On 8-9 December I led a post Australian Ornithological Conference tour to
the Capertee Valley and surrounding areas.
Thirteen people had booked on the tour and were led by myself and Carol
Probets. Shane, the bus driving man, made up the numbers. We had people
from as far afield as New Zealand, Perth and Victoria. This was
supplemented by some "locals" from Sydney, the Blue Mountains, Condobolin
On the way into the valley people had an excellent view of a young
Wedge-tailed Eagle sitting low by the roadside after being disturbed at a
road kill wallaby. Soon after that a grey blur across the windscreen was
a Gang-gang Cockatoo.
The first stop in the valley was at Coco Creek where, among other things,
we saw New Holland and Yellow-tufted Honeyeaters, Varied Sittella,
Mistletoebirds and soaring Wedgies. A Grey Fantail nest building was
We were then fortunate enough to be able to go to Vicki Powys place for
morning tea. The "house" Red-capped Robin wasn't going to cooperate so we
wandered off into the bush for the 'wild bush robins". Females and
juveniles were easy to see but only fleeting glimpses of males were had.
Other birds, particularly the very cooperative Buff-rumnped Thornbills,
kept people happy though. As time was getting away we headed back towards
the bus only to be confronted by a male Red-capped Robin putting on a real
performance metres in front of everyone. The finale was having the bird
fly between people legs catching insects, the "house" robin had found us!
At this stage a Yellow Robin carrying food to a female gave away from
breeding behaviour and she was watched onto a nest where she incubated.
Next stop was another private property near Glen Davis where I had hoped
we would find Rock Warblers. They weren't seen but Brown Tree-creepers,
Sacred Kingfishers, Rufous Songlarks and Jacky Winters were easy to see.
On out return to the bus the driver told us of a "Rufous Whistler with no
white throat" that had hoped into the bus while we were gone ... a Rock
Lunch was at Glen Davis where we dined under a nesting pair of Dusky
Woodswallows. Both Black-faced and a dark morph White-bellied
Cuckoo-shrike had some confused.
Running a little late we headed off to Glen Alice where we were delighted
by a pair of very cooperative Diamond Firetails, another nesting Yellow
Robin, White-browed Babblers, Red-rumped Parrots (great views for those
who hadn't seen them before). A male Hooded Robin was a little evasive
for some but the Bee-eaters certainly weren't.
Onto a private property near Glen Davis with Zebra Finches and Southern
White-face on the laneway fence. A couple of White-backed Swallows flew
over but the real purpose of this stop, Plum-headed Finches weren't going
to surrender easily. I eventually decided that some brown dots in a
distant tree were, indeed Plum-heads so it was over the river for a better
position. After a bit of "in the bushes behind the third fence post from
the right" everyone saw the finches at which time they decided the gig was
up and it was time to show themselves properly. About 20-30 Plum-heads
were then clearly seen sitting on the fence and flying to feed on the
ground in front of everyone.
The next stop was the bridge on Glenowlan Road where Painted Honeyeaters
had been seen on every visit for the previous two month. Despite seeing
them myself very easily a week before and locals Vicki Powys and Timothy
Hyde having seen them on the Monday there was no sign of them (they
haven't been seen since either). That's birding for you. However nesting
White-browed Woodswallows, a Black-eared Cuckoo, Hooded Robin and
White-winged Trillers made up for it.
It was getting late in the day and still no Regent Honeyeaters. However,
I had left the best for last and, sure enough, no sooner we were we off
the bus at "Bogee" than a Regent landed in a tree above us. It was hard
work getting good views for everyone but eventually everyone saw it. More
Regents were seen after this but, again, it was hard work. Heading back
to the bus a pair was located in a slightly lower Mugga Ironark and good
views for obtained of a nicely plumaged adult.
After overnighting in Kandos we headed for the sandstone country of Dunn's
Swamp in Wollemi National Park. Darters, Swamphens and nesting Coots were
nice as were excellent views of White-eared, Brown-headed and White-naped
Honeyeaters. Rock Warblers were a bit more cooperative here and great
views were had of a White-throated Gerygone. The first of our Rufous
Fantails and Golden Whistlers were seen here.
After our billy tea and scones we were off to Mount Corricudgy, a large
basalt cap towering over the surrounding sandstone. A four wheel drive
only track meant that the bus had to be abandoned and people ferried to
the top. The first group were taken up and dropped, walking a couple of
kilometres through the damper and more luxuriant vegetation of the
mountain while the last group were fetched. It was harder birding for
everyone at this stage. Some managed a view of a Pilotbird squeaked into
view and, collectively, everyone saw an entire Whipbird, although I don't
think anyone saw more than a bit of the bird themselves.
Also on the mountain were calling Rose Robins, Black-faced Monarchs, three
species of Scrub-wrens, lots of Rufous Fantails, Flame Robin and
Red-browed Tree-creepers. A calling Catbird was an interesting record
that might even be slightly out of range.
In all everyone had a great time. It was certainly interesting
experiencing three major Wollemi landforms - the large eroded valley,
classic sandstone pergoda country and a basalt cap. Despite the
limitations of keeping to a tight schedule 112 species were seen in the
Capertee Valley on the Saturday and 92 species seen on the Dunn's
Swamp/Mount Corricudgy leg of the trip.
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