This morning a little flash of colour drew my attention to a small bird, a Spotted Pardalote Pardalotus punctatus, pecking at bark fibres to collect for nesting material.
Pardalotes are in the Flower Pecker family that also includes the Mistletoe Bird , however contrary to the family name, Pardalotes tend to prefer insects as their main food source, particularly scale insects. Often the first sign of Pardalotes in your vicinity is the peck peck sounds as they feed high in the canopy; mainly Eucalyptus trees. There are nine species of Pardalote and they are only found in Australia, split into two groups, four Spotted and five Striated. These small birds (10cm) that spend most of the time in the tree tops at nesting time shun the trees and build their nests in a tunnel dug into an earthen bank or though they will also use small hollows at the base of trees. In suburban areas they are at times found digging their tunnel into hanging flower baskets.
We have had a pair of Striated Pardalotes nesting over the past four years in the bank next to our drive and we have had Spotted nesting in various locations around the property. These Spotted Pardalotes have picked a section of the driveway bank about 2m from the tunnel that the Striated pair use and have dug their tunnel which I found after watching where the male that collected the nesting material went. They fly to a bush near the nest tunnel, then check that there is no danger around before diving down and into the tunnel. I spent quite some time trying to get a photo as one of the pair went into the tunnel but they are so fast I ended with just a photo of the entrance or a glimpse of a tail disappearing. However I did get one blurred shot (below) which I decided to post as it indicates the speed and the only view you generally get as they dive in.
Around mid-day as I was working in the vegetable garden unmistakable cackling calls heralded the arrival of a pair of White-breasted Sea Eagles, Haliaetus leucogaster, the second largest of our eagles.
The pair soared overhead for a few minutes which enabled a couple of hurried shots before they moved on.