Spending Easter in the Capertee Valley provided not only a relaxing break
and a chance to catch up with some friends who came to camp, but a rush of
new additions to my property's bird and fauna lists.
The action started early on Saturday morning when a brilliant male
Red-capped Robin appeared in front of the cabin, then hung around the
nearby woodland for most of the morning. Although it couldn't be found the
following day, the list continued to climb with a parade of travelling
birds throughout the weekend. Other new species for the block included
Silvereye, Red Wattlebird and King-Parrot, none of which were surprising,
but the best of all was on Monday morning. The frantic alarm calls of the
Noisy Miners had me rushing for the binoculars to see a Black Falcon
passing low overhead and continuing eastward toward Glen Davis. It's always
a great thrill to see this fast and powerful raptor. Noisy Miners have
their use after all!
Throughout the weekend small flocks of Yellow-faced Honeyeaters were moving
through. The mistletoe has nearly finished flowering but I did get great
views of a Black-chinned Honeyeater feeding in the few remaining flowers,
in addition to the more common species. A flock of 16 Gang-gang Cockatoos
flew through at one stage, and Dusky Woodswallows were congregating in a
flock. Two or three Spotted Quail-thrush have taken to hanging around near
the cabin and on the flats - I never thought I'd be watching quail-thrush
from the kitchen window!
A shiny, sleek Restless Flycatcher was gorging itself on Meadow Argus
butterflies. We watched it repeatedly swooping down over the dam, each time
effortlessly plucking a butterfly out of the air, then bashing it on a
branch until the wings fell off, which then slowly floated down to earth
while the bird swallowed the body. The resident Owlet-nightjar was sunning
itself in a spout of the same dead tree I'd seen it in the week earlier.
Unfortunately it remained elusive for my visitors. On Friday night I was
woken by a Barn Owl calling in the middle of the night, and each morning
the resident Pied Butcherbird filled the air with its glorious song.
My visitors and I did some spotlighting on two nights. On Sunday night we
were able to confirm what we suspected we had seen the previous night - a
beautiful Squirrel Glider high in a Slaty Box! This was a first for all of
us, and readily distinguished from a Sugar Glider by its larger size, thick
fluffy tail, especially at the base ("flouncy" as it says in the field
guide) and a rather different shaped face with large ears. We also found
the first gecko for the list - an Eastern Stone Gecko.
The valley is still extremely dry and one of my dams has now dried up.
Let's hope for some good rain soon!
Blue Mountains and part-time Capertee Valley, NSW
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