Saturday 12 October 2013

Hello from Sunny Coquette Point,

One never knows what the week will bring and certainly it is so for me and my camera. The tide was low on Wednesday morning at 5.30am and so I thought an ideal time to walk the sand-flats in the cool of pre-dawn. Sunrise over the rookery was spectacular and as the sun rose the increasing light revealed the wide expanse of sand flats exposed on the low tide.

In the shallows nine pelicans gathered for their morning ablutions overlooked by grey heron.

       A veil of mist hung over the Moresby Range National Park and in the distance I saw a log on
 the sandbar. It looked an interesting shape and I walked over to photograph it.

To my surprise I saw it was a crocodile. There were no drag marks on the sand around the crocodile and it made no attempt to move and I thought it was dead or injured.

I took photographs as I approached. The crocodile still did not move, I was sure it was dead. The nictitating membrane, third eyelid, covered the eye. Suddenly, through the camera lens I saw it open its eyes and ever so slightly the crocodile's head moved.

I do not have to tell you how quickly I retreated!
It was only a small crocodile about 11/2 metres long but I had not intentions of testing it's hunting ability.

 I continued on with my walk and when I returned I saw the crocodile had gone into  the water.

Well you know what they say never smile at a Crocodile and I will add - or try to give a crocodile first aid!

The red-heads are back.

Another migratory wader has returned to Coquette Point the Sharp-tailed Sandpiper.

About 50 Sharp-tailed Sandpipers this week returned from the Arctic to find refuge and sustenance on the sandbars at Coquette Point.

Little red-necked stints were feeding in every pool all over the sandbar.

Red-capped dotterals were racing sand plovers to catch  crabs.

Grey-tailed tattlers concentrated on movements in the water. Further out on the sandbar I saw bar-tailed godwits and pied oyster catches while crested terns fished out to sea. However, I left the area to crocodile and retraced my steps home wards.  

When I returned I found my friend Ross fishing and the pelicans were close by.

Ross believes Ciriono, the Johnstone River resident pelican, has encouraged the others to stay. I noticed one of the pelicans constantly watched Ross and I knew it was Ciriono, however, it remained with the pod.

A Flying Fish Point local advised she had spotted 26 pelicans on that beach this week. No doubt the prolonged drought, throughout all of central Queensland, has forced the pelicans to the coast. 60% of Queensland is now drought declared        and another 20% about to be included.
 It is a very tough time for man and beast on the land. How lucky these Pelicans are to find the Johnstone River.

With the dry hot weather the snakes are on the move. I had my son Martin and Justin Macallum for lunch this week and had been to town in the morning and left the van parked in the nursery. When I returned after lunch Gloria said she saw a very, very,very big snake crawl into the engine of the van. We all looked at Gloria and smiled knowingly, oh yes, no doubt a small tree snake. With much concern from Gloria I put my had down to undo the bonnet. 
OK, OK Gloria you were right!
I ran for the camera while Justin found a rake handle and Martin stood back ready to give advice.  Justin pulled the snake out but it did not want to leave the van.
With a mind of its own the Amethystine Python wriggled and squirmed its way back into the engine.
Martin moved in to help and grabbed hold of python's tail. That didn't work as the snake disappeared into the engine. Snaky, snaky where are you? Here I am!                                                            Justin lay down under the engine looking for the snake when it popped out on top of him.

With a little bit of encouragement the Amethystine python was directed to the pond and has not been seen since, much to Gloria's delight, while it is no doubt, enjoying a feed of the pond's frogs.
It has been another amazing week for finding yet more species of jumping spider. The camera was playing up when I tried to photograph this stripped-leg beauty,  which was large for a jumping spider. I have called it Simon after the  customer who helped me search for it as it was an extremely active creature and kept disappearing. Hopefully I will find it again and get a better photo.
On the other hand, this also large jumping spider, was docile and I took a number of good photos of it. It has four iridescent spots on its leg joints and the gold spotted markings on its body also shone.

The camera was clogged with dust and it is amazing what a bit of 'air duster' can do for a camera.  You can see how large this spider is on my fingernail. Sorry not a very nice fingernail!
This green beauty was only one millimetre long and very active subsequently difficult to photograph. It is astonishing the diversity of jumping spiders in such a small area of Coquette Point.
The mango pine Barringtonia calyptrata is flowering in the rainforest this week and the rainbow lorikeets are delighted. The mango pine is a spectacular rainforest native and is  deep-rooted tree and suitable for growing as a windbreak tree or for street plantings. There are a couple of beautiful mango pines at the Coconuts Park and well worth the trip to see them in flower.
The delicate, nocturnal flowers of the woody caper Capparis arborea are in flower on this rambling shrub that lives behind the sand dunes.  The commercial caper is a different species however, the flower buds of this native are edible and do make a reasonable caper if processed properly.
The fruits of the Davidson plum, Davidsonia prurient are covering the rainforest floor. The dry weather conditions have resulted in a bumper harvest for rainforest fruits and the cassowaries seldom leave the rainforest at the moment as there is so much fruit available for them.

Snake wrangler Justin, who lives at El Arish shares this photo with us, the Cassowary is called 'No Cone' as it has a very small cone, it is a young bird about five years old and in 2011 reared three chicks. It has just come out of the rainforest with four chicks and Justin is hopeful that it will keep them all safe.

Meanwhile, at Coquette Point I have not seen a cassowary for over three weeks and it is an indication that the birds do not need to wander far and are finding all they need to eat within the Moresby Range National Park.

Our thoughts tonight are with the people of India. Tropical cyclone Phailin, a very severe system, category 5, is in the Bay of Bengal and will come ashore tomorrow morning. The cyclone is moving at 9 knots and is expected to generate a tidal surge. It is just before rice harvest time and the cyclone will devastate horticulture crops in the region. It has been a very active monsoon season in the Northern Hemisphere and another system, typhoon Nari, which brought destructive winds to the Philippines is now headed for China.

Keep safe,

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