Saturday, 6 December 2014

Hello from Coquette Point,

It's Cassowary Ky's first birthday so I put together some highlights of Ky's life.

It was an on-again off-again courtship for mum Jessie and dad Snout through August /September 2013. I'll never forget the late afternoon I found them cuddling in the melaleuca swamp, their shadows projected onto the tree trunks in the swamp. After this affirmation they got down to a regular courtship and there were lots of reports of them walking around Coquette Point together.

Then Snout disappeared and Jessie was seen walking with Hagar.

                                                            On December 9 2013 I saw Snout with a tiny new chick. He was very protective of the chick and kept it hidden, I managed to get a peek through his feathers and took the first photo of the chick, see right.
Within a week the chick was running alongside dad Snout and was soon showing a strong personality. We decided to name the chick Ky.

As the weeks passed Ky's brown feathers came through and he showed confidence in his surroundings, playing in the leaves or stretching out in the sun.

In April with cyclone Ita threatening far north Queensland, wind and rain started to lash the coast.
I was in the house securing windows when I heard a knock at the back door it was Snout and Ky. They gave every impression they wanted to come inside out of the weather.

 Cyclone Ita weakened and crossed the coast near Cooktown and we were back to sunny weather.

We watched little Ky grow under the love and care of his dad.

When the wet season passed Snout and Ky found a pond of nursery run-off water and spent hours every day cooling off and playing Hokey Pokey in the water.

Male cassowary generally keep their chicks  for six to nine months, so Ky is special.

On Monday this week Jessie again started to stalk Snout. On this occasion Ky ran away up the hill but Snout although appearing to be interested in what Jessie was doing, soon walked off to join Ky.

I heard cassowary drumming on Wednesday and ran down the rainforest track to see what was happening. I found Jessie stretched up on her toes and looking up the hill. She did a little dance then bowed her head and waited to see what would eventuate.

I looked up to the top of the hill and I saw Snout watching every move that Jessie was making. I could not see Ky, however, I could hear him in the distance uttering a low worried, whistling cheep.

Eventually Snout moved away up over the hill. When Jessie realised he had gone she also moved on walking west further into the rainforest.

The next morning Snout and Ky were together as if nothing had changed. They came into the fountain to drink. Snout drank then moved on but Ky became interested in the goldfish.

Ky looked at the goldfish for some time then lunged at them, unsuccessfully, thank goodness. He soon realised Dad Snout was gone and he forgot about the goldfish and ran off to join him.

It's a big world out there with many strange things to discover and this little cassowary will soon be discovering it all for himself.

Happy 1st
birthday Ky and you are not having my goldfish for your birthday present!

Alison W. from the Coconuts sent in an update on Pippi. Alison said she hasn't seen Pippi this week however, last weekend she managed to get the photo on the left and the wound on Pippi's neck is healing well.  Pippi will most probably carry a scar where the wound was and it will make it easy to identify him. I estimate that Pippi is about nine months old.

Alison saw two subadult cassowaries this week at the Coconuts, they look about the same age as Pippi and it appears their Dad has just sent them off on their own.

These young subadults are crossing the road just before the Coconuts and walking into the rainforest on the hill. They are apparently doing that regularly. If you are driving out that way look out for these young cassowary twins. I will contact DEH and ask for a cassowary alert sign to be placed on this section of the Flying Fish Point Road.                            

Report just in from Alison, Pippi's dad Kevin has just turned up with two new tiny chicks, I will try to get some photos for next week. Thank you Alison for the report, what a wonderful Christmas present now you have six cassowaries hanging about your property.

Nellie Epong saw young cassowary Hope again, photo above left, on the wide bend to the eastern approach to the Ninds Creek bridge. This is a very dangerous road area for a young cassowary and I will ask DEH to erect more signs for this area. Nellie also saw Queenie again in the same area, there are mangoes ripening on a tree near the bridge and no doubt the cassowaries are enjoying the feast. Thank you Nellie for the update from the Mandubarra Cassowary monitoring files.

On the beach at Coquette Point the resident pied oyster catchers are proudly escorting two new chicks around their territory.

At first I could not believe that these birds were chicks, they are much larger than their parents and wander off on their own down and around the beach. Russell C. put me right and confirmed they were definitely chicks, the tell tale brown colour on the end of the beak, the brown feathers and the pale legs are all indicative of pied oyster catcher chicks.

It is wonderful to see chicks again on the beach, the first pied oyster catcher chicks at Coquette Point since cyclone Larry. The best of all is that I actually witnessed the parent birds mating in August.

Pied Oyster catchers mating on the 31 August on the beach at Coquette.

Yesterday afternoon I went for a walk on the low tide at Coquette Point. There were about 20 little terns,  some flying across the estuary of the Johnstone River and others over the waters of Gladys Inlet. The little terns were very noisy and many of them were flying with fish in their beaks and offering the fish to other little terns. This is a typical mating pattern and I saw six pairs of Little terns displaying their mating colours and offering and accepting fish. The little terns have returned to Coquette Point again and with a little care from us to keep away from the rookery they will find the opportunity to nest and rear their young on the Coquette Point rookery this season.

Above two little terns fly with crested terns off Coquette Point.

Next week the tides are low in the early morning and this will give me an opportunity to record what is happening on the rookery at Coquette Point.

Only 50 or so gull-billed terns came into roost at Coquette Point and there were about the same number of lesser crested terns.

On the outer sandbar over one hundred Pacific golden plovers were feeding and resting. The photo above is just one segment of the sandbar, there were more Pacific golden plovers scattered over the mudflats inshore.

The terek sandpipers are still on the beach and one bird was having a race along the water's edge with a grey-tailed tattler.

Yesterday the sea was glassy calm but in the late afternoon a 15 knot sou'easter brought refreshing cool air to the coast. The photo right was taken before the breeze came in.

Several pairs of bar-tailed godwits were fishing on the shoreline.

As the sun fell lower in the sky the small waders  came up to the hide tide-line on the beach and as far as the eye could see along the beach hundreds of sand plovers, red necked stints and red-capped plovers were roosting, camouflaged in the tide-line debris. I had not realised there were so many of these little birds on the mudflats it was not until they came to roost did I realise how many were there.

As the sun set striated heron, which I had been watching earlier fishing on the beach line flew up into the dead branches of a dying tree.

Early this morning I found three PIP's feeding in the candlenut tree, Aleurites rockinghamensis.

Late in the afternoon I often see them leaving the coastal rainforest, flying out to the islands to roost in relative safety. However, there has not been anywhere near the numbers of PIPs as I have seen in past years.

At Kurrimine Beach this morning two green sea turtles Barney and Betty were released by Mandubarra Turtle Rehabilitation Centre Innisfail and the Cairns Turtle Rehabilitation Centre. A great crowd gathered as James Epong gave a welcome to country followed by a spectacular performance from the  Mandubarra dancers.

The turtles were unloaded from the truck and checked out by Dr Jennie Gilbert.

With the OK given the turtles were carried in a procession down to the edge of the Great Barrier Reef.

Warren Entsch, the federal member for Leichhardt and an outspoken protecter of turtles and dugong was present for the turtle release. With great gusto Warren helped carry Turtle Betty to the ocean's edge. It is through Warren's efforts that the turtles have been fitted with satellite monitoring devices and they will send back valuable information about their travels. Thank you Warren for your active care for the environment and the creatures that call wild places home.

Meanwhile Turtle Barney smelt the sea air and attempted to get out of the crate. The crates were quickly lowered into the water and without any hesitation the turtles swam out to sea.

We watched them go when suddenly one of the turtles stopped partially surfaced, raised its flipper above the water and gave a wave. We all cheered heartily. Then the turtle repeated the wave twice more as if to say thank you for saving me. Jennie Gilbert cried with happiness and heartbreak, her team had nursed these turtles back to health over a long three years and will miss them. Then they were gone into a strong 25 knot  nor-easter, the first strong northerly winds for the season. I did not capture the flipper wave in the photo but we all saw it.

At the moment widespread thunderstorms are lashing the coastline with welcome rain but not welcome wind, at least there will be no speedboats to worry the turtles and they will have time to adjust to the wild.

I understand from several landholders that they have observed freshwater turtles and tortoise laying their eggs this year on very high ground. When this happens it generally signals flooding rains for the Wet Tropics. Time will tell.

The mysterious caterpillar, 'Pommy' is still munching on guava leaves and growing. He is now 13.5 cm long an increase of 2.5 cm over the week. 'Pommy' is a nocturnal feeder and wakes around 4 pm and feeds all night. At some stage in the early morning he finishes feeding and crawls down the stem of the guava close to the soil, where he remains all day.

Please have a thought tonight for the people of the Phillipines as Super Typhoon Hagupit, now weakened to  cat 4, bears down on the Islands with sustained winds of 100 knots and flooding rain.


1 comment:

  1. I noticed you had photos of 2 birds you called PIP's. I knew them only as Torres Strait Pigeons. I checked the web. I had never heard them called Pied Imperial Pigeons before..... cheers Neil