Saturday, 11 April 2015

Hello from Coquette Point,

Rain to the north and rain to the south but only 3mm has fallen on Coquette Point.

I was on the beach on Thursday afternoon and watched a rain squall move along the coastline but it missed Coquette Point. I have noticed the water-table is as low as I have seen and to be so in the last month of the wet season is alarming.

The season's last surge  of the monsoon has produced cyclone Joalane 22S in the Southern Indian Ocean and cyclone Solo a cat. 2 system moving south over New Caledonia. Another low off New Guinea could develop into a cyclone in the next week.

NOAA Space Weather predicts, There is a 70% chance that El Nino will continue through winter 2015, and a greater than 60% chance it will last through spring.  It appears we are heading for drought conditions in the Wet Tropics.

Many of the crested terns have returned to Coquette Point with their new chicks. They stood on the sandbank facing into the strong wind off the passing squall. The chicks are beautifully marked. You can just make out the terns on the sandbar above as the squall passed out to sea, I saw at least another fifty still fishing out to sea.


Around 50 sand plovers were on the beach feeding on crabs and the red-capped plovers were being harassed by these sand-plovers.

The grey-tailed tattlers have paired and were fishing together. No doubt pair-bonding for an imminent migratory departure.

Over 5 million shorebirds migrate from Australia to breed in the Arctic, for some that's the equivalent of doing 309 consecutive marathons with only one or two drink stops along the way. And what's more, once they have nested and raised their young, they turn around and do it all again.

If you are interested in migratory shorebirds learn more by registering at

Little egret and white-faced heron were sheltering from the strong winds behind the spit where they found good fishing along Crocodile Creek.

The cassowaries visited the pool in the heat of the day again this week. Ky likes to repeatedly duck into the water to cool off and then stands dripping wet and cool.

 There is no doubt cassowaries love water and enjoy taking a dip.

I saw Jessie only once this week and she was in a great hurry. She crossed the internal nursery road about 7am and disappeared. Cassowaries do that all the time and Papua New Guinea people attribute cassowaries with magical powers because of their ability to 'disappear' in the rainforest.

Even Snout has been feeling the heat and visits the pool every other day. Jessie has not been with him and when he finishes drinking he returns to the rainforest quickly, if he sees me he runs away. His behaviour is unusual and I believe he is sitting on eggs somewhere in the rainforest but I have been unable to find his nest site.

On the way home from town on Friday I saw a new cassowary walking very purposely alongside the road. I parked the car and watched her go up the bank beside the road and into the rainforest.

I followed the cassowary up the bank and into the rainforest hoping to get better identifying photos.

 When I got back to the office computer I could not match the markings of this cassowary with any other bird I have on file and I have named her April.

April appears to be about four or five years old and is in very good condition.

Where she entered the rainforest at the top of the bank I found a small fig tree with lots of fruit, and that I believe, is what she was after, I think she had been there before.

April moved quickly into the rainforest, walking through Vicious Hairy Mary, Calamus radicalis without any difficulty.

I managed to snap a couple of close-ups before she disappeared into the thick cyclone impacted rainforest.

Cassowary April's casque is mottled and has crimp marks on the back which will no doubt increase with age.

The cassowary population of the Moresby Range National Park and adjacent swamps is estimated to be around 50 birds. A large number of fruiting trees in the area, particularly figs, quandongs, and Davidson Plums, together with a ready supply of water from springs and swamps, is able to support this high density of cassowaries. With no roads through the Moresby Range National Park and as the boundary on the eastern side is the Coral Sea and on the Western side farmlands and low density housing, the cassowaries of the Moresby Range National Park have a small Island of reasonably safe habitat - for the time being.

The Coquette Point Wetland's paperbark trees, Melaleuca leucadendra are in flower. The air is rich with the sickly smell of burnt honey and the trees by day are full of rainbow lorikeets and by night spectacled flying foxes.

What is missing this year is the North Queensland day moth. I have not seen one of these moths all week and very few over the past couple of months.

In the past 45 years, since I have lived here, I do not recall a year or even a month when these moths were not present. The mass migration of the North Queensland day moths, which normally occurs on an annual basis has not occurred for the past three years.

The photo on the left was taken mid-summer when there were a number of these moths present, but  nowhere near the populations I once saw on a regular basis.

When the rainbow lorikeets finish feeding,  high in the canopy of the paperbark trees, they frolic in the coconuts.
 These birds are naturally born acrobats.


My bird of the week is the rainbow bee-eater. Taking advantage of the insects attracted to the paper-bark flowers a flock of bee-eaters has arrived at the nursery and they are constantly sweeping the sky with their beaks as they  harvest the abundant insects. Their bright high pitched chitter-chitter fills the air with a note of urgency. When they stop to sit awhile, they are constantly on the look-out for more insects, their appetite seems insatiable.

Rainbow bee-eaters constantly on the look-out for a feed of insects.

The banana disease Panama tropical race 4, (PTR4),  has been detected at a second farm in FNQ and this time at Mareeba.

Biosecurity Queensland has instructed farmers to restrict the movement of vehicles and people on farms and to wash down all machinery and all footwear with Farmcleanse, a detergent based cleaning product. Martin Cunningham is concerned that this product, which has been shown in trials not to kill the spores of PTR4, will kill aquatic life.  Martin is also concerned that Biosecurity Queensland have not provided protocols to instruct farmers on the safe use of Farmcleanse and that most farmers are not aware of the efficacy trials that show this product does not kill PTR4 but will harm aquatic life and can have health implications to users. However, the thousands of litres of run-off from the use of this chemical is already entering waterways, contaminating soils and being breathed in and splashed onto workers.

Martin has conveyed his concerns to various officials and to Charlie McKillop from the ABC Far North Queensland Rural Programme who interviewed Martin on the banks of the Johnston River. This should go to air on Monday, ABC FNQ.

Cheers for this week,


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