With the breeding season behind them now the birds are becoming more visible and their songs more audible. Yesterday I could hear the beautiful song of the Riroriro or Grey Warbler and as I sat looking at the Tall Trees section of the garden I could see a tiny bird flitting amongst the branches.
A closer look confirmed that it was the Grey Warbler, surrogate parent of the Shining Cuckoo ( in the photo below. Note the difference in size between the tiny warbler pictured further down the post and this Cuckoo.)
Grey Warblers only eat insects so it was hunting time for small insects to be found in the trees. I went out into the garden with the camera in the hope of getting a clearer photo than this attempt last year in March.
I was fortunate to find the little warbler on the aged kowhai tree on the reserve. The remarkable feature I saw and heard was this male bird singing its heart out, all while grazing for food. It is stunning to watch such a little beak cleverly move along leaves and branches while also creating beautiful music.
Male Grey Warbler or Riroriro Feb 26th 2014
It was a but a brief moment or two before the wee bird flew across the road to a large bottle brush tree for more fine pickings and to serenade the neighbours.
My luck was in today later in the afternoon. I had had my camera “at the ready” in attempt to capture a photo of our friendly fantail. He, however, had different ideas and flirted with me as he flitted and darted amongst the leaves of the Golden Elm tree. But he disappeared chirruping cheekily across to another garden and away.
My attention was caught a few minutes later when the delightfully melodious song of the Grey Warbler or Riroriro filled the garden close by me. Out on the climbing rose were a pair of these tiny native birds. I have heard them increasingly in the garden in the past two years which has been exciting.
At around 11cm in length, greyish coloured and able to dart and flick away rapidly in flight, they are really tricky to spot and even harder to take a photo of.
I crept out onto the deck with the camera already set to maximum zoom and watched with disappointment as the pair flew into the leafy Smoke Bush. I stood as still as I could and suddenly this little bird popped out onto a barer branch.
Do go to this link for more detail about this marvellous wee bird and click on the sound recording of its impressive song. Impressive in its utter beauty but also in the large sound such a tiny bird produces.
I posted here about the Shining Cuckoo which infiltrates the nest of a Grey Warbler and is raised by these diminutive birds often after kicking the young warblers out of their nest. Another post here about the Shining Cuckoo.
I hope to be posting a photo of the fantail any day soon but for today I am content.
Today is one of those breath-takingly beautiful days we get here in Wellington which remind us of just how lovely this often wind-blown, cloudy and cool location can be.
I loaded the car boot up with unwanted items and headed to our local recycling depot in Porirua called Trash Palace.
As I was getting back in my car I was startled to hear the song of a Shining Cuckoo. I had been thinking about this bird a lot over the past week as I had heard more Grey Warblers singing again around my home. If my memory serves me correctly it usually a little later in the season when I hear the Shining Cuckoos near here.
However I found the following article and note that September is often the time for the Cuckoos to return to NZ from their wintering over in Pacific Islands. This link also features an audio of the lovely song of the Shining Cuckoo as well as lots of new information about its habits, its preferred foods and the remarkable job it does keeping our lovely kowhai trees in excellent health.
Nature brings balance through symbiosis and I have a greater appreciation now of the Shining Cuckoo and its welcome, unique song.