Monday, August 05, 2013

Return of the Striated Pardalotes

       There are definite signs of Spring about, the most obvious at the moment are the numerous Masked Lapwing pairs that have started nesting in various grassland sites. While for many, the arrival of the Welcome Swallows heralds Spring, I look forward to the return of one of our smallest birds, the Striated Pardalote.
       I visited Pipeclay Lagoon this morning, mainly looking at the migrant waders, Red-necked Stint, Double-banded Plover and Bar-tailed Godwit, but also looking for signs of our resident Red-capped Plovers and Pied Oystercatchers taking up breeding territories.
         I find that I can make a close approach to these waders in my car as they feed along the tide line, giving excellent views and the occasional photo.opp. Approaching a group of Red-capped Plovers, I wound down the window, and across the marsh came the umistakable "pick-it-up pick-it-up" call of a Striated Pardalote. "They're back!". I always find such events uplifting and something to be savoured, and set off in pursuit..
          I've never seen large flocks of pardalotes, although they often breed in something approaching colonies, but their sudden appearance in substantial numbers suggests they cross Bass Strait on their southern migration from the Australian Mainland, in a cohesive way. None around a few days ago, many today.
          The Striated Pardalotes nest in holes, mostly in trees and banks, but at 'Pipeclay' they nest predominantly in holes in the ground. On arrival, pairs immediately take up a chosen site, having paired off during the preceding months, and their "pick-it-up" calls are announcing to others that this is their territory. Disputes do take place, but it's rarely more than threat displays with open wings, and incessantly calling.
           Although I've taken many photographs of them before, of course I couldn't help taking a few more and quickly found an occupied territory. There were 2 pairs in close proximity that were having a vocal joust and allowed a very close approach. On 3 occasions all too close, as one bird used my hat as a convenient observation point, I being the tallest "structure" around! I could only look at my own shadow with bird atop-- gives you a warm fuzzy feeling.
          Of Tasmania's three pardalote species, the Striated is the only migrant. In some years a good part of the population stays in Tasmania during Winter, but this year they departed early, and I haven't recorded any since March.Welcome back.



Sonja said...

I hadn't realised they migrated although we always notice when the "Tasmanian" Silvereyes appear and think "It's autumn!"

Unknown said...

Welcome indeed! A few nuggets of knowledge for me from this post, thankyou! Most of my striated pardalote sightings are just across the strait at Victoria's Phillip Island but I was unaware of their migratory behaviour.

BirdingTas said...

Hi Pete and Happy Wanderer,
Thank you for commenting. I think some Tassie birders might be surprised that the 'striated' is migratory too. It's a bird that doesn't "rate" because it is so common, and I suspect more often heard than seen. Like many bush birds, they had to endure a harsh breeding season last year with the dry conditions and fires, particularly in SE Tasmania. Hope we don't get a repeat this year.

Carole M. said...

beautiful shots of the Striated Pardalote

muffin said...

There is one sitting by my window as i type, its preading its wings and hoping about. Is it trying to see me off or has it caught its own reflection in the glass. How do you tell the males from the females?

Anonymous said...

Again you answer my question in a lovely image. We have noticed this little fellow hanging around on the front deck. He appears to be looking for somewhere to nest at the moment and he is quite unmistakable. Thank you again for sharing your wonderful images. I dare say it won't be the last time you help me to identify one of our lovely native birds pictorially :)

BirdingTas said...

Thank you for you comments:
Carole M., muffin and "theroadtoserendipity".
As far as I know there is no way to tell the sexes apart by their plumage. Watching them, you might surmise that , as in many bird species, the male dominates. This may be seen in their actions, particularly in Spring, when males often chase their own partners off if they get too close to rivals! Sound familiar?