Day 1 Saturday 26 October 2020
Splendid Waratahs bloomed
Leaving Sydney any trepidation about bush fires proved unfounded as although it was cloudy initially it burnt off to a superb bright day with only a few small fires seen early, and a big billowy plume from the Wollemi fire seen blowing to the coast late in the day. There was no one on the road nor in Capertee Valley which we had to ourselves; who could ask for more than a couple of spring days in one of the best birding locations in Australia.
We stopped on the way to Evans Lookout to view some Black-faced Cuckoo-shrikes and were swamped by Satin Bowerbirds, Varied Sittellas, Striated Thornbills, New Holland and Yellow-faced Honeyeaters. Adding to our hour long stop was an Eastern Yellow Robin, Gang-gang Cockatoo heard, as well as a Lyrebird, White-throated Treecreeper performing up-up-up, Grey Shrike-thrushes moving unusually swiftly chasing each other and Crested Shrike-tit wowing us with the smart feather combo. A Satin Flycatcher kept us guessing for a while but the call helped the ID-ing and I thanked the Morcombe app.
During morning tea a Fan-tailed Cuckoo serenaded us at Sutton Park and we moved off, eager to enter the Valley. Still a stop at Lithgow STW had lots on offer – Pink-eared Ducks and Australian Shovelers, also Australasian Grebes as well as Hoary-headed, Hardheads and two Musk Ducks. There were the usual array of Grey Teal, Pacific Black Ducks and Eurasian Coots.
A white flowering mugga ironbark tree stopped us upon entry to Capertee Valley, a great sign of the coming very pink trees flowering throughout the valley. Even so only a few Yellow-faced Honeyeaters played there. Onward to two Speckled Warblers feeding on the side of the road beside the callitris pines with brief views for all but me as they scampered off.
Crown Station Road held the first of hundreds of White-browed Woodswallows with a couple of Masked keeping it interesting. Rufous Songlark circled us, intruiging Bryn from the UK with its metallic call. A perfectly lit Zebra Finch beside an Australian Pipit were caught sight of on a barbed-wire fence, thwarting our attempt to get to lunch. As did four Common Bronzewings and our first Red-rumped Parrots. Finally lunch and a Restless Flycatcher at Glen Alice settled the flycatcher issues. White-winged Choughs sported their beautiful white wings in the sunlight, Superb Fairywrens joined us and there were a couple of Jacky Winters.
Moving to Glengowan Bridge Anne spotted a couple of resting Peaceful Doves and then a Regent Honeyeater moved around at our eye level about 2-3 meters from us until we’d seen this iconic bird from every angle. Wonderful.
Fifty Fairy Martins flew above the bridge, while we looked at their mud nests below. Bryn spotted a probable dark morph Little Eagle, as well as Nankeen Kestrel and his first Eastern Grey Kangaroos.
Glengowan Road starred Anne seeing a Mistletoebird from the car at 60 kms! Rainbow Bee-eaters sunlit, Kookaburras not miserable but just silent now for Bryn. Huntingdale Road had Plum-headed Finches immediately, thanks Tiff. And a Fan-tailed Cuckoo posing on a post.
Clocking them up now we headed towards Kandos but again stopped for a Diamond Firetail which disappeared into a flock of Red-browed Finches. In the foreground it became apparent that a Southern Whiteface was nesting in a hollow, ferrying food back to young. A family of Double-barred Finches were caught in our bins along the roadside.
A Sacred Kingfisher and Restless Flycatcher were down Noola Road and we ended the day with Australian Reed-Warblers serenading us at dusk at Rylstone.
Day 2 Sunday 27 October 2020
Regent Honeyeater by Nevil Lazarus
We awoke to a smoky valley and thanked our lucky stars for the previous day’s exceptionally bright and beautiful weather. A walk around the golf course yielded Yellow-rumped and Striated Thornbills, Silvereyes, Superb Fairy-wrens, Red Wattlebirds and Noisy Friarbirds. Bryn spotted a Scarlet Honeyeater at breakfast and an Eastern Spinebill fed beside us in the grevilleas. Kookaburras finally laughed for Bryn.
We headed to Bogee Reserve where the flowering muggas were awash with Noisy Friarbirds but we worked hard and got another Regent Honeyeater plus Buff-rumped Thornbills added to the list. Both Little and Musk Lorikeets showed well, busy feeding on the flowers.
Time was ticking away so we headed to Capertee NP for morning tea hoping for Turquoise Parrots but no luck. Weebills were amongst the now regular thornbills by the side of the road.
Back at Glen Alice a Grey-crowned Babbler chortled beside a Crested Shrike-tit beside an Olive-backed Oriole. Two Hooded Robins delighted us and Bryn spotted a Diamond Firetail. Wedge-tailed Eagles thermalled as we left the Valley and a Brown Falcon gave good views as it chuckled its way across the paddock.
At Lake Wallace a surprised Latham’s Snipe flew while Little Grassbirds mingled with the Australian Reed-Warblers. Coo of the day was Bryn and Anne seeing a Baillon’s Crake while the guide was wending back to the vehicle readying for the drive back to Sydney.
A spectacular weekend and many thanks to thoughtful Anne, and Bryn, whose quirky humour added immensely.
By Leader Janene Luff