Saturday 27 February 2016

Hello from Coquette Point,

We welcomed a few showers this week,  26 mm of lovely rain, it washed the dust from the leaves in the rainforest but was not enough to sink into the water table; really a ridiculously small amount for the middle of the Wet Season in the Wet Tropics of FNQ. The rain did bring a cool change for a couple of days, but now we're back into the mid to high thirties with even higher humidity.

Once again, the cassowaries are looking for the cool water of the nursery pool.  I went to check the pump on Thursday, luckily with camera in hand, I saw cassowary Snout and Kin in the pool near the pump, they looked as if they had been there for a while. I was photographing them when, through the camera lens, I saw Jessie arrive. I moved to the edge of the shed in case there was a chase and a stampede, but they ignored me.

Jessie made no sounds, she just wanted to cool off in the water and was happy to join Snout and Kin. On the other hand Snout would have none of it, he uttered hissing growls and left the pool and directed a grunt at Kin to leave. Jessie quietly sat down and looked at them wondering what all the fuss was about.

Jessie stayed in the pool for 20 minutes, blowing bubbles and preening herself. I don't know what started her blowing bubbles but she does it all the time now.

The cassowary has recently been placed on the 20-20 list of threatened Australian birds. This week the threatened species commissioner, Gregory Andrews, sent a message to the Cassowary Recovery Team, I have added the link below. The threatened species commissioner, Gregory Andrews, deserves our heartfelt thanks for taking the plight of the cassowary to the Environment Minister, the Hon Greg Hunt. The Minister saw the need to place the cassowary on the 20-20 list of threatened Australian birds. Thank you Minister Hunt for the work you have done to achieve this outcome for the cassowary.

TSC message to the Cassowary Recovery Team

It is up to us now to show the will to work together as a community to create safe habitats for the cassowary populations of FNQ. Radical changes need to be made to roads which transverse cassowary habitats. The campaign 'Roads for Wildlife', if it were to be taken up by Main Roads, could be the key to unlock funding for these projects.

There is also an urgent need for the Government to acquire areas of land that are identified as cassowary corridors which are not protected now but link various populations of cassowaries.

We need enforcement and policing of the Local Government Act, across all Shires, pertaining to dogs and cats. We must insist on the licensing of all dogs and cats. Furthermore, dog and cat breeders must be licensed and heavy fines levied on people selling backyard animals. Desexing and microchipping of all dogs and cats in urban and rural areas must be a requirement of dog ownership. This is needed if there is ever to be any hope of controlling feral dogs and cats, particularly in the World Heritage Wet Tropics.

Ingrid Marker recently raised the issue of the inequitable law which requires all urban dog and cat owners to pay a registration fee for their animals, when the owners of rural dogs and cats, which are the more problematic, do not have to pay a fee. All dog and cat owners should be required to pay for the registration of their animals.

A great deal of work has already been done by groups in north Queensland to highlight these issues, particularly the Cassowary Recovery Team, C4 at Mission Beach, Mission Beach Cassowaries, Kuranda Conservation and Birdlife Australia.

Paul Webster's brilliant idea to hold a World Cassowary Day every year,  has centred the world's attention on cassowaries. Last year World Cassowary Day was held at Mission Beach, this year the celebration will be in the Daintree. Here is the link to WCD2015 at Mission Beach.  this website

The beach stone curlew is another bird which is listed as vulnerable in Queensland and is ranked as a high priority by the Department of Environment and Heritage Protection Queensland.

Early on Wednesday morning I heard dogs barking at the end of the Coquette Point Road. Before I could reach the gate to investigate, a vehicle sped up the hill and I heard dogs barking, presumably from the back of the vehicle.  I returned to my breakfast on the patio when I heard the alarm call of a beach stone curlew coming from the little beach in front of my home.

I went down to the beach and found the beach stone curlew hiding in the foliage on the beach line. Did the dogs chase this beach stone curlew from its home on the front beach?

Later in the morning beach stone curlew ventured down to the water's edge and started feeding. He stayed on the little beach all day.
The next morning, Thursday, he was still there standing on the edge of the lawn.

Although I could not see any injury I was concerned something might be wrong and I went down to see if I could get close to him. Thankfully that was all he needed to prompt him to leave and return to his mate on the main beach, I had seen the other bird by itself the day before. Beach stone curlew flew into the air effortlessly out towards the estuary.

When birds are chased by dogs they will be traumatised. Shorebirds numbers are in decline all over the world, the least we can do is leave our dogs at home when we go down to the beach.

Low afternoon tides were excellent for beach walking this week and I was photographing two pied oyster catchers as they fed on the sand flats - when a large shadow with a whoosh passed over my head and landed on the beach in front of me. It was a juvenile black-necked stork.

I watched as the young black-necked stork danced in the surf, chasing and catching fish and crustaceans
while the other birds watched him.


A fish sought shelter from black-necked stork underneath an old tree trunk. For ten minutes stork tried to catch it, then gave up and danced away as if it were a game.

Out to sea a container ship passed by full of consumer goods. The contrast between the scene on the beach and the noise and the bustle the container ship portrayed seemed to symbolise the conflicts of our modern way of life.

Suddenly black-neck stork was on the move again and I could just make out a black shape in the water swimming away from him.

The bar-tailed godwits turned up busy chasing a feed. Their activity was not to young Mr Stork's liking and he flew off scaring the daylights out of whimbrel, while lesser sand plover looked on wondering what all the fuss was about.

The bar-tailed godwits ignored the goings-on and continued to feed on the incoming tide.

Black-necked stork flew towards Thompson Point where he stood looking for a fish venturing in on the tide.

The beach stone curlew's mate was in the corner of the beach in the same location.

As I walked back I saw little egret fishing on the incoming tide. She was in mating plumage and looked elegant standing into the wind. She soon caught a fish and tossed it down.

In the sky above I saw white-bellied sea-eagle and osprey flying at each other, arguing over something. They flew in front of the sun and I could not capture the sky battle. I approached the lookout tree with care and sure enough white-bellied sea-eagle had won possession of the tree and osprey had left.

Earlier on my walk out Stewart, a fisherman who has just moved to Innisfail, was tossing a popper into the gutter in the estuary, he was packing up as I returned and he proudly showed me what he had caught for the family dinner.

There has been no sediment runoff into the Johnstone River due to the lack of rain so far this uneventful wet season. The result has been a remarkable return of fish into the river system. Lots of bait and lots of big fish chasing the bait.

There are still a lot of pied imperial pigeons around, they are mainly feeding on golden cane palm seeds and the fruits of the white cedar Melia azedarach.

I also found a juvenile female common koel feeding on the fruits of the golden cane palms.  As they feed the koel and the PIPs knock some of the fruits and they fall to the ground where the cassowaries find them.

Soon the common koel and the PIPs will be leaving for their northern migration.

Richard Piper sent in some interesting information about the spectacled flying fox which I put up on the blog a couple of week ago. Richard said. " The hangers on you mentioned are called bat flies and they are very interesting ectoparasites sucking the blood of the bat - there are many species and they are host specific as far as I am aware - the small insectivorous species have similarly small bat flies on them. They are wingless, spider-like and incredibly modified for their lifestyle - they are quite difficult to collect as they move rapidly on the host and disappear into the fur. The bat flies are in the family of flies - Nycteribiidae".

Thank you Richard, I had assumed they were opportunist getting a free ride. Nature is always more complex then we can ever imagine. Below the little spectacled flying fox with its blood sucking flies on board.

 If you enlarge the photo on the left you can see all the flies amongst the fur. No wonder it scratched so vigorously from time to time.

Mandubarra were called out this week when a report came in about a dead turtle washed up at the Coconuts. Nellie and Henry measured and examined the turtle. There were no barnacles on the shell so it had not been floating for any length of time. There appeared to be a wound in the top of the carapace. Henry buried the turtle on the sand dune. Thank you Henry and Nellie for the turtle report, it is such a loss to find a fat, healthy looking turtle washed up dead on the beach.

Late news: Ruth has sent a link to a story about our friend Bernadette Marley. Bernadette I listened to the story in horror. I do hope you recover quickly you are one lucky lady. As a remote area nurse adventure is not new to Bernadette, but this one definitely tops the charts. I am so glad you are out of hospital and recovering at home with Andrew's care. I know I speak for everyone in wishing you a speedy recovery.

We have had some spectacular sunsets this week. I took this photo when I went down to check on beach stone curlew, he was standing on the rocks of the old wharf looking out onto an orange river.

cheers for this week,

1 comment:

  1. Thank you so much for your wonderful News from Coquette Point. I love everything about it and never miss one!
    Pippy Cannon Machans Beach