Wednesday, 2 December 2015

Australia, Fiji and New Caledonia - 14th November (Day 4)

We were up at 03:30 and headed into the Capertee Valley with a few brief stops en-route for birds on the roadside and to dodge the numerous Eastern Grey Kangaroo bounding across the road in the half-light. We passed through the locked gate into the Capertee National Park (Site 14) breathing a sigh of relief as the combination we were provided with opened the gate and headed straight to the campsite parking near to the Port Macquarie Homestead. We snacked on left over beef from last night and then began birding the woodland edge along the east side of the campsite clearing. The main target was Regent Honeyeater  assessed by Birdlife International as being Critically Endangered due to habitat loss and drought, the population having declined by >80% with no more than 400 birds thought to be remaining in 2010. However, as well as this main target species there were many ticks on the cards.

First up and still in half light were Rainbow Bee-eater and a pair of stunning Red-browed Finch feeding in the grasses. Our attention then was drawn to a large fruiting Eucalyptus where Black-chinned Honeyeater fed amongst the blossoms and then AD shouted ‘Regent Honeyeater’ and we were all quick to get onto two birds as they chased through the canopy before disappearing. A rather brief and distant view. We decided to get a little closer to the tree and head up the slope on which the tree was growing, as we climbed a bank a Wombat appeared and stood motionless before bolting into a tangle of branches of a fallen tree. As we approached VW and I wandered to where the animal had disappeared and suddenly the animal bolted towards us and down a nearby hole. The area was riddled with deep excavations and the area was evidently well used. We spent a while at the tree but had no further views of the honeyeater but Jacky Winter and White-throated Treecreeper were new. A further wander around the edge of the campsite produced fantastic Double-striped Finch, a flock of around 50 birds feeding along the woodland and grassland interface and then another pair (or the same) of Regent Honeyeater nesting in a pine alongside the campsite, the pair were busy nest building with one bird collecting material while the other flew back and forth accompanying the other bird and perching close by while the nest was woven. This pair were colour ringed and there is an intensive programme of conservation for this critically endangered species. We then headed onwards having great views of another Wombat on the roadside a short way on, this one stood motionless in the road before slowly wandering to its nearby hole. AD spotted a group of White-browed Babbler on the roadside so a quick stop gave good views of these cracking birds as they fed around an arboreal bundle of twigs. Then a Southern Shrike-thrush foraging on the woodland floor, a small group of 6 Little Lorikeet buzzed over and gave perched views in the top of a flowing tree and finally a cracking pair of Shrike-tit with chicks in a tree top nest avidly defending their nest from Noisy Friarbirds. These birds look like over blown Great Tits with hefty bills and wacky head dress raised while during the aggressive encounters with the friarbirds. The hefty bill being used to strip bark from trees in the hunt for food.

Galah - Capertee Valley

Eastern Rosella - Capertee Valley

Eastern Spinebill - Capertee National Park

Wombat - Capertee National Park

Double-barred Finch - Capertee National Park

Regent Honeyeater - Capertee National Park

Regent Honeyeater (juvenile) - Capertee National Park

Rainbow Bee-eater - Capertee National Park

Shrike-tit - Capertee Valley

Maned Duck - Capertee Valley

Fairy Martin- Capertee Valley

Welcome Swallow - Capertee Valley

A stop at the bridge on the Genowland Road (Site 11) produced little but for a pair of nest building Brown Treecreeper and views of a mixed flock of Little Corella and Sulphur-crested Cockatoo feeding on the ground amongst sheep and kangaroo. It was lunchtime and fuel was getting very low so we headed out to Capertee where a strong coffee and traditional Australian pies filled a hole. Heading back into the park we birded around the Glen Davis campground (Site 9) for a couple of hours, highlights here were Eastern WhipbirdBell MinerYellow-throated Gerygone and White-browed Scrubwren. Our final stops were along the Crown Station road (site 5) where a stunning Plum-headed Finch showed well and a stop at Site 6 produced nothing new but good views of Rainbow Bee-eater and Hooded Robin were had.

It was 17:00 and time to head off for Sydney a drive of approximately three hours. We stopped en-route in Katoomba for diner and eventually arrived in Sydney at around 21:45, we checked into the Ibis Budget Hotel near to the airport and crashed in our prison cell like hotel room.

White-browed Babbler - Capertee Valley

Red-rumped Parakeet - Capertee Valley

Black-faced Cuckoo-shrike - Capertee Valley

Once considered to be part of the Richard's pipit complex Australasian Pipit 
is now considered a separate species - Capertee Valley

White-throated Treecreeper - Capertee Valley

Brown Thornbill - Capertee Valley

Satin Flycatcher - Capertee Valley

Olive-backed Oriole - Capertee Valley

Superb Fairy-wren - Capertee Valley

Plum-headed Finch - Capertee Valley

Links to other days of the trip