Capertee Valley/Wollemi NP

Subject: Capertee Valley/Wollemi NP
Date: Wed, 19 Dec 2001 15:22:30 +1000
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 
and Bathurst.

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.

David Geering

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