Saturday, 12 December 2015

Hello from Coquette Point,

Glassy conditions on Cassowary Coasts waters this week as summer moves in. We have enjoyed a cool land breeze which has dropped evening and morning temperatures but not for much longer as a northerly wind is beginning to show its hot face. BOM forecasts showers again for next week; consider ourselves very privileged with this year's weather conditions, so far.

As if celebrating the weather the orange footed scrub fowls have been particularly noisy calling at the top of their voices while they have been busy raking the many leaves that are falling from the rainforest trees, at this time.

One of the orange footed scrub fowls has an injured leg and I was amazed to watch its mate allowing the injured bird to peck at the ground under where it was raking. This wasn't a one off incident, the healthy bird appeared to be deliberately scratching up food for the injured bird. Maybe I like to think it is altruism, but I watched them all week and the healthy bird appeared to wait and watch over his injured partner as they walked around and the one scratched up leaves for them both to find the tasty titbits hidden beneath.

The orange footed scrub fowl's swollen leg can be clearly seen in the photo above. When the scrub fowl is running it has a profound limp and the other bird waits for it to catch up.

In May this year I was lucky to see an orange-footed scrub fowl chick emerge from its nest, photo below left. I looked for it for weeks to monitor its progress but did not see it again. This week I saw a very small scrub fowl, in full adult plumage and I wondered if it was perhaps the same chick now matured?  It ran across the road at great speed and I noticed, in the photograph, that it was running so fast that both feet lifted off the ground.

The helmeted friarbird is doing its best to compete with the orange-footed scrub fowls for the loudest voice in the rainforest.  The friarbirds have been feasting on the sweet nectar of the grevillea flowers that are in abundance in the hot dry conditions.

Ruth came down for a cuppa the other day and told me about the strange behaviour she had observed from the metallic starlings of late. It was funny that Ruth should say this as I had taken the photographs, above, only the day before of one metallic starling putting on a semaphore like display using its wings, feet and voice to communicate with another bird which was watching intently from a nearby tree.

Crested hawk has all the birds and insects on constant alert as he appears to have settled into the area for the summer and is busy hunting for a feed.

It took ten days for more horse mushrooms to appear following the rain event last week. The cassowaries were quick to find them and this time little Kin ate every bit, pulling the stalks out after the caps were eaten.
Kin is growing very quickly, when he stretches up he can now see over his Dad's back.

Cassowary Jessie loves to eat soursops. She appeared as if she was going to fall over as she looked up searching the soursop tree for a ripe fruit. I thought I had picked all the ripe fruits but she found one, jumped up and knocked it down and in one sitting ate every last morsel of the fruit.

During the heat of the day it is not unusual to find Jessie in the runoff pond behind the nursery, she loves a bath.

I saw cassowary July once this week, she was very cagy and walked quickly away from me. Not long afterwards I heard drumming and chasing from the rainforest and I knew she had an encounter with Jessie. Jessie may be getting on in years but she is still the matriarch of this area.

Little Ruthie is now an independent young cassowary, finding her own way around the rainforest and suburbs.  She regularly visits the Panama berry tree at the top of the hill. Ruthie is now developing face colouring and her casque is starting to grow and her wattles are forming a distinctive shape.


Pam Birchely on her way out to Coquette Point this week saw Cassowary matriarch Clara near the Ninds Creek bridge. Thank you Pam for sending these photos of Clara, it is the first time I have seen her around in the Ninds Creek area for over three months. It is great to see she is looking fit and healthy.

 The tides were not the best this week for observing shorebirds, the low tide fell in the middle of the day, far too hot for looking at birds on the beach. I did manage to check on the tern rookery on Friday afternoon and was delighted to see and hear the birds flying above the rookery and sitting on eggs in the hot sun.

At the water's edge some little terns were engaged with courtship rituals and I was happy to see a number of juvenile little terns on the beach. So it appears the first round of hatchlings have successfully fledged and more are being planned. Time is ticking however, as the next series of spring tides is due on the 23rd and I am crossing my fingers that the weather will stay mild and the rookery will not be overtopped by storm waves.


I counted twelve little terns around the rookery, at least ten on the outer sandbar along with lesser crested and crested terns and greater sand plovers. Many more little terns were flying over the estuary with other terns, all fishing on the incoming tide.

 A number of greater crested terns were engaged in courtship rituals and it was amusing to watch the other terns take a front row seat to watch the shenanigans.                                                                                    

The spectacle was magnificent, the crescendo mounted as the whirling dervishes danced around each other. Then pelican dropped in and sent every bird scurrying.

I hope you find the time to watch the birds, cheers for another week,

1 comment:

  1. Fantastic photos and stories once again, even saw Pingu there!