Birdwatching in Capertee Valley - Birds We Saw
"Then slowly we crawled by the trees that kept tally/Of miles that were passed on the long journey down./We saw the wild beauty of Capertee Valley/As slowly we rounded the base of the Crown." - Henry Lawson, from Song of the Old Bullock Driver, 1891.
Capertee Valley has a rugged beauty to it that stood out to us even more as we had no phone reception, internet or TV during our stay. It allowed us to just focus on being there and we took full advantage of it. Although it was freezing in the mornings, we bundled up and sat outside on a porch looking out at the valley. No traffic, no airplanes above and certainly no instagram to distract us. We were there for the birds and boy did we see a lot.
Our complete list of what we saw is at the bottom of the post, but I wanted to share a few highlights, almost all of which are finches. Finches! I can't even begin to tell you how excited I was at the prospect of seeing these small colorful birds on our trip.
Before we checked into the airbnb, we stopped at the Capertee Valley National Park. Just a note, to visit this park you need an access code from the rangers (information below). And it's best to have a 4WD for the trip up the hill to the park. It's an unsealed road, with many dips and potholes. It looked a little like New York after we had that polar vortex of a Winter a few years ago and the roads were all torn up. So be prepared and make sure your car can handle the drive.
Heading into Capertee National Park, we weren't sure what to expect. It was our first proper stop and we were open-minded. The park has a road which cuts through the center and we decided just to drive slowly and keep the windows down to listen for birds. As we got to a large clearing, we heard some chatter and saw movement in the distance. We parked the car and got out, binoculars in hand and camera in the on-position. Immediately we saw a Jacky Winter (a new bird for us), which led us further into to the clearing. Just out of reach was a group of smaller birds and when we started moving toward them we could see through the binoculars and camera that they were finches, (actual finches!) flying around in large groups, moving from branch to branch.
Now, I do feel I should mention that whenever we see a new exciting bird, we get kind of over-excited and have to spend a lot of energy on acting cool so we don't scare the birds off. Sometimes we succeed, like we did at Capertee National Park that day and sometimes we don't, like the time Amy and I, each looking through binoculars and a camera respectfully, bumped right into each other, bounced off one another and fell down. Total fail.
But not this time. Here we were, in the middle of Capertee National Park playing it super cool looking right at Double-barred finches, with their adorable owl looking faces and all. We loved every second and stayed a while, going further and further into the forest until it was time to head to the airbnb to check in. We mentioned in our overview post that we stayed at Glen Alice Farm, but it's worth mentioning again because the couple that runs it is so sweet. They even baked fresh bread for our arrival and the airbnb was even full of old Birdlife magazines.
After gorging ourselves on freshly baked bread, we set out the next day, totally high from the excitement of what we saw at Capertee National Park. We decided to follow the bird trail from the airbnb, we set out on the bird trail. Our favorite stop on the trail was number 10, which is an area just behind a church across from a community hall. It was here that we saw the most bird activity over the next two days than at all of the other sites. There's also a bit more room to explore, since there's the parking lot of the church and community hall across the street. And, most excitingly for us, more finches! We saw the Double-barred finch again, plus the Red-browed finch (!!!) and the Diamond Fire-tail finch (!!!). There were also Rocky Warblers, Red Rumped Parrots, Treecreepers, Superb Fairywrens, and Sulphur-Crested Cockatoos all at this site.
So, without further adieu, here is our full list of what we saw at Capertee Valley. Our highlights are in bold. We can't wait to go back in the Spring when there will be even more birds out and about.
Pacific Black Duck
White Faced Heron
Sulphur Crested Cockatoo
Red Rumped Parrot
Superb Fairy Wren
Yellow Rumped Thornbill
Buff Rumped Thornbill
White Plumed Honeyeater
Yellow Face Honeyeater
Black Faced Cuckoo Shrike
Australian Golden Whistler
White Winged Chough
Eastern Yellow Robin
Red Browed Finch
Diamond Firetail Finch
If you are thinking of visiting Capertee Valley, we recommend the following resources:
Please report these birds if you see them:
Regent Honeyeater hotline: phone 1800 621 056
Swift Parrot hotline: phone 1800 665 766
Birding site: www.caperteebirder.com
Bird tours and information: www.bmbirding.com.au (We LOVE Carol and highly recommend her if you're looking to go on a private tour. We did a Winter walk with her in the Blue Mountains at the Mt. Tomah Botanic Gardens and loved it.)
Birdlife Australia: www.birdlife.org.au/projects/
Capertee Valley information:
Download a PDF of the Capetertee Valley bird trail map:
And if you do go, we'd love to hear about your trip!