Saturday, 21 February 2015

Hello from Coquette Point,

While south-east Queensland experienced extreme weather this week,  in the North we had the calm behind the storm.
Flying Fish Point at the mouth of the Johnstone River seemed to sit "As ideal as a painted ship. Upon a pained ocean."
As the Ancient Mariner went on to say, " Water, water, every where,. Nor any drop to drink." And so it was this week and although the King tides entered the streets of Cairns and other low lying areas along the northern coastline, it could have been a lot worse for us.  In fact the tides did not reach their projected height as Tropical Cyclone Marcia drew up water ahead of its centre and left us behind and becalmed. We were lucky, this time, but not so lucky for the people of south-east Queensland who are facing huge repairs and clean-up to private and public buildings as well as infrastructure. Our hearts go out to them as we know, only too well, how they are feeling.

The King tides reached up to and sometimes over the high banks of the Johnstone River and along its tidal tributaries.  Rubbish and debris caught up in the water floated in long rafts collected in the river's currents and were swept out into the Coral Sea Lagoon.

At low tide many of the objects in the   'rubbish rafts' were deposited on the mud and sand flats at the mouth of the river.


Above: Logs and rubbish washed up against the dunes.

Right: Sand Plover stands amongst the river's debris: glass, electrical cable and plastic, at low tide on the mud flats.

The King tide did not wash over the rookery at Coquette Point and the sign still sits firmly in its place. Behind the sand-spit however, there has been considerable erosion. Crocodile Creek emptied the swollen Coquette Point Wetlands with a huge force which  scarped out the sand bank by several metres.

On the Ocean front the King tide over-topped the dunes in several places and also caused another line of trees to fall. This occurred in the strong to gale force winds experienced on Sunday and Monday  before the tide reached its maximum in calm conditions on Thursday. If tides regularly overtop the dune protecting the wetlands the salinity of the wetland lagoons will be altered possibly causing greater vegetation loss.

Mangrove dieback continues to affect the few remaining trees of the Coquette Point Ocean frontage and soon the once healthy mangrove forest which once protected the coastline on the seaward side of Coquette Point will be completely gone.

Dieback of mangrove forest in many parts of the world are believed to be caused from the run-off of residual herbicides used in agriculture.

Cerino the pelican has returned to Coquette Point from his travels in the inland rivers and lakes. He performed a little dance for me to show his excitement.  Cerino is my bird of the week.

No one is happier than fisherman Ross to have his companion back.

Cerino the pelican indicates to Ross where to throw his line and then the pelican will stand and watch the line until it runs.

If the fishing rod bends or the line runs Cerino will chase Ross to the line to see what has been caught. A wonderful relationship between man and bird.


Two bar-tailed goodwits continue to fish on the sand-flats at the mouth of the Johnstone River, soon they will be leaving for their migratory journey to Siberia.

Out on the sandbars the soldier crabs have emerged in their thousands, running in great waves of blue across the sand.

The solider crabs pop out of the sand spontaneously and will disappear back under the sand just as quickly.

The sand plovers were in their element eating the crabs as quickly as they could swallow.

  There was some competiton from beach stone curlew for the suddenly abundant food supply.                                                            

Common sandpiper had his own technique for tenderising the tasty crabs.

Sometimes, by the expression on common sandpipers face, the crab was tricky to swallow.

Grey-tailed  tattler was more interested in finding what was swimming in on the tide and left the crabs to run free, for the time being.

Meanwhile back in the rainforest, I went for a walk to see the state of my track after the strong winds early this week. Fortunately only a few branches down and no trees to clear away. I was walking along when I met Ky, he was on his way to the guava tree, I think. Walking along as if the track was made for him.

Cassowary Ky passed me by and kept going.

 The next morning I saw Ky near the pond he was shaking himself in a maniacal frenzy, maybe to remove parasites.

No sightings of the courting couple, Jessie and Snout this week. Perhaps they have ventured deep into the Moresby Range National Park where Jessie may lay her eggs and Snout will start sitting the long incubation......then Jessie will find another boyfriend!!
Go girl.
Across the river at Flying Fish Point cassowary Kevin and his three chicks have been feasting on the mangos from Alison's tree.

Alison sees Kevin about once a week, however, she has not seen Pippi nor the twin subadults for some time.

Thank you Alison for the lovely photos the chicks do indeed look spritely overtaking and walking out in front of dad.

Cassowary Kevin often crosses the Flying Fish Point Road, near the Coconuts, with his chicks, so if you are driving in this area please drive slowly and keep a look out for them.

I don't remember when I have ever seen so many blossoms on the umbrella trees, Schefflera actinophylla. The bright red flower spikes sometimes extend above the rainforest canopy, generally when the tree has grown as an epiphyte from a rainforest giant, in other places their flowers reach out over streams and clearings searching for the sun.

Dusky honeyeater enjoys the sweet nectar of the red blossoms.

 Mistletoe, Dendrophthoe falcata, is in flower amongst the rainforest canopy.  This epiphyte is a parasite as it takes its nutrient from its host tree.

Wasps and other insects pollinate the flowers and soft berries which follow and are eaten mainly by the mistletoe bird which expels the seed onto the branches of another tree, where it grows much to the host's detriment.

The tasty fruits of the fishtail wait-a-while palm, calamus caryotoides, are ripe and starting to fall.  These amazing fruits are clothed in numerous slightly overlapping shield-like scales arranged in a regular pattern. They are easy to peel and the soft astringent pulp has a good mouth feel and is thirst quenching. These fruits are good to find on a long rainforest walk on a hot summer's day.  The fruits are enjoyed by cassowaries and pigeons.

The fishtail calamus is every bit as spiny as its 'Hairy Mary' cousins.

                 The bright colours of the rainforest are not only found in the canopy, on the damp rainforest floor colourful fungi are poking their fertile tops above ground.  This very bright yellow fungi on the left matured with a delicate white lace petticoats on the following day.

I had a visit from a couple of Innisfail's newest residents this week, Nathan and Elizabeth Taylor.
 Nathan found two brown tree snakes in a town house, also known as Doll's Eye snakes or Night Tigers. These snakes are rear fanged but mildly venomous and they are considered harmless. However, they will rear up if surprised which is alarming to many people.

Nathan was looking for a place to release the snakes and thought my orchard was suitable. The little brown beauties scrambled away as soon as they were placed on the ground. Its great to have new residents who have an understanding and love of the creatures of the rainforest. Welcome to Innisfail Nathan and Elizabeth.

Date claimer for Friends of Ninney Rise, Friday, March 27 at Bingil Bay, join us for a great night out.

cheers for this week,


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