After our recent generous fall of rain, Joyce’s Creek near its inflow to Lake Cairn Curran has become a beautiful expanse of calm water. What could be better than to paddle upstream from the bridge at the Pyrenees Highway with binoculars and a camera?
The old River Red Gums are full of hollows and provide nesting sites highly valued by hollow dependent species. A favourite spot for Long-billed Corellas (Cacatua tenuirostris)
White-faced Herons (Egretta novaehollandiae) also spend a fair bit of time perched on the old trees, keeping a close eye on the boat below.
Fallen trees and logs are also important habitat. Lots of Chestnut Teals (Anas castanea) are enjoying the creek at the moment. A male in non-breeding plumage watches us slip quietly past, surrounded by the tops of paddock weeds now drowned by the high waters.
Heading upstream, the channel narrows to the old stream, sentinels from past centuries line the banks.
Chestnut Teals prefer to nest in hollows 6m or more above the water, so the old trees along the creek provide great hollows for nesting. Some females will dump their eggs in the nests of other females, which explains why we sometimes see mothers with flocks of up to 17 chicks following them around. I use the plural Teals rather than Teal as apparently the use of plurals without an s is for game species. I dread to think of our beautiful birds being shot, so can’t bring myself to call them Teal.
I was pleased to discover some Fairy Martin nests under the branch of one of the old trees. I usually see these wonderful structures mounted on a human made surface, so it was great to see them on a natural one. From the rings of mud on the tree, it looks like it’s been used for nests for a long time.
The old trees are also favoured perches for Australian Pelicans (Pelicanus conspicullatus) and Australian White Ibises (Threskiornis molucca)