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Trip Report for
Traditional Capertee Valley Weekend
Carol's Dam
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 weekend.

Bernice in Capertee
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.

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.

Regent Honeyeater Food
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.

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.

Capertee Escarpment
Capertee Escarpment
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 Zebra Finches.

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.

Carol Probets

Follow That Bird   Phone: 61 2 9973 1865
Fax: 61 2 9973 1875
3/59 Central Road
Avalon NSW 2107
Sydney Australia
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Photos of Variegated Fairy-wren and Little Tern courtesy of Neil Fifer