Saturday, August 23, 2014

Back to Sterling's Crossing

Several weeks ago I dropped in at Toorbul hoping to find the Oriental Plover which had been sighted for a few weeks at the roost. Luck was not on my side. The only birds sighted on the flats or on the shore were Black-winged Stilts and a few Australian Wood Ducks. This was a beautiful spot though. I was surprised by the number of kangaroos that were throughout the town. There would have been over 100 kangaroos along the esplanade either on the ocean side or in people's yards. Most of them were very approachable as well.

A Black-winged Stilt

Over the last few months I have noticed more Sulphur-crested Cockatoos in the area than usual and they are in bigger flocks as well. Sulphur-crested Cockatoos are common throughout the area but are often seen in pairs and small flocks of less than 10. There are a couple of flocks of them in the area that have 30 to 50 individuals in them at present.

Sulphur-crested Cockatoo

Another Sulphur-crested Cockatoo from the flock

This Sulphur-crested Cockatoo was keeping watch while the others were feeding

Sulphur-crested Cockatoo

Several weeks ago I went with a friend to Sterling's Crossing again. I use to love going here due to the variety and quantity of bird life. On this occasion it was extremely cold even though there wasn't a cloud in the sky but most noticeable was how the area had changed over the last year. Non-native weeds have spread significantly throughout the area. Brazilian Nightshade and Lantana was everywhere. I know birds can live in Lantana, but it smoothers the native vegetation and limits variety within the ecosystem. The numbers of birds was down drastically and so was the variety of species that was seen. No pigeons of any type were heard, only one pitta called a few times. The only species that seemed to be in better numbers than normal were the Bellbirds. They seemed to be causing other problems though. A huge amount of gum trees in the area were dead. This is often the result of too many Bellbirds in an area.

Good numbers of Little Lorikeets were seen in the tree tops. They are difficult to photograph due to their small size and their position in the massive gums.

Little Lorikeet

Large-billed Scrubwrens were in good numbers also in the more tropical sections at Sterling's Crossing. These very active birds provided a challenge to photograph.
Large-billed Scrubwren

Grey Fantails were common in the open woodland as well.

Grey Fantail

After a few hours the New Holland Honeyeaters came out into view. They were very active but most were higher in the trees. Last time they seemed more relaxed. This time they were chasing other birds away from the areas where they were feeding, including other New Holland Honeyeaters. As these birds can nest any time of year it is more difficult to determine if this behaviour was due to nesting but it is very likely.

New Holland Honeyeater

Another New Holland Honeyeater

The same New Holland Honeyeater from above

The Eastern Spinebill below was one of two that were seen while we were at Sterling's Crossing. A terrible photo though as I didn't get time to adjust the settings before it was gone.

Eastern Spinebill

We decided to walk down the dry creek bed to see what other birds could be seen sunning themselves. Few other birds could be seen. Just as we were about to turn back a bird with a different call caught my attention. We soon realised it was a Rose Robin! This is the first time that I have seen these birds before so I was really excited. We could actually hear about eight or more calling to each other. I was surprised by the difference in call to many other robins but most of all was the size difference. I assumed most robins were about the same size. The Rose Robins are significantly smaller than most robins I have seen and they are in fact the smallest of all the Australian robins. They are curious about people like most robins are but they do not come as close. They are definitely more cautious and prefer to stay hidden amongst the thicker foliage. We spent a few hours attempting to obtain a photo of them but these were the best I could get.

Rose Robin

The same Rose Robin from above

Another Rose Robin

A male Rose Robin

Even though this area has changed significantly over the last 12 months (for the worse) I will be back to see if the numbers of birds and the species of birds increases again. Hopefully more factors effected the birds that were seen other than the changes in the environment.

More updates and pics coming soon.
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