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.
I was really startled to find a small bird with an iridescent green back and wings sitting beneath my car yesterday. It hopped away as I approached and because I did not recognise this small bird I gently instructed it to please stay where it was until I returned with my camera.
I was delighted to find it had obeyed my request and I managed to get two photos before it scuttled into the undergrowth of the garden. I think it had been stunned by flying into a window on the house but I am hopeful that with rest it would recover as it was quick in its movements and it flew a short distance into the garden.
Once inside I loaded up my photos and then went straight to this excellent online website which helps identify birds.
And here it was: The Shining Cuckoo or Pīpīwharauroa
I hear it so often in late spring when it migrates back to New Zealand and at times during the summer months. I see in the notes on the website that this bird is more often heard than seen and my experience has been just that until yesterday.
Its markings were very striking and there was much to find attractive about this rather rascally bird.
I have blogged about the Cuckoo here and here and also here about the Riroriro (Grey Warbler) which incubate and raise the young of these Cuckoos.
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.