Saturday, 19 September 2015

Hello from Coquette Point,

It has been a wonderful week on the Cassowary Coast with mild, calm conditions and most mornings a fog on the Johnstone River.

The strong wind warning last weekend caused the cancellation of the Billfish Tournament, however with calm conditions this morning lots of boats left the river for the reef.

 I went for a walk at first light and was delighted to see a black necked stork feeding with whimbrels on the sand flats.

As the sun rose and the sky turned red two outrigger canoes set off for a paddle out to sea.

While on the beach the whimbrels joined the crested and gull-billed terns.

As the sun rose I saw a pied oyster catcher fly into the shallows where several bar-tailed godwits were fishing. This is the first sighting of these migratory shore birds for this season.

 I watched the solitary black necked stork briskly walk the full length of the beach. Then with a loud squark he stretched his wings and flew over the Moresby Range National Park and on until he was out of sight.


On the sand flats a number of common sandpipers were busy finding their breakfast.

Then my attention was drawn to a grey-tailed tattler who was racing to catch a crab, on its leg was a shiny silver tag. No numbers were visible but if someone can identify this tag and where and when it was placed on this grey-tailed tatler please put the details on comments. Its always very exciting to find a tagged bird.

White breasted eagle flew over the beach but the shorebirds ignored him as the tide had turned and they were in a race to feed.

Bar-tailed godwits.

Pied oyster-catcher speared the mud with its beak  hunting  for crustaceans.

I counted six eastern curlews, some solitary others in a small group fishing on the sand flats.

Lots of lesser and greater sand plovers were racing around looking for crabs.

Greater egret was joined by a mate who squawked loudly as she landed.

It was just after 7am when I returned, early mornings are the best part of the day.

Although I have heard the pied imperial pigeons calling for the last three weeks, it was not until Thursday that I managed to capture a photo. Two PIPs appear to be nesting in the large Kauri Pine at the gate. I do hope more arrive to join them.

The orange footed scrub fowls are particularly excited, raking through all the leaves that have fallen from the Terminalia trees. There's no doubt about it their feet are designed for raking.

When you hear the brush cuckoo call you know summer is around the corner. The old-timers called this bird the brain-fever bird as it can call persistently throughout the day and night.

On the right a white-bellied cuckoo shrike fluffed his feathers to keep warm in the cool of the early morning.

When the sun rises so does insect activity and that is when the rainbow bee-eaters are at their most active. Just imagine how many insects would plague our lives if not for birds like the rainbow bee-eater.

There were lots of cassowary capers this week and mostly instigated by matriarch cassowary Jessie. She has joined forces with Snout and they are both chasing Gregory and Ky or any other cassowary that catches their fancy, or not.

Early this week Snout ran off at such great speed that little Kin could not keep up with him. I heard the chick's pathetic calls coming from the orchard. Little Kin was running in circles looking for his dad.

I heard what sounded like a hiss of air escaping and Kin ran in the direction of the sound.

It was so incredibly touching to watch the reconciliation of Snout and little Kin.

Snout then took little Kin for a drink of water and I watched as Snout continued to reassure the chick that everything was all right.

After this chase I didn't see Gregory for three days then he returned and I found him eating cordyline berries. He walked through the nursery, inspected the Mandubarra Turtle Rehabilitation Centre and walked out into the melaleuca swamp as if he was the only cassowary around.

Cassowary Ky is spending most of his days over on Lot 27V, walking in the melaleuca and mangrove swamp areas.

His casque is starting to take on a unique pattern.

                                  I came across Cassowary July this week in the rainforest.

I was very surprised to come across cassowary July while I was out walking this week. She appeared to have some quills missing forward of her thigh. This is normally consistent with a minor injury sustained when mating. I have not seen her in courtship with another male so perhaps the relationship didn't last.

Bev Anderson sent me a text with a photo of a cassowary with a chick that she found in Martin Street.

The young male cassowary has a small brown chick, very difficult to see in this photo, right. It may have been chased by dogs or another cassowary which has brought it out into this urban area.  Bev said when the cassowaries saw the car they ran away. This is a good sign as if it was fed it may stay in that area where there are lots of dogs running lose. Bev has not seen the Martin Street cassowary again. Thank you Bev for the photos and information on this cassowary.

The Council has several machines cleaning up land at the sewerage farm and this could have caused this cassowary to flee. I spoke to Greg one of the slasher operators and he told me that every morning a cassowary comes from the Moresby Range National Park, walks halfway up the road then comes back and does the same thing on the other side. Greg could not work out what the cassowary was doing. At about the same position on either side of the road are pandanus palms and they are dropping ripe fruit at the moment. The cassowary, who I believe is Queenie, is going for breakfast every morning at these 'natural food outlets'. Greg scratched his head and said 'well I never'.

Apparently the Council has plans to replace the fence alongside the Sewerage Farm on Howe Street. I do hope they make the fence 'cassowary friendly' and keep the pandanus palms that grow in thick stands throughout the Sewerage Farm land.  This area is part of the Ninds Creek Wetlands and has always been a major cassowary habitat, mainly because of the pandanus fruits.

All that bare earth at the Innisfail Sewerage Farm shouts out an opportunity for the Council's Nursery or a Land Care group to plant a rainforest alongside the road, or for that matter over all the unused parts of the Sewerage Farm. There's lots of 'fertiliser' close by and the cassowaries would be happy.

  Here's another reminder that next week June 26 is World Cassowary Day at Mission Beach. Paul Webster, the inventor of (WCD), rang me this week and asked me to give him a hand to erect flyers in Innisfail promoting World Cassowary Day.

We went to every third shop with a request to erect the flyers. Not one shop owner refused to allow us to put the flyer up. Almost everyone wanted to tell us their story about cassowaries. We received exceptional good will from the shopkeepers we visited. The only problem was we didn't have enough flyers we should have had at least double the number.

We had lunch at Oliveri's Dellie and Paul was delighted to meet Lennie, the famous Innisfail Dellie owner and of course enjoy one of Lennies famous salad rolls.

Loss of habitat, motor vehicle strike and dog encounters are the biggest threats to the endangered cassowary. It was very disappointing that at this week's Council meeting the mayor defended his right and the right of other residents to break Council's law and walk their dogs off-leash on the beach at Mission Beach.
Mayor Shannon cassowaries walk along the beach. Many rainforest fruits wash up in the tide line on the beach and the cassowaries go there to eat them. Cassowaries also eat small crabs and snails from the mangroves. Many plants like scaevola and pandanus grow in the dune systems behind the beach, these are important cassowary foods.  It is common to find a cassowary on the beach.

Dogs and cassowaries do not mix as it is dangerous for the cassowary, dangerous for the dog and dangerous for the dog's owner to have a dog off-leash around a cassowary or in cassowary habitat. Please Mayor Shannon retract your statement and set an example in lawful behaviour. Do not break your own Council's Local Law 2 (Animal Management) 2011. You also might like to get some legal advise on this matter in case someone is hurt because of your example. Mayor Shannon you have a duty of care to uphold your Council's laws and set an example to the ratepayers of this Shire.

Just after Mayor Shannon's outburst this week the 'No Dogs Allowed' sign at Coquette Point was covered over with packing tape. I removed the tape.


Meanwhile my campaign, 'Roads for Wildlife' continues and I am lobbying all levels of Government to implement a funding solution for projects to prevent the slaughter of native animals on Queensland Roads and as such make the roads safer for people in motor vehicles.

You can help:  If you like my idea please write to the Minister for Main Roads, The Hon Steve Bailey,

A sediment laden Johnstone River flows out into the Coral Sea Lagoon.

The Clean Rivers campaign to protect the World Heritage Great Barrier Reef continues with the following press release this week.

See You at World Cassowary Day Mission Beach,


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