Snapshots: A Most Valuable Commodity

It’s been dry. Last decent soaking rain was over 2 months back.
Its dry.

EE is getting on quite comfortably with her walking aid, now dubbed “Dolly the Trolley”. So she said, that we might take a trip down to the You Yangs, and have a walk on some of the tracks around the carpark. Sounded good, but its dry, very dry.  So I didn’t have much hope of finding many birds.

Suitably loaded with morning tea and a banana smoothie, and securing Dolly into the boot of the car, we set out.  And what a fine morning the weather had put on. No wind and an enjoyable warm sunshine.

We arrived at the carpark at Big Rock and Dolly immediately sprang into action. First sighting was a Nankeen Kestrel, then a Brown Goshawk, and two families of White-winged Choughs. And to my amazement, the Scarlet Robin pair that normally are in residence.  Off to a good start. Dolly is good about this, as EE can go to a spot, and instead of having to stand or sit awkwardly on a log or stone, Dolly is ready and willing. So a comfortably seated EE is a happy EE.

While she sat in the shade, I looked about a bit to see if any of the usual suspects were about. By the time I got back, EE was under a tree, near a piece of pvc pipe running out of the ground. And a red plastic cup! (?)

She had noted a couple of wrens inspecting the pipe, and concluded, rightly so, that it sometimes held water, and the birds were looking for a drink.  Enterprisingly, she located the ominous red cup, filled it from the handbasin at the toilet, poured it into the end of the pipe, so the water dripped out slowly into a tiny pool she had created among the rocks, and…

Add water—Instant Birds!

They must be able to smell it.
Or hear the tinkle tinkle of it dropping. But within a few minutes, she had quite a mixed flock on hand. Only problem that the water was only good for a couple of minutes. Which is when I arrived.  Now, we’ve seen the pipe dozens, if not hundreds of times, and never taken a lot of notice. But from the location, I figured it was the run-off from the handbasin at the toilet block.  Let’s see. Hold down the tap, let a couple of litres of water run down and go see.
Slowly a tiny trickle of water appeared, and then a stream.  And before you could say, “What a waste of Water!!!!”, we had flocks of Red-browed Finches, Spotted Pardalotes, New Holland Honeyeaters, Silvereyes, White-naped and Yellow-faced Honeyeaters, a few familes of Superb Fairywrens, Brown Thornbills, Red Wattlebirds, and two bossy Magpies. Then to top it off both Scarlet Robins made a quick appearance.

So, we sat, occasionally egressing to push some more water down the pipeline, and drank a cuppa, enjoyed the fun, and felt pretty happy that they were able to enjoy such a precious commodity. When a few Crimson Rosellas came by to inspect, we thought we were made. But the Rosellas didn’t stay. Likewise a passing Grey Fantail, but being photographed was not on its todo list.

Satisfied with a morning’s work, and two memory cards bulging with images, it was time to leave. I gave the tap a run for an extra minute or so and didn’t feel the least stressed about ‘wasting’ water.  The birds were more than happy.

We loaded EE and Dolly back in the car and went for a well-earned coffee at Gary’s at the local servo.



The Red-browed Finches seemed to enjoy the water running over them.
The Finches seemed to have no trouble working out where the water was coming from
Silvereyes were happier to drink from the ground
A Striated Pardalote watching the bathing.
Interestingly the wrens seemed to be able to time the droplets and catch them in midair, just like insects I suppose. This one was taking advantage of the stream.
One of several White-naped Honeyeaters.
This is how you enjoy the water.

Brown Thornbill after a bath
New Holland Honeyeater using its long tongue to sip up the amazing nectar
Anytime you add water and New Hollands, you get the inevitable and rowdy discussion about whose turn is it next.
When the Magpies showed up, everybody else took off.
Spotted Pardalote Male
Yellow-faced Honeyeaters were very cautious about approaching with two cameras pointed at them
Oh, oh, please, just one more drop, one more drop.

14 thoughts on “Snapshots: A Most Valuable Commodity

  1. David a blow me away beautiful birding story you both shared, and the images are stunning, especially with the water falling on the face. EE with little effort set your birding expedition up from a front row seat with a little ingenuity, and wow, it paid off. The drought has reduced bird numbers drastically here, and in Canberra where we visited last weekend. Drawing the birds to water is the same technique the bird observatory in Broome use to bring out the rare birds and view them behind shade cloth, and in dry areas it works. As birds will only nest near a good water and food source, we are seeing lest nesting here, even near the river. Have a wonderful weekend and thanks again for sharing your little adventure, Dolly was a great inclusion to the process. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi AB, thanks for the comments. Along our local river, we had a pretty normal season, with lots of young over several clutches. But in other drier areas, I think many of the birds have abandoned their local habitat and become vagrants. We would normaly be enjoying good numbers of honeyeaters for example, but no blossom, no birds.
      On a positive note, the Tree and Fairy Martins seemed to have excelled themseleves this year.
      From about the second shot I made, I was already in photojournalism mode, each player on the stage gave a different colour to the moment.
      Thanks again.
      PS, we normally don’t bait, feed or encourage, but in this case, like providing food in iced over areas an exception makes the rule.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Hello Eleanor, at best its only a few litres and hardly likely to change the environment, but it did give the little dudes a spot of relief. I suppose the most interesting thing was, that until it began flowing, we’d not seen any of the partipants.


  2. No water wasted there, David. A wonderful tale of birding in the dry, The birds would have been very grateful and you got some fabulous images. Here’s hoping we some of the rain that the weather guessers are promising on Friday – Saturday.
    Very dry at Glen Orden this morning and not many birds around – no ducks on the eastern pondage. Even the Sparrowhawks have retreated to the woodland area near the fire station.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. T’was indeed amazing to get such reaction. Not something we’d normally do, but in this case the relief was most appreciated. Hope we do get some of the weekend weather, it would be good to not have to kick up dust everywhere.


    1. HI Rodger, thanks for the comments. It was a great start to EE getting back in the field. Still have a few challenges, but I think the sit and wait method is going to have some good results as time goes by.


  3. G’day David and well done you two! It’s so good to see the results of EE’s deduction and observation skills and to read this touching story. No water wasted!

    Liked by 1 person

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