The dream - one month on

Subject: The dream - one month on
From: Carol Probets <>
Date: Wed, 7 Jan 2004 23:31:36 +1100
Hi all,

It's now a little over a month since I became the owner of 300 acres of
bushland in the Capertee Valley and there's a lot to report since my
initial two postings (c.f. "A dream come true" 3/12/03). During the
Christmas-New Year holiday period I've made 5 more visits to the property
and despite the oppressively hot weather, the place is proving to be as
wonderful as I'd hoped, and more.

The "feature bird" of the place is proving to be the Turquoise Parrots.
I've seen them on nearly every visit, several small groups including a
beautiful male which visits the dam for a drink each evening at 6.30pm on
the dot! This is possibly the same male that we watched having a dust-bath
one day while Vicki Powys was visiting. (Vicki is a mine of information on
all things to do with the valley and during her visit identified a number
of the cicada species by their calls.) It's getting to the point during my
walks around the hilly back section of the property where I am thinking "oh
just more Turquoise Parrots" whenever I see or hear them! What a sad state
of affairs!

Another special bird is the Painted Button-quail, which I've now recorded
on at least six occasions around the cabin. On one of the hottest days, a
pair had installed themselves in the shade underneath the Kurrajong tree
where I park my car. Every time I went to my car I flushed them. Closer
inspection of the ground revealed little depressions in the ground where
they had been sitting and perhaps dust-bathing, deeper than the "platelets"
formed by their feeding.

A bird I had expected to find here became species number 80 for the
property, when I saw a male Spotted Quail-thrush high up in a tree singing.
Over the course of two days I then stumbled across three pairs up on the
rocky hillsides. Another new addition to the list was Sittella, a group of
which have been working the branches and trunks of the trees around the
cabin for hours at a time. With Yellow-tailed Black-Cockatoos up near the
cliffs, and a Collared Sparrowhawk and Brown Goshawk both passing through
on the same day triggering waves of alarm-calls, the birdlist has now grown
to 86 species. And it's still feral-free - despite seeing Starlings just a
couple of metres the other side of the boundary fence.

The reptile list is also growing, slowly. When I arrived on the 22nd I was
greeted by a smallish Tiger Snake under the cabin. It raised its head and
looked at me for a few seconds before taking off in the opposite direction.
Ever since then I've been fairly watchful where I walk! Haven't seen it
again but last Saturday in the heat of the afternoon, a huge Lace Monitor
sauntered along in front of the cabin and climbed a small wattle tree while
we sat in the shade of the Kurrajong watching it watching us.

It's a very steep walk up the rocky hillside, even by Blue Mountains
standards, but the view from the cliffs is incredible. One morning while
venturing up there, I flushed a Common Bronzewing from a rock and there, in
an exposed position on the very top of the boulder, was its nest containing
two white eggs. Later, I disturbed an Owlet-nightjar which flew out of a
tree hollow as I walked past. The same morning I noticed a little pointy
nose emerging from a rock crevice - and out came a Yellow-footed
Antechinus, munching on a big bush cockroach.

Botanically the hillside is very interesting too, like a huge wild
rock-garden, and I've started a preliminary plant list. Special plants I've
found include a rare mint-bush - Prostanthera cryptandroides - and Isopogon

I created a birdbath in front of the cabin using an old cast iron bathtub,
placing plenty of rocks in it and dead branches for easy access for birds
whatever the water level. Up on one corner of the tub I placed a shallow
bowl as a further option and lure for the birds whenever I am there to fill
it. Within half an hour of filling the tub and bowl with water, the
White-plumed and Fuscous Honeyeaters had discovered it and were enjoying a
drink. Yellow-tufted Honeyeaters arrived a bit later and were reluctant to
use it until they had seen the Fuscous go in, which convinced them it was
safe. The next morning there were five species queueing up to use it, with
Peaceful Doves and a Willie Wagtail joining in.

The nearby dam, though, is the real focal point for birds. It has already
become a ritual to sit by the dam each afternoon, with good company and a
glass of wine, watching all the birds coming in to drink. The regulars
include Diamond Firetails, Red-rumped Parrots, Eastern Rosellas, Peaceful
Doves, Common Bronzewings, Double-barred Finches, the three aforementioned
honeyeaters and of course the Turquoise Parrots. Rainbow Bee-eaters swoop
around over the water while the setting sun turns the cliffs above a
brilliant red. Paradise!

All the best to everyone on the list for many great bird moments in 2004!



Carol Probets
Blue Mountains and part-time Capertee Valley, NSW

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