Saturday, July 13, 2013

Cisticola, Fairy-wrens & other Woolamai smalls

If these birds had hung around together a little longer then I may have made a better fist of capturing their moment together. These Golden-headed cisticola and Super fairy-wren shared the same patch of coastal heath when I visited Cape Woolamai recently.

Golden-headed cisticola and Superb fairy-wren, Cape Woolamai
Superb fairy-wren
Superb fairy-wren (female)
Golden-headed cisticola

There are few clues to the correct pronunciation of the name cisticola! It is one of those bird names that has to be heard before an attempt should be made. Sean Dooley does an excellent job in his book "From Anoraks to Zitting Cisticola":
Nothing gives a beginner away more quickly than mispronouncing the names of birds. It shouldn’t matter, but it does, and when I hear an experienced old-timer pronounce ‘plover’ so that it rhymes with ‘clover’ (it should rhyme with ‘lover’), I can’t help but give a misplaced smirk of superiority.
So for the record, if you want to avoid the sniggers of other birders, cisticola should be pronounced ‘sis-tick-er-la’ with the last syllables running together so that it sounds as though you are saying you have tickled your sister, not as if it was the latest flavour of Coke. And certainly try and avoid, as one friend used to say, ‘cisticular’. Particularly with the Zitting before it; people will think you are suffering from a medical condition. 'Sean was a healthy young man until he went to Darwin and picked up Zitting Cisticulars. Now it hurts when he pees.'
In my mind this male Golden-headed cisticola appears distracted by the flight of his love...

A few more Woolamai "smalls"....

Willie wagtail, Cape Woolamai (A "Woolie wagtail" perhaps?)
White-fronted chat
The scene where these shots were taken. Cape Woolamai, Phillip Island. The cape is at the eastern  most point of the island. Here is the view looking west across the rest of the island.
Bird on!


  1. Lovely little ones Pete, I know just how hard it is to capture them. Our superb fairy wrens are in mating plumage too. I thought a little early but there it is. The other little wren you have, I believe is a female rather than a male in eclipse plumage. That tell tale red around the eye . . .
    Sometimes I wish we still lived in Vic., but then, the desert would be so much further away.
    I was thrilled you spotted my spiny cheeked honeyeater last week. Have corrected the mistake.

  2. Hi Pete Wonderful shots of thee little birds. I love seeing them when I am in Australia. I have to agree with Arija in that I also think it is a female Superb Fairy Wren. Have a great weekend and happy birding. Margaret

  3. I've read Dooley's "Big Twitch" but have never got around to reading his follow-up effort - you've made it seem like a great read!

    I've also never seen a photo before that makes a Fairy-wren seem like a comparatively chunky bird, but the "Cisticular" has that effect! Nice photos, as always!

    1. Thanks Christian,
      It is a fun read!

  4. the cisticolas and wrens are beautiful happy little birds, very nice to get them in the one shot! a really lovely group of photos. The chat is lovely also.