Werribee Wagtails: Bird Count at Mt Rothwell

Werribee Wagtails Header
Werribee Wagtails have been in much of a hiatus due to that ‘c’ word.

One of the activities of that we have always enjoyed are the quarterly bird counts at several local sites.

It is good to be able to see the effects of changing seasons at each of the locations.  And of course to see the variation in the bird activity through the year.

We started 2021 with a day out at Mt Rothwell Biodiversity Interpretation Centre

The weather was kind, coolish and a tad of sunshine to keep things pleasant.
Good bird action in some areas, and of course a few areas that were a bit barren for birds.
All in all a good start for Wagtails for 2021

Scarlet Robin female Photo Courtesy of EE
Red-browed Finch Juvenile Photo Courtesy EE
Varied Sittella Photo Courtesy EE
Rainbow Bee-eater
Rufous Whistler female. Carrying a snack. Try as we might we didn’t discover the secret
Whistling Kite, coming by to see the fuss
Whistling Kite, enjoying the view in the sunshine
Brush-tailed Rock Wallaby. Showing off its its best asset
Dusky Woodswallow

EE’s Water Feature

One of the down sides of moving across town has been our loss of ready access to the Woodlands Historic Park.  In particular a stand of Sugar Gums that held all sorts of interesting birdlife.

It’s also probable that you recall that EE (Eagle-Eyed for the uninitiated), had established a Water Feature in the gums and would on a regular (daily) basis keep the small plastic container filled with fresh water over the hot summer months.  Not to attract the birds for photography, but simply to give them some relief.  “If only one bird ever drinks from it, it will be worth the effort,” quoth she.

As it turned, as you may recall, a pair of Eastern Yellow Robins became quite attached to EE and her water feature, and would follow her into the forest and then with much calling  would head for the water feature when she came along.   It was, at the very least a noble gesture on the part of the birds, and to tell the truth was quite spine tingling to hear two little birds get all excited and eagerly await her arrival.   (Now its not time to lecture on ‘dependant’ birds, as they were the ones who chose to live in the dry area in the first place. )  Besides, its pretty humbling to have two Eastern Yellow Robins sitting about a metre away watching the water being poured into a tiny dish.

We have been working a part of the Grey Box forest in the You Yangs almost for two years.   Early on in our visits, EE established another ice-cream container water feature besides a log.  But, we don’t have ready access, and it is only visited occasionally, and once in three weeks would be more the norm.  So it hasn’t been possible to build up any permanent relationship with the inhabitants.  And as EE readily acknowledges, “Its most likely the little Black Swamp Wallabies that take the water, as the container is often misplaced.”

Still  with more patience and determination, every visit sees a bottle of water left for the locals.  And we had really never seen the locals make the pilgrimage to the area.  Perhaps a passing Flycatcher would be the most likely suspect.

We went in today to look to see how the pair of Eastern Yellow Robins are going with their young fledgling.  And of course to topup the water.


What happened next is the source of great delight and much mirth.

At first we continued in the hunt for the Robins, and I found a pair of Weebills that were working through the tree tops.   Then. First one, then another, then another bird dropped by the log and checked out the water.

Within a few minutes a bold Grey Fantail had dropped into the water and began the splashing.  Which acted like a ‘Jungle Drum’.  The sound of water on whirring wings must have some sort of magnetic attraction.  The sound went, as they say on You-tube, “VIRAL”, and birds came from all around.  Including the two Eastern Yellow Robins, more thornbills than I could count and ‘my’ pair of Weebills.   Each waited in turn, (not much room in an ice-cream container). and after a few minutes there were wet feathers everywhere drying in the sunshine.

Then just as quickly “Jungle Drums” played another tune and they were gone!  Leaving two photographers with the widest grins, and filled memory cards.

I can see another trip down there very soon.


Eastern Yellow Robin waiting, you can just see the other one at the bottom of the frame in the water.
Eastern Yellow Robin waiting, you can just see the other one at the bottom of the frame in the water.
Patiently waiting its turn, the Weebill had to watch the spray flying from the activity below
Patiently waiting its turn, the Weebill had to watch the spray flying from the activity below
Eastern Yellow Robin, soaked, not stirred
Eastern Yellow Robin, soaked, not stirred
Bold enough now to make the plunge
Bold enough now to make the plunge
Weebill drying off with Grey Fantail being typically hyper-active
Weebill drying off with Grey Fantail being typically hyper-active
Brown Thornbill.
Brown Thornbill.


You’ll find some more pics by the Water Feature Manager over on EE’s Flickr site.
See here.

Friends in the Air on Flickr