Sunshine Coast Birds

Birding and other wildlife experiences from the Sunshine Coast and elsewhere in Australia - and from overseas - with scribblings about travel, environmental issues, kayaking, hiking and camping.

Friday, 27 October 2017

South-East Oz Part 8 – Regent Honeyeater Ablaze at Capertee + Visit to Werrikimbe

Regent Honeyeater
Following our visit to Kangaroo Valley (see following post) we spent a few days sight-seeing in Canberra before continuing north to spend 2 days with our friend Kathy Haydon in Capertee Valley - a renowned birding hotspot. The valley is essentially a vast canyon floor set amid the spectacular sandstone escarpments along the western fringe of the Blue Mountains World Heritage Area.

Capertee Valley near Glen Davis

Capertee Valley near Glen Davis
We camped in the free camp (complete with hot showers!) in the quaintly deserted former mining township of Glen Davis. We visited Gardens of Stone National Park, Wollemi National Park and Capertee National Park. We birded along the Glen Alice and Glen Davis roads. Many thanks to Dean Ingerwersen and Ross Crates from BirdLife Australia for birding advice on the area.

Ironbark woodland, Capertee National Park
The key photographic target at Capertee was the critically endangered Regent Honeyeater, with the site being a major stronghold for this fast disappearing woodland specialist. I have seen this species on just 3 occasions previously, and looked unsuccessfully for it earlier in the trip west of Armidale.

Regent Honeyeater

Regent Honeyeater
Two groups were encountered at Capertee – an impressive gathering of 8-12 birds in Capertee National Park, including at least 2 juveniles of different ages - indicating successful breeding this season in the area. A further group of 3-4 birds was found along Glen Davis Road.

Regent Honeyeater
In both areas, the birds were feeding primarily on the red flowers of the Mugga Ironbark Eucalyptus sideroxylon – a tree that the bird has a special affinity with. The honeyeaters would periodically fly to feed briefly on the white flowers of other Eucalyptus species. At the Capertee site it was noted that the Regent Honeyeaters were constantly chased by the much more common Noisy Friarbirds.

Regent Honeyeater
The two juvenile birds were both fed by adults during the time we had them under observation. Some adult birds had been banded as researchers are working on the birds at Capertee. At the Glen Davis Road site, no friarbirds were present and the Regent Honeyeaters turned the tables – aggressively chasing White-plumed and smaller honeyeater species out of their feeding tree.

Regent Honeyeater adult & juvenile
Another nice find near the Glen Davis camp were a couple of pairs of Rock Warblers on the slopes above the camp, where Brush-tailed Rock-Wallaby was also present.

Rock Warbler
Other birds at Capertee included Brown Treecreeper, White-browed Babbler, Red-capped Robin, Rufous Songlark and Crested Shrike-tit.

Brown Treecreeper

Crested Shrike-tit
Red-capped Robin

White-browed Babbler
Reptiles included Jacky Lizard.

Jacky Lizard
Sections of the main roads have recently been upgraded with 100kmph zones, so vehicles travel at high speed through the valley, taking a substantial toll on the wildlife.

Common Wombat roadkill near Glen Davis
We moved on to Maitland for an overnight stay, then drove high into the mountains for a 3-night stay in the Brushy Mountains Camp in Werrikimbe National Park. A female Flame Robin in the camping round was unexpected.

Flame Robin female
I had hoped to photograph Rufous Scrubbird here but it was not to be. The birds were vocal enough but we were plagued by rain, cold and strong winds. I heard a total of 4 scrubbirds between Spekes Lookout on the Scrubbird Trail and the Brushy Mountains camp; 2 birds along the 3.6km loop trail; 1 bird at the campground; and 4 between Brushy Mountains and the Cockerawombeeba Road turnoff. I managed to see 2 of the Scrubbird Trail birds briefly.

Scrubbird habitat at Werrikimbe
Superb Lyrebird, Bassian Thrush and Olive Whistler were common and the place is worth a visit just for the beautiful camp ground and surrounding forest. 

Brushy Mountains camp
Our final stop was the caravan park at Wooyung near Pottsville on the NSW North Coast, where a feisty Buff-banded Rail was unusually tame. We had been on the road for 52 days, travelling more than 8000km through NSW and Victoria.

Buff-banded Rail

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