Carol’s Dam in Capertee Valley
On 2-3 October I led a group of 10 birders on the Follow That Bird
“Traditional Capertee Valley weekend”. A good fall of rain before our
trip had made everything fresh and moist, giving way to perfect
weather for the weekend.
I joined the bus at Katoomba shortly before our stop for morning tea
at Evans Lookout (Blackheath, in the Blue Mountains). We could see
the water in the Grose River snaking its way through the forest way
down below us. The Rockwarbler was heard but not seen; however good
views of Brown and Striated Thornbills provided avian interest.
Further along the road to Capertee, the bus screeched to a halt near
Ben Bullen so we could watch a Little Eagle cruise overhead. A short
stop at Capertee gave us close views of Yellow-rumped Thornbills and
a Pallid Cuckoo calling vociferously.
On the descent into the valley, three Common Bronzewings flushed from
beside the road. What was to be just a quick stop at Coco Creek
turned into a bonanza of birds. A beautiful red-headed gem in the
treetops – the Scarlet Honeyeater – was a new species for some of the
group. Here we also found Yellow-tufted Honeyeaters, Sittellas,
Mistletoebird and the first of many Rainbow Bee-eaters for the
I was pleased to be able to provide the venue for lunch and our
afternoon walk on my own block of land. First up we found Rufous
Whistlers, Jacky Winters, Mistletoebird, Crested Shrike-tit,
Fan-tailed Cuckoo, as well as drifts of tiny Greenhoods (P. bicolor)
in the grassland and Long-necked Turtles in the front dam. We had
lunch while watching the Brown Treecreepers, Peaceful Doves and
White-plumed & Fuscous Honeyeaters around the “campsite” dam.
Bernice in Capertee
After lunch we walked the 2km fire trail up to the back dam. Along
the way we saw White-browed Babbler, Dusky Woodswallow and heard the
Spotted Quail-thrush calling – although it remained too elusive to
see. The rare mint-bush Prostanthera cryptandroides had a few pretty
mauve flowers out and we smelled the heady scent released when its
foliage is touched.
Up at the back dam, while some folk tried to get views of a
tantalisingly close Little Lorikeet, others, perhaps more sensibly,
sat quietly by the dam and watched the Fuscous Honeyeaters coming to
drink. As it was getting late we decided to make a quick detour to
the back gate to try for the Painted Honeyeater before heading back
to the bus. This species will often respond to a whistled imitiation
of its call but everyone in the group claimed to be poor whistlers!
So, after a minute or so listening with no sign of the bird, I tried
to describe the bird’s call with a very poor sung imitation
“dooo-doooo dooo-doooo dooo-doooo”. Immediately, we heard a reply!
Then, lo and behold, a beautiful Painted Honeyeater appeared in a
mistletoe clump nearby before flying in a circuit above us and
disappearing again over a neighbouring property.
Regent Honeyeater Food
We arrived at Rylstone right on dusk, the perfect time to look for
the Platypus in the river. Every little ripple on the surface became
the object of our focus and expectation, but despite the ideally calm
conditions, only two people managed to see it. Nearby, a Greenfinch
called in the willows but remained unseen. Not to worry, it all
provided good conversation during our dinner in the pub that evening.
A walk around the Kandos golf course early on Sunday morning produced
Gang-gang Cockatoo, Eastern Rosella, Satin Bowerbird & Goldfinch
among others. We watched and compared Weebills, Yellow Thornbills and
Yellow-rumped Thornbills in the same tree, the latter attending a
nest and we were able to study the domed structure with its false
nest on top. Red-browed Finches were also building here.
Back to the valley and our first stop at the river was absolutely
jumping with birds! Our most hoped-for species here was Regent
Honeyeater and it didn’t take long before we heard one calling, close
to where I had watched one building a nest and incubating during the
preceding weeks. We saw the male and female, flying around together,
the male very vocal and giving everyone in the group beautiful views.
There was also a Painted Honeyeater at this site just to make sure
no-one in the group missed out on seeing this stunning species. The
explosive song of a Rufous Songlark filled the air. Other birds seen
here included Sacred Kingfisher, Diamond Firetail, Little Eagle,
Black-chinned Honeyeater, Little Lorikeet, White-browed Woodswallow,
Olive-backed Oriole, and a Painted Button-quail which flushed with a
whirr of wings and disappeared into the woodland.
Another luscious lunch was enjoyed at Glen Alice, not before Jan’s
sharp eyes had picked out a light morph White-bellied Cuckoo-shrike.
Turquoise Parrots had so far eluded us but this quickly changed at
our final scheduled stop when we started off on a short walk near
Glen Davis. A beautiful male “Turk” perching in a tree was certainly
one of the weekend’s highlights. Here we also saw White-naped
Honeyeater and Restless Flycatcher. A cry of “Zebra on the fence!”
turned out to be not a large African animal, but in fact a party of
On the way out of the valley the good birding continued. Near Airly
Creek those of us at the front of the bus saw a Grey Currawong fly up
from beside the road – this was in fact a new species for the valley!
All up, we recorded 109 species during our weekend in and around the
valley – and this didn’t include birds seen along the way in Sydney.
We also saw four native mammal species and two reptiles. Another
perfect weekend in the magnificent Capertee Valley.