Looking splendid in magenta and charcoal plumage, the pink robin flashed through the grevilleas, chasing an eastern spinebill.
It looked as though the male robin had moved off kunanyi/Mt Wellington to establish a winter territory, along with the spinebill which was clearly invading its space.
Nothing unusual about this in autumn, although this was not the usual place I see the sparring and jostling for territories off the mountain, usually in the Waterworks Reserve.
No, this was in my garden, my patch of paradise a little closer to the Hobart CBD. And jumping for joy one recent morning, I had a new species for my garden checklist.
Like charity, I always say that bird-watching begins at home and we don’t really have to search far and wide to experience the wonder of nature. It is often, literally, on our doorstep. We just have to be alert and aware, like the birds that visit our backyards.
My pink robin moment came by change, when I happened to glance out of a window of my study while, would you believe, writing an On the Wing column! I suspected it must either be spinebills or crescent honeyeaters which invade my garden in Dynnyrne in the autumn months, but I hadn’t counted on one of them being a splendid, male pink robin.
Out of the four robin species found in Tasmania the pink robin is my favourite. The pink robin is not pink at all, as I have already indicated. The colour of its breast is more magenta, and this is topped with feathers of charcoal-black with run up its back and form a hood over its head. The female merely carries a dull-grown livery.
Pink robins are largely deep forest birds, inhabiting gullies cut my rivulets running off higher ground. They are usually found along the rocky streams of kunanyi/Mt Wellington, usually those dominated my tight strands of dogwood and man ferns. In spring, the males utter a sweet descending call, easily separated from the songs of other songsters because it is sung in short bursts, with a break in between as though the bird is trying to catch its breath.
A challenge in spring is to find the robin’s nest, one of the most beautiful in the forest. It is anchored to a thin branch and forms a tight bowl – not unlike a bagel or donut – and is decorated with lichen to aid camouflage.
Perhaps it’s too much to expect the pink robin to find a mate during its winter sojourn in my garden and decide to breed in spring.
In the meantime, I’m just glad to boast that I have pink robins on my garden checklist. The number of species spotted in the garden or flying overhead now numbers 58 which is a remarkable achievement for what is technically a suburban garden. All I need now is the flame robin and the endemic dusky robin to go with the pink and scarlet versions already seen and the robin set will be complete.