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.

Summer already? Nearly – and the Blue Mountains are buzzing

We’re coming into summer, and there’s going to be lots to do in the Blue Mountains. And even if the days are warm, the nights will still mostly be cool, and we have plenty of vacancies ahead of Christmas.

Plants with Bite and Little Shop of Horrors

December 5 to 13

Carnivorous plant

Image: Royal Botanic Gardens

Less than an hour from Bunjaree Cottages, the wonderful Mount Tomah Botanic Gardens is holding a festival of carnivorous plants from December 5 to December 13.

The festival includes plant sales, information sessions and documentary screenings.

And what better way to close out the festival than with a screening of Little Shop of Horrors on the night of December 12?

More information here.


Exhibition: Arthur Boyd, an Active Witness

Until January

At the Blue Mountains Cultural Centre until 3 January, this exhibition draws together works from the Bundanon collection to show how Arthur Boyd’s art and political life were intertwined.

“The exhibition includes works by Boyd’s contemporaries and is supported by loans from public and private collections, photographs and other documents.” More information here.

Wollemi Artisan MarketWollemi Artisan Market logo

Friday, December 4

If you can take a Friday off, why not head up to the Blue Mountains Cultural Centre for the fourth Wollemi Artisan Market. It’s a curated market featuring artists and designers from the Blue Mountains, Sydney, and west of the Divide.

More information here.

Bilpin Markets

December 2015 to April 2016

Bilpin (less than an hour from Bunjaree Cottages) is one of the treats of the Bell’s Line of Road, and is running its community markets through to April 2016.

More information here.

Shakespeare lovers, set aside time in January

In January, don’t forget the Leura Shakespeare Festival. This year’s festival pairs The Bard’s Love’s Labours Lost with a one-act curtain-raiser, Shakespearealism, by Australian actor and film director Josh Lawson, and Oscar Wilde’s The Importance of Being Earnest.

Ticketing will soon commence here.

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 https://www.jjharrison.com.au

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, https://www.jjharrison.com.au

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.

It’s back! The Scenic Railway rides again

The April school holidays will give you a great chance to say hello to the new Scenic Railway – with track upgrades and all-new carriages, in the familiar drop-into-the-unknown experience that’s made the former mining railway a Blue Mountains faviourite. More information here.

April 6 – Alturas CD launch at the Grand View

All things Argentinean are in vogue at present, it seems, and tango is no exception. As part of its acoustic music series, the Hotel Grand View at Wentworh Falls is hosting a contemporary tango concert on Saturday, April 6, featuring the five-piece group Alturas. The band will perform pieces from their debut CD, Cafe con Tango, including works by Astor Piazzolla and Pablo Ziegler. 4pm to 6pm, $25.

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.

Cool nights – and mulled wine!

February and March is a glorious time in the Blue Mountains, with pleasant days and cool nights offering the best of both worlds. While the rest of the State swelters, enjoy perfectly civilised average maximum temperatures of 20-22ºC, ideal whether your passion is bushwalking, exploring the region’s gardens, sampling or picking fresh regional produce of exploring antique and vintage stores in the Mountains’ villages .

Meanwhile, overnight temperatures drop to 11-13ºC, just right for curling up under the doona or even enjoying our cottages’ slow combustion stoves.

Mulled wine, anyone? Just ask, and we’ll put a Herbie’s mulling wine spice pack in your cottage – at no charge.