Thursday, 6 September 2012

18 August, 2012.

Hello from Coquette Point,

At long last we have photos of Coquette Point's new baby cassowaries, the first born since cyclone 'Yasi'. Diana O took the photos when 'Little Dad' arrived with his chicks to feed on Quadong fruit from a tree at the bottom of her garden. As far as I know 'Little Dad' has not crossed the road with the chicks and remains on the eastern or ocean side of the road. Diana said 'Little Dad' was very protective of his chicks and raised his feathers in warning as ,she took the photos.

Diana said their little heads were coloured honey-
chestnut; almost red. Below is a photo of
'Little Dad' in courtship with matriarch
'Jessie' in April. After the courtship both birds
disappeared presumably for 'Jessie' to lay eggs and
'Little Dad' to start the 60 day incubation. 

Meanwhile the young adult birds, Rosie, (see below) Don and the older Dot visit the fig tree twice a day to eat the fruit which has fallen on the ground. Dot often takes a short cut through the nursery to drink from an old bath.(see below)
Neither 'Jessie' nor her second mate 'Snout' have been seen for over a month. Hopefully 'Snout' will soon turn up with chicks.
The pigs have disappeared since the nights turned cold however, every day one of the cassowaries tries, unsuccessfully, to enter the pig cage to eat the food inside. They squeeze into the V opening but cannot push to open the door. They then back out unharmed and leave. Pigs however, instinctively push and are able to open the door and enter the cage. This push-open door design appears to be safe for cassowaries.
Monty and Monica are enjoying the heat of the sun and as soon as it warms up, about 10am, they come out of the roof cavity to sun bake.  The sun's rays shine blue on their scales. Monica took some interest in the camera.
With the abundance of fruit on the fig tree the 'northern fig-birds' have arrived to feast. Their cherry chatter can be heard all day long as they eat their fill.
Male fig birds.
female fig bird singing in praise of the fruit.
The wallaby babies have grown over winter and this Agile has left its mother's pouch but still stays close to Mum..  These Agile wallabies are so red I thought they were Pademelons at first but Russell soon corrected me. I really should know as I have nursed many Pademelons over the years.
I saw Drongo swoop up a millipede from the lawn and carry it into the fig tree. He had great difficulty in killing it and when he eventually swallowed the millipede he sat for some time looking a little uncomfortable.
A big gulp and millipede goes down.
I was delighted to see this week that Black Bitten has a mate. When I disturbed them they vocalised nosily and flew into the trees around the pond. If I am very quiet I can sneak up and watch and photograph them.
Life around the pond is very busy with Buff-banded rails scratching around in the damp soil at the pond's edge. Three Ibis arrived this week and in turn they systematically sweep the pond's mud for tasty fish.
The Johnstone River has been sparkling all week and fish-boils erupt continuously. Every morning you can find Osprey siting high in a coconut tree and a the first sign of movement in the river he quickly swoops down to capture breakfast.
White-faced heron and greater egret have no problem in finding a feed in the glass-clear water on the banks of the Johnstone River..
Russel and Bill came over this week and cleaned up the rubbish on the beach. I had not done a clean-up for two weeks and it is disappointing to realise how careless some fisherman are with their property. The sad fact is that many sea-birds, turtles, crabs and dugong lose their lives to this carelessness.
Russell was interested in seeing what the cassowaries were eating and made a list of a dozen or so fruits in the scats this week, including pandanus, quadong, fig and palm fruits.
When ripe pandanus fruit fall it is always a sign to me that the cassowaries are sitting on eggs. However, Nellie E. advised me that the Mandubarra land and sea people always recognise the ripening of the pandanus fruit as a sign that turtles were laying their eggs.
Shining, golden yellow, the large clusters of flowers of the Golden Bouquet Tree, Deplanchea tetraphylla are opening in the rain forest and spilling their black, molasses nectar. Tiny native bees swarm around the flowers to feast.
Sulphur-crested cockatoos have enjoyed a feast of fruit of late and their gleaming feathers shine in the setting sun as they nosily fly from the Moresby Range National Park across the river to Mt Annie National Park every afternoon.
Sunbirds are busy building new nests and renovating old ones. I counted four new nests around the nursery.
Residents of Coquette Point are convening a meeting next week to discuss the RV Park for Coquette Point.  If you are concerned about the impact the increased traffic will have on the wildlife at Coquette Point, especially the Cassowaries, then please write a letter to the Innisfail Advocate expressing your concerns. Meanwhile we await the decision of  EPBC Referrals and hope that they will decide that this development needs closer scrutiny.
cheers for now,
Yvonne Cunningham

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