Recording Bird Calls in Capertee Valley

Last year I took a trip to Capertee Valley in the Blue Mountains in search of birds to record. Capertee (kay-per-tee) is on the Bathurst road just beyond Lithgow and about 3 hours drive west of Sydney. To reach the valley, you turn off the highway and drive until the bitchumen disappears and the mountain range rises up on either side and you feel like you’ve entered another world.


A birdwatcher put me onto the place. He described it as a must-see spot for bird enthusiasts and it deserves it’s reputation.

I got my favourite bird recording of the trip before I even reached the valley. Hubby and I stayed overnight on a farm just off the highway, a few kilometres before the tiny village of Capertee, which has only 6 houses, 1 pub.  It was amazingly peaceful. Here I am first thing in the morning out recording birds in the brisk Autumn air.

I saw white cheeked honeyeaters and king parrots in the area as well as lots of female superb fairy wrens, which are singing in this recording. If anyone recognises any of the other calls, please let me know by commenting below! Capertee Valley is home to more than 235 species of bird including several endangered honeyeater species. The website Birding Capertee Valley provides some great information on the birds in the area.

Whilst on the farm, we were also treated to a sighting and recording of a male lyre bird with his harem of females.  Listen out for the whip bird imitations:

Capertee Valley sits within an amazing canyon that is the second widest in the world! Neither words nor my photos  can capture the enormity, scale or impact of driving through the valley.

Driving into Capartee ValleyThe massive mountains on either side made me think of American composer John Adams story about the feeling of wonder he felt when he experienced the Californian coastline for the first time, after driving for eight days across the country from New England. This experience inspired Adams orchestral piece ‘The Dharma at Big Sur’, which he describes as a ‘dreamlike vision of the coastline at that moment of arrival’.

I’m big a fan of the gorgeous undulating blocks of sound in that piece. I’d love to write an orchestral piece myself one day with big textural, moving, resonating chords that teasingly circle a tonic that keeps on shifting (like the fluctuating horizon on this trip). These big living structures – like this valley – fascinate me.


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