The BackPaddock is now open. For the first time since early Feb 2014, the back paddock has been opened up to mere mortals.
We haven’t visited the area in over 2 months. No point if the access to the gorgeous piece of Grey Box forest and grassland is inaccessible. Tired I was of pressing my cold nose up against the unforgiving and unrelenting chain mesh. Besides the Robins, the reason we visited were obviously living the high life further down the paddock and not trips out.
Our style of photography of these delightful winter visitors, is to find the flocks, note the best feeding areas and the size and direction of the flocks and how the mixed flock is moving about. Then finding one of those spots and waiting. If followed, they just fly further and further from reach, but a hunting flock coming into an area is unaffected by human presence. (or in my case my presence, and that solves the asking about ‘human?”)
EE and I had reason to travel north and stopped into Greenvale shopping centre for lunch, and on a whim, as we were near, “Let’s go and walk down the Providence Road track”. Now the alternative was a long dreary drive home on the ring road, so as the Banjo said, we went.
We weren’t going to the back paddock and were in a bit of a hurry, but a quiet walk down to the old dam area and the forest in the area can be profitable, and we started off. A red-cap pair distracted us and I walked the last few hundred metres to the back paddock to peer through the chain mesh. And. The gate was unlocked! Access!!!!
The fox, must be deceased,or as Python put it. “This fox is no more! He has ceased to be! ‘E’s expired and gone to meet ‘is maker! ‘E’s a stiff! Bereft of life, ‘e rests in peace! ‘e’d be pushing up the daisies! ‘Is metabolic processes are now ‘istory! ‘E’s off the twig! ‘E’s kicked the bucket, ‘e’s shuffled off ‘is mortal coil, run down the curtain and joined the bleedin’ choir invisible!! THIS IS AN EX-FOX!!”
Dilemma. With only a minimum of equipment, would we make a walk, or as time was not on our side, just go with our original idea. EE pushing through the gate sort of decided the next step.
And the forest was deadly quiet. Gone are the pardalotes, thornbills, treecreepers, honeyeaters and robins. The usual spots were all deserted. Not even the Rosellas we’d watched earlier were wrestling for spots, and above all the Red-rumped Parrots, not a sign.
Something has happened to the food chain in this piece of Grey Box. (I’ve seen flocks of 70 or more Flame Robins work here, what with as many thornbills, honeyeaters and the like a winter flock could be well over 100 birds. Easy to find because of the noise.
EE was feeling well, so we ambled down the track to the famous “Three Way” Junction, or “Snake City” depending on whose telling the story. The last of our ‘cuppa’ was finished and we were pondering the drive home, when along the top of the ridge among the old downed trees, a wing flap. Then another. It was the old ‘Three Brothers hunting group”. 3 bold males, and a number of juveniles, and at this late stage of the season with the females starting to regroup.
Gone were thoughts of a freeway, and an early dinner and tv.
Not easy to work with a group of birds that don’t want to be approached, but in the end we managed a few useable images. And learned a few things about the late season feeding. No longer trying to find quick food among the moss beds, these birds were after much bigger, bulking up food. Which means, sit, jump, eat, move on. Hard to keep up with 20+ birds going hard at it.
In the middle of all this, a resident Red-capped Robin came down to see what all at the fuss was about. After all its been nearly 6 months since he’s had humans stomping all over his front lawn.
He reminded me of Yosemite Sam of Looney Tunes, so I named him Sam.
One of Sam’s great lines slightly paraphrased seemed to be on this little bird’s mind as he hopped about watching the activity. “Tripod holes, Some low-down ornery photographer is gettin’ tripod holes all over my Forest. ”
Yosemite Sam said it this ways. :”Great horny toads … a trespasser gettin’ footie prints all over my desert”
In the end they moved one time too many and disappeared over a ridge line.(probably heading for an evening roosting spot), and the light was beating us. So we headed for the gate. Met Andrew H, on the way, and so nice to catchup after so long.
Good to have access the Bandicoot Hilton once again. Just need some reasonable weather to be able to sort out the hunting orders and have at the birds relax around us. Time is of the essence, as they will be gone by the mid of August. 3 weeks perhaps.