Capertee Valley, then and now

Subject: Capertee Valley, then and now
From: Carol Probets <>
Date: Wed, 1 Jun 2005 10:44:38 +1000
The year is 2025. I get out of the car to open my front gate and immediately hear the calls of Regent Honeyeaters in the nearby grove of Mugga Ironbarks. The healthy young trees are flowering prolifically and the branches are alive with constant bird activity. Noisy Friarbirds chase White-plumed and Striped Honeyeaters; Little Lorikeets are eveywhere. A couple of Musk Lorikeets come hurtling through the sky from the direction of the ironbarks up the road and land in the top of the tree beside the gate. A male Hooded Robin drops to the ground to pounce on a small grub - its mate is sitting on a well-concealed nest in a fork of one of the ironbarks - while Plum-headed Finches sit in neat rows along the fence wire. I swing the gate open and watch a party of Grey-crowned Babblers harassing a Bearded Dragon which sits like a statue on a fence post.

As I get back in the car, a flock of 25 Regent Honeyeaters bursts out of the trees and I follow their flight as they head up towards the dam and disappear into a swathe of woodland which stretches from the escarpment down towards the river flats. The previous day I had counted 120 Regents together at this same spot. It's great to see them regularly in large flocks again after several good breeding seasons and the now extensive areas of woodland which are slowly maturing throughout the valley as a result of the revegetation programs of the past 30 years.

Jump back to 2005. It was 26th May and I was in an empty paddock planting the first of the little grove of Mugga Ironbarks near my front gate. No sooner had I started digging when four Flame Robins - two males and two females - appeared on the fence and kept me company throughout the morning, as if to offer their approval and moral support. A Willie Wagtail seemed excited by all the activity (though Willie Wagtails ALWAYS seem excited) while a Spotted Harrier soared lazily over a nearby paddock. The blisters on my hands and happily aching muscles at the end of the day were due more to the hardness of the ground than the level of my productivity. In the dry conditions it had taken me all day to plant just 16 trees, but it was a start.

On Sunday, 29th May, I returned with a friend and a crowbar, and the next 16 trees went into the ground much more easily. While we worked, a pair of Red-rumped Parrots kept watch, the female peering out from a small hollow high in a Yellow Box, the male on a branch next to her.

Up near the cabin site, movement in the grasses turned into Painted Button-quails and a search of the ground revealed numerous platelets scratched in the leaf litter. I also flushed a Spotted Quail-thrush which was feeding with the button-quail. A male Red-capped Robin (the same bird that was here last winter?) was a welcome sight, a White-throated Gerygone was heard and the other usuals such as Diamond Firetails, Brown Treecreepers and Fuscous, Striped and Black-chinned Honeyeaters were around. At this time there were none of the Regent Honeyeaters or Swift Parrots that are currently in other parts of the valley. Let's hope my new trees will contribute to their prolific future!


Carol Probets
Capertee Valley, NSW

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