Saturday 19 July 2014

Hello from Coquette Point,
Two hundred years ago on the 19 July 1814 Matthew Flinders died. This was the man who declared "I call the whole island Australia" 2 August 1804.  It was Matthew Flinders who gave our country Australia its name.  Flinders died before he could see the publication of his book, 'A Voyage to Terra Australis with Atlas in Two Volumes', he was just 40 years old.

Flinders health suffered when as a midshipman he crewed on ships, over long voyages, without sufficient fresh water and this affected his kidneys. Although Flinders was a brilliant navigator he did not share James Cook's understanding for the prevention of scurvy at sea. As a result, Flinders and his crew repeatedly suffered the debilitating effects of scurvy. This ultimately destroyed his health.

In his short life this brilliant navigator and hydrographer dramatically advance navigation at sea. It was Flinders who invented the use of iron bars to be used to compensate for magnetic deviations. Magnetic deviation is caused when iron from onboard the ship causes errors to the compass heading. The iron bars are known as 'Flinders bars'.

The hydrographic charts drawn by Matthew Flinders were in use up to  World War 2. Even today, the charts for the offshore waters around Australia still refer to Matthew Flinders. 'He was undoubtedly the most masterly cartographer who has ever adorned the British naval Service'.

It was Flinders who first described and named 'The Great Barrier Reef' and chartered in detail the waters off the  Queensland Coast. Flinders was a humble man and never once named a landmark after himself. He was an extraordinary man who saw a wider horizon.

It is Australia's shame that the bicentennial anniversary of this great man's death has passed this week with little to no attention by the various parliaments and politicians of Australia.

To commemorate the 200th anniversary of Matthew Flinders death the Hydrography Commission of the Surveying and Spatial Sciences Institute with the National Library of Australia has reproduced Flinder's map of Australia.

Meanwhile back in the rainforest of Coquette Point the Cassowaries are still squabbling. I visited Ruth L at the top of the Moresby Range this week and before we had time to pour the tea I heard the cassowaries in the rainforest behind her house.

I saw cassowary Hero, with his feathers fluffed and his head bent down, he was facing the rainforest.  He opened his mouth, as if to draw air into his lungs, he displayed angrily and aggressively, emitting low frequency drumming sounds. I knew some of the notes were so low I could not hear them, but I was so close I could feel the vibrations of the sound.

Fortunately Ruth has a pole house and I was able to view the cassowary action safely  from behind the poles and comparatively out of sight.

In between drumming, Hero started pulling at his neck feathers.
I could not see why he was so upset, then I heard a cassowary chick chirping from deep inside the rainforest.

This caused                                                                
Hero to become even more agitated and the drumm- ing grew louder and louder, his neck swelled and his feathers stood on end. Hero then appeared to dance in an aggressive manner.

Hero danced while fluffing his feathers and uttering low hissing growls.

Then suddenly I caught a glimpse of another cassowary through the foliage, it was Hagar.

Cassowary Hagar emerged from the rainforest, his chest covered in what looked like spittle.

He faced up to Hero threateningly.

Hagar bent his head, opened his mouth sucked in air and started drumming loudly at Hero.

Then Hagar's chick Rainbow ran out of the rainforest chirping loudly.

The two male cassowaries faced off at each other, little Rainbow standing behind his dad. The cassowaries took turns in pulling angrily at their neck feathers.

Then Hagar backed down into the rainforest as if he had decided to retreat.

It was a bluff, Hagar ran at Hero with extoridinary speed.

Hagar jumped into the air, legs flying and kicking, and threw himself against Hero.

The cassowaries separated.  Hagar started to pace around Hero. Little Rainbow, silent during the conflict ran up to his father.

Hagar immediately directed Rainbow into the rainforest out of Hero's sight.

With Rainbow safely concealed in the rainforest Hagar returned to the fight with Hero.

Then it was all over, one look from Hagar and Hero retreated. Hagar returned to his chick Rainbow.

Cassowary behaviour during the mating season is unpredictable and it is wise not to approach cassowaries at any time of the year but especially at courting and mating time.

Ruth saw matriarch cassowary Jessie yesterday. Hero came over and nosed around Jessie. Ruth said there was no aggression between the pair. Jessie then sat down, Hero looked at her then walked away. When female cassowaries sit down in front of a male it is an invitation to court. We are all looking forward to seeing which cassowaries are the first to start courtship at Coquette Point in 2014. Will it be Jessie and Hero?

Last Sunday I was sitting down having a cup of tea with Nellie Epong and Kath Barnett. Nellie said she thought she saw a cassowary behind the trees. I ran for my camera and before I could return cassowary Queenie had approached, she was attracted by the glint in the earrings Kath was wearing. Kath was wearing earrings made by Liz Gallie artist at Mission Beach.  Kath remained absolutely still while Queenie pecked at the beautiful earrings. Queenie then turned her attention to the top of the honey jar and Nellie 'lost it' laughing at Queenie's antics, but not game to move her arms.

Kath and Nellie remained absolutely still while Queenie investigated the table.

Queenie checked out Plastic Cas but did not display agggression toward the statue.

Queenie then stood for some time looking at Plastic Cas and standing like a statue herself.

When I came home from town on Wednesday I saw a large subadult cassowary crossing the road at Ninds Creek. I had been told about this cassowary before, it is thought to be a chick from Brown Cone and Clara, born Christmas 2012. It is the first time I have seen it. The bird looked very healthy but It disappeared before I could get a close photo. The cassowary dropped a scat on the road as it crossed. As yet this young cassowary has not been given a name; any suggestions?

At anchor on top of Tully Rocks.
The reason I went to town on Wednesday was to buy some fuel for the lawn mower.  I walked around to the car and heard the sound of a chain dropping. I looked down to the river and saw a magnificent 20 metre yawl anchoring almost on top of Tully Rocks. I dropped the fuel containers, grabbed the camera and ran down to the beach. I shouted out as loudly as I could advising the skipper that he had anchored on top or within swinging distance of rocks. Eventually he heard me, he asked me where he should anchor and I pointed to the bay near Sandfly Creek. He stayed for two days but I did not see him come ashore.

Anchored safely close to the mouth of Sandfly Creek
If I had not decided to mow the lawn I would not have noticed the yacht. It was a falling tide and he most properly would have run out of water within the hour.

I suspect before anchoring the skipper took a bearing off the position of the marker buoy. The problem is, when Harbours and Marine put the buoys back, after the floods earlier in the year, they put them back in the wrong place. Certainly not in the position marked on the chart. If the Council and the Chamber of Commerce wish to encourage boats to visit Innisfail they need to lobby Harbours and Marine to improve the accuracy of the navigational aids in the Johnstone River.

A fan-tailed cuckoo arrived this week, only one bird and I haven't seen anymore.

It was hunting for caterpillars on the grass and in the low branches of trees. It allowed me to approach it and was not at all shy. This is a common bird of Eucalyptus Forests but it is the first time I have seen a fan-tailed cuckoo at Coquette Point and it is not listed in Billie Gill's list of birds for Coquette Point. What a delightful little creature and I am told they are common on the Atherton Tablelands.

Cindy Lou the green sea turtle is gaining weight she is now eating up to 24 small squid in one feeding.

Henry Epong feeding Cindy-Lou
Nellie had the 'poo shift' this week and of course it all has to be examined. Cindy-Lou is passing what looks like pieces of mangrove bark.
Nellie told me when turtles are starving they will sometimes eat the bark of mangrove trees. Unfortunately they cannot digest it and the bark lodges in the intestine in a block often causing an infection and 'floaters disease'.

Cindy-Lou was rescued just in time.

My daughter Justine her husband Thierry and my granddaughter Julia have returned to California. Before they left we visited Nandroya Falls in Wooroonooran National Park. At this time of the year the Park is magnificent. The walking tracks were all upgraded after Cyclone Larry and the rainforest has recovered remarkably.
Buttress roots of a spurwood tree

Multi layers of Nandroya Falls

Nandroya Falls 50m drop.
The walking track is of a high standard and well maintained.

King Fern beside track

Silver Falls

As we walked along the track several Rufous Fantails danced ahead of us on the path and in the trees.

We watched Grey-fantails
pulling at pandanus and lose bark. They appeared to be collecting nest-building material but we could not see where they were taking it.

We heard but did no see whip-birds and heard a number of other bird calls we could not identify. It was a beautiful day and we capped it off with lunch at "Off the rails coffee house and gallery".  Julia chose lunch from the breakfast menu and said it was the 'bestest' meal she had ever eaten. See their Facebook page. We had a day full of wonder in perfect winter weather.

Cheers for this week,


1 comment:

  1. Where did you find this quote? "He was undoubtedly the most masterly cartographer who has ever adorned the British naval Service"