|With the Bandicoot Big Brother house closed for almost permanent ‘restorations’, we’ve been out and about trying to find a new ‘home’ for our birding activities.
We want to find a place close to home, as in not much travel, and where we’ve a chance to work with some Red-capped Robins and the winter flocks of Flame and Scarlets.
One place does offer most of that, the Craigieburn Grasslands area. So we’ve put in a few excursions to see how it will work. The biggest issue is lack of any real sustained Grey Box forest.
The Grey Box seems to be a favourite for the Red-caps and the flocks. And I think I know why.
Up in the old Grey Box stands in the eastern side of the “Bandicoot Hilton”, is an interesting small ground cover salt bush. It seems to me that it favours the layover areas of the Eastern Grey Kangaroos, perhaps its the manure, or just as likely the softer sandy soil, that the ‘roos create as they lay around contemplating the universe.
I’m no research scientist, and I don’t have a government grant, but over seven years, I’ve seen the robins favour the areas where the saltbush grows.
Reason: It produces a lot of deep rich red berries. The berries contain “Carotene”, the red stuff that the robins can’t make in the feather mix, and the carotene provides the necessary ‘red’ for the chest, and head coats.
I’ve pics of the young birds eating the berries, and I suspect that the flocks come down to eat the insects that eat the berries. That way they can bulk up on the red producing products to help the production of nice red feathers for the mating season. (A paper on the net by Dowling goes into it in much better detail and has all the data etc. Worth the find and the read).
Part of the park renovations has been to remove the ‘roos. And at the moment with no good productive layovers, the birds seem to have left the park to its own devices. As the roos are a direct competitor for food with the Bandicoots, it is likely that the roos will be removed completely.
So we’ve taken all that on board and have begun our search else where.
Found a small family of Spotted Pardalote the other day, such tiny little birds and so spectacularly marked.
Here are a few from the day’s work. Also a visit by a couple of Eastern Shrike Tits as well. Worth being out, even in the heat.