Beach birds and native rats

In the dunes behind the Flat Rock beach, we saw a family of red-browed firetails (Neochmia temporalis). They live in small flocks, chirping madly and flitting from place to place as finches are wont to do, eating seeds.

Male red-brow firetail

Females and males are roughly the same size. The species’s range is quite extensive – we have them on our property, an hour’s drive inland.

Female red-brow, eating seed

Well might they hide in the bitou bush, as the area is scoured by sea eagles, brahminy kites and other raptors.

A juvenile black-winged stilt (below) strutted along the water’s edge. The colouration shows it’s a juvenile. A silver gull is shown for size comparison.

Silver gull (left) and juvenile black-winged stilt (right)

While taking photos of the red-brows, we were surprised by a rustle of paws on dead leaves, and a pair of fat and healthy looking native rats dashed from under one bush to another. My best guess is the swamp rat (Rattus lutreolus), though they could have been bush rats, but both were very dark brown – definitely not the introduced black rat (Rattus rattus) as they were the wrong shape and in birding terms had the wrong jizz, the overall impression that helps define an animal.

The dunes hide a lot of birds – among them at least one family of superb fairy wrens (Malurus cyaneus) …

Male superb fairy wren, photo by Noodle Snacks, Wikimedia Commons

and New Holland honeyeaters (Phylidonyris novaehollandiae) …

New Holland honeyeater, photo by Louise Docker, Wikimedia Commons

It’s an environment with a variety of hiding places and food sources, and therefore is attractive to many species.

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One Response to Beach birds and native rats

  1. Rebecca says:

    I LOVE fairy wrens. Thanks for the photo!

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