Saturday, 19 March 2016

Hello from Coquette Point,

The monsoon paid a visit for a few short days this week, it may have arrived late but nobody is complaining,  it has delivered good, soaking rain which filled the rivers and lagoons all over north Queensland; it is expected to play an encore next week.

However, this morning the monsoon moved away and we woke to bright sunshine, the air was clear and Mt Bartle Frere was etched in Bartle-blue against the washed sky.                                                                                                    

Mushroom 'fairy rings' have popped up again around Coquette Point, there were two on my back lawn and the photo on the right is from the bus 'turn around bay', at the top of the last hill. It was St Patrick's Day on Thursday but I didn't find any leprechauns dancing in the rings!

The mosquitoes are taking full advantage of the puddles and their numbers have increased exponentially and are driving everyone crazy, including the cassowaries which walk around with a cloud of mosquitoes following.

The guavas are in full production and the cassowaries are having a feast. As Snout plucked the guava fruit from the tree, he gave it to his chick Kin then watched as Kin ate it.

One of the guava fruits was very large, there appeared to be an exchange between the cassowaries.
Something like; Kin said, "This one's too big for me to swallow." Dad Snout replied, " Open your mouth wider you can get it down." Kin did.

Not until Kin had eaten his fill did Snout take a fruit for himself.

Matriarch Cassowary Jessie, with her own personal cloud of mosquitoes, has been walking all over Coquette Point.  There has been several sighting of Jessie on the other side of the range, where a few eligible males are around, no doubt she is checking them out and marking her territory.

I received a report this morning that two courting cassowaries were seen near Maynard Road. It was most likely cassowary Peggy and Ross. I will try to check it out next week.

It will be the Autumn Equinox tomorrow, when the length of day and night are equal.
Perhaps the Autumn Equinox has an effect on butterfly hatching as I have seen greatly increased numbers of butterflies and moths of late.

You could say March is the month to see butterflies and moths in the Wet Tropics. The cocoons of the Cairns birdwing butterfly are popping open and hundreds of bright new butterflies are emerging. At the same time birdwing caterpillars have engorged themselves on the lush leaves of their food vine, aristolochia tagala, and are crawling onto nearby trees where they will form cocoons and hang about until spring.
Mature Cairns birdwing butterfly caterpillar

The wanderer butterfly is a rare visitor to the Wet Tropics as it prefers open grassy habitats. Its host plant is the milkweed and where that occurs you will find the wanderer. Note the caterpillar above, it is not a wanderer.

The red-bodied swallowtail, another large butterfly of the Wet Tropics. The conditions of strong winds and heavy rain over the last few weeks have not made it easy for these delicately winged creatures. This butterfly above, is drinking nectar from the exotic pagoda plant's flowers, her swallow-tail looks as if a bird has taken a bite, but she may have been knocked about in the wind.

There has been great concern about the Ulysses butterflies when an unknown disease affected them, however, over the last two weeks I have seen hundreds flying about the rainforest at Coquette point. The Ulysses on the right, by the look of the condition of her wings, has had a tough time in the strong winds. The wing damage did not impede her flying,  as I watched her manoeuvre with great dexterity, around green ants drinking the nectar dripping from the flowers of an umbrella tree.

Below the common orchard swallowtail appears to have lost the sheen of his scales from the continuous rain.
It's a tough world for butterflies.

It has been great to see an increase in the numbers of North Queensland day moths over the last few weeks. During heavy rain they manage to hang from the underside of the large rainforest leaves and emerge, between downpours, with their wonderful metallic wings in perfect condition.

The 4 O'clock moth also shelters on the underside of leaves on hot days and in rain. Good numbers are flying about in the late afternoon,  so it appears the caterpillars which hatched a couple of months ago have successfully completed their life cycle.

Today the Pied Imperial pigeons were congregating in trees around Coquette Point. 50 PIPs flew out of this tree and headed out to sea this afternoon, I could not tell if they went north or south, but it is time for them to head north.

The Pied Imperial pigeons all look in prime condition for their migration journey.


Rememberer tonight is Earth Hour, so turn your lights and all your electrical appliances off for one hour and listen to the noise outside.

Listen to the sounds of the rainforest and you will hear the double drummer cicada singing a long monotonous high pitched resonating sound.

The female green jumping spider had her hypnotic, hungry eyes on a cicada as he rested on the sheath of a palm frond. I thought he was a goner when suddenly another cicada landed close to green jumping spider, she immediately changed direction and was about to attack the new cicada,  with her spell broken both cicadas flew off.

Tomorrow the main street of Innisfail will be closed off for the annual Feast of the Senses Market Day. Be there.

Permaculture Cairns will be holding their Expo on Sunday 1st May at the ARC Community Hub. Guess who will be a guest speaker?

It is the tenth anniversary of cyclone Larry. I hadn't looked at the photos for years, if you don't want a remainder don't look, the photos show some of the damage caused by cyclone Larry on the nursery and the rainforest at Coquette Point.

Cheers for this week,

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