Trip Report: NSW Just west of the Blue Mts

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Subject: Trip Report: NSW Just west of the Blue Mts
From: Thomas Wilson <>
Date: Fri, 3 Oct 2014 22:24:21 +1000
Hi all
last week (22-28 Sep 2014) I spent 6 nights staying at Capertee Village (on the 
Castlereagh Hwy) on a family break.  While not an exclusively birding trip (as 
my family holidays never are), I managed to squeeze in a bit of birding (well 
more than a bit actually...). Highlights below, but some general comments first.
Capertee Valley itself is extremely dry. I did not find any evidence of 
flowering gum trees or mistletoes and the only flowering trees I can really 
recall were the ornamentals in the garden of the cottage that we were staying 
in. I would say that the same conditions existed around Mudgee and into 
Munghorn Gap NR.  Further west (Canowindra/Orange) it was much greener and 
there were some trees in flower.  I used the Capertee Valley Bird Routes 
brochure when touring the valley.  If one is not able to access private 
property, this is a good guide but it is a very birding specific route - 
opportunities for the non-birders in the car to get out and do a bushwalk are 
somewhat limited.
22/9 - stopped at Govetts Leap in Blue Mts (Blackheath) for lunch and saw a 
party of 15+ "green" Satin Bowerbirds doing circuits around the parking area.  
A Fan-tailed Cuckoo called incessantly the whole time we were there. An early 
evening walk around Capertee Village revealed a single Gang-gang Cockatoo (only 
one seen on the trip) and a big group of Tree Martins at the railway 
bridge/cutting. Around the house were Yellow-rumped Thornbill, Double-barred 
and Red-browed Finch, Satin Bowerbird, Grey Shrike-thrush, Yellow-faced and New 
Holland Honeyeater .   A very scruffy Whistling Kite was seen passing over the 
23/9 - a day in "the valley", starting at Pearsons Lookout where a group of 40+ 
Rainbow Bee-eaters passed over and also observed a party of Brown Goshawks (2 
female, 1 male ), a Wedge-tailed Eagle and 2 White-browed Woodswallows flying 
close to but not with many Dusky Woodswallows.  Went through the valley, 
stopping at several of the sites on the Capertee Valley Bird Routes brochure.  
While very dry and the birds not in big numbers, some good birds seen incl:
Speckled Warbler, Little Eagle (1 of each) Yellow-tufted HOneyeaters (5) and a 
gang of White Browed Babblers (6) at Coco CreekDiamond Firetail (1), Turquoise 
Parrot (2 + 1), Black-chinned Honeyeater (1), Jacky Winters (6 - 1 of which 
flew into the car and out the other side), Restless Flycatchers and Rufous 
Songlark (2 each) at the mail box site on Crown Station RdBrown Treecreepers 
and Peaceful Doves at Glen DavisBig flock (100+) of Zebra Finch about 1/2 way 
between Glen Davis and Glen Alice, plus heard (but could not see) more Diamond 
Firetails.  Nearby was a 1/2 full dam that had a Yellow-billed 
SpoonbillSmashing male Hooded Robin at Glen Alice, plus more Peaceful Doves and 
a Horsfields Bronze CuckooBuff-rumped Thornbill and lots of Gerygones at 
BogeeBrown Falcon near Kandos 
24/9 - early walk south along the highway from Capertee.  Saw a male Scarlet 
Robin, a party of 5 Brown-headed Honeyeaters and 2 Red-browed Treecreeper in 
roadside woods and flushed a Wonga Pigeon.  The path took me close to a site 
where I could look into a property (the gate was definitely locked) where there 
were 2 male Glossy-black Cockatoo feeding. In the day, we went up to Mudgee.  1 
Pelican in Lake Windamere and several Mistletoebirds rocketing up and down the 
main street,  Had lunch at Putta Bucca Wetlands (although the wagtail long 
gone).  A good range of ducks on site, plus a Peregrine and then a Hobby passed 
over too and saw a Lathams Snipe.  After a bit of winery work, went to Munghorn 
Gap NR where the only bird of note was a Common Bronzewing flushed off the 
Castle Rocks Track.
25/9 - raining, so did the ultimate inside activity at Jenolan Caves.  Possible 
sighting of an Origma near Caves House, but not a good look.  Went into Lithgow 
on the way home and stopped at the water works, where saw lots of ducks (Teal, 
Hardhead, Pink-eared, Shoveler, 2 Freckled Duck) and Grebes (Hoary-headed and 
26/9 - west to Canowindra, where saw Superb Parrots and enjoyed the Age of 
Fishes Museum (I might not drive 2 hours out of my way to see it but if you are 
in the area go in - it was fascinating).  The trees in the museum garden held 
lots of honeyeaters (White-plumed, Noisy Friarbirds, Red Wattlebirds).  Came 
home the long way via Orange - a stop at the Orange Botanic Gardens yielded a 
single Blue-faced Honeyeater and a party of 25-30 Superb Parrots feeding next 
to the car park on something in recently cut grass.  As well as this group, 
several parties flew over too.
27/9 - Had an early morning back in the valley.  Tried extensive walking in the 
woodland in Gardens of Stone NP looking for Spotted Quail-thrush but not even a 
peep.  (Too much good habitat and only one of me unfortunately).  At the 
mailbox site on Crown Station Rd, saw Fuscous Honeyeaters (6), Restless 
Flycatchers (2), Rufous Songlark (1), a pair of Hooded Robin but no Firetails 
or Turquiose Parrots.  In the day, we went up to Dunns Swamp in Wollemi NP 
(east of Rylstone). Saw a very nice Brown Falcon coming into Kandos.  At Dunns 
Swamp, I saw an Origma (probably nesting as it disappeared several times into a 
rock crevice) and  pair of Musk Duck on the lake - the male being very 
aggressive to any Coot that got too close.  On the way home to watch the AFL 
Grand Final saw a Spotted Harrier quartering the roadside grass, plunge in, 
come up onto an earth mound with a prey item and then set off at high speed - 
food for a mate or brood perhaps?  (Seeing a hawk must have been an omen).
28/9 - stopped at Lake Wallace on the way home and saw lots of Musk Duck and 
Great Crested Grebes, a raft of 20+ Hoary-headed Grebe, 6 Whiskered Terns and 2 
possible (and very distant) Blue-billed Duck.  They were resting on the water 
with heads down under wings and tails flat.  They had rounded profiles that 
made them look like little floating buns.  At the distance, they looked dark 
brown, and I could not see any white towards the rump, so had them as a 
possible but worth a closer look.  The lake held 100s, if not 1000s, of Coot.  
Had lunch at Mt Banks, where I saw pairs of both Scarlet and Flame Robins and 
heard a Chestnut-rumped Heathwren. 
All up about 150 species for 6 days, although several (eg Blue-billed Duck) 
were only "possibles" so don't make the year list.
Tom Wilson 
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