Saturday, 13 February 2016

Hello from Coquette Point,

Early this week a trough moved up the coast bringing, for a short time, some rain and a cool change. Only 28 mm fell across the Johnstone River mouth on Tuesday but the refreshing drop in humidity and the whiffs of cool fresh south-easterlies with the accompanying showers were just what the doctor order. Unfortunately, it didn't last long as the heat and humidity are back.

Friday 12 

Two very impressive twin cyclones, Winston and Tatiana are traveling side by side in the Western Pacific, they are starting to move away from each other, Winston, is now a significant cyclone with winds in its southern quadrant of 145 NM.  It is expected to move further East towards the northern Tongan Islands before it weakens.  Tatiana is expected to move west towards the southern Queensland coastline. Tatiana's antics are already bringing dangerous surf conditions to the southern Queensland coastline.
Saturday 13 am
Saturday 13 pm

On Thursday while Kin was enjoying a duck in the pool, Snout walked away from him and walked quickly up the top track, where he sat as if waiting for Kin. I heard Kin whistling pathetically, he had discovered dad was gone and he was alone. Suddenly Kin turned and ran up the hill and found Snout waiting.

They quickly walked away into the rainforest. It appears Snout is making the first attempt at teaching Kin that soon he will be left alone and must learn to fend for himself.

Cassowary Jessie has shown up a couple of times this week. On one very hot day she sat around in the pool for some time then walked out into the carpark to dry off. She fluffed her quills into a skirt and stood still before meticulously straightening the quills with her beak. Jessie is such a poseur.

Hero's chick Ruthie has settled into a solitary life. Most days she visits the Panama berry tree at the top of the range for a feast of sweet berries. When she is finished she goes back down into the rainforest, unfortunately because most of the houses have fences, she is forced to walk the length of the road to finds access to the eastern side of the Moresby Range through Ruth Lipscombe's yard.

When subdivisions do not provide for pre-existing wildlife corridors, animals are forced onto the road or through people's yards to gain access to their feeding grounds.

Thank you Pam Birchely for sending the photo of Ruthie feeding on the Panama berries.

The melaleuca leucadendra trees have been in flower and the spectacled flying foxes have been visiting to drink the sweet nectar. One morning I found a little spectacled alone hanging from a palm tree. He stayed for two nights before he disappeared. I hope he rejoined his colony and was not eaten by a slippery serpent.

The little spectacled had a number of hangers on, they were obviously annoying him, as from time to time he scratched at his fur.

On the second morning I found him all wrapped up, we had some rain overnight and no doubt the wings made a great raincoat.

The sunrises have been unspectacular of late, but it is worth the effort to be out and about early so as to enjoy a temporary reprieve from the heat of the day.

The first to move on the beach of a morning are the whimbrels. I02 whimbrels left the Coquette Point sand flats on Friday morning to fly up the Johnstone River to feed in the hinterland waterways.

As the sun rose the pied oyster catchers ran out onto the sand. The sun's rays lighting up their red legs, eyes and beaks.

The fruits of the beach almond, Terminalia catappa, are swollen ripe and ready to eat. The red-tailed black-cockatoos are feasting on the wild harvest, every morning their harsh grating calls can be heard as they leave their night time roost to fly along the coastline to find the best beach almond trees.

Underneath the beach almond the beach stone-curlew ran along stepping out his territory.

Along the beach behind the dunes the flowers of the Pacific rosewood,
Thespesia populnea, are opening and quickly forming seed-pods, valued in
Asia for their medicinal use.
                        Four bar-tailed godwits still remain at Coquette Point, however the golden Pacific plovers, the greater sand plovers and the grey-tailed tatlers were not to be found this week and may have left early for their migratory journey to their breeding grounds in the northern polar regions. These four bar-tailed godwits appeared to be having fun in the surf as they foraged for their breakfast.

A number of common sandpipers and                                                      
lesser sand plovers are still at Coquette Point; around 20 of each species.

I saw lots of small ghost crabs on the beach but very little other crab activity. The soldier crabs did not have a big emergence this summer, I sighted small armies of adult soldier crabs on only two occasions. In past years every low tide the sand flats would be covered with millions of large blue soldier crabs. Why have they not appeared this season?

The sea lettuce, Scaevola taccada is in flower and fruit and I found cassowary footprints leading to the shrub and a scat on the beach. The scat contained seed from the sea-lettuce, white apple, pond apple, beach almond and guava fruits. The cassowary footprints were partly washed away from rain this week.

Large numbers of rainbow bee-eaters have arrived in their seasonal migration from the south. I watched this adult male effortlessly catch a dragon fly and eat it. I think the wings stuck on the way down as he appeared to gag on the meal.

A number of juvenile birds were with the adults flying in and out of the casuarina trees behind the dunes.

                                          The spring tide on Tuesday of 3.28 metres flooded the lower part of the Coquette Point Road, you would think with all the advertising, "If it's flooded forget it" might have sunk in. A local lad on a sight seeing tour at the top of the tide, Tuesday morning 9.30 am, drove into the salt water and down the road. When he got to the end he could not distinguish river from road and backed up and down into the gutter. Later his friend pulled the car out but it wouldn't start and they pushed it into the nursery car park. If you drive a car into water you are likely to damage the electrics, if you drive a car into salt water you will do considerably more damage. What does it take to make people understand. "If it's flooded forget it". Fortunately no one was injured and neither the SES nor the Police were needed to assist. However, the car is not going and is still in my car park. With global sea-rise we can expect to see more roads flooded at tidal maximum.

Later onTuesday I had more visitors, Dr Chiou-Rong Sheue, from the National Chung Hsing University of Taiwan and Dr Peter Chesson from The University of Arizona.  They are both botanists and Chiou recently described a new mangrove species, Ceriops pseudodecandra.

Fortunately it was low tide when they arrived and I was able to show them the mangrove forests of the Johnstone River estuary. Chiou said she would like to come back and explore the mangroves in greater detail, she was very impressed with what she saw. Peter's niche is ferns, 
particularly selaginellas and I took them on a quick walk around the property looking at various native ferns. By now they will be onto the next part of their trip, exploring the forests of Papua New Guinea.  The flora of the Wet Tropics of North Queensland is of great interests to scientist from around the world.

Tomorrow is Valentine's Day and Birdlife Australia is asking you to love shorebirds. Copy this card and send it to a loved one.

shorebird animation.

Cheers for this week,

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