Saturday 6 September 2014

Hello from Coquette Point,
We have had perfect weather for the first week of spring, max of 28 in the day and min of 16 at night.
 I celebrated the spring morning with a dawn walk on the beach. I went looking for the grey tailed tattler I saw last week with a leg tag. The wader study group has advised me that this little bird was tagged off Manly in 2012. The distance these little birds travel is astonishing. In the two years since it was tagged he would have made two trips to his breeding ground on the Kamchatka Peninsular. You can read about the work of the Queensland Wader Study Group on

As I walked the pelicans woke from their evening sleep and flew across to Flying Fish Point.

The young beach stone curlew is now fully grown but still does not have a partner he was enjoying the morning sun.
Mum and Dad BSC have moved into the estuary and appear to spend a lot of time around the mangroves.

 I was watching the curlews when I saw a grey tailed tattler hunting in the mangrove breather- roots. I took a photo from a distance but as soon as I tried to get closer he flew off. However, when I enlarged the photo I could just see the white tag on his left leg and the green flag on his right leg suggesting it was the same bird I saw last week.

No other grey-tailed tattlers have arrived as yet but in past years a dozen or more have spent the summer on the mud-flats of Coquette Point.

I walked around to the Ocean front and saw two pied oyster catchers. The male approached the female and the next second I saw them mating.

I Thought this was pretty amazing as I had never before seen pied oyster catchers mating.

As I continued my walk I saw a number of red-capped plovers ahead, they were chasing and flying at each other. They were also mating, well it was the first day of spring!

I heard varied triller calling from the littoral forest behind the sand dunes. I went over to investigate and saw varied triller and a male cicadabird hunting for insects in the cottonwoods.

It was so good to see this cicadabird. Before cyclone Larry they were common in the lowland rain forests, but since the cyclones it has been rare to see a cicadabird.  I hope this sighting is a sign that the coastal population of these birds is now recovering.

As the sun rose in the sky the terns moved from their high water roost out to the sandbars.

When they landed I saw a Caspian tern was with them. Although the Caspian tern is a resident he is nomadic within the region. I only ever see them at Coquette Point in the summer months.
This large tern stands head and shoulders over the other terns and his bright red beak and size makes him easy to identify.

The Pacific golden plovers have arrived and I counted 50 or more feeding on the sand flats.

Common sandpipers have also arrived and out on the sand flats I counted 10 birds feeding.

There was another group of about 10 Common sandpipers feeding just below the beach line. They were turning the sand over and bobbing their tails in a feeding frenzy. These little waders never stop to rest and it is fascinating to watch as they feed and bob their tail.

Lesser and greater sand plovers were feeding in the shallows. There were over 100 sand plovers spread out over the sand flats and beach line.

On my return walk I saw the pied oyster catchers had moved to the sandbank within the river mouth.

They were mating again.

Apparently pied oyster catchers will mate up to 700 times in a season. They are most active at low tide and particularly a low tide very early in the morning.

I arrived back at the nursery by 7.30am to catch a glimpse of cassowary Jessie crossing the road and into the orchard, she was walking quickly and headed into the rainforest on the hill.

Jessie looked thin but her feathers had a nice sheen and she appeared in excellent health. It was so good to see her again after more than two months.

Cassowary Snout and Ky are keeping to the rainforest and away from the houses at Coquette Point. I only saw them once this week and they both appeared nervous.  They came into the nursery to drink but did not stay.

Allison W from Flying Fish Point advised that cassowary Kev's chick Pippi is now by himself. She saw cassowary Kev by himself on August 10 and 23. Since then she has seen Kev again by himself and Pippi also by himself, Allison saw them at different times and on different days.
Thank you Allison for the report and lovely photos of Pippi.

Ian and Lois Laidlaw visited the nursery this afternoon and they saw a young adult cassowary walking across the Ninds Creek bridge. The cassowary was walking towards the town side and was using the pedestrian foot bridge. It did not appear to have been spooked by the car. Unfortunately they did not get a photo. Perhaps we should erect a 'cassowary corridor' sign on the foot-bridge.

Henry Epong and Phil C on different days saw a subadult cassowary crossing the Coquette Point Road near the Maynard Road intersection and Henry reported that he saw Queenie this morning at the top of the Moresby Range. Ruth L reported that she has seen Jessie twice this week but no other cassowaries.

September is the month for birds and it has been so exciting to see and photograph some spectacular birds this week.

I saw Gould's bronze cuckoo in the trees near the sediment pond. This bird is found in north-eastern Queensland and in Islands to the north of Australia. This is a beautiful little bird but very secretive in its behaviour as with most cuckoos.

I was excited to see a female superb fruit dove, she stayed still long enough for me to photograph her. Although she is not as spectacularly coloured as the male, to me it was a greater thrill to find her, as there is the hope that she may nest in the area.

The greatest thrill to hear last week and daily this week was the distinct call of fig parrots as they flew in to feed on the fruits of the strangler fig. Not since cyclone Larry have I heard or seen these little birds around the property. They are another good indication that the rainforest and the creatures that depend on the rainforest for food and shelter are at last recovering.

The fig tree fruits are providing a feast for many birds and all day long the tree is full of birds coming and going enjoying the harvest.

Two flocks of yellow-eyed cuckoo shrikes arrive at different times of the day to feed on the fig fruits, fifteen birds in one and about seven in the other flock. As the yellow-eyed cuckoo shrikes fly into the tree their call is like the sound of a truck slowly braking on a hill.

Male and female fig birds jostle for the best fruit and with the first morning feed the canopy of the tree is filled with birds competing for the sweetest fruits. The female fig bird is the dominant bird and she chases other bird species as well as her own males.

She will fan her tail and bob it up and down while calling out, if that does not persuade the offender to move she will lunge at the other bird.

This activity has been particularly obvious when the male common koel arrived this week. The common koel is a migratory cuckoo and fig-bird knows instinctively that his species is not to be trusted.
What a magic time of the year it is when, as the days grow longer, we welcome back the migratory species of birds. The one of course that is particularly loved by north Queenslanders is the Pied Imperial Pigeon and they're back.

While, over the last two weeks there were reports of PIP sightings from Stewart at Cowley Beach and Rosemary at Flying Fish Point the PIPs did not visit Coquette Point until Tuesday this week.

The warm weather has got the jumping spiders on the move and
Zenodores orbiculatus has been out in the sun hunting for a feed.

While cosmophasis micarioides found a meal of what looks like wasp eggs.

I found this Lynx spider in the garden and my friend Robert Whyte from the Queensland Museum kindly identified it for me. Robert said the species is Oxyopes papuanus, found only in northern parts of Australia and northward to Papua; a little beauty indeed.

Little green sea turtle 'Lately' has been found to have an infestation of blood flukes. These are spirorchiid parasites which infect the circulatory and lymphatic systems and clustering in high quantities within the salt glands and the intestine of the affected turtle.

Lately has been treated by Henry Epong and Henry has managed to rid the turtle of the worms. Unfortunately when the barnacles were all removed from his shell Lately was found to have a crack on the top of the shell.

Today Lately was taken to the Cairns Turtle Rehabilitation Centre to have his shell repaired by Dr Jenny Gilbert. Henry is confident Lately will be on the mend very quickly and will soon be returned to the sea.

Nelli Epong holds Lately so as to identify the blood flukes emerging from underneath his shell.

Nellie told me that it was important not to touch wild turtles with bare hands as these blood flukes are able to infect humans.

Date claimer for Saturday September 27. The Friends of Ninney Rise will be holding an Open Day at 'Ninney Rise', Bingil Bay from 1 pm. The day will be a celebration of the traditions of  'a refreshing cup of tea'.

The first tea to be grown in Australia was at Bingil Bay in 1883 by the Cutten Brothers. On the day we will celebrate the Cutten Brothers and thanks to Sybbie Nucifora of Nucifora Tea we will enjoy the exceptional flavours and aroma of Nucifora Tea.

Take the opportunity to have your fortune told by tea-leaf-reader 'Luja' and learn how to make a traditional pot of tea the Irish way.

Join us at Bingil Bay on Saturday 27th from 1 to 5pm for afternoon tea, for a gold coin donation, and support Friends of Ninney Rise.

Ring Sandal on 40687315 for more information.

Cheers for this week,


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