Its not everyday that you stumble onto a fight to the death between birds. I have seen many squabbles between ducks, coots and honeyeaters and of course one sided battles between birds of prey and their victims. But I have not seen a fight to the death between small beautiful songbirds.
I often hear Spotted Pardalotes in the various forests that I explore. I even get the occasional visitor in my inner city suburb. They have a distinctive call and I more often record them in my logs as heard rather than seen. During spring when they are building their nesting burrows and attending eggs and chicks they become much more visible at the lower levels of the forest. I have a good spot at Moorooduc Quarry where I can find, observe and photograph the Pardalotes. On a recent visit I walked along my regular burrow track and found a two male pardalotes fighting on the ground. I couldn’t tell which one was the intruder or the burrow owner. The fight resulted in the death of one of them and the other continued to attack until I removed the pardalote when the victor had flown to a nearby branch. I wanted to check the dead bird for the injuries. There was no blood or obvious wounds except both eyes were missing. Once I removed the dead male pardalote and stood back I waited to see whether the other would return – I was still trying to figure who owned the burrow. Probably 5 min later the male returned to the area with a female closely behind. They moved around the area and finally the female ducked into the burrow. My guess is that the victor was the intruder and he brought his mate to inspect this prime position. I had no idea that this beautiful tiny bird had such ferocious fights to the death.
Spotted Pardalote, Moorooduc Quarry, Mt Eliza, Vic
Spotted Pardalote battle
The victor looking at me like I was next on his hit list…
Pardalote nest burrow
Pardalote nest track, Moorooduc Quarry Reserve, Mt Eliza, Vic
Posted in Bird Behaviour, Birds, Victoria
Tagged Australia, Australian Birds, Bird battle, Bird death, Bird Photography, Moorooduc Quarry, Moorooduc Quarry Flora and Fauna Reserve, Nature Photography, Pardalote nest, Spotted Pardalote, Victoria
For various reasons I have not taken many/any photos on recent visits to Greens Bush. The weather has been cold and wet, it has been quite dark in the forest and most importantly not many birds have sat still long enough to take a decent image. I no longer blast away at any bird and hope that there is a shot in there somewhere. The hours post processing are not worth the result. I try to take only a few shots and get the setup right while stalking the target. This often results in failures and no shots but does save time at the computer. On Saturday I was determined to shoot something rather than just carry the heavy gear around. While the birdlife was abundant and the forest was quite noisy there were not many birds near enough to shoot. What I did find was three different species’ nests all within a few meters of where I had stopped for a breather. For nearly 30 mins I watched as a Golden Whistler returned to a particular bush with more nesting material. The female seemed to be doing all the collecting and building with the colourful male inspecting now and again and standing guard in the next tree. While just standing there I saw a pair of Spotted Pardalotes on a branch just above my head. It took a few moments to realise that they were not being friendly but getting a bit stressed because I was standing next to their burrow. I moved away and straight away they flew down and into the burrow. Turning around at a new bird call I saw a pair of Striated Thornbills flying into their nest, a tennis ball size clump of soft material and spider webs. Spring has started and nesting season is in full swing. I will re-visit in the coming weeks and hopefully see more progress and take a few pics.
Spotted Pardalote near nest entrance
Spotted Pardalote nest entrance – a burrow
Striated Thornbill nest camouflaged inside an over-hanging Eucalyptus branch
Golden Whistler nest (just starting) – will be more of a traditional cup type nest.
Posted in Bird Behaviour, Birds, Victoria
Tagged Australia, Australian Birds, Bird Photography, Golden Whistler, Greens Bush, Mornington Peninsula, Mornington Peninsula National Park, Nature Photography, Photography, Spotted Pardalote, Striated Thornbill, Victoria
Along one of the fence lines of the Adams Creek Nature Conservation Reserve are several silicon sand mines used to produce silicon for glass manufacturing. The reserve is surrounded by large pits that are in use or have been filled by rainwater and are reverting to a more natural state. While counting waterbirds I heard the call of a small Spotted Pardalote that was so loud that it felt like it was on my head (or next to my ear). It turned out to be a male pardalote on a low branch several feet away from the cliff edge that I was standing on. The light was bright but the photos had an odd feel about them. When I moved away, the pardalote flew down to its cliff face burrow and kept watch. When it sounded its territorial call it made a 3 note call, a soft note followed by a louder higher two note call. When calling they extend their neck upwards and the call seems to come from the throat, I hardly saw it open its beak…
Spotted Pardalote, Adams Creek Reserve, Nyora, Victoria, 4 Dec 2016
Spotted Pardalote on watch near its cliff face burrow
Joining in the bird chorus at the Wilson Botanic Park in Berwick, was a loud Spotted Pardalote. He was hard to find at first as we expected him to be high in a gum but the sound was coming from close by. We finally found the little bird on a branch in lower section of the tree. We were able to sit close and try and shoot the Pardalote through the foliage while he made his 3 tone territorial call.
Spotted Pardalote, Wilson Botanic Park, Berwick, 30 Oct 2016
Posted in Birds, Victoria
Tagged Australia, Australian Birds, Berwck, Berwick Botanic Gardens, Bird Photography, Nature Photography, Photography, Spotted Pardalote, Victoria, Wilson Botanic Park
I dropped by the folks’ farm in Moorooduc yesterday. They live on a 10 acre block with large pine trees down one side and a Eucalyptus woodlot along another edge. The long driveway is bordered by rows of Willow Trees. Next door is a free range egg farm guarded by several Mareema Sheepdogs that have been trained to guard the chickens from foxes. Given the number of chickens we find in the sheep yards they do miss a few visits by the local foxes. A few raptors also tend to regularly stop by and watch for chicken stragglers. I have counted 24 bird species so far at the farm. The property has a nice mix of native and introduced mature trees as well as some native bushes for the smaller birds. I photographed a few below, along with some nicely coloured fungi.
Brown Thornbill, Willowind Farm, Moorooduc, Victoria
Female Spotted Pardalote, Willowind Farm
Grey Shrikethrush, Willowind Farm
One of four Dusky Woodswallows roosting in a local tree in the late afternoon sun.
Large Fungi, Willowind Farm, Moorooduc, Victoria
Apricot tree Fungi, Willowind Farm, Moorooduc, Victoria
Posted in Birds
Tagged Australia, Australian Birds, Bird Photography, Brown Thornbill, Dusky Woodswallow, Grey Shrike Thrush, Moorooduc, Nature Photography, Photography, Spotted Pardalote, Victoria, Willowind Farm
Spotted Pardalotes are tiny colourful birds that mostly feed in the tree canopy. They have quite a distinctive call but are not often seen. During the breeding season they come down from the trees and rather than build a nest in the branches they dig a small tunnel in a sandy bank – the tunnel has a small mouse sized opening but can be a metre long. I found this little family trying out a bank near where I happened to be photographing a family of nesting Yellow Robins. They had dug a few test holes and were looking at each others work. For such a shy bird they were very focussed on the potential nest holes and ignored my presence.
Female Pardalote, Moorooduc Quarry
Male Pardalote, Moorooduc Quarry
Above the Pardalotes were three White-naped Honeyeaters chasing each other. This one stopped and watched the Pardalotes for a while. The White-nape has a interesting call and bright Orange eye marking.
White Naped Honeyeater, Moorooduc Quarry
“Birds are the magicians of the nature! They are here, they are there and they are everywhere!” – Mehmet Murat Ildan
An overcast and at times drizzly morning was my initial reward for an early start exploring a new site on the Mornington Peninsula. I was down the coast for the weekend and decided to have a look at a Flora and Fauna Reserve that I had always driven past to get to Green Bush
but had never visited. Behind a two car carpark, an ordinary gate and piles of dumped rubbish was a pretty good native bushland reserve and a great display of small birds, along with the local regulars. I knew I was in for a treat by the shear number of birds especially the smaller ones that I could hear and eventually found as I walked around the reserve. They moved in early morning feeding flocks and were not too bothered by me, at times coming down quite close to check me out.
Golden Whistler, Peninsula Gardens, Rosebud South, Victoria, April, 2015
Spotted Pardalote, Peninsula Gardens, Rosebud South, Victoria
Spotted Pardalotes gathering nesting material even though it is very late in the season, Peninsula Gardens, Rosebud South, Victoria
Grey Shrike Thrush, Peninsula Gardens
The large number of birds was I think due to a lack of visitors and a good variety of low and mid canopy native vegetation, much of it flowering like the banksia below. There were many tall Grasstrees in the reserve and a number of these were flowering as well.
Banksia, Peninsula Gardens – many of the smaller honeyeaters were squabbling over these large nectar rich flowers
Grass Trees, Peninsula Gardens
Posted in Bird Behaviour, Birds, Victoria
Tagged Australian Birds, banksia, Bird Photography, Golden Whistler, Grass Trees, Grey Shrike Thrush, Nature Photography, Peninsula Gardens, Photography, Rosebud South, Spotted Pardalote, Victoria
Spent a few hours exploring a different section of the Bunyip State Forest last week with John. Neither of us had been to the Eastern section before. We started pretty early so the light was not the best for photography but a few spots we visited were very good for small birds especially the Lawson Falls Trail. It was quite overgrown but with plenty of birds in the canopy and many more around us in the shrubs. I saw one Lyrebird as we got out of the car at the Lawson Falls picnic ground and another up the Trail doing his shaking feather dance on his display mound. We will definitely visit that walk again.
ParkWeb map and notes
Female Spotted Pardalote, Lawson Falls Trail
Female Spotted Pardalote II
Young Vic Mountain Ash trees, one of Bunyip State Park Picnic grounds – these trees are only quite young and will grow to become one of the worlds tallest trees.
Posted in Birds, Bunyip State Forest, John Van Doorn, Spotted Pardalote, Victoria
Tagged Australia, Australian Birds, Bird Photography, Nature Photography, Photography, Spotted Pardalote, Victoria