The season for the Rainbow Bee-eaters visit to the southern end of the country is drawing to a close. Time for them to journey back to more tropical locations.
Each year we have been fortunate enough to enjoy their company, and cheery calls, in a number of locations.
They come to breed, and steepish creeklines are among their favourite spots. This season however, partly because of the dry winter, and partly because of unyielding high temperatures, which no doubt affected their food supply, we did not see the same numbers in the normal places.
One area in particular out near Bacchus Marsh, normally would support perhaps 15-20 pairs, this year it was a much lower number.
Surprisingly at first they arrived in quite good numbers, and we saw at least 50 or more birds in one day at Mt Rothwell, but they soon dispersed further afield. Also the River Red Gums cooperated and for the first time in awhile had excellent blossom cover, and attracted not only bees, but a wide variety of nectar seeking insects. So it looked like the season could be good.
However we soon noted that the birds were having a very hard time finding a suitably soft riverbank clay to open up their nests. The ground was bleached bone dry, and little beaks and tiny feet can only do so much. As the hole has to be around a metre or more inside the bank, it appears the work was just too hard and many pairs abandoned the site.
We did find an enterprising pair, that had persevered and in the end they got down to the business at hand. Later on in late January we walked several kilometres along the creek and did locate several more pairs that had been able to establish in a more favourable location.
And given that at the same time we were working with the Brown Falcon, Cassia-of Cinnamon, and her young on the other side of town, we didn’t spend much of the season with the Rainbows. However in the end, they seemed to have gotten on quite well without our overseeing. 🙂