Capertee National Park – camping (5 nights)

Fri 10 February 2023 12:00am

Kathy Walter & John Goldie

Capertee National Park is situated NNW of the Blue Mountains near Lithgow. We will do plenty of exploring around the National Park and areas near Glen Alice and Glen Davis. We will camp at Capertee campground which is pleasantly situated along a Casuarina-lined river. Target species for the trip will be Black-chinned Honeyeaters, Rock Warbler, Plum-headed Finch, Diamond Firetail, Turquoise Parrot, Barn Owl, Barking Owl and Squirrel Glider among others. Numbers limited. To book for this trip and receive further information please contact Kathy and John on

Post event report

From Friday 10 February to Wednesday 15 February, COG visited one of Australia’s best known birding destinations, Capertee Valley situated on the western side of the Blue Mountains near Lithgow. There were 12 participants in total, made up of a mix of very experienced birders and relative newcomers. We made good use of the Capertee Valley bird trail map, issued by the state government, that identifies numerous hotspots.

In the lead up to the trip John and Kathy had been careful not to inflate our hopes of seeing the valley’s most iconic bird, the endangered Regent Honeyeater—and in that regard, their caution was warranted. Despite visiting most of the best-known hotspots for the Regent Honeyeater, we dipped on the species. Nevertheless, we did see a total of 119 species including many on the expedition’s target list.

We were based in the campground in Capertee National Park and had the whole campground to ourselves for almost the whole time. Those camping in tents benefited from the extensive shade offered by mature casuarina trees. The campground has a resident population of Jacky Winters, Willie Wagtails and White-throated Treecreepers. We also spotted Sacred Kingfishers, Dollarbirds and a Fan-tailed Cuckoo from our camp chairs. One of campground’s more attractive features is the Capertee River, a small creek that flows past the campground. The group made good use of the river on the Saturday and Sunday afternoons when the temperatures went well into the 30s and cooling off in the river took priority over looking for elusive birds that were themselves seeking respite from the sun.

On Saturday morning we birded on foot along the Port Macquarie fire trail from the information signs in the middle of the park. This trail runs parallel to the river. Musk Lorikeets and a single Scarlet Honeyeater near the start of the trail were new sightings for several participants. All the way along the trail were Noisy Friarbirds, which were to become the signature bird of the trip. Before turning round we got a good view of a female Brown Goshawk being harassed by Tree Martins.

We then drove back along the road that leads into the national park and stopped by a dam opposite the start of the Wallaby Creek Management Trail. This spot proved to be very productive over the course of our visit, with numerous species coming into drink. On this occasion there was a Leaden Flycatcher as well as Fuscous Honeyeaters.

We then walked along the Wallaby Creek trail, seeing Yellow-faced, Yellow-tufted and White-plumed Honeyeater and had a good view of a female Cicadabird.

As the temperature rose we took refuge in the river, but once the heat moderated after sunset we went spotlighting. A pair of White-throated Nightjars were hawking over the paddock near the campground, their huge eyes reflecting our torchlight. At times they flew right overhead. Back out on the Wallaby Creek trail, Kathy’s night vision monocular detected an Australian Owlet-nightjar and a Southern Boobook was heard but not sighted.

On Sunday the group headed out of Capertee National Park to explore the valley into the small village of Glen Davis that once housed mine workers. We parked in the small council campground where large numbers of Noisy Friarbirds and Musk Lorikeets were in the large gum trees overhead. We walked through the ruins of former houses towards the sandstone cliffs that ring the valley. Here we saw Brown Treecreepers, in contrast to the White-throated that were more common in the valley. There were also several Black-chinned Honeyeaters.

Once again birding activities were cut short by the heat, and we headed back to the campground, first making a short detour to the bridge on Genowlan Road that is identified in several birding guides as the best spot to see Regent Honeyeaters. Again there were none, but we did see Little Pied Cormorant, Red-rumped Parrot and Double-barred Finches. The huge casuarina tree trunks piled up along river indicated how severe recent flooding had been.

In the evening a small group headed up the trail to the valley lookout several kilometres past our campground. They were lucky enough to see a Black-eared Cuckoo and several Hooded Robins. Later attempts to find the cuckoo again by those who missed out were unfortunately unsuccessful.

On Monday we headed back to Glen Davis but followed the track along the river that heads into Wollemi National Park rather than heading into the village. A short stop among the reeds to investigate a Brown Quail sighting resulted in several Golden-headed Cisticolas. Several kilometres further along we stopped and walked along the river searching for Rock Warblers, one of the trip’s targets and a new species for several participants. We were rewarded with a clear sighting of four birds. This area produced a large number of bush birds including Weebills and White-throated Gerygones.

We continued on to the very pretty Coorongooba campground set at the base of the sandstone cliffs which offered a similar range of birds to Capertee campground. On the way back we took a short hike that led up to a lookout over the abandoned Glen Davis industrial site that produced petroleum from oil shale mined underneath the cliffs during the Second World War. Several Silvereyes were in a tree near the sealed-up mineshafts that ran under the cliffs.

We explored along Crown Station Road, investigating several sites shown on the Capertee Valley birdwatching map that offered the promise of Plum-headed Finches, but we failed to find them or any other new species.

On the way home we stopped at a large dam on Glen Davis Road near the turn off to Capertee National Park and saw many Eurasian Coots and some Australasian Grebes feeding their young. Martin’s keen eyesight made out three Black-fronted Dotterels on the far side of the dam. Back inside Capertee National Park, the ever-reliable dam opposite Wallaby Creek trail provided a large flock of 15 Turquoise Parrots.

Tuesday morning started with a walk along a fire trail off the main track through the national park that produced a large range of bush birds including several that had only been seen in small numbers until then such as Eastern Spinebills and Varied Sittellas. Another stop by the Wallaby Creek dam was particularly rewarding with a large flock of Gang-Gang Cockatoos passing through as well as several coming down to drink. Diamond Firetails were also drinking and White-browed Babblers were also seen here.

After this we walked again along the Port Macquarie fire trail from the information board, seeing many of the same birds as on Saturday, but also Bar-shouldered Dove, Peaceful Dove and Common Bronzewing. There were also Olive-back Orioles and two Restless Flycatchers. Large number of White-winged Choughs sat in the trees above the trail.

On Tuesday afternoon the group explored the Dunville Loop Road, including several sites highlighted on the Capertee Valley birding map. On Wednesday, the last participants headed off.

As always the more experienced participants shared their insights and expertise, particularly in the arcane art of identifying bird calls. Thanks go to Kathy and John for organising and leading the trip and to Lia Battisson for recording eBird checklists. These can be found on eBird under COG Outings.

Marcus Hellyer

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