Saturday, 6 July 2013

Hello from Coquette Point

Hello from Coquette Point,

The rain has returned and the sunny weather of the past month is only a memory.
The drizzle has not deterred Yellow Oriole who sings to greet the morning with chuckles and long melodious rolling notes.
However, in the long rays of the setting sun Yellow Oriole changes his tune and he holds his head high emitting long, harsh scolding notes designed to let forest creatures know he is king of the canopy.

As I watch little pockets on the side of Yellow Oriole's neck fill with air and extend like bellows, enabling him to continue his call for many minutes.

I was watching him one afternoon this week when he started to get excited and preform a display. firstly he extended his tail feathers then he started to sway from side to side. He puffed out his chest in a show of excitement.



I had to prune a Macaranga tunarius tree this week and was surprised to see how much sap flowed from the cut branches. The sap was neon-red and flowed forth profusely from the cut branches. The sap or gum was very sticky but once exposed to the air set hard like a glue. I understand Aboriginal people use the sap from this tree as a glue and in parts of the Pacific where this tree also grows the leaves are fermented to make a drink. The blush Macaranga is a fast growing tree and the seeds are a favourite food of the Emerald Turtle Dove.

While I have observed many male Emerald Turtle Doves around Coquette Point this season the females have not as yet arrived, the females are slightly duller than the male and do not have the wine neck colour or as strong a white slash before the wing. 

                                                                                 A sole blue-winged Kookaburra arrived this

The soundscape of the rainforest changed this week with the
arrival of the figbirds. There constant chattering matches there restless
behaviour. Seven birds arrived in the first flock with only two males
however the next day a flock of at least fifty birds arrived.
week and whereas this kookaburra is more at home in open forests I have seen them here before but never in great numbers. He, the blue tail indicates his sex, has taken up residence in the large strangler fig and from there hunts for frogs and skinks.

The male fig birds are brightly coloured with a yellow breast and red eye, whereas the female and immature birds are rather dull.

The Osprey are nesting and take turns to sit on the eggs.
The change over is swift ensure the eggs stay warm.

Below the Osprey's nest the valley of Innisfail shines silver with the shimmering flowers of the sugar-cane crop.

The Johnstone River in a short flight from the nest provides the fish that will soon feed the baby eagles.

Small Australian Gull butterflies are active at the moment. Their host plant Capparis arborea is the native caper and is a rambling shrub with spectacular white night flowering blossoms. The flowers appear in summer. The fruits of this plant can be processed in a similar way to the exotic caper.   
After a good shake Drongo
picked the insect up with his beak.
                                             Drongo by name but not drongo by nature the spangled drongo is a master hunter. My attention was drawn to one bird this week which was shaking its catch madly.                   
The insect was again raised to the sky ready to be consumed.
Down it went.
However the insect made a last attempt for freedom and from the sudden gyrations of Drongo must have bitten him inside his mouth..
With a very angry movement Drongo removed the insect and impaled it with his beak.
With a quick flip of his head the insect was consumed. Sometimes its not all that easy to get a meal.

At least the drizzly conditions has put a stop to the burning of trash.
It is hard to understand why the practice of trash burning continues.
The prime ingredient in healthy soil is humus when this natural soil
conditioner is burned not only is a free import lost but the heat kills
much of the microbial life in the soil. The farmer then enters the
slippery slope of the more artificial nutrients added the more needed.
There is a false belief that fire 'sterilizes' the soil and this is beneficial!
                  The barred cuckoo-shrikes obviously feel the cool weather as they park themselves in an old dead tree and let the sun warm them before they start foraging for the day. They look so strange puffed up like grey balls in an effort to keep warm.

With a good south-eastly breeze the smoke from the cane-fires blows north and Coquette Point is left with fresh sea-air.
Cheers for this week,

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