Over the last two months we’ve had a White-winged Triller in our garden. Normally they hang out in the northern parts of Australia and come south in the spring and summer. They often breed at this time of the year.
At first there was only the one, a male. He persistently called throughout the daylight hours, hours after hour. Then about three weeks ago he was joined by another calling. This one wasa little more secretive – vocal but it kept hidden. I think I did catch a glimpse of it briefly and I’m sure it was a female. Females are much plainer brown.
Since then the male has still been around but he is a lot quieter now. It is possible they have a nest somewhere in the vicinity, but they are keeping very quiet about its location.
There has been an interesting development in the bird life in our garden this last week. The male White-winged Triller is still around every day. calling endlessly and in between calls, feeding on the various caterpillars and other tasty morsels available on our trees and shrubs.
Today he has been joined by a female. She is a duller brown colour, not the striking black and white of the male. So far I’ve not been able to get a photo of her. I saw them feeding together in the same tree. I will be watching for any interesting developments between these two over the coming days.
I had just hung out the washing this morning and was on my way back inside. A different bird call drew my attention so I raced inside for the camera and binoculars. Sure enough, we had a male White-winged Triller in our small patch of mallee scrub. This species is an irregular visitor here, usually in the spring or summer.
White-winged Trillers can be seen throughout most of mainland Australia and northern Tasmania. In my experience they are widespread but not common, and certainly not found in large numbers, usually seen singly or in pairs. They also occur in Papua New Guinea and Indonesia. They are a breeding migrant in the southern parts of the country. In the winter months they spend time in the northern and inland regions.
The call is a rich, far reaching, descending ‘chip-chip-chip-joey-joey-joey.’
This afternoon I had a delightful surprise. We had just arrived back from our lectures in Adelaide and were enjoying a cuppa in the spring sunshine on the front veranda.
An unusual bird flew into the eucalypt tree next to the driveway about twenty metres away. I instantly recognised it as a male White-winged Triller. It sat there for no more than ten seconds before flying away. It must have only spent about thirty seconds in our garden so there was no time to get the camera from the office.
This is one species I would love to get a photo of but so far have drawn a blank. Last year on holiday in NSW I chased one around a few bushes for about twenty minutes, but he refused to show himself in the open.
On checking my database of bird sightings I last recorded this species here in Murray Bridge in 1986, so it has been a long time between sightings. I usually have to travel to see this lovely bird. I hope he liked what he saw and returns – long enough to pose for a photo.
UPDATE : in September 2009 we had another visit from a male Triller. This time I was able to get a photo.
2007 New South Wales trip report #7
Morning tea, 55kms west of Hay
Fifty five kilometres from Hay we pulled into a roadside rest area for morning tea. This flat uninteresting looking place seemed not to be a good birding place at first glance. Within minutes I had changed my mind. There seemed to be birds everywhere, and some very nice species into the bargain. My cup of tea soon was forgotten as I chased the birds around the saltbush area near the parking bay. Welcome Swallows were nice but not too exciting. About twenty White-backed Swallows were far more exciting; itÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s a species I havenÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t seen all that often.
Several Galahs flew overhead and a Nankeen Kestrel swooped past where I stood trying to identify the local wrens. In vain I tried to find the coloured male and three plain brown females gave me the run around. Eventually one came up from the bushes and perched in full view a few metres away. Ah-ha Ã¢â‚¬â€œ a female White-winged Wren. Wonderful Ã¢â‚¬â€œ but still no male. The metallic deep blue with contrasting white wings has to be seen to be believed. Another lost opportunity. [sigh]
In the midst of all this beating around the bushes, my wife called out, “What’s that?” pointing to a bird perched on top of another bush. A White-winged Triller! I hadnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t seen one of those for over eight years. A real bonus bird, so I made sure I thanked my wife for this sighting.
Other common birds seen at this stop included Common Starlings, Little Ravens, Australian Magpies, and still more House Sparrows.
It had been a wonderful half hour stop. Forget that my cuppa went cold!
In September 2009 we had a male feeding and calling in our garden. I managed to get some nice photos of him (see below).