Saturday 23 January 2016

Hello from Coquette Point,

Last week my 4G device which connects me to the internet blew up and I lost internet connection. The device I now have on loan from the Telstra Shop at Smithfield is temperamental, so I hope it stays up to complete this post. My new device should arrive next week.

I was told that the wireless NBN was now available at Coquette Point, so I rang to have it connected but when the man came out to test the signal it was too weak. I was told that Coquette Point residents will be able to connect to satellite NBN but that doesn't roll out until April and anyone wanting it must place their name on a waiting list!!!!!!! I have done this.

I saw cassowary Peggy on Monday afternoon eating figs from a magnificent old cluster fig tree, Ficus racemosa. She was eating the fruits hungrily, but as I watched I saw that sometimes she gagged and coughed the fruits out. I could not understand what was happening.

It was not until I put the photos up on the computer that I saw the fishing line hanging from her beak. Part of the line was coming out of her right nostril another part went inside her mouth and one knotted piece hung out from her mouth.

Peggy continued to eat the figs that had fallen from the tree.
 As I watched, every now and again Peggy would stop and shake her head violently trying, it seemed, to dislodge the line. After one lot of shaking the line wrapped around her beak and she coughed struggling to open her beak. At the time I was concerned she had influenza or TB. I could not see the nylon line through the camera lens, but I knew something was not right with her.

When I downloaded the photos and saw the line I notified the Cassowary Hot Line and an EHP Ranger came to investigate, however, he was unable to find Peggy. Subsequently the next day the Senior Ranger joined in the search but still was unable to find Peggy.

I have also waited at this fig tree and another tree which is nearby with fruit falling but no sign of Peggy.

The cluster fig tree is full of fruit and they are favourites of the cassowary, so if she is able, I am sure she will return to the fig tree to feed.

The Damson plum trees, Terminal sericocarpa, the white apple, syzygium forte, and white beech, Gmelina dalrympleana are just some of the ripe fruits dropping in the rainforest at the moment; so there is plenty of food in the Moresby Range National Park for the cassowaries to eat.

If you see Peggy please ring and report the sighting to the Cassowary Hot Line on 1300130372.

On Friday while I was waiting for Peggy to arrive, old matriarch cassowary Clara turned up. She walked out of the guinea grass, however, she was startled when she saw me and ran off across the road into the Moresby Range National Park. If Clara is a regular visitor to the fig tree she will chase Peggy as she is the older, dominant bird.

Meanwhile, back down this end of Coquette Point matriarch cassowary Jessie is still stalking Snout. Snout gets very cranky and hisses at her, telling her to stop following him and he walks away with Kin following.

Often when this happens Snout 'drops a scat' and Jessie always investigates, picking at the contents. Jessie, Snout and Kin are at the moment eating Damson plum, Terminalia sericocarpa, white apple, Syzygium forte  and wax jambu, Syzygium aqueum. I have not seen any cluster fig fruits or seeds in their scats, so it would appear that they are not crossing the range, nor it appears are there any cluster figs in fruit on this side.
Snout and Kin eating wax jambu fruits. 

Jessie eating damson fruits.

A lot has changed on the beach and in the Johnstone River over the last two weeks; the little terns have gone. It is very early for them to commence their migration but I have made no sightings of them around the Johnstone for two weeks. Also the gull-billed and most of the crested terns have gone for their breeding season to the islands off shore. I found only seven crested terns on Friday at low tide and what I think was Pingu flying alone over the estuary.

The two pied oyster catchers are alone and I have not seen the chick again, so I assume it is lost.

I watched the beach stone curlews running about chasing a feed on the beach when one of the birds spat out a spray of water. Something it ate didn't taste right.

Four bar-tailed godwits were constantly moving around the beach eating quickly then moving on. They seemed in a great hurry to feed.

I saw about 50 greater sand plovers spread out over the beach feeding, some in the shallows others at the water's edge.

From a vantage point on an old dead mangrove, osprey watched for any movement in the water on the incoming tide. Within minutes he had caught a fish. He flew with it back over Flying Fish Point toward the Mt Annie National Park.

The ballet of the Eastern Reef Egret.

Occasionally one is privileged to watch animals comfortable in their natural environment. A 600mm camera lens, of course, allows a special opportunity to see and to learn; in this case, it's not so easy to catch dinner.

 Striated heron was also on the beach,
 I did not see him catch a fish.

As the sun fell low in the sky the whimbrels returned from feeding in the hinterland; I counted twenty birds.

The Pied Imperial Pigeons were also flying home to the Barnard Islands after a day's feasting in the rainforests of the Cassowary Coast.

In the shadow of Mt Bartle Frere the Coconuts Outrigger Club members practised for their next big event.

 If you are able to rise just before first light any morning over the next couple of weeks and if there is a cloudless sky to the north,  you might see the alignment of the five planets, Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter and Saturn. They appear in a straight line, Jupiter high in the northern sky down to Mercury low in the east. This is a once in a decade occurance. If there is a clear sky you will be able to see them with the naked eye. An added bonus, Sunday morning the full moon sets in the West around the same time.

If you are suspicious, planetary alignments are said to herald disasters.

On that auspicious note I will CU next week, Telstra permitting.



  1. Missed you last week! Good luck with the internet gods and more importantly, with finding Peggy.

  2. Still no sign of Peggy this morning Karen. It is a worry.


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