01 September 2009

Riroriro (grey warbler)


Riroriro, the grey warbler (Gerygone igata), was the surprise winner of the 2007 "Bird of the Year" vote. Although common throughout a very wide range of habitats, they're more often heard than seen, and I've found them to be among the most difficult of Aotearoa's common birds to photograph because they never seem to stay still for more than a moment and their preferred habitat is among foliage, where they glean insects. While this rather scruffy little individual (photographed last weekend a few hundred metres from here) doesn't provide a classic portrait of riroriro, something about it seems to suggest the intensity so characteristic of these little birds — perhaps it's the charisma that earned them that accolade in 2007.

Their song varies markedly among regions, but you can hear a particularly good version courtesy of the National Library of New Zealand, the Department of Conservation and Radio New Zealand (whew!). My birds sound different, of course.

All content © 2009 Pete McGregor


Lesley said...

Congratulations on your photographic capture of this little fellow, Pete. C. and I watched and listened to one not so many miles from your place the other day. We didn't even think of photographing it. It was darting about high up behind too many sparsely leafed twigs and it was impossible to see any detail against the overcast sky behind.

I find this recorded version of riroriro's song interesting. It's quite different from what I'm used to. In our region the fall of notes is greater and the phrase longer. I wonder where the recording was made? I hadn't realised there could be so much variation in their song, although I know that both korimako and tui can have very different regional dialects. I always feel a thrill when I hear riroriro's liquid cadences.

pohanginapete said...

Thanks Lesley. Yes, I have a good recollection of how the riroriro in your region sound, as I grew up with it! When I moved north, the difference in song struck me vividly: as if the birds here had forgotten how their song ended. Now I'm used to it, it gives me great delight—but without the surprise :^)

Lydia said...

What a beauty! --both bird and photo.

pohanginapete said...

Thanks Lydia. I like his/her scruffiness :^)