Saturday, 17 August 2013

Hello from beautiful Coquette Point,

Another week of perfect spring weather days of 28 and nights of 19, the only problem - it isn't spring.

The cloud formation known as the 'morning glory' formed over the Gulf this week, a full month early. The storm season has commenced in Brisbane with a super-cell forming on Wednesday, also over a month early. Breaking all previous records heatwave conditions of over 40 degrees has Japan sweltering. Meanwhile the Chinese have a established a shipping route through the now ice-free north-west Artic passage.

In Australia a federal election is underway but 'don't mention the environment'. The concern is the economy and everyone wants more.

Meanwhile at Coquette Point cassowary 'Snout' was last seen courting the matriarch 'Jessie' on Monday and he has now disappeared, presumably sitting on eggs deep in the rainforest.

 'Jessie' is walking alone and appears to be checking out the other males. Hopefully, one of them will  take her fancy.

Now that 'Snout' has disappeared the young cassowary 'Don' is hanging about. I was in the vegetable garden when I saw him looking at a pawpaw tree. I was going to pick it that afternoon, but I was too late. Cassowaries love papaws and Don made a meal of my fine fruit in a few minutes even though it was not fully ripe.

Out of the blue this week I heard from some old New Guinea mates and this year the PNG 2013 reunion will be held at the Innisfail Shire Hall. No excuse I am told I have to attend. Please let any expats know about this year's reunion. 30th August 2013. Innisfail.

Went to Liz Gallies' at Mission Beach on Tuesday  and took down the pig's tusks I had promised. Early in the morning I found an amazing moth in Liz's kitchen sink. I picked it up and placed it carefully on my hand and took it outside. The feet were covered in tiny hooked pads and I had quite a job removing the moth from my hand. When I placed the moth on a leaf it closed its wings and looked like a bit of dried leaf.

The front view of this amazing fella shows two false eyes on the head and below two large compound eyes.   Two additional stalk-antennae are on the snout. The stripped feet were covered in hairs which adhered to the leaf surfaces like Velcro. Unfortunately I did not have my macro lens with me to take a better photograph.

The creatures of the rainforest are complex and amazing.

The littoral rainforest of the Wet Tropics is aflame with red this week. The leaves of Terminalia catappa, the beach almond have turned red and will soon fall. The fruits and nuts of the beach almond were important Aboriginal foods and nut-cracking rocks can be found all along the beach areas in the Wet Tropics.

To the delight of nectar-eating birds the blossoms of the coral tree, Erythrina vespertilio are opening in the hot sun along the bear branches of this deciduous, legume tree.

The coral tree grows along the northern and eastern Australian coastline but the seeds of this tree are poisonous. The soft wood also contains alkaloids however, Aboriginal people dried the wood to remove the alkaloids and once cleaned of the poison they carved the wood to make bowls and water-carrying, coolamons. The wood of this tree was also used by Aboriginal people to make shields.

In the photo a noisy friar bird enjoys the sweet nectar flowing from the flowers.

The spectacular inflorescence of Livistona decipiens, the cabbage palm shines golden in the early morning winter sun.

This palm grows along the Queensland coast and will tolerate wet and dry conditions.

The crisp white heart of the palm is edible and its slightly bitter cabbage taste gives it the common name of cabbage palm. The palm heart of the 'cabbage palm' was an important aboriginal food. Once harvested however, the palm would die.

The strangler fig, Ficus drupacea is in fruit again and no doubt that is why I am seeing the cassowaries hanging about.

The succulent fruits are edible and make quite a good chutney. The fruits of course were eaten by the rainforest Aboriginal people.

My neighbours John and Dee Wilson have lost a cow. They have noticed a large four metre crocodile hanging around their wharf area and the cows often went down to the nearby swamp to eat salt-water couch grass. Dee told me she noticed the other two cows will no longer go down to the swamp but are staying close to the house. None of us heard anything and there are no signs of the remains of the lost cow.

The bush stone-curlews are at their vocal best at night. With the waxing moon these nocturnal birds are out in the moonlight foraging for frogs and insects and even a snake or two. Throughout the night they constantly call to each other with loud wails and screeches, a call I have grown to love but it has been very mysterious and disturbing to my French visitors who left today. They will take many (piggy tails) tales back to France of Cassowaries, crocodiles, pigs and birds that scream in the night. Safe travelling Nicolas and Quentin and thank you for all your help with tree planting.

Cheers for this week,

Yvonne C.

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