One of the first times EE and I have been out just looking about.
We had been hoping to find some Eastern Yellow Robins, and or some evidences of the Scarlet Robins at the You Yangs, and EE also wanted to visit her water feature near the Big Rock carpark.
In the end, the big surprise was a family of Sittella, and their young recently fledged clan. I’m going to do a separate blog on that encounter.
In the meantime in spite of all the disaster that is around, and the challenges of the rest of summer ahead of us, it was good to see the birds had new life on the way.
It’s been dry. Last decent soaking rain was over 2 months back.
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.
Spotted Pardalote. The bird of rumour and voice. Mostly we never see them. Hidden among the topmost leaves, their tiny call recognisable, but impossible sometimes to locate.
To nest, they descend to the earth, dig an incredible tunnel — up to 60cm or more and setup house for the 3 weeks it takes to lay, incubate, hatch and fledge their young.
Those of us who walk the earth with them will often find evidence of their nesting activity. So I suppose do all sorts of feral predators. Yet, each year they disard their cloak of invisibility and take to the task.
Once complete, its back to the treetops and small tiny peeps that discolose their presence.
They are one of our smallest birds. I’ve handled a dead one, (hit by a bicyle — the bird didn’t even know what happened, and the rider was oblivious —. I picked it up, still warm, it fitted into the very centre of the palm of my hand, my thumb twice as large as the bird. I took it to the side of the road, opened up a small hole in the earth and laid it ever-so-gently down. The warm earth welcomed its little wonder.
They are so prefectly marked. Rich black, white, deep orange yellow. Tiny legs that seem like rubber bands as they can stretch and seem to bend to any angle.
While EE was spending time with ‘her’ Juvenile Eastern Yellow Robin — it is now growing to be quite the impressive adult, keeping only just a hint of its juvenile brown feather set now — I looked to see what else was in the area.
A small family of Spotted Pardalote were feeding among some of the smaller gums in the area, and were happy to work in the lower branches while I followed their progress.