On the weekend I took the fairly short walk from the golf course lake to the rocky mouth of Elster Creek, which opens into Port Philip Bay. Along the way I photographed a few of the species that can be found: two cormorant species like to roost on the lake overnight, several Willie Wagtail pairs have claimed their spots around the lake and hunt across it while loudly claiming their rights, and a large Noisy Miner clan are permanently located along grassy areas of the canal and the lakes. At the mouth of the creek there are a number of small bird families making a living. They are also territorial: feeding, nesting and defending their little patches. It is a tough area to live in, a major byway for human traffic, hot at times and exposed to strong winds and storms from across the Bay. The coast is heavily patrolled by many aerial hunters and other opportunistic feeders including mammals – the Rakali (native water rat) is an effective aggressive hunter, and is well known in this part of the Elwood Canal/Elster Creek catchment.
To find these tiny settlers you need to walk along either side of the canal mouth and listen for the high pitched calls of the three main species – Superb Fairy Wren, White Browed Scrubwren and the Brown Thornbill. A little bit of whistling mimicry and phishing can make them pop up to see what is happening. A walk into the low coastal scrub to get to the breakwater rocks can bring them out as they scold you for entering their territory and possible nesting areas. Photographing these small fast birds can be very frustrating but quite rewarding when one stays still long enough in the right light and you finally take a nice image.