As the weather cools, the wind blows and the rains come, the early signs of Winter approach. This small window of change sees a reduction in the birds easily seen. The Summer migrants have fled to the north and many local migrants have moved to other locations back over the mountain range. However, the product of a patient early morning walk could yield sightings of some of our tiniest birds, as it did for my wife and I last weekend in Canberra. In the early morning sunshine the tiny Silvereye sung their heart out as they quickly moved about in search of insects.
The Silvereye, only a tiny 11-13cm, is found in both south-western and south-eastern Australia, including Tasmania, preferring the cooler climate in summer, and migrating northward late summer. They move with lively busy activity, as a flock, systematically from tree to tree as they travel. A bird that can be difficult to photograph at times, as they never seem to stop moving. Click on photos to enlarge.
Not far from there, on our morning bird walk, we heard the high pitched happy busy sound of other timy birds working a large eucalypt tree in the warm sunshine. But for the occasional movement of a twig or two these birds would remain camouflaged due to their tiny size and their leaf shaped body. Even smaller than the Silvereye, a mere 9.5 to 11.5 cm, one of Australia’s tiniest birds, the Striated Pardalote (race melvillensis) moved in a small mixed feeding flock (MFF) through the tree. They spend over half an hour in the same tree.
You can see the size comparison with the eucalypt leaves, as to their tiny size. Again, like the silvereye, they can be a challenge to photograph clearly, as they move about quickly checking leaves and branches for insects.
With careful observation my wife detected one Spotted Pardalote travelling in the MFF, this being our tiniest bird 8 to 10 cm, and a cousin to the Striated. He did not want his picture taken and kept well away from the sunlight and open branches. We could not see a female travelling with him.
The tiny Buff-rumped Thornbill (10.5 to 11.5 cm) was also travelling in the MFF. Again another tiny fast moving insectivourous bird
Later that morning on visiting the local wetlands we noted a reduction in many bird species after the heavy rain, but the Golden-headed Cisticola was seen among the tall grass and reeds of the grasslands. The so called golden head is seen in the male when breeding, as breeding plumage, but these are non-breeding.
I must confess, I do have difficulty at times discerning the difference between Grassbirds and Cisticola due to the many variations in colour, but the tail and overall colour of the bird are helpful differentiates. These birds are found often together in the same locations. Of course the more common Red-browed Finch (11 to 12 cm), another tiny bird was also present, though I managed only one shot of it, which is unusual, as they are more common. Some call this bird a Red-browed Firetail, as it has a similar bright red tail to the Firetail species.
Lastly, to my surprise an introduced species, European Goldfinch, a not so small (14 to 16 cm) sat in the sunshine.
So there it is for this week, all small birds. These were not all that I saw, as the many residential large birds were occasionally seen per usual, but these tiny ones give my wife and I the greatest pleasure and incur the greatest excitement, as they challenge us to spot and photograph them. Again I am left with this meditative thought watching these tiny birds feed so joyously in the eucalypts.
“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life? – Matthew 6:25-34
Have a wonderful week, and check out my website for more birding info, and my book which can be purchased here from the sidebar.
The display for my book at the Minnamurra Rainforest Centre in Jambaroo where the book has been selling well. A continuous movie is played in the centre of the feature.