In Riverglade Reserve, Tarban Creek, a large flock of tiny Red-browed Finches (Neochmia temporalis) were feeding on grass seed – and took time out to bathe!
Red-browed Finches are highly sociable, forming flocks of 20 to 30 birds. Feeding flocks will often merge with other species – Yellow-rumped Thornbills and Superb Fairy-wrens especially. It is said that the calls of Red-browed Finches and Superb Fairy-wrens are similar enough to be confused. Here at Tarban Creek, this flock was joined by a number of Superb Fairy-wrens.
Whenever we’ve encountered flocks of Red-broweds previously, we found them to be very easily startled, flying into nearby undergrowth, or else the flock would instantly disperse, taking to the air to re-congregatre 50 metres away, to continue to graze. Getting within camera range has always been problematic. So we assumed that the seeding grass was so prolific this day that their usual flight responses were overridden. Certainly we have never got this close before.
Several Finches left the feeding grounds to take a bath in a shaded, shallow, fast-flowing section of Tarban Creek. The photos we took of this are so adorable, we make no apologies for the number that follow.
A small group in a tree by the edge of the path gave themselves away with their gentle cheeping. We were able to get quite close:
Red-browed Finches are found along the entire east coast of Australia, most common between Brisbane and Melbourne, but can be found from Far North Queensland to southernmost South Australia. They live mostly east of the Great Dividing Range. Further inland they are dependent on dense shrub for foraging, and will not be found in heavily grazed areas, or dry regions, always preferring to be near a permanent water source.
It was a real pleasure to get up close and personal with these usually flighty birds.