Summer solstice in the Capertee Valley

Subject: Summer solstice in the Capertee Valley
From: Carol Probets <>
Date: Fri, 23 Dec 2005 08:00:16 +1100
Hi all,

Two Plum-headed Finches were the latest addition to my property list yesterday morning. When I saw them sitting on the fence I was so excited that I momentarily forgot that I had just whacked my finger with a sledgehammer. This was done accidentally of course, as I was bashing in star posts to protect my young trees while the driveway was being slashed. Good recent rain has seen the grass and thistles rocket skywards, engulfing everything else, and suddenly there are finches, doves, pigeons and Red-rumped Parrots everywhere. Somewhere among all that grass are my fledgeling ironbarks and they are doing very well.

The Plum-heads flew off across my front paddock and the excrutiating pain in my finger returned.

The mature trees dotted around the paddock were full of small birds - Zebra Finches, Southern Whitefaces and Yellow-rumped Thornbills - while the metallic calls of Brown Songlarks filled the air as several males performed their song-flights. The Rufous Songlarks has obviously had a successful season with numerous juveniles perched on fences and branches looking deceptively like more Brown Songlarks.

On a walk partway up the more rocky and wooded hill up the back I found Turquoise Parrots, Cicadabird and Painted Button-quail, among other things.

A sudden infestation of lerps a few weeks ago attracted large numbers of honeyeaters but this was short-lived. It appears to have left a legacy of increased Noisy Miners, their territory greatly expanded from the small patch they used to inhabit. Now they dominate the birdbath in front of the cabin, having driven away all the other honeyeaters such as Fuscous, White-plumed, Black-chinned, Yellow-tufted and Striped. I hope this imbalance is temporary.

The miners do have their uses though. Not long after I arrived on Wednesday afternoon they had alerted me to an indignant Tawny Frogmouth. Who else but Noisy Miners would rudely awaken a frogmouth in the afternoon and then shout about it? And who else but a birder would rush through a burr-laden field with sandals only half on in response to a flurry of alarm calls?

Now at last I have a new cabin with a verandah from which to enjoy the birds and the view. At night I tiptoe around so as not to disturb the Welcome Swallow who sleeps under the verandah awning, while an army of flying insects swarm around the oil lantern, three species of gecko emerge from their hiding places, and an Owlet-nightjar calls nearby.



Carol Probets
Blue Mountains/Capertee Valley, NSW

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