Tag Archives: Superb Fairy Wren

Ignorance is bliss

While staying in Mallacoota I visit Bastion Point several times a day at various tides looking for the birds that usually stop by this part of the coast. On most visits I came across a flock of Yellow-tailed Black-cockatoos. I think it was an extended family as there were several adults and a bunch of juveniles still begging for food. The sound young cockatoos make when begging would make anyone give them food just to shut them up. On this occasion the adults  were quite agitated while the younger birds played around, looking about I found a young whistling kite on a tree branch nearby watching them all intently.

Yellow-tailed Black-cockatoo, Bastion Point, Mallacoota, Vic

Yellow-tailed Black-cockatoo, Bastion Point, Mallacoota, Vic

Yellow-tailed Black-cockatoo, Bastion Point, Mallacoota, Vic

II

Yellow-tailed Black-cockatoo, Bastion Point, Mallacoota, Vic

Preening and teasing each other

Immature Whistling Kite, Bastion Point, Mallacoota, Vic

Immature Whistling Kite watching the Black-cockatoos

Superb Fairy-wren, Bastion Point, Mallacoota, Vic

A bright male Superb Fairy-wren on lookout. 

Front View, Rear View

For a small bird that is brightly coloured during breeding season, the male Superb fairy-wren is a noisy bird that likes to alert everything nearby that a stranger has come close or into its territory. It is a curious bird that will pop up onto a branch, have a look at the potential danger and then disappear quickly back into low foliage. Over winter, spring and early summer, I have been paying extra attention to these little birds, participating in the study to gauge the male’s transition to full breeding plumage each year. We are supposed to track what plumage stage each bird is in that we find as we walk our favourite areas. The species has a defined territory making the little tribe (2 to 6 birds) easier to find each time. The study has made it more interesting finding this quite common bird. Usually I just record it as a day or site tick on my list and then ignore it. Having to study the individual family groups for a 15-20 minutes session, identifying the sexes, plumage phase types, general activity and any interaction between groups makes it much more interesting. A by-product of this stationary watch means I see others birds as they fly by or pop out of the nearby scrub.

Superb Fairy-wren, Greens Bush, Mornington Peninsula National Park, Vic

Superb Fairy-wren, Greens Bush, Mornington Peninsula National Park, Vic

Superb Fairy-wren II, Greens Bush, Mornington Peninsula National Park, Vic

II

 

A Mistletoebird intrudes

Walking along one of the tracks around the Moorooduc Quarry I heard the distinctive call of the Mistletoebird along with the alarm call of a Superb-fairy wren. Usually the fairy-wrens stay low, nearer the ground, but a female wren was calling quite loudly as a Mistletoebird helped itself to the fruit of a Cherry Ballart tree. The Mistletoebird as its name suggests has a strong relationship with various native mistletoes (Box, Drooping and Creeping) and helps spread the seed onto other trees via a very fast and sticky digestive process. I hadn’t seen one feeding in a Cherry Ballart before. The ballart is another form of parasitic plant that uses the roots of other trees to gain its nutrients rather than the branches.

Mistletoebird, Moorooduc Quarry, Mt Eliza, Vic

Mistletoebird, Moorooduc Quarry, Mt Eliza, Vic

Mistletoebird, Moorooduc Quarry, Mt Eliza, Vic

II

Mistletoebird and Superb Fairy-wren, Moorooduc Quarry, Mt Eliza, Vic

Mistletoebird has a snack while a Superb Fairy-wren frowns at the intrusion.

Small birds of Moorooduc

I often stop by Moorooduc Quarry to observe the Peregrine Falcons on the cliffs of the quarry. Afterwards I walk the nearby tracks and photograph the smaller forest birds.

Eastern Yellow Robin, Moorooduc Quarry, Mt Eliza, Vic

Eastern Yellow Robin, Moorooduc Quarry, Mt Eliza, Vic

Superb Fairy-wren, Moorooduc Quarry, Mt Eliza, Vic

Female Superb Fairy-wren, Moorooduc Quarry, Mt Eliza, Vic

Superb Fairy-wren, Moorooduc Quarry, Mt Eliza, Vic

II

Churchill National Park Fairywrens.

A friend took me to Churchill National Park a while back. I have been looking for new sites around the greater Melbourne with good photo opportunities. It was a the first time I had visited this site and it was pretty good. There are plenty of tracks and I found good range of forest bird species and a colony of Superb Fairywrens including this nicely coloured male below.

Male Superb Fairy-wren, Chrurchill National Park, Vic

Male Superb Fairywren, Churchill National Park, Vic

Flying visit along the coast

Over spring I have been working on a garden down the Mornington Peninsula, trying to rediscover and restore the original veggie and garden beds. On the way home I popped into a few new spots along the way –  Highfield in the National Park and the McClelland Sculpture Park in Langwarrin. The Superb Fairy-wren was displaying its near eclipse plumage (last of its breeding/summer plumage). As I parked my car at the Sculpture Garden, I heard a weird bird call that I did not recognise (of course I assumed I had discovered a new species or at least a lifer) and it turned out to be a begging young Butcherbird. I watched as a parent returned a few times with little morsels for the hungry beggar. Notice the deadly little bill hook that the Butcherbird will use as part of its bird hunting weaponry.

Superb Fairy-wren, Green's Bush (southern), Vict

Superb Fairy-wren, Mornington Peninsula National Park: Highfield, Vic

Juvenile Grey Butcherbird, McClelland Sculpture Park, Langwarrin, Vic

Juvenile Grey Butcherbird, McClelland Sculpture Park, Langwarrin, Vic

Superb Fairy-wren

A tiny Superb Fairy-wren at the Garden of St Erth in Blackwood, Victoria. I watched a small family group hunting along a path. I could not get in front of them to get the right light, but it made for an interesting silhouette.

Superb Fairy-wren, Garden of St Erth, Blackwood, Vic

Superb Fairy-wren, Garden of St Erth, Blackwood, Vic