Regent Honeyeaters in Wolgan and Capertee Valleys

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Subject: Regent Honeyeaters in Wolgan and Capertee Valleys
From: "Neil KIRBY" <>
Date: Sun, 7 Jan 2007 21:18:41 +1100
On my way out to the Capertee Valley (NSW Central Tablelands) early on
Friday morning I decided to detour into the Wolgan Valley following
recent sightings there of Regent Honeyeaters by Tiffany Mason and Carol
Probets. I reached the valley floor about 6.30am and drove straight into
a blanket fog that didn't lift for two hours. While waiting for the fog
to lift I came across an adult Wedge-tailed Eagle and a fledgling
feeding on a carcass in a paddock. They lifted off but appeared
reluctant to fly far in the fog so I was able to watch them for 15
minutes perched in a tree close to the road. The fledgling was making
begging calls. They eventually glided off through the trees. The
birdlife in the valley is really interesting. I could hear Cicadabirds
and Brush Cuckoos calling and surprisingly a Brown-Cuckoo Dove. There
was a colony of Bell Miners right at the end of the sealed road section
and Lyrebirds were singing loudly. By the time the fog lifted I was down
near the track to the Gloworm Tunnel and I saw five Regent Honeyeaters
hawking for insects above the river and another two feeding in a
flowering Yellow Box on the way out. At another spot I heard Regents
calling but was unable to pick them up.
I headed out to the Capertee and up to the northern end of the valley
where Pink-flowering Mugga Ironbarks were in flower. The trees were in
their final flush for the season with no more unopened flower buds. This
scarce food resource had made the Noisy Friarbirds very aggressive and
they chased many Musk Lorikeets and the few Regent Honeyeaters that flew
into the trees. I counted eleven Regents over two days but I was never
sure of the exact number of individuals as the birds were probably
doubling back after being chased out of the trees and there were never
more than one or two birds in any tree where I observed them. The flower
colour from tree to tree was very variable from pale pink to intense
red. Other Honeyeaters attracted to the flowers were Red Wattlebirds
Yellow-tufted, Brown-headed, Fuscous, White-plumed and a single Painted
possibly attracted to the many Mistletoe.
I also checked out the pink-flowering Muggas close to Glen Davis but I
saw no Regents, but I did see a pair of Rock Warblers behaving as if
they were protecting a nest. Later at Glen Davis at the start of the
Newnes track I saw a beautiful male Turquoise Parrot that had flushed up
off the ground and was roosting on a tree branch while a Chestnut-rumped
Heathwren foraged on the ground underneath.
When I was driving home yesterday I noticed there were many heavy
flowering Peppermints, Mahoganys and Stringbarks through the upper Blue
Mountains so hopefully the Regent Honeyeaters can move into that area
when the food source further west is depleted.
Neil Kirby
Winmalee (70km west of Sydney)

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