Capertee Valley - budgies, robins, finches galore but few honeyeaters

Subject: Capertee Valley - budgies, robins, finches galore but few honeyeaters
From: Carol Probets <>
Date: Sun, 23 May 2004 20:53:53 +1000
Hi all,

A slightly late report as I've been busy this week.

As last weekend (15-16 May) was the Regent Honeyeater/Swift Parrot search weekend, I spent some time doing searches in the currently very dry and dusty Capertee Valley. Unfortunately the drought is still really taking its toll and there were very few nectarivores at all and as I half expected, not a sign of either of these two endangered species. The only flowering I came across over the weekend was a single White Box still in flower near Port Macquarie Road and a single Yellow Box at a site along the Capertee River. There were also two Little Lorikeets at Glen Alice which were probably feeding on lerps.

However the surveying did give me the opportunity to visit a site along the river which I hadn't been to for a number of months, as it's private property and not normally accessible to birders. This is the site where a flock of Budgerigars have established themselves for the past couple of years, obviously drought refugees from further inland, so I was particularly interested to see if they were still around. No sooner had we got out of the car when I noticed a tree covered in Budgies! They hung around the whole time we surveyed the site and we estimated there were about 30 in the flock. I find it amazing that the flock is so loyal to that site. In fact apart from a couple of sightings in other parts of the valley when they first moved into the area two years ago, I don't think they have been seen anywhere else in the valley, not even at a regularly visited river crossing just a couple of kilometres away.

At this site I also heard a late or overwintering Pallid Cuckoo calling briefly. Plum-headed Finches were seen at a couple of sites, with good numbers of finches generally throughout the valley.

At my place, a group of five mostly beginner birdwatchers that I was guiding on Saturday were suitably impressed when a resplendent male Red-capped Robin put on a great show for us as if modelling his plumage on a catwalk. This was followed by nice views of Turquoise Parrots at Glen Davis, after some perseverance. Nothing like good views of colourful birds to get new birders hooked!

On Sunday at lunch time, a bus drove up the long driveway to my cabin and out piled members of the Blue Mountains Bird Observers who were on a day trip to the valley. Unfortunately by this time a strong wind had sprung up, making birding difficult but we found a relatively sheltered spot on some rocks for lunch. All of the group managed to see the Red-capped Robin and the three Spotted Quail-thrush which are still proving relatively easy to find around the cabin and the dams.

I was back in the valley on Tuesday to meet a representative from the insurance company. It was a grey overcast but calm day, and there were birds everywhere! If only it had been a day like that on Sunday when the club visited!

Friday I was back yet again and it was even better still - a perfect autumn day in the valley and the whole morning non-stop birds around the cabin. Nothing really unusual but there were Sittellas, Zebra and Double-barred Finches, Diamond Firetails, Yellow-tufted Honeyeaters coming to the birdbath 15 at a time, Black-chinned Honeyeaters, Little Lorikeets, Southern Whitefaces, flocks of White-naped Honeyeaters travelling over..... the list goes on. And of course those Spotted Quail-thrush. Then, almost as if there were too many birds, suddenly I heard alarm calls and out of the blue came a Brown Goshawk swooping and twisting and diving through the trees, making a hell of a racket as it chased a smaller bird. It was gone before I could see the outcome, but after that everything went deathly silent for a while.

I spent most of Friday sorting through the soot-covered contents of the cabin, making a huge list of everything inside. While trying to clean up some of the items, I turned on the tap at the bottom of the water tank and out came a Peron's Tree Frog! It didn't take long before it had climbed back in. Every time I turned on this tap to get water, out it shot again - the poor little frog repeatedly getting swirled around in the bucket of water, arms and legs straining as it tried unsuccessfully to maintain some control against the current!

When I left late on Friday afternoon I was delighted to see a pair of Flame Robins on the fence of a neighbouring paddock. However, they didn't fly across onto my block and so my property list remains on 108.

Thanks to all those people who have sent emails about the fire in the cabin. I'm still waiting for the insurance to be sorted out. So far, three assessors have been to look at it. The entire contents have been written off - nothing is considered salvageable - and it's looking like the building will be written off too, which means I'll be getting a completely new cabin. I think I'll throw a big party when that happens!



Carol Probets
Blue Mountains and Capertee Valley, NSW
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