Saturday, 21 June 2014

Happy Winter Solstice,

Isn't it great in far north Queensland our shadows have at last returned and just in time to help us celebrate the Winter Solstice.  It has been three months since I last saw my shadow and I can tell you it is wonderful to have it with me again as I walk around in the sun outside. Now that the Winter Solstice is here, it seems, from the weather bureau's prediction, I should see my shadow for a few minutes longer, walking out in front of me every day, or at least for the next week or so.

Soaking in every minute of the winter sunshine this red lace-wing butterfly turned in circles as she pulsated her wings whilst  drinking the sweet nectar from the camellia flower.

The cassowary population is very visible at the moment with regular sighting from all over the Cassowary Coast. Young cassowaries are trying to expand their home range and territorial battles have been an almost daily occurrence. I hear lots of threatening drumming followed by the sound of bush - crashing -  as Snout chases Jessie or any other cassowary which dares to wander into her territory.

I have identified the cassowary in the photos Taggs sent me last week. I believe it is Q. The last time I saw Q was December 2013, see left, and my how she has grown. The photo on the left is of her from the blog 20 December 2013. She is one of two chicks reared by Hagar from the 2010 breeding season. In the photo that Taggs sent last week, Q had an encounter with her father Hagar and his new chick Rainbow.

Liz Gallie sent me an email saying she thought the unknown cassowary was a female and not a male as I had written. Liz had seen females lowering their tail feathers and giving the appearance of a male from behind. Liz you were right.  Q has been walking about in the mangroves and on the beach this week and I managed to photograph her side profile which indicates that she is indeed a young female. As such I think we can call her Queenie.

Queenie turned to look at me, put her head to one side as if to say, 'hello I haven't seen you for awhile.'

It appears she is determined to occupy Jessie's home range. I do not know if Jessie is her mother as I did not observe Hagar's courtship.

Cassowary Jessie walking through the nursery.
I have seen Jessie every few days this week as she tracks from the rainforest down to the mangroves. She is generally on the move and doesn't hang about. This week she walked through the nursery and up to Plastic Cass, took a quick look and walked on.

I missed getting a photo of Jessie looking at Plastic Cass but the next day Snout and Ky came to pay her tribute.

When Snout moved on Ky stayed for a few minutes looking at Plastic Cass and I thought I heard him say 'are you my mummy?'

 I found Snout and Ky having a midday nap near the sediment pond this week, they were sound asleep.

Allision from Flying Fish Point confirmed that cassowary Kev has indeed lost one of his chicks. Allison's children have named the remaining chick Pippie. Kev and Pippie have been wandering onto Allision's property to eat the palm seeds falling from their numerous palm trees. Kev's home range includes the Mount Annie National Park.

Fred from Mourilyan told me that two of the three chicks belonging to the  Mourilyan Harbour cassowary have been killed by vehicles. Fred said he saw the bodies of the chicks in the grass beside the road. It is unfortunate that such a busy road in such an important cassowary connecting  habitat does not have reduced speed regulations and signs in the areas where the cassowaries frequently cross. It is vitally important for the genetic diversity of these endangered birds that they are able to expand their range into areas of non related family groups.

The brown cuckoo doves are still eating the fruits of the bleeding heart tree, Homalanthus novoquineensis. It is astonishing that I cannot find one fruit of this tree on the ground underneath the tree. The brown cuckoo doves pluck the fruit with such precision that no fruit escapes their hungry beaks until their crop swells full of fruits.

The brown cuckoo doves uses its long tail to balance and manoeuvre among the branches.

When the brown cuckoo doves had eaten their fill I watched them rest and preen on an old log in the fading sunlight.

Once again this week the cattle from the Brahman Stud escaped and wandered onto the Coquette Point Road. I rang the Council and within half an hour someone turned up to put them back. It is only a matter of time before there is an accident as these cattle spook very quickly when a car approaches. Or so I have found out. A bit of fence-mending is urgently needed.

Someone has cut a two metre swathe through the mangroves down to the river. They have also cut a track in the sand dunes to enable them to bring a vehicle down to the river. This illegal removal of mangroves has occurred in the World Heritage Area.  I have been told that the same people were illegally netting in the river on Monday. I reported the incident to Fisheries and an inspector visited the area and surveyed the damage. They will be on the lookout for the offenders.

The Green Sea Turtle Cindy-lou housed in the Mandaburra Turtle Rehabilitation Centre is eating well. Today she ate nine squid and several leaves of Cos lettuce.

Picture left to right, Henry Epong, Ted Bundy, Dr Isabel Beasley, Nellie Epong and PhD student Jessica as they inspected Cindy-lou.  Cindy-lou moved to the side of the tank where the sun shone through onto her head.

A reminder to book for the amazing Rainforest and Reef Conference at Ninney Rise.

How often we hear about Conferences in the capital cities with inspiring speakers and we think if only we had the opportunity to be in the audience. Now we have that opportunity.

The conference host will be Gregg Borschmann, well known Radio National Environment Reporter.

Book for day one of the conference 3July which includes morning tea, lunch and a guided tour.

Hear Aboriginal elders, Whitney Rassip and Leonard Andy with Dr Michael Davis of University of Sydeny.

Hear Dr Aila Keto AO, Mike Berwick, Max Chappell, Mary Ritchie and Maurice Franklin.

Hear Dr Charlie Veron, coral scientist, Lain McCalman, author and historian with Adam Smith of GBRMPA.

Day two

Hear panel discussions on Reef and rainforest art;  Hearts and minds: John Busst and others,
Reef and rainforest tourism;  Discovering the underwater world-cultural impacts; The future of Ninney Rise; and following afternoon tea the Girringun Dance Troupe will perform the Cassowary Dance.

Be part of the audience and contribute to the conference. The conference will be recorded for Radio National programming.

Registration information is available by contacting  or information on the conference from

I hope we see lots of Bartle-blue this week with a little more sunshine than that pictured in this early morning shot overlooking the Johnstone River Valley.


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