Saturday, 11 January 2014

Hello from Coquette Point,

We woke this morning to gentle, soaking rain: so wonderful. During the last few days widespread rain has fallen over most of Queensland which has brought some relief to farmers and the wild native animals of the open plains and forests. Last week there were reports of farmers shooting livestock and thousands of flying foxes falling out of the sky, dead from heat stress. Now temperatures, for a short time, are back to average and many of the rivers of western Queensland are flowing again.

Earth is trying to cope with a new climate paradigm and we are at its mercy. We have destabilised the climate systems of our planet and now extreme weather events are the norm.

Not one month old and 2014 has already seen drought, fires and record breaking temperatures in Australia. Arctic storms reaching all the way down to New Orleans in the United States and floods in England. Today cyclone Ian, a category 5 system, is sweeping through the Islands of Tonga, the first ever category 5 system to hit the Tongan Islands in recorded history: yet another extreme weather event.  The hydrological cycle has changed and Earth's climate system has passed the point of no return. The Insurance companies know this and in most cases insurance premiums have increased by 300%.

Cassowary Jessie is feeling the heat and even in the shade of the trees she is unable to cool down.

Snout and his chick have been visiting the pond behind the  nursery two or three times a day. Today with the rain and cool change they did not arrive.

     The chick preens his feathers copying his Dad.

When the chick had enough bathing it started to cry and then it got out of the water. Snout soon followed.

  Snout followed the chick and they stood in the sun to dry. As I was watching Snout passed a scat and the chick was lucky to be out of range.

Snout took the chick to the Damson Plum tree.

As Snout was eating the plums the chick went behind the gate and got caught in the wire. Snout came running in response to the chick's cries.

Then Snout took the chick to a pond-apple tree where ripe fruits were falling. After his gate ordeal the chick sat and watched his Dad eat while he played with some old branches.

With the matriarch, cassowary Jessie visiting the Damson Plum tree every day it was only a matter of time before she would cross paths with Snout and the chick, it happened on Tuesday

I was in great fear of what might happen to the chick and also anxious to be in a safe place myself - so I stayed concealed behind a large tree trunk.
Jessie's first action was to look away, then she lowered her head.

The chick came closer but Jessie did not move.

Then Jesssie sat down watching Snout.

Snout became agitated and starting to vigoursely pick at his neck feathers. The chick sensing something was wrong started to cry.

Snout moved away with the chick and Jessie remained sitting under the tree for sometime.

It is not the same story with the cassowaries at the top of the Moresby Range.

Sadly it appears that cassowary Hero has lost his chick. Bill Farnsworth took this photo three weeks ago and it is perhaps the last photo of the chick.  Over the last two weeks Hero has been seen walking alone, without any sign of the chick.

Bill told me that matriarch cassowary Peggy was behaving aggressively towards Hero and he had seen her chasing Hero on a couple of occasions. During these times the chick had been separated from his Dad for several hours. Cassowary chicks call out loudly when they are alone and dogs, snakes, eagles or goannas could have been attracted to the call and killed the chick.

I have not seen Peggy for some months but below is a photo I took of her last year.  Peggie's cracked casque makes her easily identifiable. She is very timid and I have never seen her courting. She roams from the Ninds Creek bridge all the way down to the estuary.

This week the cassowary scats still consist mostly of Damson plum but also some with pond-apple and pandanus .

I photographed yet more jumping spiders this week. This golden beauty had bands of gold around his body and dark, protruding, black eyes.

This jumping spider was coloured gold and red with flat, deep-red eyes.

This black legged jumping spider has a purple crown and some purple on its body and white whiskers.

I saw this blue-green jumping spider and soon afterwards I found another one which closely resembled it, possibly male and female.

 The strange thing is that when I first saw the second green jumping spider it's body was emerald green. However, while I was photographing it jumped onto my clothing and I could not find it. Sometime later when I was in the shed I saw it crawling on my shirt and its colour had changed. The green pigments could still be seen but they had faded and it was camouflaged to the colour of my clothing.

Five different jumping spiders this week, four of which I had not photographed before, not bad.  I had photographed the green jumping spider before but not its camouflage behaviour.

The butcher bird's chick is still being fed by its parents. I often hear it calling for food early in the morning. Both parents, or at least I assume it is the male, feed the chick. The chick is still rather clumsy, although it could be the heat.

Kookaburra is also feeling the heat and I only see him hunting early morning or late in the afternoon. He has not been calling this week, perhaps saving his energy in the heat.

Even the grasshoppers are heat stressed and do not jump away when you try to pick them off precious plants.

The Alexandrae palms, Archontophoenix alexandrae are in fruit and the pied imperial pigeons and the shinning starlings are taking full advantage of the sweet seeds.

Lots of juvenile shining starlings have fledged this week and it took them some time to work out that the berries were food.

The fledglings soon joined in the feast as the adult birds jostled to select the sweetest fruit.

When the feasting was done the birds rested on a nearby branch where they excreted the seeds in a shower along with a coating of black sticky tar.

The sunbirds are courting but there was great confusion this week when I parked the car near their favourite tree. Both birds were very upset with their reflections

If you wish to understand how hot it has been this week take a look at my son Martin. Martin has never worn a hat however, this week one was on his head and not because of my nagging. Perhaps he's just getting old and sensible, he told me he turns Radio National on in the car these days when he's driving! Wonders will never cease.

Stay cool where you are.

Cheers for now,

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