Saturday, 20 April 2013

Hello from Coquette Point,

It is my sort of perfect day, 5 knot breeze, cloudless sky and cool for FNQ, 18 at night and 25 during the day. Although we have not had a wet season to speak of the forest is green and in full fruit. The lack of persistent rain has resulted in a good set in native rain forest fruits and obviously being aware of this the cassowaries Snout and Jessie have started courting early.

Only last week Jessie treated Snout with disdain and attacked him whenever he tried to approach her; now she has gone all coy and submissive.


I watched her follow him as he showed her food supplies. I know she doesn't need him to tell her but she accepts the role and dutifully walked three paces behind him with lowered head. Snout must prove to Jessie he can provide for her chicks.

He showed her some fallen palm fruits and he watched while she ate. He did not eat himself. Then he was off again. Quickly Jessie followed him and he took her to some sour plumbs. Again he did not eat as he watched her feed.

He showed her freshly fallen pandanus fruits and again he did not eat. All the while she was mindful of his presence and as soon as he moved she followed immediately. There did not seem to be any sound communication between the pair but it seemed obvious she was sensitive to his movements and his wishes. On the other hand he seemed to strut and be quite proud of himself as he took her to one food tasting after another.
Cassowary courtship generally last for a month after which the female lays between three and five eggs. The male bird incubates the eggs in a sit down lasting 50 days. The female cassowary takes no part in the incubation but when she has laid her eggs she makes hay while the sun shines and goes off to chooses another male to court within her territory leaving the first male to sit on the eggs alone.
                                                                   Juvenile forest kingfishers have fledged and I found this one in a bleeding heart tree, Homalanthus novoguineenis, close to the Ninds Creek wetlands. This juvenile still has his fluffy nest feathers and it wont be long before these buff coloured chest feathers turn white.                                                                      The bleeding heart tree is named after the dark red colour and heart shape of the aged leaves. Although this tree has insignificant flowers, the flowers can be seen in the background of the photo below, the seed of this tree is an important food plant for pigeons and many other seed eating birds. Bleeding hearts are fast growing pioneer species of the rain forest.                       This tree is the host plant for the world's largest moth, the Hercules Moth, which has a wing span of 300mm.                                                    Unusually for fast growing pioneer species of trees, the wood of the bleeding heart tree is fine grained and strong and is sought after by cabinetmakers. The tree also develops buttress roots as it matures making it resilient to strong winds.  What a different story it would have been if Homalanthus novoguineensis had been planted in the tree plantations around north Queensland instead of  shallow rooted African mahogany. 
Grevillea baileyana, the white oak is turning up its young leaves to show off the golden hairs which cover their underside. When the long rays of the early morning sun stretch across the rain forest canopy, the leaves of the white oak shine  with gold reflecting the sunlight.                                      This is another long-lived pioneer rain forest species with fine white to pinkish grained wood.
I found a very large white crab spider out in the open on a leaf. Its drop line was tangled in the foliage behind and it looked as if it had been in some sort of encounter, its legs seemed all awry .                                                         When I  compared the first and last photo I took of the spider I noticed it appeared to have changed colour from translucent white to pure white.  In the bottom photo it looks as if it is licking its lips.    

I did a book run this week with the new edition of my gardening book and passed through Cardwell for the first time since the reconstruction of the foreshore started in August 2012. On the right is a photo taken nine months ago of the foreshore. Below as it is now.                                                             Access to the Cardwell CBD is very difficult with road diversions and closures everywhere the shop owners of Cardwell are doing it tough. When it is all over they will have a man made foreshore framing Hinchinbrook Island. Is that what the tourists want to see? I think not. The foreshore reconstruction has had extraordinary cost blow-outs, around 50million now I believe and the new design will hardly be compatible with World Heritage listed Hinchinbrook Island.

 Have you noticed things never go the way you planned! A chemical spill on the Cardwell Range from a semitrailer before lunch on Tuesday closed the Bruce Highway to all traffic. Trucks and cars were backed up for over twenty kilometres north and south. I could not believe the police allowed vehicles to gridlock the Ingham CBD, but they did. No attempt was made to stop the traffic entering the CBD and the north bound traffic filled the two western lanes of the Ingham CBD. Not only was this an economic disaster for the shop owners in the Ingham CBD just imagine if there had been any
sort of incident, emergency service would not have been able to access the area. The whole episode was very frustrating as neither the RACQ web site nor local ABC radio had any reliable information about the incident. The only way to find anything out was to link into the truckers network. The northbound traffic was stopped from 12pm until 7pm. Southbound traffic started moving at 6pm and it took one hour and 10minutes before it cleared.
The change in the weather has got a lot of insects on the move and this week I have notice thousands of tiny insects attracted to the house lights at night. I also found a couple of spectacular moths attracted to the lights.

How carelessly we swot at caterpillars when they are found eating an ornamental or two. One never knows what spectacular creature that caterpillar may turn into.

When the rain stopped early this week the Johnstone River was illuminated by a spectacular rainbow. Mother nature knows how to put on a light show.
Good night from me and good night from Snout and Jessie.


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