Little Journeys : A Rainbow on a Gloomy Day

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. 🙂

Mating is quite a sustained event. And begins when he comes in with a food offering.
The question is what to do with tails.
With a large butterfly or moth.
I’ve always been fascinated by the way they are able to flip the bee and catch it the right way round to go down easily


15 thoughts on “Little Journeys : A Rainbow on a Gloomy Day

  1. Such wonderful birds to see. Fine images, David. I never did get the time to go have a look this season. The dry would have been quite a challenge for them!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi David, not that we tried really hard, but it hasn’t been the best season for a number of reasons. When we did try, we got sunshine and no birds, or birds and no sunshine.
      The hard lower creek grey clay was unyiedling it seems.


    1. Hi Ashley, I’ve been putting of publishing these, hoping we might get another day with them, but now with the rain, cold wind and more to follow, I’ve abandoned the project til next year.
      They are usually pretty consistent in the area, but this summer things changed. Even though there seemed to be good chances from early December.

      Liked by 2 people

    1. Hello Eleanor, because we’ve not had the best of weather, and because of the distances involved, both getting to the area, and then walking to the sites, we’ve had to let this project go to the back-burner.
      One of the locations is just about perfect in the early morning light, but once the sun gets up, the angle changes and while its good, the light is not at quite the right angle. So its always a leave in the dark, drive, to get there by sunrise.
      It seems that the Newstead cemetry was a bit of a honeypot for awhile, but that is another location best suited to late evening sun. And that long drive home in the dark.
      Still we can begin to look forward now to see if the Flame Robins survived the summer, as we’d expect to see them on the move by the end of March.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Rodger, no, its been a funny season. I think they were late at Newstead. I had a friend up there about a week back and they were still feeding young.
      I’ve got a new place out near the You Yangs, that has disused quarry, and apparently they have worked there. I’ll have to see about getting access for next year.


  2. Very informative and interesting post, David. I really admire the photos you’ve been able to shoot. They are such a spectacular birds. So far, the closest I came to watch and photograph them was Magnetic Island. All other sightings were too short or too distant to take pictures. Now I know where to go next year… Thank you!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Adam, I will try to remember to update their arrival next year. There a not too many local to Melbourne areas that we find them. The You Yangs on Hovell’s creek is usually reliable, but its mostly on private land and access is strictly controlled. Newstead Cemetery and along the Loddon by the Newstead bridge has also been pretty reliable. (And Sacred Kingfishers are along the river area too)
      You might check Geoff Park’s site, he’s a local there and is always a good source of what is on show.
      try here.
      Good luck.


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