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.

Bird of the Week: Eastern Whip-Bird

For most of my life I thought I was listening to one bird calling when it was actually a pair. Welcome to the Eastern Whip-Bird, one of the more than thirty species regularly seen – or heard! – at Bunjaree Cottages.


Image: Barrylb under the Creative Commons license. Source

Its call can be heard in the recording on this page at Birds in Backyards (a fabulous resource). The first “whip-crack” comes from the male, with his mate chiming in at the end with a “choo-choo” response. The Eastern Whip-Bird’s call also contributes to the various sounds Bunjaree’s resident lyrebird weaves into his imitations.

The Eastern Whip-Bird is a secretive insect-feeder, olive green with a long tail, a grey-white belly, and a black head with white cheek and eye patches. They can sometimes be seen feeding on the ground if you’re patient (and lucky!).

March: Blue Mountains Folk Festival

We would expect Blue Mountains accommodation – including Bunjaree Cottages – to fill early for the Blue Mountains Folk Festival in March 2013.

The line-up looks pretty impressive: so far, the list includes Garrumul, Kate Miller-Heidke, Chris Smither, Luka Bloom, and Ngaiire.

And then there’s the headline – Arlo Guthrie. Enough said!

Well, we at least need an offer, so here it is: Any booking for the Blue Mountains Folk Festival will receive three nights for the price of two, for the first two adults. That’s $380 for three nights – within ten minutes of the festival!

For children and extra adults, the normal rate ($15 per night for children, $30 per night for adults) will apply.

The offer is valid until January 31, 2012.

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!

Bird of the Week: Yellow Tailed Black Cockatoo

Author: David Cook Wildlife PhotographyLicense:  Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic

Author: David Cook Wildlife Photography
License: Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic

Ahh, the Black Cockatoos.

As I sit here writing this, they are welcoming the bad weather by with what has to be the best horror-movie sound made by any bird, as they hang around the top of ridges looking for pine nuts (of which there are plenty in Wentworth Falls) and banksias (also available in profusion).

Since there aren’t pine trees on Bunjaree Cottages, it’s the banksia that brings the Black Cockatoo here. They don’t live on the property, but they are frequent visitors, always identified by their calls.

They are the largest birds you will see roosting on Bunjaree trees (as much as 65 cm in length), making their agility truly impressive: they seem completely unfazed at the aerobatics required to fly through spaces barely wider than their wing-span!

While they snack on large nuts, the Yellow Tailed Black Cockatoos’ main diet is wood-boring grubs – which means they can do considerable damage to tree branches while feeding!

These are truly magnificent birds, a wonder and a treat to see.

Scenic Railway upgrade

If, like we are, you’re a fan of the Scenic Railway, make sure to visit before January 13. The currenico-railwayt machinery on the world’s steepest passenger railway has been operating since 1994, and the owners have decided that the tracks, winch and carriages need replacing. The project is going to be accompanied by a redevelopment of the platforms.

The redeveloped Scenic Railway will open in Autumn 2013.