Saturday, 18 January 2014

Hello from the cool and green Cassowary Coast,

This week the southern states, South Australia and Victoria have experienced heatwave conditions and catastrophic fires, but on the Cassowary Coast cloud cover and good rain has kept us wet, green and cool.

Golden Orb Spiders are proliferating in the mild conditions and one must be on the look out when walking about the rainforest. The strong golden silk from the Orb Spiders web was used by Aboriginal people to make fishing lines and the web construction is strong enough to catch snakes, birds and small bats. Do not panic if you walk into the web of a Golden Orb as they will only bite if provoked and  their bite will only cause mild irritation.

Another week and yet another Jumping spider species, how many more can I find at Coquette Point?

I saw a lot of my old friends particularly a Cosmophasis species.
This Jumping spider is very brightly coloured and tends to hang out on croton shrubs.

In the photo on the right you can see the four sets of eyes which are placed strategically around the spiders head. which gives this spider superb sight and hunting superiority.

Three cassowaries are visiting on a regular basis; Snout with his chick; four year old Q and the matriarch cassowary Jessie.

The chick is growing in size and curiosity.

You can see the start of a casque forming on its head.

 The little chick looks fat and stocky and very strong.

The chick follows Snout through the swamp to the Damson plum tree where he fills up with plums as you can see from his scat, 100% D. plum.

Jessie is still eating the Damson plums but this week she has also had an eye on my Abiu trees.

I watched her swallow a large Abiu and you could see it go down her long neck.
When she finishes harvesting the fallen fruits at my place she always heads for 27V across the road and down into the Melelaeuca swamp.

I see Q most days and with a few mosquitoes around this week, no doubt due to the rain, he became annoyed and spent hours  trying to kill them on his neck. I know just how annoying it feels.

Cassowary Hero has been seen crossing the road and walking the hill on a regular basis. Not a good crossing place for a cassowary.

Hero is looking in good condition and perhaps he is venturing down this end of Coquette Point to get away from matriarch cassowary Peggy who was seen chasing him when he still had a chick.

I was at Ruth's house on Friday and heard cassowarie's drumming and some chasing and it was on my way home that I found Hero heading down the hill. The poor hen-pecked male!

A bit of cassowary chasing is also occurring at Mission Beach. I went down to Liz Gallie's for a meeting of the 'Friends of Ninny Rise' on Wednesday and cassowary Jove walked through the rainforest while we were there. Liz has an old mango tree which is dropping green mangoes and Jove knew exactly where to go to find such a fruity meal. Liz told me the matriarch cassowaries have been chasing him.

Liz keeps a record of the movements of Cassowaries at Mission Beach and puts it up on her blog Mission Beach Cassowaries, (MBC). The link is in the right had bar of this page.

In the MBC blog you will also find a petition to ask the Newman Government not to sell 'Ninny Rise'. The 'Ninny Rise' property was bequeathed to  National Parks by Mrs Tody on the understanding it would be conserved within the National Park system and with the intention that it would one day become a rainforest research facility or at least be used as a site to promote the history of the area.

The artist John Busst built 'Ninney Rise' and it was from this home that the campaign to prevent oil drilling and coral mining on the Great Barrier Reef began. The historical significance of 'Ninny Rise' cannot be overstated so please take a moment to sign the petition and ask that the Government follow  Mrs Tody's wishes.

A white-throated Gerygone has been in the orchard most afternoons for some weeks and its sweet, melodious song has been coming from high in the canopy of the trees where the bird has remained concealed; it was extremely frustrating when trying to photograph it.

I managed to get a couple of distant shots this week and what a sweet little bird it is. As it flies around the branches you get a brief glimpse of its bright red eye but the melody of its song compares with the best of canaries and its appearance is as beautiful.

I hope you have the privilege of listening to the Gerygone's sweet song.

The black wattle, Acacia aulacocarpa is in flower on the hills at Coquette Point and the insects are feasting on the nectar.

In the past I have noted this wattle generally flowers at Easter, so it is flowering very early this year.

The bright pink flowers of Evodiella muelleri are opening on the branches of this small tree. The little Evodiella is one of the host trees of the Ulysses butterfly.

The fruits of Syzygium forte, the white-apple are ripe and the Pied Imperial Pigeons are feasting on them and knocking many to the ground where they are eaten by the cassowaries.

A wide range of fruits are in the cassowary scats this week.

 The Pied Imperial Pigeons are still feasting on the Damson plum trees. The harvest seems to have no end this year.

The shining starlings fly into the Damsons in large flocks consuming hundreds of fruits.

A wonderful assortment of fruits are available for rainforest animals at the moment. The bowl contains, White Apple, Syzygium forte;  Pandanus;  Grey Milk-wood, Cerbera inflate; Damson Plum, Terminalia catalpa Wax Jambu Syzygium aquem and the Mango Pine, Barringtonia calyptrata.

The rain this week has given encouragement to Crickets and Cicadas and frogs and they have increased their vocalising. No insect is louder than the Mole crickets and it is certainly advertising its presence this week.

Normally only seen at night but with the heavy cloud cover this week they have appeared at dusk.

The summer wet season in the Wet Tropics brings to life many weird and wonderful insects and all with a purpose but not always to our liking.

One wonders what intelligence made this stick insect choose this gutter to rest under? Had he realised the sticks in the gutter above represented himself? Or was it coincidence?

Don't bury your head in the sand there are multiple worlds all around us.

Cheers, Yvonne


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