Saturday 28 February 2015

Hello from Coquette Point,

Ex TC Marcia has returned to her place of birth and a worrying broad area of low pressure extends along Queensland's northern coastline, with barely a wisp of breeze to rattle a leaf. The day-time temperatures are again around 36 degrees dropping to 25 at night.

To cool off subadult cassowary Ky, every day this week, has been sitting in the pond for hours on end.  There is a ready supply of food close by and he can venture off to eat within 50 metres of the pond then go back in the water to cool down.                                                                                            

 Subadult cassowary Ky sits absolutely still in the water through-out the heat of the day. The only movement to gain his attention is the plop of palm seeds falling.                                                                                                    

  Ky occasionally ducks his head under the water.

He ventures out to feed on palm seeds before going back to the water, Ky should have been called 'Ducky'.

Every week there are changes on Ky's growing casque and wattles. His colours are developing strongly and only pin-feathers remain on his neck.


Meanwhile, Snout and Jessie turned up on Tuesday still courting. I was driving in the back entrance when in front of me, beside the road, I saw Jessie sitting with Snout beside her. I did not want to drive past them so I stopped the car, ran down to the nursery, loaded up with mosquito repellent and around and back up the road in front of them. With the sun now behind me it was easier to photograph.

It took around five minutes for me to run down, around and back and by then Jessie was standing up and grooming.

Jessie had a good shake. Then Snout turned to her as if to say," Ready now girl, let's go".

They reached the car and Snout stopped. Jessie took one hard look and walked out leading in front of the stationary car.

Snout crossed the road behind Jessie then they both stopped, looking at the car to make sure it was safe to proceed.

Jessie led Snout up the hill, while Snout kept glancing backwards.

Jessie stopped to pick at something in the gutter and Snout overtook her. She followed him into the rainforest.

There was a gentleness and mutual respect in the manner in which these two cassowaries communicated with each other.

                                I briefly saw them together again on Thursday and Friday.

Three Pied Imperial Pigeons have been resting in  the trees late in the afternoon, most days this week. They have been cooing a lot and appear to be bonding for their forthcoming migratory journey to Papua.                                                                                                                                                

   Osprey has been engaged in fishing forays flying on the thermals over the Coquette Point estuary. I found him resting on his look-out tree.

The outstanding birds for me this week are the metallic starlings. They have been flying in large energetic flocks, descending on food trees like the Alexandra palm, Archontophoenix alexandrae, consuming virtually every fruit before flying off to rest in nearby trees, where they have been engaging in pair bonding behaviour. It is intriguing to watch the antics between these birds. Below the smaller female bird is on the left and doing all the talking while the slightly larger male on the right failed to impress her with his display.

Early this week I saw two  little flycatchers high up in a fig tree. They were black and at first I thought it was Jitta, willy-wag-tail, but the erect semi-crest showed it was clearly a flycatcher. They were too black to be leadens and I believe they were male satin flycatchers. They were only here for a day and I have not seen them since.

I found this tiny juvenile white throated gerygone in the mangroves. He had caught what looks like a teredo worm and was twirling and banging it on the tree branch.

Unfortunately he moved deeper into the mangroves with his catch and I lost him.

Agape chloropyga

Xanthodes transversa
The moths of the rainforest are often brightly coloured and of great beauty. These three little moths show some the great diversity of colours of these sometimes troublesome creatures.

Be astonished and take a look at Buck
Richardson's Mothology website,

The camouflage of the spiny leaf insect is so good it often goes unseen as it looks like  a bit of dried up leaf.

These insects mate at night in late summer.   In the afternoon the winged male moves about sniffing the air for female pheromones.

Females lay 100 to 1000 eggs dropping them to the ground singly, where they resemble seeds. The eggs of some species can take several years to hatch.


Agile wallaby Charlie has been joined by a female and her large joey. They are doing their best to trim my lawn but with the heat and occasional rain showers they are hard pressed to keep it down.                                                                                       

The Johnstone River Community Garden has organised a 'Clean Up Australia Day Picnic'  tomorrow, starting at 9am. Join them for a fun day with people who care for the community.

Cheers for this week,

Saturday 21 February 2015

Hello from Coquette Point,

While south-east Queensland experienced extreme weather this week,  in the North we had the calm behind the storm.
Flying Fish Point at the mouth of the Johnstone River seemed to sit "As ideal as a painted ship. Upon a pained ocean."
As the Ancient Mariner went on to say, " Water, water, every where,. Nor any drop to drink." And so it was this week and although the King tides entered the streets of Cairns and other low lying areas along the northern coastline, it could have been a lot worse for us.  In fact the tides did not reach their projected height as Tropical Cyclone Marcia drew up water ahead of its centre and left us behind and becalmed. We were lucky, this time, but not so lucky for the people of south-east Queensland who are facing huge repairs and clean-up to private and public buildings as well as infrastructure. Our hearts go out to them as we know, only too well, how they are feeling.

The King tides reached up to and sometimes over the high banks of the Johnstone River and along its tidal tributaries.  Rubbish and debris caught up in the water floated in long rafts collected in the river's currents and were swept out into the Coral Sea Lagoon.

At low tide many of the objects in the   'rubbish rafts' were deposited on the mud and sand flats at the mouth of the river.


Above: Logs and rubbish washed up against the dunes.

Right: Sand Plover stands amongst the river's debris: glass, electrical cable and plastic, at low tide on the mud flats.

The King tide did not wash over the rookery at Coquette Point and the sign still sits firmly in its place. Behind the sand-spit however, there has been considerable erosion. Crocodile Creek emptied the swollen Coquette Point Wetlands with a huge force which  scarped out the sand bank by several metres.

On the Ocean front the King tide over-topped the dunes in several places and also caused another line of trees to fall. This occurred in the strong to gale force winds experienced on Sunday and Monday  before the tide reached its maximum in calm conditions on Thursday. If tides regularly overtop the dune protecting the wetlands the salinity of the wetland lagoons will be altered possibly causing greater vegetation loss.

Mangrove dieback continues to affect the few remaining trees of the Coquette Point Ocean frontage and soon the once healthy mangrove forest which once protected the coastline on the seaward side of Coquette Point will be completely gone.

Dieback of mangrove forest in many parts of the world are believed to be caused from the run-off of residual herbicides used in agriculture.

Cerino the pelican has returned to Coquette Point from his travels in the inland rivers and lakes. He performed a little dance for me to show his excitement.  Cerino is my bird of the week.

No one is happier than fisherman Ross to have his companion back.

Cerino the pelican indicates to Ross where to throw his line and then the pelican will stand and watch the line until it runs.

If the fishing rod bends or the line runs Cerino will chase Ross to the line to see what has been caught. A wonderful relationship between man and bird.


Two bar-tailed goodwits continue to fish on the sand-flats at the mouth of the Johnstone River, soon they will be leaving for their migratory journey to Siberia.

Out on the sandbars the soldier crabs have emerged in their thousands, running in great waves of blue across the sand.

The solider crabs pop out of the sand spontaneously and will disappear back under the sand just as quickly.

The sand plovers were in their element eating the crabs as quickly as they could swallow.

  There was some competiton from beach stone curlew for the suddenly abundant food supply.                                                            

Common sandpiper had his own technique for tenderising the tasty crabs.

Sometimes, by the expression on common sandpipers face, the crab was tricky to swallow.

Grey-tailed  tattler was more interested in finding what was swimming in on the tide and left the crabs to run free, for the time being.

Meanwhile back in the rainforest, I went for a walk to see the state of my track after the strong winds early this week. Fortunately only a few branches down and no trees to clear away. I was walking along when I met Ky, he was on his way to the guava tree, I think. Walking along as if the track was made for him.

Cassowary Ky passed me by and kept going.

 The next morning I saw Ky near the pond he was shaking himself in a maniacal frenzy, maybe to remove parasites.

No sightings of the courting couple, Jessie and Snout this week. Perhaps they have ventured deep into the Moresby Range National Park where Jessie may lay her eggs and Snout will start sitting the long incubation......then Jessie will find another boyfriend!!
Go girl.
Across the river at Flying Fish Point cassowary Kevin and his three chicks have been feasting on the mangos from Alison's tree.

Alison sees Kevin about once a week, however, she has not seen Pippi nor the twin subadults for some time.

Thank you Alison for the lovely photos the chicks do indeed look spritely overtaking and walking out in front of dad.

Cassowary Kevin often crosses the Flying Fish Point Road, near the Coconuts, with his chicks, so if you are driving in this area please drive slowly and keep a look out for them.

I don't remember when I have ever seen so many blossoms on the umbrella trees, Schefflera actinophylla. The bright red flower spikes sometimes extend above the rainforest canopy, generally when the tree has grown as an epiphyte from a rainforest giant, in other places their flowers reach out over streams and clearings searching for the sun.

Dusky honeyeater enjoys the sweet nectar of the red blossoms.

 Mistletoe, Dendrophthoe falcata, is in flower amongst the rainforest canopy.  This epiphyte is a parasite as it takes its nutrient from its host tree.

Wasps and other insects pollinate the flowers and soft berries which follow and are eaten mainly by the mistletoe bird which expels the seed onto the branches of another tree, where it grows much to the host's detriment.

The tasty fruits of the fishtail wait-a-while palm, calamus caryotoides, are ripe and starting to fall.  These amazing fruits are clothed in numerous slightly overlapping shield-like scales arranged in a regular pattern. They are easy to peel and the soft astringent pulp has a good mouth feel and is thirst quenching. These fruits are good to find on a long rainforest walk on a hot summer's day.  The fruits are enjoyed by cassowaries and pigeons.

The fishtail calamus is every bit as spiny as its 'Hairy Mary' cousins.

                 The bright colours of the rainforest are not only found in the canopy, on the damp rainforest floor colourful fungi are poking their fertile tops above ground.  This very bright yellow fungi on the left matured with a delicate white lace petticoats on the following day.

I had a visit from a couple of Innisfail's newest residents this week, Nathan and Elizabeth Taylor.
 Nathan found two brown tree snakes in a town house, also known as Doll's Eye snakes or Night Tigers. These snakes are rear fanged but mildly venomous and they are considered harmless. However, they will rear up if surprised which is alarming to many people.

Nathan was looking for a place to release the snakes and thought my orchard was suitable. The little brown beauties scrambled away as soon as they were placed on the ground. Its great to have new residents who have an understanding and love of the creatures of the rainforest. Welcome to Innisfail Nathan and Elizabeth.

Date claimer for Friends of Ninney Rise, Friday, March 27 at Bingil Bay, join us for a great night out.

cheers for this week,