the only interactions seemed to be among the 'Spotted', and appeared to be males chasing off other males, usually accompanied by a chattering call that I'd not heard before. Every now and again, a few would start to feed on the ground under the gums, and they would quickly be joined by others of both species. They appeared to be feeding on lerps that had presumably been dislodged from the underside of the gum leaves, but they were finding the odd insect too.
The arrival of the female Yellow Wattlebird, temporarily caused the pardalotes to fly off, at which point they quickly formed into separate species flocks. The 'Striateds', which had previously been silent, gave a contact call similar to that of the European Greenfinch, as they formed into a flock. The presence of Spotted Pardalotes is often noticed only by their constant calling, as they feed high in the outer foliage of eucalypts, and perhaps the lack of calls by the 'Striateds' may be a factor in the relative paucity of wintering records.
I took many shots of both species, as well as the wattlebird, in the sunny breaks between showers. Pardalotes are difficult subjects to photograph when they're feeding in the foliage. They have amazing agility (as the centre shot shows) as they feed, often inverted, on the sugar covered lerps on the underside of the leaves. Pardalotes are among the smallest of Tasmania's birds.


Anonymous said...

Hello Birds in Tas,

I have added this image, and your link, with acknowledgements, to the blogsite - Tasmania in Photographs - at

The photo is exquisite - can you supply info about your camera, EXIF data etc, or do you have a publicly viewable Picasa album etc with this info visible?

Cheers Kerry.

BirdingTas said...

Hi Kerry,
Thanks for the compliment and link to the Tasmania in Photographs blog, I will add it to my links. As photography is secondary to the birding aspects, I don't add photographic information unless it has some special interest or relevance. As yet, I don't have a separate web site, but have that in mind for the future. In general, I have been using a Sony A100 digital camera, in this instance with a 300mm f4 lens. Exposure of 1/2000th at f8, ISO 400.