Bunjaree wildlife news: We have quolls! (Well: one, at least)

We’re very excited to be able to confirm something we’d suspected, but couldn’t prove: Bunjaree Cottages is home to at least one spotted-tail quoll!

The quolls aren’t endangered in NSW, but habitat loss has made them rare. Since they’re also nocturnal, sightings are even more uncommon.

Our first hint that there are quolls came in October, when a guest texted us to say “we had the pleasure of sighting a spotted-tail quoll just outside the entrance to Wattle Cottage! Ho took off fairly quickly when we opened the door … but I saw the hind and tail as he fled into the bush. Pretty amazing seeing one in the wild!”

A report is nowhere near as good as a photo, but a few days ago, a house-guest in Rosella Cottage (our residence) caught exactly that:

Spotted-tailed quoll, by Stilgherrian

Spotted-tailed quoll, by Stilgherrian

Thanks to @stilgherrian on Twitter for catching and posting the photograph.

The spotted-tail quoll is the largest marsupial carnivore on the mainland, and throughout Australia it’s second only to the Tasmanian Devil. They often climb trees in search of prey – often possums or birds.

We’re so happy to be able to share this news with Bunjaree Cottages’s friends and guests.

More than 50 bird species confirmed at Bunjaree Cottages

Bunjaree Cottages’ nearly-virgin bushland means there’s lots of birds year-round, but of course some of our birds are seasonal. Others we see but don’t identify, and that’s where it’s lovely to have guests that know more than we do!

Courtesy of a guest who was a keen bird-watcher, we have been able to add eleven new confirmed sightings to the Bunjaree bird list. Many thanks to Peter for his help and his keen eye! We’ll provide more information about each species in the coming months.

Buff Rumped Thirnbill by Duncan McKaskill CC 3.0

Image Credit: Duncan McKaskill, CC 2.0 license

Buff-rumped Thornbill – a small flock was seen on the driveway, which is their usual feeding habit.

 

 

 

 

 

Channel-Billed Cuckoo Bilby CC 3.0

Image credit: “Bilby” under CC 3.0 licence

Channel-billed Cuckoo – sorry if you don’t like their habit of night-calling, but it is currently their mating season. They’re the largest brood predator in the world, according to Wikipedia.

 

 

 

Crested Shrike-tit Fankzed CC 2.0

Image Credit: “Fankzed” under CC 2.0 licence

Crested Shrike-tit – sighted on the Tea-Tree Cottage driveway.

 

 

 

 

 

Image Credit: JJ Harrison, CC 3.0 licence

Image Credit: JJ Harrison, CC 3.0 licence

Fan-tailed Cuckoo – A daily visitor at the moment.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Image Credit: Toby Hudson, CC 3.0 licence

Image Credit: Toby Hudson, CC 3.0 licence

 

Little Raven – Which we really should have listed ourselves; it’s funny how the things you see everyday escape your notice when you try to make a list!

 

 

 

 

Image Credit: Glenn Fergus, CC 2.5 licence

Image Credit: Glenn Fergus, CC 2.5 licence

Noisy Friarbird – Expertise from others is wonderful: we have never spotted this at all, and now we’re on the lookout!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Image Credit: JJ Harrison, CC 3.0 licence

Image Credit: JJ Harrison, CC 3.0 licence

Silvereye – Another bird it should have occurred to us to look for!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Image Credit: "Russav", CC 2.0 licence

Image Credit: “Russav”, CC 2.0 licence

Southern Boobook – We were very pleased to have this identification. While Boobooks aren’t rare, we’re no good at identifying night-birds!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Image Credit: "Mdekool", CC 3.0 licence

Image Credit: “Mdekool”, CC 3.0 licence

Striated Thornbill – Another one of the wonderful collection of small birds at Bunjaree. One reason they’re so hard to identify is that they don’t sit still that much, which means you have to know their calls as well.

 

 

 

 

Image Credit: "Aviceda", CC 3.0 licence

Image Credit: “Aviceda”, CC 3.0 licence

Varied Sittella – Again: small, fast, and hard to follow!

 

 

 

 

 

Image Credit: James Niland, CC 2.0 licence

Image Credit: James Niland, CC 2.0 licence

Variegated Fairy-wren – A genuine beauty of the Australian bush, nearly as superb as the Superb Fairy-wren.

 

 

 

 

 

We’ve updated the Bunjaree Bird list with the new additions in the next few days. We’d also recommend the iPod app our guest used: Australian Birds, by Michael Morcombe.

Updated bird species list

With thanks to our friend Carol Probets, there are now 40 entries on the Bunjaree Cottages list of bird species, here.

It is one of our great joys that we have so many avian residents and visitors, from tiny wrens to the Superb Lyrebird. And we hope that our guests agree!

We were particularly thrilled to have yet another sighting of the Gang gang cockatoo early this summer.

Thank you RFS!

Bunjaree Cottages would like to thank the RFS volunteers, along with all the emergency services personnel and interstate volunteers, for their wonderful work during the recent bushfires.

Without their dedication and effort, the devastation from the three huge fires that threatened the mountains could have been so much worse.

Our hearts go out to those who have lost their homes, and we would like to direct your attention to the Blue Mountains Mayoral Relief Fund, which you can find here.

Bird of the Week: Red-Browed Finch

Many thanks to our friend Stilgherrian for this photo of one of Bunjaree Cottages’ more difficult-to-capture friends, the Red-Browed Finch (also known as the Red-Browed Firetail).

red-browed finch

Red-browed finch. Photo by Stilgherrian

These are grass-feeders that like to stay near dense undergrowth so they can hide from danger. They live mostly east of the Great Dividing Range, but their territory reaches all the way around to South Australia.

They’re mostly sedentary, so there’s the chance to spot them all year around – and to hear their short, very high-pitched whistling calls.

Bunjaree Guided Birding Weekends

We’re excited about this – very excited.

Bunjaree Cottages is a great place to spot birds. In fact, our feathered residents are hard to miss! Now, we are thrilled to announce weekend birding tours under the guidance of one of the Blue Mountains’ most experienced and respected birders, Carol Probets.

Male Eastern SpinebillThe self-drive weekends will feature guided walks at a range of high-quality bird-watching spots around the Blue Mountains – as well as viewings right here at Bunjaree Cottages.

Locations for viewing*, with Carol as your expert guide, helping make sure you get the most out of the experience and helping identify the birds you see, will include:

Megalong Valley – a great place to see birds of the open woodlands and grasslands (including, if you’re fortunate, Wedge-Tailed Eagles)

Image: Richard at Bunjaree Cottages

Image: Richard at Bunjaree Cottages

Katoomba and Surrounds – depending on the time of year, Carol will lead a viewing so you can catch the rich birdlife of Katoomba’s woodlands, heaths or swamps.

Bullaburra – has accessible locations ideal for observing forest birds.

Wentworth Falls – spots only a few minutes’ drive from Bunjaree Cottages for heathland birds, including the Glossy Black-Cockatoo (which is common, but seen less often than the more impressive Yellow-tailed Black-Cockatoo).

Photo by Stilgherrian

Photo by Stilgherrian

The rate will be $620 per cottage for the weekend – with Carol’s guided viewings included in the price. Extra guests will at our normal rates, and for an extra $30 we will pre-stock your cottage with supplies for breakfast.

The weekend will also feature beginners’ instructions in topics like using binoculars and field guides, and the basics of bird identification.

We will be announcing the first date during March or April very soon.

E-mail us if you would like to be notified of our Bunjaree Bird-Watching Weekends.

If you want to know more about Carol, her Website is here.

*Exact viewing sites will vary by time of year.

The guest with the paintbrush

We have had a treat, and it’s going to be a treat for Banksia Cottage guests as well. A guest, a decorator by profession, traded a couple of extra nights for paint. It seemed like a good deal to us – but only after the work was finished did we discover just how good!

I’ll need to do the photography properly, rather than just using my camera-phone, but here are a couple of teasers to give you the idea. First, Banksia’s master bedroom. Banksia Bedroom

 

What follows was once a fairly nondescript wall in the hall.

Hall Wall

The loft now has a lovely unity with the colours of the mud bricks.

The LoftI wish I were a photographer! – Our wonderful guest also re-imagined the idea of a bird feeder. And yes, the birds like this a lot more than a plate on a stick!

The bird feeder at BanksiaWe had one last surprise: a little rock carving that apparently occupied the evenings!

Guest sculptureIf anybody in Melbourne needs a thoughtful and creative decorator, ask us and we’ll put you in touch with him!

Merry Christmas to all our friends

As 2012 draws to a close, Trudi and Richard would love to wish all our guests a Merry Christmas, and our best wishes for 2013.

It’s a privilege being able to host people at Bunjaree, and it’s wonderful having guests tell us how much they love the environmental values we’re trying to bring to our four wonderful cottages. There are few things as precious to us as listening to the various species of frog in the “dam”, or watch the small birds flitting through the bush.

Love and blessings and good health to all, and don’t be a stranger in 2013!

What our visitors tell us

We’ve taken the liberty of posting a page of Visitors’ book comments – all from 2012, none older than September.

We have taken this liberty after being dive-bombed on TripAdvisor – where we don’t get a chance to respond in any detail (we tried, but could only get posted with a generic “sorry” message). So I can’t tell TripAdvisor what we would say to guests: if something is not right, tell us. We will always do our best to help!

Bunjaree Cottages is our labour of love, and a site like TripAdvisor can be devastating to a business operated by a husband-and-wife team. We hope, however, that our guests who have bothered to take up a pen and write are worth listening to!

December school holidays

The Christmas season is almost here, and we’re fielding many, many inquiries. Except in the worst heatwave, the Blue Mountains is a great place to be in December, with most nights below 16 degrees.

We’re seeing a profusion of wildflowers at the moment, and it’s a great time to get out and about in the longer evenings. Get in touch with us to ask about availability and feel free to ask us about bushwalks and activities in the Blue Mountains!