I've just spent a few days co-leading a Mark Smith Nature Tours group from
the US around the Blue Mountains and Capertee Valley. Plenty of birds
around at the moment and great views of Platypus at Rylstone. The best find
however, was a single Regent Honeyeater feeding in flowering Yellow Box
behind the church at Glen Alice. Regents have been very difficult to find
this year in the Capertee Valley so this was quite an unexpected bonus.
With the Needle-leaf Mistletoe in flower, as well as Yellow Box and the odd
Mugga, conditions are finally becoming more favourable again for
honeyeaters in the Capertee. Among the eleven species of honeyeater we saw
were two that are normally rare in the valley - a White-cheeked amongst the
many New Hollands at Coco Creek, and a Spiny-cheeked near the Goollooinboin
gate. Other good birds included a party of Plum-headed Finches at Coco
Creek and a Singing Bushlark near Glen Davis.
At the McGraths Hill wetlands in the Hawkesbury area we saw a Baillon's
Crake, 3 Glossy Ibis, Little Grassbirds, Red-kneed Dotterel and
Intermediate Egret among many others.
In the Blue Mountains, the best of the many highlights included a female
Spotted Quail-thrush at Mount Victoria, and an early morning walk to look
for Rockwarbler rewarded with good views of one disappearing into the thick
fog. White-winged Trillers are back at Wentworth Falls Lake, while at Mount
Wilson, Black-faced Monarch and Rufous Fantail have returned; here we also
saw Rose Robin, Bassian Thrush and Yellow-throated Scrubwrens with their
Breathtaking views of Yellow-tailed Black-Cockatoos provided one of the
very first bird sightings on the first day - some of the group had only
just flown in from the States a couple of hours earlier, and what a
spectacular introduction to Aussie birds for them. A little later, everyone
saw the glossy male Satin Bowerbird at his bower, and the Superb Lyrebird
which ran across the road in front of the bus. I love it when iconic birds
like this appear for first-time visitors.
I find it's always worth reflecting on what impresses our visitors the most
- usually this is completely different to what we as local birders regard
as the "highlights". In the case of this group their favourite and most
memorable sightings were of common but brilliantly colourful species such
as the Superb Fairy-wrens, Golden Whistler and Crimson Rosellas. Laughing
Kookaburras and Galahs were also favourites. It's good to be reminded not
to take these wonderful birds for granted!
Katoomba in the upper Blue Mountains
(100km west of Sydney)
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