Pardalotes are an endemic species to Australia and the rarest of all can be found in Tasmania and is called the Forty-spotted Pardalote, which we have had the privilege of observing. However, around the Broome area we are currently listening to the constant call of the tiny Striated Pardalote. It is calling incessantly with two or three notes and is busy making holes in any area that it can easily dig. They are digging along the edge of graded roads, tracks, river-banks and old quarries. In among the trees they are hard to see, due to their size, but as soon as they are down lower on the edge of the area that they are digging they are more obvious. The fact that they don’t appear to be able to do anything quietly at this time of year brings them to your attention. In the past we have seen Striated Pardalotes using a gravel pit pile of sand alongside Red-browed Pardalotes and on returning to this site recently the sand had been removed for use and they had been required to look for an alternative site. The Red-browed Pardalotes and Striated Pardalotes were struggling with harder gravel walls and you could see that they could only get in to a certain depth. The birds then gave up and moved to another area, which resulted in lots of small indentations across the gravel wall. The nest site does need to be fairly deep to satisfy the Striated Pardalote and the amount of sand that has been removed below indicates the depth they have gone with this nest site, which is still a “work in progress”. This is right beside a walk track and often you observe these piles of sand, which indicate a nest hole.
Striated Pardalote nest hole in progress
You can clearly see the area at the base of the hole where their feet have been and the removal of the sand must take them some time. The hole tends to go in and then downwards and needs to be large enough for the nesting Striated Pardalote to sit and turn around in.
Close up of a hole being dug
It is not uncommon to observe these nest holes quite close together and the one below was nearby and was only at the initial digging phase. It may not be completed due to the requirement of a certain depth to satisfy the Striated Pardalote potential parents. You can see the start of a failed attempt to the left of this hole.
A second Striated Pardalote nest hole in progress
I have never been able to photograph a Striated Pardalote close up until this week. I have a small compact camera and generally they are too quick or too heavily camouflaged in the trees. Well, to be perfectly honest I just spend more time observing Striated Pardalotes than considering taking a photograph. All of a sudden there was a Striated Pardalote really close to me calling and generally teasing us. Grant said “just get your camera out!”. This is where I usually attempt to unzip it from the little pouch hung around my hips and the bird in question flies off. If I get beyond the unzipping phase I can expect it to fly off as soon as I turn the camera on. So, I have the camera out and I have it turned on and I turn the camera towards the Striated Pardalote and………well, it was still there and I took a photo!
It then turned and I thought that was going to be my one and only photograph of a Striated Pardalote, but I got one of it turned.
It was even obliging enough to turn back for some more photographs to show off its splendid colours.
All of these photographs were taken with the Striated Pardalote being ridiculously close to us with a small compact camera and it was just one of those lucky days when everything falls into place and an opportunity is thrown your way and you grab it!