Saturday, 15 August 2015

Hello from cool and windy Coquette Point,

There's a new boy on the block and his name is Gregory. He walked up from the beach when Greg Borchman was here to do an interview with the Mandubarra Turtle Rehabilitation Centre. I did not recognise the cassowary and when I searched through my cassowary data there was no photo of this bird on file. So Ruth and I agreed he should be named after our celebrity visitor and so he has been named Gregory.

I managed to take some reasonable ID photos of this new cassowary arrival. He is a small bird and a little on the thin side, but other than that he appears healthy. Gregory has exceptionally long and wide wattles for a male and they are spaced apart and sit flat on his chest. I estimate his age to be around five years.


    Gregory walked across the lawn and through the nursery, keeping a wary eye on me with the camera. He saw the old bath full of water and stopped to have a drink. When he threw his head back, as cassowaries do to swallow water, he saw 'Plastic Cas' above him. Gregory jumped into the air fluffed his feathers and took off at great speed into the car park and across the road into Lot 27V. I have not seen him again.


I was surprised to see cassowary July again and on the same day I saw Gregory. I found July in the orchard, there are some black sapote and five corner fruits falling from high in the trees where I cannot reach to harvest and the cassowaries soon clean them up. They are a poor substitute for the many rainforest trees that once grew on the land I now use for an orchard but it is good to see the fallen fruits are not left to attract pigs and fruit fly.

Cassowary July is in very good condition and the sharp scallop pattern of her back neck markings  make her easy to identify. Her casque is starting to develop a distinct bend to the right and her colouring at the moment is very bright. Although I have not seen July and Gregory together, these two young birds are of mating age and it may be the reason they are walking in the same area.

Matriarch Cassowary Jessie aged 44 years
Cassowary Jessie is still moving over a wide area  of Coquette Point and it was interesting yesterday when Connie Symons visited the nursery with some friends and Connie reported, "Coming along the road to the nursery we saw a cassowary father with three young chicks mooching along and coming up fairly fast behind them was this great big female. The male immediately sat down and put his head on the ground. This satisfied the big one who took quite a good look at the chicks. Father stood up and big bird turned around to look at him once more, he again immediately sat down and put his head on the ground. Big one then walked a very short way into the scrub and kept an eye on them all. One of the youngsters kept on walking in to see the big bird and out back again. All of the cassowaries took no notice of us whatsoever. As there was traffic behind us I thought we had better move on."  Thank you Connie for this story and I am so pleased the birds of Coquette Point came out to say hello and you had a memorable day.
Unfortunately, Connie did not have a camera so I can only guess from her description the 'big bird' was Jessie. Thank you Connie for the story it is so good to receive anecdotal observations of cassowary behaviour.

Cassowary Jessie walked up from the mangroves this week with her feet and legs still wet. She gave me an imperious look before she walked into the rainforest.

Connie Symons and her mate cassowary Ky 21mts old
When Connie went for a walk along the track under the flame of the forest vine she met her best friend Ky. Connie has a special affection for Ky and has been following his growth since he first appeared with his Dad Snout twenty months ago.

I was in the orchard harvesting some five corner fruits when Ky arrived and found a very large fruit I had discarded, he picked it up and in one swallow it went down his neck. The fruit was larger than my hand and it was quite astonishing to see the ability of this bird, to swallow such large fruits.

Ky's wattles are growing rapidly and they have developed a distinct twisted shape. He was looking a little on the thin side for a few weeks, no doubt because his mother was chasing him all the time and the two encounters he had with dogs left him very nervous. Ky looks in better condition this week but he is still very wary.

It is such a privilege to be given the opportunity to observe cassowary Snout and his new chick. If I wander about around lunch time I will often find Snout settled down having a snooze, sometimes with his chick hidden beneath his feathers, other-times the chick is close by, exploring his surroundings and picking at anything that looks like food.

This morning I just sat down with my plate of hot porridge and stewed apple when I heard whistling sounds coming from the rainforest and I knew it was the cassowary chick. I raced around to the back, following the sound of the whistling and I was astonished to see Snout walking behind Jessie and the chick running back and forwards between the two adult birds.

The three cassowaries walked up the back road when suddenly matriarch cassowary Jessie sat down beside the top pump.


Snout turned his back on Jessie then walked off up the road with the chick following.

 Snout went half way up the hill then stopped.

After a few minutes he turned around and came back the chick taking a long glance at his mother as it passed by.

With some trepidation Snout walked past Jessie then he and the chick went up into the rainforest.

Cassowaries are indeed amazing and wonderful creatures.

Jessie remained sitting for another ten minutes, she then walked away in the opposite direction towards Lot 27V.

The migratory shorebirds are returning. Last week I saw two eastern curlews on the beach inside the estuary and this week I found six fishing on one of the outer sandbanks at Coquette Point.  When I approached to take a closer photo these wary birds flew off.

Early this morning I heard a Pied Imperial Pigeon calling from high in a tree. Unfortunately I could not find her, but I was certain it was a PIP and seeing the first returns of the other birds I know they will all be arriving soon from their Northern travels.

Another traveler has also returned, the common sandpiper. As soon as I saw the unmistakeable bobbing tail on the beach I knew it was him.  He was hungrily searching for tit-bits in the sand.

The red-capped plovers have started to perform their dancing displays. All over the beach I found pairs of these tiny birds, leaping into the air, stretching their wings and flying in wonderful acrobatic displays.

Over 500 terns; gull billed, crested and greater crested, were on the outer sandbanks at the mouth of the Johnstone River on Friday afternoon.

As the sun sank in the sky more terns flew down the Johnstone River to join their 500 strong mates on the outer sandbank. A solitary pelican watched them arrive as three other pelicans soaked up the last of the setting sun to dry their feathers. As I watched another pelican flew down the river to join the others on the sandbank.

The pied oyster catcher family finished feeding for the day and moved to a more sheltered position before nightfall. The juvenile bird's leg colour has turned red and its beak has lost the black tip. This off-spring is now showing the markings of an adult bird.

 The tide was racing in as I returned home and the clouds were building with a cold southerly wind all signalling a change in the weather over the next few days with some showers already showing on the horizon.

World Shorebird Day will be held this year on the 4-6 September. Log onto the blog to learn how you can become involved and register to participate in the Global Shorebird Count  World Shorebirds Day Blog

 Birds have been active and singing to their little hearts content in the mild conditions on the north tropical coast this week and none more so than the  male and female leaden flycatcher. With their happy disposition and constant activity, they are indeed one of my very favourite birds.

      I heard the male fig-birds  chattering away as they gathered the last of the native sumac seed, Rhus taitensis.

The female fig-birds were warming up in the morning sun on a branch of a nearby tree, when suddenly bossy old yellow oriole gave them the hurry up and chased them away from what he regarded as his tree.

    The fan-tailed cuckoo has been very vocal singing and calling from the paper bark trees, melaleuca leucadendra and also on my frangipani tree, where I took this photo.  She is no doubt looking for a nest in which to lay her eggs.

The sweetest songs of all are sung by the varied triller. Its crescendos of trills envelop the canopy of the rainforest in sweet melodies.

The trees of the Wet Tropics rainforest have been putting on a show of colour over the last few weeks.

The lolly pink flowers of Evodiella muelleri with their white stamens attract thousand of native bees and insects as well as honeyeater birds.

The brilliant yellow bouquets of the golden bouquet tree, Deplanchea tetraphylla shout out happiness from their golden blossoms full of sticky black nectar.


When the flower petals fall from Melastoma affine the seed pods develop quickly forming their sweet fruits much loved by the cassowaries.


                                                                                        In the coastal rainforest the ephemeral, bright yellow flowers of the red beech Dillenia alata drop their petals like confetti around the base of their tree. When this happens the red pods open proudly showing their tiny black gifts.

This week I wrote to the Minister for the Environment and Heritage Protection and Minister for National Parks and the Great Barrier Reef, the Hon Dr Steven Miles and I thanked him for the way he and his Government responded so positively to the cassowary crisis in Far North Queensland by giving $50000 to keep the Garner's Beach Cassowary Rehabilitation Centre open.

Knowing the Queensland Government is limited by budget constraints in what it can provide in the long term for the environment, I had a bright idea, 'Roads for Wildlife' and I put this idea to Dr Miles this week. The details of my plan are set out below and if you are excited by this plan please send an email to the Hon Dr Steven Miles and tell him you support 'Roads for Wildlife'.

Click on this link and write an email to the Hon Dr Steven Miles now. 

Cheers for this week,


  1. Thanks for the update on all the Cassowary comings and goings, Yvonne! They are truly fascinating animals. I love your Roads for Wildlife idea and sent in an email in support. We all need to evolve and make more room in our lives for wildlife.

    Cheers from California,


  2. Thank you Karen I am sure the Minister will be surprised to have an email from California in his inbox tomorrow morning. The cassowaries and I hope he receives lots of other emails supporting Roads for Wildlife as well.

  3. Thanks for another wonderful post Yvonne. An 85 year old friend recently visited FNQ for the first time, and complained that he did not see a cassowary despite all the signs around Mission Beach. I told him he should have gone to Coquette Point! 😀

  4. PS, email sent to Dr Miles.