Saturday, 22 February 2014

Hello from the Coquette Point sauna,

The monsoon settled down over far north Queensland this week and the humidity jumped to 98%. Fortunately the midday temperature has sat in the mid thirties, although, it feels hotter. Rain falls every night and the rainforest and the mosquitoes are growing; of course it's the Wet Tropics!
Monsoon rains have reached the drought stricken western Queensland river catchments and overnight dry river beds are full and overflowing onto the parched land.

Charlene has returned and she has been sun baking on a new sand-bar that has formed off the beach since the flood. Perhaps she was flushed out of the mangrove lagoons and is spending some time in the big river again.  She is very timid and as soon as she saw me she slipped into the water. Still under two and half metres she is safe for the time being from conversion to a hand-bag!

A large amount of detritus has been washed out from the rainforest floor during the heavy flood-rains and it is now piled up around the Johnstone River estuary. Soon micro-organisms will break this detritus down and grazers like worms and urchins and detritus feeders like crabs will sift through this nutrient soup and then it will all disappear. This is the secret to the food-chain that supports the resident and visiting shore birds of Coquette Point.

I watched the northern pair of Coquette Point's beach-stone curlews run in the shallows chasing crabs.

While out on the sand-bar whimbrels played in the surf.

As I returned from my walk I saw Cassowary Snout and his chick Ky standing on the beach like egrets fishing. I ran closer to get a photo and unfortunately startled Snout who took off into the mangroves with Ky following.
It was so amazing to see Snout teaching little Ky to fish for crabs. Cassowaries are indeed strange creatures.

It was only a matter of time before Snout brought the chick into the nursery to introduce it to 'Plastic Cas' and it happened this week.
As I watched Snout turned to Ky and appeared to speak to him. It imagined what he said was 'turn your head and don't look at 'Plastic Cas'. They both turned their heads to the side and then walked away.

At every opportunity little Ky takes a swim and has learnt how to dry himself with a good shake.

Ky is growing quickly and his white stripes are disappearing.  He is very obedient and never strays far from Snout.

Snout's chick Rosie, (from 2010), is now an adult and I saw her eating Panama berries from a tree outside a house at the top of the hill this week.

Rosie is looking very healthy and developing long wattles and an unusually patterned casque. She has short legs and from the loose skin on her feet it appears room for growth.

Rosie maintains a range that keeps her apart from her dad Snout.

                                  A new visitor arrived this week and she kept to the top of the melaleuca trees where she sang her secret, urgent song as she harvested insects in the canopy of the melaleucas.
 The Cicada bird is a very shy bird and not easy to photograph. It has an unusual call of a sharp urgent 'cheep' the male's call is a loud prolonged buzz, like  a cicada, I did not see a male cicada bird and I understand the female is often a solitary traveller.

She twitched her tail and called as she hopped from branch to branch chasing insects.

Above the Cicada bird out on the branches the Melaleuca leucandendra is starting to flower. The nectar laden flowers are a buzz with insects and no doubt much to the delight of Cicada bird.

In the mangroves the female 'blind-your-eye-tree' Excoecaria agallocha was in full flower this week, turning its green mangrove zone, golden, but only for a few days. This is a member of the Euphorbiaceae family and its milky latex is extremely poisonous. Aboriginal people used dried crushed leaves of this tree to kill fish. Excoecaria species of mangrove grow in the low saline zone of the mangrove forest.

Also flowering in the mangrove forest this week is the delightful little mangrove rambler Clerodendrum imerme. This rambler will form dense green curtains covering trees in the lower saline zones of the mangrove forest.

Early in the morning as soon as the sun shines the Pied Imperial Pigeons settle down on old tree stumps to dry out before finding a tree to breakfast in.

The poisonous berries on the white cedar, Melia axedarach have turned yellow and ripe and the pigeons are enjoying a welcome change of diet. Can you find seven PIPs feeding in the tree below?

The PIPs have also added the ripe fruits of the Umbrella Tree, Schefflera actinophylla to their diet. The bright red spokes of the umbrella's inflorescence are flowering throughout the rainforest much to the delight of the birds, animals and insects that relish the nectar of the flowers and the fruits that follow.

It has been deeply overcast until about ten each morning this week and the female Garden Orb Weaver spider has remained on her web.

I photographed the male last week so here is the female Eriophora transmarina. As she is nocturnal in order to see her you generally have to be up early. or walk around outside at night where their webs are often strung across pathways near night-lights that attract insects.

I saw another 'unknown' species of jumping spider, or at least to me, again this week.

A great number of spiders out and about at the moment, which is a good thing as one of their favourite food items is the mosquito and there are certainly plenty of them about at the moment.

The high humidity has triggered the female bird-wing butterfly into a frenzy of egg laying. Early in the morning before she or the leaves are dry from the overnight rain she is up and flying about finding the leaves of her host vine the native Dutchman's pipe, Aristolochia tagala, on which to lay her eggs.

This is a rampant vine growing vigorously over garden shrubs in summer. As soon as the bird wing's caterpillars hatch they eat the leaves and even the stalk of the vine, right back to its rhizome on some occasions; so never prune this vine as the bird wing's caterpillars will do it for you.

The Coquette Point Wet Tropics signs have again been vandalised. This time with what looks like an axe. Why?  Who are these people who do not value the natural world?  What sorry, deprived individuals they are, they must live a miserable life and I am sorry,  but I have no sympathy for them.

However, it makes one wonders that although this vandalism was reported to Police and Council there appears to be no investigation to discover the culprit!! Again why?

But nature is always there to show her magnificence and make nasty little people and their actions fade from memory.

I hope you find a rainbow this week.


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