One of the more common resident breeding birds in our garden would have to be the Striated Pardalote. These delightful little birds are present every day, and we enjoy hearing their ‘peep-peep’ call as they forage for food in the leaf canopy of trees near our home.
We have two species of pardalote present here, the other one being the Spotted Pardalote. That one we affectionately call the ‘squeaky gate’ pardalote, because that’s what its call sounds like.
Both species nest in a hollow. The hollow can be a small tree hollow, or it can be in a burrow dug in the sandy soil around here. They will also utilise a small hollow in buildings, such as between bricks and woodwork.
A few days ago I was out in our garden and my attention was alerted by constant snapping noises. It wasn’t loud mind you, but loud enough to be aware of. I knew immediately what to look for. The mallee tree above me had been taken over by about a half dozen Spotted Pardalotes. The soft snapping noise was from their beaks grabbing a feast of little bugs called Lerps which are a form of psyllid sap sucking insects.
I went inside to get my camera and by that time all except one bird had moved on. He was rather shy about having his photo taken, so you will have to be satisfied with the partial view as seen above. If you click on the photo it will enlarge the image. Then you might be just able to see on the leaves the waxy scale like coverings the Lerps like to hide under.
To learn more about the Lerps insects click here.
Over the last three days we have had a severe burst of extremely hot days. On Friday the temperature reached 45C (113F) under our front veranda. It was no better on Saturday when it again reached 45C. Yesterday was a little “cooler” as it only reached 40C (104F). Much cooler weather moved through the state last night and today’s forecast is for 22C (72F). What a contrast!
Probably the most frequent visitors to our garden bird baths were the pardalotes, both the Striated (as shown in the photos) and the Spotted. At times there were five or six of them. When I took the hose to replenish the water supply, several of them waited politely not more than a metre away. Pity I didn’t have the camera on me. The above photos were taken a few minutes later. I sat in the shade of the veranda, but the oppressive heat in the wind was too much and I retreated to air-conditioned comfort after about five minutes.
All during the heat there was a constant parade of birds taking advantage of the water I supplied. These include:
- Striated Pardalote
- Spotted Pardalote
- House Sparrow
- Red Wattlebird
- New Holland Honeyeater
- Brown Headed Honeyeater
- White Plumed Honeyeater
- Spiny Cheeked Honeyeater
- Singing Honeyeater
- Crested Pigeon
- Spotted Turtledove
- Australian Magpie
- Australian Magpie Lark
- Willie Wagtail
For several weeks we have been looking for a nesting hollow of the Spotted Pardalote in our garden or nearby, without luck until yesterday. Today I approached the hollow cautiously and took several photos of the nest. A few seconds later one of the nesting birds came cautiously towards the hollow carrying some soft, fine grass in its beak. The hollow was obviously finished and now they were furnishing it ready for the eggs.
Pardolotes are certainly on my list of favourite birds. We have two types here in Murray Bridge, both of them resident in our garden. This one is the Spotted Pardalote and the other is the Striated Pardalote. Both make the nest in a hollow at the end of a tunnel in sand, in the bank of a creek or river, in the cutting on the side of a road. The Pardalotes will also use a small hollow in a tree and even in gaps between brickwork in a building.
- Spotted Pardalote – a close encounter with this species some months ago.
Last weekend we attended a native plant sale at Geranium. This is a small town of only about 80 residents. It is about an hour drive from Murray Bridge and is situated in the heart of the Murray Mallee. It is set in a wheat and sheep farming district and so much of the land has been cleared for this purpose. Along the road sides, however, there is a rich remnant vegetation strip and this provides a reasonably adequate habitat for a range of mallee loving birds, especially when it is in flower.
The area is dominated by honeyeaters. Over the last decade I have recorded the following honeyeater species in or near Geranium:
Brown Headed Honeyeater
New Holland Honeyeater
White Plumed Honeyeater
White Eared Honeyeater
Yellow Plumed Honeyeater
Spiny Cheeked Honeyeater
Purple Gaped Honeyeater (rare)
The common birds of prey include the Black Shouldered Kite, Nankeen Kestral, Little Eagle and Australian Hobby. I am not sure of the status of the magnificent Wedge Tailed Eagle in this district. Down through the years since settlement this species has been seen in a negative light by many farmers who have shot them to prevent loss of lambs from their sheep flocks.
The Crested Pigeon is very common throughout the region as is the Common Bronzewing Pigeon where the habitat is suitable. The delightful tiny Peaceful Dove must also occur in this region but I have not personally recorded it. Around the town, especially the wheat storage silos, the introduced feral Rock Pigeon is present in the hundreds. They are also present around farm sheds.
The most common parrot in this area would have to be the Galah. Flocks of hundreds can often be observed throughout the Murray Mallee districts. Little Corellas may also be present though I have not seen any near Geranium. The large Yellow Tailed Black Cockatoo may also be a vagrant but not resident due to a lack of suitable food trees. Sulpher Crested Cockatoos may also occur in this district but I haven’t seen any. Purple Crowned Lorikeets are common, and Rainbow Lorikeets have been recorded. Other parrots resident in or near Geranium include:
Red Rumped Parrots
Blue Winged Parrots
My total number of species for this area stands at 56 species. Here is a list of some other birds I have recorded in the district:
The most unusual sighting I have made in Geranium is a single Cattle Egret feeding on the school oval.