Saturday, 27 June 2015

Hello from Coquette Point,

On Tuesday the wonderful Darling Downs Salvos invaded Coquette Point, the rain stopped and the sun came out. They wandered around the nursery and all over the property before I gave them a talk on the history of Coquette Point; a little about the survivors of the Brig Maria and the Russian Family the Dvorks, who settled on the banks of the Johnstone River at Coquette Point.  In the 1930's Mr and Mrs  Dvork built their home in the style of a Russian dacha on a hill overlooking the Johnstone River.

The rain lifted and the sun shone and the group all had an enjoyable morning, but most of all they wanted to see a cassowary. Unfortunately the cassowaries did not turn up on Tuesday and everyone was disappointed they did not meet Jessie but I have been assured I will have a heap of new blog friends who are interested in following the exploits of the Cassowaries of Coquette Point and the Moresby Range National Park.

Recently Agile Wallaby Charlie started misbehaving when he developed a fetish for some of the nursery ornamentals. I put up with it for a while, hoping with all the grass growing since the winter rain he would tire of breaking through the fence and being chased and roused at by me. However, Charlie seemed to think it was a game and every morning pots were knocked down and the contents eaten while I spoke strongly and shook my finger at him.

It took some time for me to work out how I could make a new fence to keep Charlie out and still allow the cassowaries access to their traditional corridor, from the rainforest to the mangroves, via the nursery. We put the fence up and found some old gates and now Charlie is out for good and the cassowaries have worked out how to negotiate the new gated corridor.

Ky walked straight through the nursery and out the new gate without hesitation  but Jessie was hesitant at first but eventually found her way through. The gates are closed at night when the wallabies feed. It will be interesting to see Snout's reaction when he eventually returns.

Cassowary Jesssie continues to patrol the property investigating any new sound. She is still on the hunt for Ky and twice this week I have heard loud drumming coming from the rainforest on the hill.

When Russell sat down to have lunch on Thursday Jessie appeared to investigate the voices and checked Russell out to see what he was doing.

Meanwhile Ky continues to forage on the property and I see him around and about almost every day.  He is again walking the beach and it is not uncommon to find his footprints in the sand at low tide.

Recent cassowary scats contain a lot of onion-wood fruits, Syzygium alliiligneum, quandong, Elaeocarpus grandis, blush satinash Acmena hemilampra, bandicoot berry, Leea indica and I noticed in one scat the remains of a five corner fruit from my orchard.

Also falling on the forest floor are the fruits of Cerebra floribunda, the cassowary plum left and an abundance of onion-wood Syzygium alliiligneum right.

On his way to the nursery on Friday Russell, through the pouring rain, saw cassowary Queenie  walking up beside the road on the town side of the Mau Bridge over Ninds Creek. Queenie headed for a devils fig plant, Solanum trorvum. This plant is a declared noxious weed but the cassowaries and the pigeons love it. Queenie walked from the Moresby Range National Park, across the footbridge, down the road 200metres just to eat a couple of dozen pea sized fruits from this plant.

I had received a number of reports of a cassowary walking along this part of the Coquette Point Road this week and I wondered which cassowary it was and where was it going, thanks to Russell we now know. Thank you for sharing the photos Russell.
I had not seen Queenie for some months and it is good to see her looking so big and strong, she is now five years old.

Queenie is one of two chicks from dad Hagar. They survived cyclone Yasi and thanks to the supplementary feeding program from the Department of Environment and Heritage Protection, (EHP), the two chicks, Don and Q, (Q became Queenie), flourished.

When the time came for the chicks to be separated from their Dad Hagar they stayed together at the end of Coquette Point for over a month. The chicks separated and it soon became obvious that Q was a female.

It is a tough journey for young cassowaries when they are forced to venture into the rainforest world alone. Particularly when today's world contains motor vehicles and dogs. Last night a cassowary was put down by the police when it was hit by a motor vehicle on the Tully-Mission Beach Road. The policemen in attendance to the accident saw that the injuries were so bad the only action was to shoot the cassowary to put it out of pain and misery. I do not know the fate of the driver of the car but I believe no one was seriously

Another three cassowaries were killed on the roads this week one at the intersection of Tully Heads Road and the Bruce Highway, another one on the Tully Gorge Road and one bird killed at the intersection of the Tully-Mission Beach Road at Carmoo. Four cassowaries killed in one week, which we know about.

It was also reported to Liz Gallie of Mission Beach Cassowaries that a juvenile cassowary was seen injured on a cane farm near Euramo and a sick cassowary has been seen wandering about at Wongaling Beach. The reports of the plights of these cassowaries were relayed to EHP but as yet the cassowaries have not been taken to the Garners Beach Cassowary Rehabilitation Centre.

In yet another incident three weeks ago, Dave Dall at Flying Fish Point, reported to the Cassowary Hot Line, he had seen a young cassowary about three years old badly injured and limping heavily.  Dave has rung the hot line every day for the last three weeks trying to get help for this injured cassowary.  Dave said there was a large swelling lump on the front of the cassowaries foot and it was hobbling about and obviously in great pain. Dave said there also appeared to be some damage to the upper leg of the cassowary although there was no obvious wound.

Dave is very frustrated with the response he has received from the EHP officers he has spoken to in Brisbane and Townsville. Weeks have gone by and nothing has been done. Dave told me that on Thursday this week, at last, EHP officers came to assess the cassowary but when they came back on Friday the cassowary had disappeared and it did not show up until late Friday afternoon at which time EHP officers could not attend.

Something is not right when injured cassowaries are left unattended to possibly die in horrible pain out of sight in the rainforest. This is an animal welfare issue and RSPCA should become involved. The procedural delays that have been used as an excuse to investigate these reports of injured animals reeks of Departmental incompetence.

It matters little if the injured animal is a dog, a horse or a mouse, if it is in pain we must render assistance and as soon as possible. When the animal is a threatened species there is legislative imperative which sets out guide-lines requiring EHP officers to act under the ACT.  I believe the EHP officers at the end of the Cassowary Hot Line have committed an offence under the Nature Conservation Act 1992 and I call on the Minister Steven Miles to investigate why tonight there are still three injured cassowaries, in great pain, wandering around the World Heritage Wet Tropics without any veterinarian assistance given? The EHP officers responsible need to be asked to explain.

If you are also concerned about these injured cassowaries please ring and report the injured cassowaries to the RSPCA hotline on 1300264625. The Cassowary hotline on 1300130372 and or write to the Minister, the Hon Steven Miles, Minister for EHP,  GPO Box 2454, Brisbane 4001. Or email the Environment Department,

Strong winds for most of this week have forced many of the resident shorebirds to fish in the more sheltered confines of the estuary.  It certainly makes it easy for me when the birds come to me to be photographed.
A solitary pied cormorant has been fishing off the rocks every day this week and a solitary beach stone curlew has turned up.  It could be the chick I saw last year still trying to find a territory and a mate.

      The terns are also fishing in the sheltered waters of the estuary  and I saw a large flock of gull billed terns flying up the river on Thursday morning, so they must be nesting on the front beach again, did not get a photo. However, the crested terns have been on the beach all week resting between fishing forays.

Intermediate Egret has been using the top of the old wharf as a vantage point to see fish movement. He can stand absolutely still for minutes on end very alert and ready to pounce.

There are over fifty birds in the tree above, fig birds, male, female and juveniles, olive backed orioles and barred cuckoo shrikes. It has been a cold, wet and miserable week for all the birds and they have had trouble drying out and warming up between the showers.


Ian and Lois Laidlaw had a special visitor this week a White-necked Heron. Ian told me, 'A couple of the stand-out features of the Heron are difficult to see at rest. He has deep maroon colouration down his back and also on the top point of the wings. In flight he can be easily identified by the single light white/black oval blotches on the leading edge of each wing, like the blotches of the dollar bird. White-necked heron has a huge wingspan and his long loping wing strokes are typically heron. With such long legs, neck and beak he has a reach well over a metre when stalking a feed. We only ever have a solitary bird visiting Tupeki and he sets up home here for many months through Autumn to Spring. ' Thank you for sending the photo Ian. It is uncommon to see this bird around Innisfail, however they are nomadic and they breed during the Wet in good numbers near Ingham. Tupeki is on the Palmerston Highway outside of Innisfail. Ian welcomed two new calves this week Alice and Ravi, born on his beautiful Palmerston Pinzgauer Cattle property Tupeki.

The Monitoring Stations on the banks of the Johnstone River are up and running, one at the junction in town and the other here close to the mouth of the Johnstone, on my property. Richard and Ben worked through wet and windy weather to finish the installation on Thursday. At long last the sediments and pesticides flowing out to the Great Barrier Reef carried in the Johnstone River can be measured.

A big bouquet goes to the Minister for Science, Information, Technology and Innovation, the hon  Leeanne Enoch MP, for implementing 'The Great Barrier Reef Catchment Loads Monitoring Program,' on the Johnstone River. Yes, the Queensland Government, unlike the Federal Government does have a Minister for Science.

Our thoughts tonight are with the Mau and Morten families as Clara Mau, the matriarch of Coquette Point, is seriously ill in Innisfail Hospital. Our prayers and thoughts are with the families this week.

It's an early rise tomorrow morning as our girls, the Matildas play Japan for a place in the semi-finals of the Womens World Cup,  5.30 am SBS, a game not to miss.

Cheers for this week,


1 comment:

  1. We need the rain and the poor buggers up in Queensland where it hit needed it to stop raining. fence companies kansas city