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!
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!
Visitors to Bunjaree Cottages will be pleased to know that there’s a new art gallery in Katoomba, just 15 minutes away. The Blue Mountains City Art Gallery launched last month with its first exhibition, Picturing the Great Divide, which features works from the 19th century through to contemporary times.
The gallery is also wonderfully affordable, with a family of four able to see the 100-painting exhibition for $16 ($5 for each adult, $3 for each child).
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!
Here’s someone special. We have a few pairs of the Azure Kingfisher, Alcedo azurea, around Bunjaree Cottages, and since I haven’t written about our birdlife for a while, I thought this fellow was worth an introduction.
These birds aren’t often close to the cottages themselves. Rather, they live in the hanging swamp that occupies part of the property (the bush conservation area).
They can sometimes be seen, however, flying towards “the dam” – which isn’t actually a
The Azure Kingfisher. Photo credit: JJ Harisson. License: Wikimedia Commons. Original at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Alcedo_azurea_-_Julatten.jpg
dam, it’s the hole where the clay was dug to build the cottages. While it mostly favours yabbies and small fish, when the weather is right, the dam is a haunt for frogs which attract the kingfishers.
They’re a very beautiful bird, as you can see – so if you’re lucky enough to spot one, consider it a special treat!
Cyclists and athletes: October 20 and 21 is the weekend of the Kanangra Classic – a weekend of outdoor recreation half-an-hour from Oberon. The event includes rides from 24 Km up to 100 Km as well as an ultramarathon. Registrations are still open at the Kanagra Classic Website.
White-Throated Treekeeper. Image by “Aviceda”, Creative Commons license.
There’s more than one species of Treecreeper around the Blue Mountains, and they’re very small and fast – which makes it a little difficult for us to decide which ones we’re seeing at Bunjaree Cottages.
It’s quite a cheerful sight, however, when you turn your head at a call and see these fellows sprinting up tree trunks! Whether you spot the White Throated Treecreeper or the Brown Treecreeper, their agility on tree trunks is quite impressive!
When they’re on tree trunks, it’s to feed. Treecreepers browse on ants on the trees, sometimes adding a little nectar for variety.
Listening to the call posted on Birds in Backyards, I suspect the Treecreepers we see most often at Bunjaree Cottages are the White Throated – Cormobates leucophaea if you want the Latin name.
And here is a call I recorded on my my smartphone. I reckon it might make an acceptable ring-tone. What do you think?
(Note – when I posted that snippet to AudioBoo, I hadn’t identified it. My thanks to the local birder Carol Probets for naming it for me!)
Male Eastern Spinebill. Photo by Stilgherrian, Creative Commons license.
I have, in other posts, complained that the small birds around Bunjaree Cottages are difficult to photograph because they move very quickly and don’t sit still. This week, our friend Stilgherrian has managed a rare treat, getting pics of both male and female Eastern Spinebills.
The Eastern Spinebill can be seen all the way from Cooktown in Queensland all the way around to the Flinders Ranges in South Australia – but they’re less common around urban areas, because they like heaths, forests and woodlands.
Female Eastern Spinebill. Photo by Stilgherrian, Creative Commons license.
Their down-curved bill is designed for nectar-eating – in these photos, they’re feeding on the flower of the iconic Mountain Devil shrub that grows throughout Bunjaree Cottages. Their distinctive call is a high pitched, short, repetitive piping whistle.
While a kid of honeyeater – and they have a hummingbird-like hover while feeding – Eastern Spinebills also occasionally add small insects to their diet.
First, a caveat: Pardelotes are very small, very fast, and don’t sit still. As a result, I have never seen one long enough to either get a photograph, or identify which species of Pardelote hangs around Bunjaree Cottages.
However, Pardelotes are among the many species of small birds which frequent the bush around Bunjaree Cottages. They pass through in flocks, sweeping between different locations on the site in a group, feeding, chirping, and moving on.
Spotted Pardelote - Image: Wikimedia
These birds are tiny – at 8cm to 10cm, they’re not much smaller than your hand, and are definitely smaller than some of Australia’s biggest moths! They have a quite musical call – Birds in Backyards has calls recorded here for the Spotted Pardelote and here for the Striated Pardelote, and since you’re more likely to hear them than see them, it’s worth listening to.
A lot of people also mistake female Pardelotes for scrub wrens, because their grey-and-olive plumage and small size makes them look a little wren-like.
I’ve been lax with Bird of the Week lately, but this is special: we’ve had a recent sighting of the somewhat-rare Gang-Gang Cockatoo at Bunjaree Cottages. This picture shows our visitor (with thanks to our friend Stilgherrian, who took the pic and posted it to Flickr — the original is here).
Photo by Stilgherrian
Gang-Gangs are quite gregarious and curious when they’re around, but they are an unusual sight around the Blue Mountains, which are at the edge of their range. The NSW Department of Environment & Heritage lists them as “vulnerable”, mostly due to land clearing leading to habitat loss.