Saturday 20 September 2014

Cough, cough…..hello from smoky Coquette Point,

Old habits never die and in spite of a total fire ban idiots are burning forest, burning old windrows of fallen trees and burning guinea grass. On Thursday a heat inversion settled the smoke over the Johnstone River Valley including the town of Innisfail. What a great welcome for tourists visiting the region.

The Cairns Post listed 'Walking with a cassowary on the beach at Etty Bay', as one of the top 10 things for the G20 Cairns' visitors. Hope the tourists brought their smoke masks.

Yesterday I stopped two young idiots trying to set fire to grass at Coquette Point. When I told them there was a total fire ban they said but it's only guinea grass. They didn't seem to understand that once the fire started there would be no stopping it in these hot, dry conditions.

I am reminded of Ronal Wright's "A Short History of Progress", where he wrote "The future of everything we have accomplished since our intelligence evolved will depend on the wisdom of our actions over the next few years".

Tomorrow, Sunday September 21 will be the biggest global gathering of people asking world leaders to take action on global warming. If you cannot attend The Global People's Climate March in your area you can still send a message to our leaders by writing to your politician about your concerns or by signing the petition on

Cassowary Jessie is back at the Point walking the mangroves and the beach. It was a week since I had last seen her and in that time she appears to have put on condition.

Jessie doesn't hang around and quickly crosses the property and moves into the rainforest. From the look of her muddy legs, in the photo above, she had most likely just come from the mangroves.  I have not seen her encounter Snout and Ky this week but it is only a matter of time and no doubt that is why she has returned to this area.

Ky copies his father. When Snout starting scooping up water in his beak and using it to wash his feathers Ky tries to do the same but somehow he can't get the right action and the water spills out of his beak before he can reach his feathers.
Cassowary chick Ky's casque is starting to push through and his colours are becoming stronger.

When Snout walks off by himself, Ky,  in a great panic will utter an urgent whistle and run after his dad. Snout is going to have a problem in separating from this chick.

The kookaburra chorus rings out several times a day and with increasing excitement, as five  kookaburras are now gathered at Coquette Point. From the noise they are making I would say they are busy pairing and making nests.

Their voracious appetite for frogs is evident as the pathetic victims croak loudly and do their best to escape the clasp of the kookaburra's beak.

No such luck for this poor frog as he is pounded against the tree and then swallowed by kookaburra in one gulp.

Australians have great affection for kookaburras however, they do hunt smaller birds and frogs as part of their diet. While poor old butcher bird has a very bad reputation as a killer of small birds when in fact his diet is predominately large insects, like this giant grasshopper in the photo. As butcher bird was disabling the grasshopper he was uttering a low song as if he was trying to calm the grasshopper before eating it.

A pair of crested hawks have been circling the Point this week. Their beautifully patterned wings glistening in the late afternoon sunlight.

One crested hawk caught a large lizard, possibly a major skink, and hawk had some difficulty in keeping his meal. It was all crested hawk could do to keep his balance as he struggled with his catch.

Eventually he consumed the lizard while his partner watched from a nearby tree.

The osprey nest on the dead tree overlooking the Johnstone River Valley has fallen and from the behaviour of the pair I think they are building a new nest on a tree down in the Coquette Point Wetlands. Unfortunately I have not been able to access it.

However, I see the pair every day circling and hunting over the river. One afternoon osprey landed in a dead tree on the hill she was looking out over the river for any movement.

I went up to take a photo and as I shifted around the tree to get a better view of her and she heard me and looked down at me with what can only be called 'the Julia Bishop stare'!

All along the sand dunes the bright orange flowers of the coral tree Erythrina variegate are in full bloom.
This leguminous tree chooses to grow in the poorest soils and as it is deciduous prior to flowering it plays a beneficial roll in enriching the sandy soil and in so doing it helps the dune plants that grow near to it.

The coral tree flowers are rich in nectar and are visited by many birds it is a sight to see the rainbow lorikeets jostling over the flowers, the orange neck ring of the lorikeets the same colour as the flowers.

Drongo and yellow oriole also visit the coral tree every morning for a drink of nectar.

While yellow spotted honey-eater is busy catching insects and not drinking honey at all.  I have watched yellow spotted honey-eater and I have never seen him drinking nectar but he is skilled at hunting insects through the canopy of the forest.

The numbers of Pied Imperial Pigeons appear to be down on last year. None are overnighting in the mangroves or tea-tree swamps at Coquette Point and I have only seen one Pied Imperial Pigeon all this week. Ruth has just reported she saw seven PIPs flying south along the front beach around lunch time today.

Sacred kingfisher is still around but the leaden flycatchers appear to have left as I have not seen them for two weeks.

Coming home from town this week I saw a pig beside the road. The pig was tame as I was able to walk right up to him and he looked at me and wagged his little piggy tail. John Wilson told me he had notice a lot of pig activity lately and his pumpkins have all been eaten, presumably by pigs.

Its that time of the year when the Innisfail Game Fishing Tournament is held. This year most of the boats have reduced their speed while traveling in the river but you always get one hoon who doesn't care for the safety of other river users. I was watching the boats go out the river on reduced throttle when you know who had to overtake, sending everyone else in the river rocking and rolling.

Pelican was on the beach watching the boats go out and he took advantage of the swell.
 He fished in the troughs and crests of the waves quickly filling his bill with

Green sea turtle Cindy-lou is thriving with the devoted care she is receiving from Henry, Nellie and Alan Epong at the Mandubarra Turtle Rehabilitation Centre, Coquette Point.

The smaller green sea turtle Lately, which was sent to Cairns, is starting to eat. Dr Jenny Gilbert has reported that Lately has been x-rayed and there is no compaction and he is on antibiotics for his shell-rot disease.

Well done Mandubarra and Dr Jenny and thank you for your care.

You are invited to join Friends of Ninney Rise at Ninney Rise, Bingil Bay, next Saturday afternoon from 1pm for afternoon tea and a discussion about the history of tea in the region.

Sibby Nucifora of Nucifora Tea Estates has kindly donated tea for the occasion and it will be on sale at Ninney Rise. We will also be serving Nucifora Tea, the best tea in north Queensland, and I will show you how to make a 'cuppa'. Of course, don't forget to discover your future in the tea leaves!

"I say let the world go to hell, but I should always have my tea." Fyodor Dostoyevsky.

Cheers for this week,



  1. Bahahaha! Julie Bishop stare! I love it, and will never look at (or be looked at by) an Osprey the same way again.

    So frustrating when people can't follow the simplest of rules that are in place to protect them and the environment which they enjoy. I got into a 45 minute argument with a man at a party last weekend over walking dogs through koala habitat without a leash. He just couldn't understand that once you create a culture of optional rules, the entire point of all them ceases to be.

    1. Hi Christian,
      Rather momentous day today with the Global People's Climate March, is anyone listening?

      Last week I put up a macro shot of a Salticidae, a friend said it looked like John Howard. So I declared it a new species and called it johnwinstonnee howardioides. Now you will be seeing politician's likeness all the time. Sorry to spoil the harmony.