The Ashy Tailorbird is given its name for the ash-coloured upper back. The ash extends to its breast and fades to white belly and vent. The scapulars, wings and tail is a bronze-brown. The head is distinctively rufous with some having an ash nape. The beak is sharp resembling a needle.
My first encounter with the ashy tailorbird was in the mangroves, its natural home. I would hear its loud, high-pitch and fast chirps cutting through the humid air and surrounding me. I was not expecting the sound to be coming from such a small bird as I naively equate a loud sound to a large bird. It take several more occasions before I tracked the burst of metallic chirp to the ashy tailorbird.
A pair of them was flitting among the branches methodically in search of insects. It was fast-moving bird due to its petite frame and legs that are designed to hop quickly from one branch to another. In reviewing the photos I took, I noticed the intertarsal joint is bulbous which I believe creates a strong spring to launch it forward. The leg stands out from other birds in that it is often in an angle where the tibia and tarsus is close to each other. It looks like a bird that has gone through some serious gym training doing squats.
It can be difficult to get a clear shot of this bird. It seldom stay still for long at a spot, making you hunt for it with the camera. Its foraging strategy is to comb through a tree or shrub in a pair quickly. Each time it does a hop, it will momentarily pause to check for food. You have one to second to frame, focus and shoot. When it is done with a tree, it flies on to the next tree. Occasionally, it stops to take a break and preen its feather.