Saturday, 3 November 2012

Hello from the mouth of the Johnstone River,

The development application for 27V Coquette Point has been rejected by the Federal Government as well as the Cassowary Coast Regional Council's, (CCRC) town planners.

The development application was referred to the Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities, (SEWPC), and was accessed under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Act of 1999. (EPBC act).  The development was deemed to be a controlled action and the project was sent for public environment referral (PER) on a cost recovery basis to the developer.

It is my understanding the PER found the development would impact adversely on listed threatened species like the Southern Cassowary. The development was refused by SEWPC under section 18 and 18A of the EPBC act.

CCRC Councillor, Mark Nolan advised me the development had also been adversely assessed by the CCRC town planners on the access, water and sewerage provisions.

I rang the developer Rick Gore for his reaction to these adverse assessment and he told me confidently. "The development will happen, I haven't got the energy at the moment, but all the issues can be addressed and we will eventually have it. It will happen. Its nothing like what people think it is. There is no problem with access. I am doing this to help the town out." Mr Gore told me.
The mouth of the Johnstone River, Coquette Point 27V is on the right side of photo.
"There is no problem with access" Gore said.
The little sun bird of north Queensland has learnt to prosper in the face of spreading suburbia. There are few houses in north Queensland without a sun bird nest or two. Sun birds take advantage of the protection given by Queensland's verandas and happily raise their young amidst the comings and goings of busy families.
The sunbird baby waits for a feed.
While the female is busy feeding the baby the male stand guard and alerts her if danger approaches.  This  male sun bird, below, proudly erects his pectoral tufts in a display of his virility.
Lurking nearby mother butcher birds hunts to feed her babies.
            While sun-birds have learnt to coexist with humans the shorebirds of the world have not and recent studies have found a dramatic fall in the numbers of migratory shorebirds around the world. Of the 836 species of birds protected under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act about a quarter are known to be in trouble according to the US Fish and Wildlife Service. They go on to say "The majority of the challenges faced by migratory birds are related to human activities.  The greatest threat to birds, and all wildlife, continues to be loss and degradation of habitat due to human development and disturbance. For migratory birds and other species that require multiple areas for wintering, breeding and stopovers points, the effects of habitat loss can be complex and far-reaching.'                              The spit at Coquette Point is both a stop over point and a breeding area for migratory birds. The extensive sand flats at the mouth of the Johnstone River at Coquette Point are important feeding grounds for both migratory and sedentary species of birds. In summer millions of soldier crabs emerge to run and feed on the sand flats at low tide. It is not unusual to find cassowaries, beach stone curlews and other resident birds competing for a feed of crabs on the sand banks with migratory shore birds like the endangered                                                                   little  tern.                                                                        Coquette Point is a special place where the rain forest join the tidal lagoons and melaleuca swamps of the  World Heritage Wet Tropics and link with the World Heritage Great Barrier Reef lagoon. 


              This week 12 juvenile crested terns arrived on the beach. It was a magical moment. Aboriginal elder Victor Cassidy was fishing on the beach and the terns flew around and around him. He dragged his bait net up from the river and a few fish fell out of the net onto the sand. At once the young crested terns swooped down, coming so close to me one brushed my arm with its wing. Victor gathered his bait and put it in a bucket with the lid fixed tightly, while the terns watched closely from the nearby rocks. As soon as one of us moved they were in the air naive to any danger from us. They allowed me to approach them and photograph them from  three metres distance.                                                         Victor decided not to continue fishing but to sit and enjoy the terns as they flew around and around him, inquisitive and playful. At the first sign of bait activity the terns dived into the river, emerging with a fish tightly grasped in their beaks.                          While we watched the terns a turtle surfaced and looked to see what all the fuss was about. The turtle surfaced again and again with  long deep sounding grasps as it gulped in air.  As hard as I tried I only managed to capture the turtle's shadow as it disappeared under the water.
One tern appeared very sleepy and continually dropped his beak to his chest. It was so amusing I called him Noddy.
Jumping spiders were very active in my garden this week and I photographed three species I had not seen before with my camera.
This spider has a good head of hair.
While the jumping spiders are busy eating moths, mosquitoes, and flies around the garden the praying
mantis are eating white fly, aphids and grasshoppers. The young praying mantis, below, is licking its lips after a feed of white fly in my garden.
Gertrude the green tree snake is on the move in the leaf litter. She is looking for mice and any little birds that might fall from a nest. Her beautiful yellow belly contrast with the blue flecks on her flank. She is a slim 1.5 metres in length and has been in the nursery for ten years. Green tree snakes are non venomous and play a beneficial role around the home and farm by eating feral mice.
The northern dwarf tree frog is only tiny
but she has a big voice and her mating call, a long 'wreek' has already begun to sing the rain.
Major skink is on the hunt for cockroaches,
they are his favourite food. Unless, of course, you put a little bit of cake down for him. One of these
skinks has moved into my house and he has eaten all the cockroaches but he wont go outside, so
I leave a few dog biscuits and some water for him and he seems quite happy.
Another major skink sleeps on the EFT machine in the shop. Perhaps the light attracts insects.
In the rain forest the beautiful Evodiella Muelleri is flowering.This little evodia is one of the host plants of the blue Ulysses butterfly.
Falling on the leaf litter and into streams the
spent flowers of hibiscus tiliaceus turn from yellow to crimson as they age. The flowers and the
young leaves of this tree can be added to salads for extra colour and flavour.
Driving home from town this week I 
stopped to take a photo of John Roach the curator of CCRC parks and gardens. John was photographing the very large fruits of this undiscribed pandanus species. According to Anton Van Der Schans, a landscape designer who is now working at the Singapore Gardens "This is probably an undescribed sp in the Pandanus gemmifer complex. It is one of the "Puppy" pandans that produces plantlets on the branches, independent of the fruit. It is very common at the Russell River Landing near Hervey Creek, again at East Russell, behind the beach at Etty Bay, along the low lying parts of the road down to Coquette Point and there is a small swamp full of it on the east side of the highway immediately north of Moresby village. This gemmifer type has normal big phalanges like the common P. solms-laubachii, which can grow side by side, the difference in foliage colour is distinctive, solms-laubachii tending to be a matt, dull green or slightly glaucous, whereas this species is a rich glossy dark green. The gemmifer populations in Barron Gorge, on the tablelands at Lake Eacham and in the Tully Gorge are all slightly different.
The pandanus in the picture above, is growing beside the Coquette Point road at Ninds Creek. It can be propagated from the 'pups' which it drops from its trunk and also from the seed which take about three months to germinate. Cassowary scats containing the fruits were beside and on the road close to the tree.  John Roach has some plants from this tree growing in the Council nursery.
Visitors from Finland, this week, came to north Queensland to see the
flora and fauna of the Wet Tropics Rainforests. I photographed them standing under
 the giant strangler fig in my front yard.    The trees of the Wet Tropics are wonderfully strange.
cheers for now,

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