Regent Honeyeaters back in the Capertee Valley

Subject: Regent Honeyeaters back in the Capertee Valley
From: Carol Probets <>
Date: Tue, 17 Aug 2004 14:28:13 +1000
Hi all,

Last weekend (14-15/8/04), a group of ten birdwatchers, mostly from the Blue Mountains, carried out this season's first Regent Honeyeater breeding surveys in the Capertee Valley. The drought of the past three years has meant that Regents have been very difficult to find in the Capertee Valley, which is normally their breeding stronghold. However, news of two Regents seen a week ago by a landowner in the northern part of the valley had boosted our hopes for this weekend of surveys.

Overall we surveyed 12 sites and were delighted to find a total of 12 Regent Honeyeaters on 4 sites along the Capertee River. They were all feeding on nectar from the flowering mistletoe (Amyema cambagei) in the River Oaks, a vital resource at this time of year. On one site that I surveyed, a stretch of river on private property, we found 7 birds. The good thing is that most appeared to be defending territories in pairs, indicating perhaps that they will stay put and breed this year. I noticed plenty of bud yet to open on the mistletoe.

On another site I watched a very vocal male, vigorously patrolling a stretch of river about 300 metres long. I wondered whether his mate might be already sitting on eggs. The previous day, members of our group had seen two birds at the same location.

Besides the Regents, the valley produced its usual high quality birding. At my first survey site on private property were 15 Budgerigars (at their usual site) and large numbers of Plum-headed Finches. Other species seen by members of our group included Turquoise Parrots, Speckled Warbler, Southern Whiteface, Musk and Little Lorikeets, Striped Honeyeater, Hooded Robin, Pallid Cuckoo, Diamond Firetail, Little Eagle, etc. Some sites had flocks of Yellow-faced and White-naped Honeyeaters migrating through. At another site, David Geering and another birder were watching a Stubble Quail at close quarters to see it suddenly snatched from under their noses by a Brown Goshawk. And no less than 15 Wedge-tailed Eagles were seen spiralling together above a recent kangaroo cull.

We also undertook some bird surveys in previous tree-planting sites to monitor their development as bird habitat. Despite some difficult weather conditions this proved quite heartening in one or two cases. At one site planted in 1999 along a gully, it was wonderful to see an emerging woodland of eucalypts, casuarinas, and wattles in glorious flower ranging from 2 to 10 metres in height. Two of these young trees contained babbler nests while in a dead snag a male Striated Pardalote was singing his heart out in the entrance to a hollow, surrounded by an abundant food supply of lerps in the White Box saplings. A small group of Musk Lorikeets were feeding in a flowering mature White Box at the same site.

On Sunday afternoon after our surveys were all finished, I called in at my land to see what birds were about there. Most obvious were the Fuscous and Black-chinned Honeyeaters and good numbers of Common Bronzewings. Crested Shrike-tits were around as usual, and Little Lorikeets were feeding in a flowering Narrow-leafed Ironbark. There was no sign of the Spotted Quail-thrush family that had been hanging around the cabin area throughout autumn and winter. I suspect they've now gone back up the rocky slope to begin nesting. As I made my way along a ridge behind the cabin watching the cliffs turning red in the afternoon light, a party of very noisy White-bellied Cuckoo-shrikes chased each other through the trees.

The valley has received some recent rain, although much, much more is needed. My dams continue to dry up with the main dam only a few inches deep at the moment. However the ground throughout the valley has been moistened nicely for the tree planting this coming weekend.



Carol Probets
Blue Mountains and
part-time Capertee Valley
(Central Tablelands, NSW)

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