Rock Warblers in the Blue Mountains
We have just had the opportunity to take advantage of an airline sale and get my parents and my sister and family together in Sydney for three days in May for the first time in over 8 years. It also coincided with our 26th anniversary, so we chose to head by train into the Blue Mountains to do some birding for a week and get some exercise on all of the hiking trails. Of course we had to dig out all of our winter clothes, which rarely get used and chose to take a heated cabin rather than use our tent due to the wintry conditions. The changing leaves on many of the trees made for a beautiful landscape and the inclement weather rarely distracted us from going out all day……wrapped up. Thank goodness for fingerless gloves when you are trying to focus your binoculars or take photographs in freezing conditions! It must seem odd that I am talking about the cold as you warm up in the northern hemisphere, but we are now back in the warm tropics at home in Broome and the winter clothes are packed away once again.
We spent our week in the Blue Mountains staying in Blackheath and then using that as our base to explore the Blue Mountains trails in Katoomba, Leura, Wentworth Falls, Mount Victoria and around Blackheath. The train service is efficient and picturesque and we used it every day to get around. Our decision to pack a thermos flask, which rarely gets used, was the best decision ever! It was used every day for a hot drink for lunch wherever we happened to be. The waterproof covers provided with our backpacks were also very useful on several occasions and layering of clothes was important.
Grant dressed for the weather on Walls Ledge Track
We spent one day hiking from Blackheath on the Centennial Glen Reserve and included the trails through Centennial Glen, Walls Ledge Track, Colliers Causeway and Porter’s Pass. These could be done as shorter walks over several days if time was available, but we had so many walks we wanted to do we did walk all day most days. Much of the track is steep or damp and care does need to be taken and as such it is quite slow going, especially if you are birding! It is well signposted and the timings are fairly accurate if you don’t stop to observe the birdlife!
Centennial Glen Reserve signpost
Colliers Causeway views
The weather was very changeable and we would soon be surrounded by mist and clouds and we were prepared for all outcomes and it made for some spectacular views.
Clouds in between the cliffs
The cliff walls were covered in plant life and this is also a popular spot for those people interested in climbing rock faces. There are bolts in place in some areas and it appears that it is controversial that climbing is allowed in the area. We saw very few people participating in the sport during our visit, but it was mid-week and the weather was being temperamental.
Plants on the cliff face
We had mainly seen Red Wattlebirds, Little Wattlebirds, Eastern Spinebills, Crimson Rosella, Eastern Whipbirds and Laughing Kookaburras as we descended and we then suddenly encountered flocks of birds on the move. They were mainly White-naped Honeyeaters, Yellow-faced Honeyeaters, Silvereyes and Striated Thornbills with the occasional White-eared Honeyeater. There were White-browed Scrubwrens in the damp gully and we soon had to face the climb back out up Porter’s Pass. We had had our first encounter with a Rock Warbler on a hike from Katoomba to Leura, but due to taking too much time observing the “lifer” we had not been able to obtain a photograph. We were hopeful of another encounter and this was the spot! We were climbing up a steep section with stone steps and I was in front when a Rock Warbler suddenly appeared on the stone steps and hopped ahead. I was quick with removing the camera from its pouch this time! It hopped ahead and I followed with Grant close behind….reminding me that I really should not get another photograph that could go on the “diabolical” page. I got to the next ledge just behind the Rock Warbler and it gave me one brief chance to photograph it.
Rock Warbler in Porters Pass
It was not the best photograph of a Rock Warbler, but it was a photograph and it was a “lifer” and it is endemic to New South Wales. We carried on climbing and before long we were at another rocky outcrop and what should be there, but our Rock Warbler! We knew it had gone ahead, but didn’t know it was keeping on our track! I took a photograph quickly and then attempted to get closer.
Rock Warbler well camouflaged
The same Rock Warbler photograph zoomed in to show the bird
The bird was very agile amongst the rocks and went in and out of caves and searched frantically for food.
Rock Warbler in cave
Rock Warbler avoiding the camera
Rock Warbler hopping up the rocky outcrop
Finally, it got the message….I wanted a photograph to go on the website…..one that would show its features……
If you get a chance to explore the Blue Mountains then we would definitely recommend it for birding and hiking and this time of year may be cold, but the trails are quiet and we rarely encountered other people.