Where have all the Rainbow Bee-eaters gone?

To: <>
Subject: Where have all the Rainbow Bee-eaters gone?
From: Keith Stockwell <>
Date: Sun, 4 Dec 2005 20:29:02 +1100
Hi all,

Where have all the Rainbow Bee-eaters gone? I think someone raised this
thread a few months back.

During the Challenge Bird Count a week ago today, Echuca BOCA members
failed to observe a single Rainbow Bee-eater within a radius of 40km from
Echuca-Moama, compared to about 100 or more in previous years.

We searched the sand dunes behind the Echuca High School, the Echuca
Cemetery, and hills near Mathoura, the sand dunes near Barmah Town and
other known nesting places without seeing a single bird. And there were no
signs of new nesting tunnels.

I only recall seeing one Rainbow Bee-eater in our area this year, a month
or two back on Gulpa Island.

Three of us set out during the week to search further afield. We travelled
as far north-west as Goschen Reserve and the nearby Tresco West Bushland
reserve without success. No RBEs, no active nests. Most unusual.

Members of the Goulburn Murray BOCA Branch commented today, during the
annual Superb Parrot count, that they had seen very few Rainbow Bee-eaters
this season.

An elderly farmer who owns a property north of Shepparton hasn't seen a
single bird on her place this season. For as long as she can remember,
scores of RBE have nested on her property.

Several bird observers in this area have made the same observation. There
is lots of food around now that the long drought appears to have broken.

Apparently there have been a few sightings to the south-east of here in the
Euroa/Violet Town area.

Several RBEs were observed dead following a sudden and unseasonal cold snap
last February. Temperatures plummeted by about 25 degrees C within a few
minutes plus there was a wind chill factor. Perhaps the impact of that cold
spell is far worse than we realised at the time.

Or is it that RBEs have simply failed to migrate south to breed this summer
because conditions to the north are so good?

Keith Stockwell
Echuca-Moama (NSW/Vic border)

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