Saturday, 12 September 2015

Hello from Coquette Point,
After a month of light winds and dry weather we are now under a strong wind warning and blustery squalls are delivering good soaking rain. Overnight the lawn is green and the wallabies are happy.
The mouth of the Johnstone River from the Coconuts, looking towards Coquette Point Friday mid-tide.

From the top of the Moresby Range two bulk carriers head in opposite direction in squally conditions.

Cassowary chick Kin is the third chick of Snouts I have had the privilege to observe.

Snout first showed up here a few days after cyclone Larry and he had with him a very nervous three month old chick. That was the 18th March 2006 and the wax jambu, Syzygium jambolana tree was in fruit, all the fruits had been blown onto the ground. At the time Snout and the chick, we named Rosie, virtually camped under the tree and feasted for ten days. (We recently discovered this chick has turned out to be a male, now named Ross, and he is a healthy nine year old cassowary with a solitary chick himself.)

Rosie/Ross always stayed close to Snout and would disappear under Snout's feathers whenever he sat down.

The next chick Snout produced was Ky, and like Ross Ky loved to disappear under Snout's feathers and play hide and seek whenever I tried to photograph them.

However, the new chick Kin is different. He sits away from Snout, walks beside or ahead of his dad, and amazingly seems to keep in step as he goes. This is a little cassowary with a very independent streak. It will be interesting to see what sex the chick turns out to be.

Cassowary Gregory is still walking around the area much to matriarch cassowary Jessie's annoyance.
The other morning Gregory came running down the back road walked around the house then, to my utter amazement he walked down the steep steps leading to the nursery.

Within a minute Jessie turned up, I could see she was on a mission looking for Gregory. I was watching her and saw her open her beak she drew in a deep breath, then she started to drum and drum and drum, deep resonating, threatening sounds directed at Gregory.  I felt sure she was telling him to go and that he was not welcome in her territory; poor Gregory.

With a maniacal look in her eyes Jessie started pulling at her quills but she did not resume drumming, then suddenly she left. Later in the afternoon I found her hungrily eating pandanus fruit from a tree beside the road.

Water scientist and herpetologist Zack visited the water monitoring facility this week and much to Zack's delight he met juvenile cassowary Ky whilst he was here.  Ky was as interested in Zack as Zack was in him. Perhaps it was the blue scarf and brown hair-feathers that had Ky confused.

There is good news from Liz Gallie, Mission Beach Cassowaries. Liz reports and well done Dr Steven Miles the Minister for Cassowaries and EHP Queensland.
The petition organised by Andrew Cripps MP and vet Graham Lauridsen for the Government to support the Garners Beach Cassowary Rehabilitation Centre will be presented to the Queensland Parliament this coming week by Andrew Cripps. Connie Symons told me she had over 500 signatures including the five pages from the nursery. I think the Queensland Parliament now gets the message-People Care about Cassowaries.

Don't forget!                       World Cassowary Day Saturday 26 September at Mission Beach.

The shining starlings have returned from their holidays in PNG and Indonesia. They are now busy repairing the old and building the new nests.

Around the nest tree, Syzygium forte, there is frenetic activity as the birds return to the tree with the nest material. At the same time the birds are choosing mates and mating.

The photo above shows 1/3 of the flock, I haven't had time to count the numbers of shining starlings but they appear to be way up on last year.

                 Pacific Baza also has love on his mind and has been hunting with his mate who doesn't let him out of her sight. That's him on the far left, above, with the darker bars on his chest feathers.

A second fan-tailed cuckoo has arrived and this one doesn't have the ring of grey neck-feathers and it has lighter breast feathers, as such it appears to be an adult bird.

A new report of the 'State of Australian Birds' shows that kookaburra numbers in many regions of Australia are down. Well, they are not at Coquette Point. At least seven kookaburras have been singing their heads off this week and at times to such an extent of excitability  that I cannot hear anything else. However, this report is alarming and it also states that magpie numbers are significantly down. What are we doing to harm these iconic Australian species?

Russell Constable took this photo of a juvenile sea-eagle with a fishing line caught in its wing. This photo was taken the week after the Big Australian Clean-up; we are a careless, thoughtless lot. Marine debris causes the slow death of thousands of birds, turtles and other creatures, every day. Please, when you go down to the beach, pick up rubbish and leave nothing but footprints.
Thank you Russell for sharing this photo.

                                               Grey reef heron, intermediate egret and all the whimbrels were sheltering inside the estuary from the strong winds this week.
A whimbrel was standing on one leg but it didn't seem to help him catch a feed.

The male red-capped plovers are still playing hide and seek as they try to lure anything or anyone away from their mate's nest.

I found two masked lapwing plovers noisily carrying on a treat and looking out to sea from the top of the Coquette Point Spit,  two bulk carriers were passing out to sea. I couldn't help but ask myself, what did they make of this endless line of ships passing by and what was all the stuff they were carrying used for?

A beautiful new book called 'The Wet Tropics', by Craig Ward and Tim Hawkes has just been launched. It is available at all good book stores and at Larsens News Agency in Innisfail. Lots of photos and information on frogs, snakes and birds.

Craig and Tim are donating the profits from the sale of this book to the Yellow Crazy Ant Campaign. The yellow crazy ant was first detected at Cairns Port in 2006 and has spread to the Wet Tropics Rainforest. This ant causes major damage to horticulture crops but the yellow crazy ant is devastating to animals as their bite can send animals blind.

Well done Craig and Tim you have given us a treasure of information about the animals of the Wet Tropics and your generous donation will help to protect these creatures from an insidious pest.

If you want to help or find out more about the campaign to eradicate the Yellow Crazy Ant go to their Facebook page
A bulldozer has been used to clear over a kilometre of critically endangered littoral rainforest and coastal vine thicket adjacent to the Jubilee Grove Estate, Innisfail. I believe the block is Lot 53 NR8081 and is mapped under the new Cassowary Coast Town Plan as an 'Area of High Environmental Significance'. I have inquired with Council and no request has been made for a development application or a permit to clear rainforest on the land. The land is mapped as a Natural Corridor Habitat.

The area which has been cleared is shown by the white line above left.                            

  While  I understand this land is undoubtedly freehold, the property however, does appear to have covenants over it which the land owner must surely have been aware of at the time of purchase and if not the owner of the land, then the owner of the bulldozer must. At least one would think he should be aware that a permit would be needed to clear what is obviously critically endangered littoral rainforest and on high slopes.

 The Clean Rivers Campaign continues and this week's media release is below.

Sediment flowing from the farm to the reef, is this 'best practice'?

Below: Away out to sea from the mouth of the Johnstone River Innisfail.

Cheers for this week,

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