Saturday, 9 January 2016

Hello from sweltering Coquette Point,

Torrid humid weather has left us in no doubt that summer has arrived. Day after day the gauge has read in the high 30's, reaching 37 several times this week. With humidity in the 90's it is tough working outside.

Last week's rains have cleared the fires and the smog allowing clear views of a green Mt Bartle Frere; the trees are visible, most unusual. The night sky has been particularly vibrant and with the new moon due Sunday night, if the clouds stay away, it will give star watchers a rare January night's sky view.
Broken Nose a spur on the southern end of Mt Bartle Frere

The little terns are no longer nesting on the rookery. Perhaps the extreme heat this week was too much for them to manage. However, I saw lots of little terns, (42), sitting with crested terns, (103), on the sand bars when I visited.

The little terns occupied the two outer sandbars while crested terns were mostly on the inner sandbar.

A couple of crested terns were engaged in a courtship dance, the male was larger than the female and as I watched they mated. The other birds looked on.

A small number of greater sand plovers and whimbrels were hunting for crabs on the sand-flats. A lone beach stone curlew ran out from behind the sand dunes.

 On the outer sandbars with several greater sand plovers 28 Pacific golden plovers were searching for a feed.

A solitary grey-tailed tattler was fishing in the mangrove breather roots while flowering above was the blind-your-eye mangrove, Excoecaria agallocha, the tiny yellow flowers were on the male tree foreground, while a separate female tree, a short way off, waited for its pollen.

 The blind-your eye mangrove belongs to the Euphorbiaceae family and overseas studies have shown that chemicals in the latex sap of this tree possess anti-HIV properties and anti-tumor-promoting activity.
Aboriginal people used the sap of this mangrove to treat sores and stings from marine creatures. They also used the sap to stun fish. In PNG, coastal tribes use the sap as an ingredient in arrow poison.

The wonderful Julanne Sweeny with friends John Gleu,  Margaret Law and son Joseph paid a visit to Coquette Point on Friday and we all went for a walk around to the Ocean Beach to count the foreshore birds. It was very hot but it didn't stop everyone from collecting rubbish which was already mounting up again after the last clean up. It is very disappointing, why do people have to be such grubs?

Thank you Julanne, John, Margaret and Joseph for cleaning up the Coquette Point beach when the locals don't seem to care and keep polluting the beach.

There has been great activity from the fig birds over the last couple of weeks. Earlier this week I found a small flock of them making a lot of noise in one of the casuarina trees behind the sand dunes on the ocean front.                                                        As I watched, I noticed the males were tearing off foliage for what appeared to be nest material and flying off with it. The females supervised and I did not see them leave the tree with any nest material in their beaks.

Both male and female fig birds have been feasting on the damson plum fruits.

A good number of metallic starlings have fledged and they are fattening up on the damson plum fruits. I can watch these energetic little birds for hours. The juvenile birds are always accompanied by some adults.

Cassowary Snout and chick Kin have kept out of the sun this week and never far from water. The cassowaries have little difficulty in finding a feed as the sweet fruits of the damson plum, Terminalia sericocarpa are raining down on the forest floor and both Snout and Kin are picking them up as fast as they fall. It is wonderful to watch Kin as soon as he hears the rustle of birds in the canopy he looks up and waits for fresh fruits to fall.


The rain last week has caused an explosion in the mosquito population. Poor Jessie was surrounded by mosquitoes when she walked out of the swamp yesterday. Jessie is still doing her regular patrols chasing other female cassowaries away from her territory. Ruth saw Jessie chasing July on Thursday at the top of the Range. I have not seen, Ky, Gregory or July down the bottom for some time.

Hero's subadult offspring Ruthie is growing in leaps and bounds, he is now reaching high into the Panama berry tree which grows at the top of the Range and he is looking fit and healthy.
Unfortunately Queenie who showed up in Bill Farnsworth's yard this week was not looking so well, Bill found her with an eye injury and he contacted the cassowary hot line. Bill also contacted the Tully cassowary vet Graham Lauridsen and he has been advising Bill.
There was great news from Bill last night as Queenie's eye had improved. "The eyelid(s) now appear to be closing over and almost covering the bung eye plus the swelling has gone down. Yay!! Maybe it's the therapeutic benefits of a passionfruit diet?"  Bill emailed last night.

Thank you Bill for looking out for Queenie and sending in the photos for the blog. I know of one Frenchman who will be very much relieved that his favourite cassowary is on the mend. I'll be looking out for some Facebook comments.

I saw Cassowary Brown Cone this side of the Ninds Creek bridge as I was coming home on Wednesday, he was alone and no sign of his chick, I did not get a photo. The chick is old enough to be separated so it is likely that has happened. In case, please keep a look out for a newly separated confused and stressed subadult cassowary on the bend approaching the Nind's Creek Bridge.

No sightings of matriarch cassowary Peggy since she was last seen in Bill Farnsworth's garden in early December.

Flocks of pied imperial pigeons fill the damson plum trees all day long and their mournful calls can be heard from high in the canopy as the birds binge on the fruits.

Pied Imperial Pigeons 

The sky is full of birds coming and going and I was surprised to see a great frigate bird flying over Coquette Point on Wednesday afternoon. A little later I saw a lone spoonbill flying from town towards the Coquette Point Wetlands. It is the first time I have seen a spoonbill over Coquette Point. It is common to see them in the Ninds Creek Wetlands and at Warrina Lakes so it would be wonderful to have a population establish here.

A big get well wish to Jan Shang who is in Cairns Base Hospital for a short stay in the Orthopaedic Ward. Get well quickly Jan the cassowaries and others are missing you.

Cheers for this week,


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