Saturday 19 April 2014

Hello from Coquette Point,

In the wake of cyclone Ita the weather has settled down at last; an occasional shower but mostly fine, with a touch of cool air to tell us winter approaches. Cyclone Ita left an impact along most of the East Coast of Queensland from Princess Charlotte Bay to Rockhampton and now New Zealand is experiencing its wrath.

The old sailor's adage 'Red sky at night, sailor's delight' was displayed for all our delight as the cyclone passed to our south and a high pressure system moved in from the West.

All the colours of the rainbow were displayed in Ita's signature sunset.

However, the next morning the Johnstone River was swollen with brown murky water and the Bellenden Ker Range was etched purple-blue against the sky.

For some time Ruth Lipscomb has been searching for a description of the colour of this mountain range  and after some discussion this morning I think she has settle on 'Bartle-blue'. Mount Bartle Frere the highest mountain in Queensland, 1,622 metres is the main feature of the Bellenden Ker Range. If you can come up with something better please let Ruth know.

On a clear day the Bellenden Ker Range takes on a deep blue colour framing the Johnstone River Valley. The temperature and the weather changes the shades of blue colour, and all the while this mountain and its colour-changes dominate the Johnstone River Valley skyline.

On the beach the murky water of the Johnston River lapped the shore slowly, thick and heavy, as it was carrying a load of sediment containing the best topsoils from farmland in the Johnstone Catchment along with all the pesticides used on the farms.

The next afternoon, Monday, the river was still brown and I saw a large mudskipper swimming toward the beach.

When the mud skipper climbed out of the water I noticed what appeared to be a large growth around its face. I tried to get closer but it disappeared under the rock. I am still looking for this mudskipper or any others showing deformities.

From the top of the Moresby Range the extent of the Johnston River's muddy plume could be clearly seen.

As Cyclone Ita approached Greater Frigate-birds flew onto the coast; there were reports of a large flock circling over Flying Fish Point before the cyclone.  However, I did not see them until they departed when one bird flew comparatively low over the nursery flying in a wide circle before it caught a thermal that lifted it high in the sky where it joined its flock, which we could just see offshore; we watched them disappear out to sea.

Many birds are killed in cyclones and even if they find a protected spot they are weakened as they cannot feed while the storm lasts.

Much controversy has aired on the media today following the Attorney General Senator Brandis' comments on climate change. It was reported that the Senator stated " It was deplorable that one side has the orthodoxy on its side and delegitimises the views of those who disagree, rather than engaging with them intellectually and showing them why they are wrong".  It appears Senator Brandis does not understand that the one side he is referring to is the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), established in 1988 and this body bases its assessments on the published literature, which includes peer-reviewed sources. Thousands of scientists and other experts contribute (on a voluntary basis, without payment from the IPCC.  Senator Brandis I don't go to the butcher to engage intellectually or to find out what is wrong with my health and when I want to know whats wrong with the weather's health I refer to the Australian Bureau of Meteorology or the National Aeronautics and Space Administration or listen to the findings of the scientists contributing to the IPCC, and I hope your would as well.

Senator Brandis was in Ingham on Wednesday with the Member for Kennedy, Bob Katter MP and they inspected the flooding and damage caused by Cyclone Ita in Ingham. Most of Ingham's CBD was covered in one metre of flood water. A big hello to Bec from Ingham Garden Centre and her husband who owns the nearby fish shop, they had over a metre of flood water through their shops, we are thinking of you Bec.

In eight years we have experienced three category five cyclones off the coast of Queensland, severe drought through western Queensland, extreme flooding in south-east Queensland, bush fires in Spring; what weather events need to happen before our politicians take action on climate change.

California is experiencing the most severe drought emergency in history. This drought has been linked, by scientists to global warming.

This week a vast swathe of Arctic sea ice has shattered in the Barents Sea, as a powerful, heat-laden Arctic cyclone screamed up out of a rapidly warming extreme North Atlantic.

Siberia, a land once locked in ice, has been experiencing summer like temperatures during late March and early April. The result 19,000 hectares of once frozen perma-frost peat has erupted into wildfires.

The latest sea surface temperature anomaly in the Pacific has shown steady warming since February. An El Nino event is likely to develop and climate model forecasts indicate this. El Nino is often associated with drought over large parts of Australia. Who can predict what the natural Earth systems will do in a warming world?

Meanwhile, Acmena hemilampra, the blush satin ash has started to fruit, but not a good fruit set on the trees this year. This is an important fruiting tree for cassowaries and pigeons.

The paper bark tree Melaleuca leucadendra was in flower again in the swamps of Coquette Point. The pungent sweet nectar filling the air by day and at night hungry flying foxes drank deeply of the flower's nectar when they weren't feasting on the ripe quava.

The fruits of the native nutmeg Metrosideros queenslandica are starting to fall. These fruits are the favourites of the Pied Imperial Pigeon however, these birds appear to have all left for their northern migration. I have not seen nor heard a PIP for five days. If you have please record it on the comments below.

Small flocks of Metallic starlings are feeding on a fresh fruiting of Alexandra palms, Archontophoenix alexandrae. The starlings are so playful and a delight to watch.

The varied triller's distinctive trill-call can be heard in the melaleuca canopy as the birds feast on the last of the summer insects. The female, right, breast is lightly barred on her underparts.

The beautiful patterned feathers of this pheasant coucal were on display as it tried unsuccessfully to conceal itself in this callistemon shrub.

More often seen skulking on the ground than flying, its wings not adequate for the bulk of its body to achieve any serious flight.

 I hadn't seen the matriarch cassowary Jessie for over a month and was surprised to catch a glimpse of her striding in a great hurry. I grabbed the camera and arrived just in time to watch her knock a pawpaw off the tree and make a meal of it. It was a young tree and its first fruit, obviously she had been watching it; between the flying foxes and the cassowaries I am lucky to pick a pawpaw for myself.

Little Ky is growing by the day and he is now developing very strong legs, brown feathers have grown over his stripes but he still keeps very close to Snout. I see them every day as they feed on the fruiting trees at Coquette Point, wild quavas, Leichardt tree fruits, palm seed and now the blush satin ash fruits.

We had a get together on Thursday and when Snout and Ky turned up there was a rush to put the fruit bowl inside. You can see them in the distance under the guava tree.

It was with great pleasure that I attended the opening of the Mamu Health Centre Meditation Garden on Wednesday.

The garden was built by a young team lead by Harry Tanwoy as Horticultural Trainer, it was project based training for the students and they achieved certification 2 awards. The training co-ordinator, Louise Orbons, pictured, said the students learn by doing not sitting.

Students at Radiant Life College painted the mural on the walls surrounding the garden.

I was very chuffed when I was invited to place my handprint on the wall surrounding the garden.

Congratulations to all the students involved in turning this disused area into a beautiful relaxing space and I wish all the students, who worked so hard to achieve this makeover, success in their future.

Cheers for this week,



  1. Glad you are safe and sound after Ita! I remember all the injured seabirds down here in Brisbane after Oswald blew through last year and can't imagine the havoc those storms must cause on the islands up north.

    Brandis's comments were both infuriating and enlightening - it really does go to show the agenda at work by denialists. There isn't a debate about climate change anymore than there is one about evolution, or the effects of smoking, or vaccines. The vast majority (97%) of scientists agree it is happening and is caused by man, yet the media wants to portray it as a 50/50 confused split, where we are supposed to weigh equally the opinions of qualified scientists against businessmen with links to polluting industries.

    I could rant about this for much longer, but I'll calm myself down and say that your Varied Triller and flying Coucal photos are both lovely captures!

    1. Hello Christian,
      No doubt you felt as cynical as I when Minister Hunt released the Climate Change White Paper yesterday afternoon.

      With no penalties for rises in emissions there will be no reduction in carbon pollution.