Wednesday, December 24, 2008
If you're interested in a little local scenery I have just embedded a video "The Magnificent Daintree" into the sidebar to the right. This was professionally created by David Vivian of DVDesign for the Daintree Village Tourism Association - of which I am Secretary - and we think David's done a pretty good job (nice background music too!). It mainly covers our beautiful and, as you can see, very diverse region between the Daintree River in the north and the Mossman River to the south. (Tourism Daintree Coast which covers the region north from the Daintree River to Cape Tribulation like it so much they are going to produce one themselves too - well they do say that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery!)
Peter and I would like to wish everyone a very happy festive season!
Sunday, December 14, 2008
We see on TV that many of you are suffering arctic conditions and, having been born and lived in the UK - many years ago! - I can very well sympathise. So I thought you might enjoy a little view of sunshine and I took the top photo a few minutes ago just outside our front door. The other was taken a while ago from our kitchen.
It is now very hot and humid with a few afternoon storms which so far have mostly just circled us. The nights are also hot with temps in the mid-20's celcius and getting up to the mid to high 30's during the day. But our bedroom, office and all the guest bungalows are air-conditioned and also have ceiling-fans so everyone's very comfortable - in fact many of our recent (and current) guests have been from the US, UK and Europe and all very happy to escape their winter weather!
Wednesday, December 10, 2008
There are now four nesting pairs that we know of on our 30-acre property and there are probably more - much of the land is rainforested so the nesting mounds and birds are not all easy to spot.
Thursday, December 4, 2008
This delicious semi-sweet citrus is a cross between a Myer and a true lemon and is good to eat by itself and also makes a lovely marmalade from a simple recipe of fruit, sugar and water. A small pot goes onto every breakfast-tray and most of our guests seem to enjoy it - as we do too!
We only have one tree and so far every year it's been loaded with fruit, which are green and grow to about the size of a tennis-ball and eventually turn to a greeny-yellow colour, and are edibly sweet from early maturity.
Thursday, November 27, 2008
They are nocturnal creatures and every evening we have quite a few of them scurrying around the gardens.
The top photo is a Long Nosed Bandicoot which is tucking into a piece of bread just outside our kitchen-door.
Underneath is a Northern Brown Bandicoot which is a bit larger - about the size of a large rabbit - with a shorter nose and is generally more common than the Long-Nosed.
An interesting fact is that these marsupials have rear-facing pouches so that the pouches don't get filled with soil while they are digging!
Sunday, November 23, 2008
It is very hot and humid now with an occasional afternoon storm to cools things down but, thankfully for us, nothing like the storms that other parts of Australia have been suffering. Our weather pattern is very typical for this time of year as we approach the beginning of our wettest time of year which is usually February and March.
Wednesday, November 19, 2008
Monday, November 17, 2008
Meantime I'm adding his Great-billed Heron to the blog, with Sebastian's description below. The photo was taken while he was on a wildlife-watching cruise on the nearby Daintree River. The bird is indeed quite rare but is spotted fairly frequently here - and is one of the"'must-see's" for visiting birders.
One guest on the boat spotted this Great-billed Heron (Ardea sumatrana) walking slowly out of cover on the sandbank for a few moments before returning behind dense vegetation. Our guide told us that this was a rare scene and we could be happy to have seen this elusive bird. At the first I didn´t pay much attention to this picture because it is a little blurred. But after researching a little about this species I see it with other eyes because it shows the birds environment and its elusive way of life. According to the "Handbook of the birds of the world" this bird is widespread but nowhere common and is classified as "near threatened" and poorly known.
Tuesday, November 11, 2008
According to a local birding expert it's not unusual for them to nest twice in a season, using the same nest.
We now have at least two pairs of Buff-breasted Paradise Kingfishers on the property. We often see a flash of blue with the very distinctive white tail but I haven't so far been able to take a sitting shot.
So far we have only found this nest which was also used last year. The birds apparently have a good relationship with the termites and will only return to a termite mound which shows signs of occupation. When the birds leave the ants rebuild over the nesting hole and in fact you can just see that this brand new hole has been created in the 'repaired' part of the mound, which is about 18 in high.
The birds only returned last week and the hole appeared two days ago so they aren't wasting much time!
Saturday, November 8, 2008
We heard the first Buff-breasted Paradise Kingfisher two days ago and yesterday spotted one in a tree just outside the window - we are really delighted as we have guests arriving tomorrow whose main reason for staying here is to see THE Kingfisher! Last year we had about half a dozen nesting pairs and we believe they often return to their old nests - they excavate holes in termite-mounds.
I will try to get a better photo but in the meantime this is a distance-shot I took last year - actually in almost the same spot as the bird we saw yesterday. Perhaps it's the same bird - or maybe one of last year's offspring!
Wednesday, November 5, 2008
We are really hoping that the magnificent Buff-Breasted Paradise Kingfishers will return any day - they migrate to Asia over our winter and normally come back in October but with the strange weather patterns this year we have yet to see or hear any - and guests are coming next Sunday especially expecting to see them!
Tuesday, October 28, 2008
A light 'thump' against the office window and there was this Little Shrike-Thrush sitting on the verandah. It's not unusual for a bird to fly into the reflection on one of the windows ... which leads to the occasional amazing 'up close' photo opportunity! Fortunately most of them do survive and happily this little bird sat recovering for about 20 minutes before flying off.
Wednesday, October 22, 2008
I'm not sure if this is 'our' baby Double-eyed Fig Parrot (see earlier posts) but she has just been feeding on ripe Star Apples in the tree next to the 'nesting tree'. Again rather wobbly but she was pretty high up so hard to keep the camera steady!
I have just noticed that our Dove Orchid, Dendrobium crumenatum, has flowered again, although there are now only a few blooms left. This beautiful little orchid is found growing naturally on tropical trees in parts of Asia and flowers when there is a drop in temperature, usually associated with rain - and yes, two nights ago it was quite cool and rainy! The blooms are about 3-4 cm across and only last for a couple of days.
The Malay people believe it is a talisman against evil and often plant one near their front door, something we didn't realise when we 'planted' ours alongside this tree-fern ... near our front door! Touch wood, to date it seems to have been working!
Sunday, October 19, 2008
Friday, October 17, 2008
I've just been to check on the enormous trees at the front of our property and dozens of Lorikeets are having a wonderful time squawking and helping themselves - very hard to see in the dense foliage but I spotted this one high up in one of the trees.
Monday, October 13, 2008
No activity at the Double-Eyed Fig Parrot's nest now so our little bird must have flown!
Wednesday, October 8, 2008
It's another magical Daintree day and the Fig-Parrots are furiously feeding their chick (we're now pretty sure there is only one) - I took this photo a few minutes ago and you can now see that it is a female - we guess it won't be long before she takes wing.
Any day now we are expecting the return of the magnificent Buff-Breasted Paradise Kingfishers as they return from wintering in Asia. Last year we had at least five nesting pairs and as they often return to their old nests (which they build by excavating holes in termite-mounds) we are hoping most of them will be back. Watch this space!
Monday, October 6, 2008
I spotted this Brown Cuckoo-Dove next to our walking-track yesterday - they are not very shy birds so it was easy to get quite close.
(Update - the Double-eyed Fig-Parrots are still busily feeding their young in the tree outside the office!)
A pair of Collared Kingfishers (sometimes called Forest Kingfishers) have a nest in a hollow in the next tree to the Parrots' but it is almost impossible to take a photo of them feeding as they move so fast. "Mum and Dad" sit on a nearby branch and take turns to swoop up to the nest and back again.
We had another interesting visitor yesterday. David Stickley who is one of Australia's leading Crossword compilers called in with his family as they are holidaying here in the Far North of Queensland. I'm an amateur cryptic crossword compiler myself and have had a number of my puzzles published in "Crozworld", the magazine of the Australian Crossword Club, although running Daintree Valley Haven means I don't have as much time for crosswords these days.
Friday, October 3, 2008
Spring has really sprung and the valley is alive with birds - lots of mating-calls, chick-feeding and quite a few "punch-ups", especially amongst the Orange-footed Scrub-Fowl, with several newcomers entering into noisy and quite violent dispute with our resident birds!
Yesterday lovely bird-calls in the Hawaiian Peach tree and I spotted this female Shining Fly-catcher in full voice.
Wednesday, October 1, 2008
Tuesday, September 30, 2008
This beautiful vine is a native of the Philippines and is very slow to produce flowers. We planted it about 7 years ago - last year it flowered for the first time but each year so far only two bracts of flowers. This one is about 60cm or 2ft long.
Now for an update on our nesting Double-eyed Fig-Parrots. A few of days ago I took this other shot of the male while he was again feeding his mate as she sat on her eggs - she makes a 'chirring' noise when she's demanding to be fed. She had been in there for about three weeks! Then yesterday afternoon we heard a slightly different sound and when we went out to look saw both male and female taking turns to fly up and feed the chicks. Unfortunately the camera wasn't handy but I hope to get a shot of the female outside (she has the pale cheeks whereas the male has red ones).
Australia has three species of Double-eyed Fig-Parrots and these are race macleayana and they range from Cooktown to the north of us down to around Mackay.
Wednesday, September 24, 2008
These Wallabies are about 3ft tall, much smaller than most of Australia's Kangaroos. No Kangaroos in Daintree - they are mostly found in the dryer inland parts of the country.
Friday, September 19, 2008
I found this lovely Giant White-lipped Green Tree-Frog asleep on a leaf while gardening the other day. It's quite a large one although they can grow up to about 14 cm (5.5 inches). They also have a very loud croak, especially if one gets into an 'echo-ey' drainpipe!
Monday, September 15, 2008
This White-Faced Heron has been here every day 'fishing' in the shallow water, often joined by a variety of Egrets, a Spoonbill and a pair of Little Cormorants.
Today is a picture-perfect Far North Queensland day with brilliant blue skies and a forecast maximum temperature of 29 deg C.
Wednesday, September 10, 2008
The Malay Apples are now ripe, although they are quite small this season. They are, as the name suggests, a native of SE Asia and look quite attractive on our guests' breakfast trays with their thin red skin and soft white flesh. Not very much flavour but quite pleasant eaten with other fruits.
Unfortunately the Spectacled Flying Foxes have also found them and are attacking and eating them every night! We've picked quite a few but they do not keep for more than a couple of days.
Saturday, September 6, 2008
Friday, September 5, 2008
Tuesday, September 2, 2008
Wednesday, August 27, 2008
"Birdwing Bungalow". This was taken when it was quite 'young' and it now measures about 7 inches (17cm) across. We don't know what it is called so would be interested to hear from anyone who recognises it!
Friday, August 22, 2008
Tuesday, August 19, 2008
Monday, August 18, 2008
They have nested here for the past several years so it's lovely to see the first one back yet again!
Sunday, August 17, 2008
Thursday, August 14, 2008
We had a fascinating afternoon talking to them both and were thrilled when Lloyd gave us a signed copy of "Daintree Jewel of Tropical North Queensland", a wonderful book covering all the flora, fauna, local history etc. of our beautiful region.If you visit his website at http://www.birdingaustralia.com.au/ you will find heaps of information about Lloyd, his work and his books.
Wednesday, August 13, 2008
This may give you a taste of our beautiful Daintree region - between the Daintree and Mossman Rivers!
It was professionally created by David Vivian for the Daintree Village Tourism Association (www.daintreevillage.asn.au).
Monday, August 11, 2008
Sunday, August 10, 2008
suggests - they gradually grow around another
tree and literally strangle it so that in the end the
host tree is totally surrounded and finally dies.
The photo at the top is of a Strangler Fig taking over one of our Jakfruit trees - very little of the Jakfruit is now visible and some of the dangling strands are taking root in the ground and will eventually form what look like vertical tree-trunks.
On the right is the base of a very old Strangler Fig on our walking track. The tree must be about 100ft high, and spreads out about the same distance. You can see several large 'trunks' which many years ago would have started from roots dangling from the branches.
Thursday, August 7, 2008
Tuesday, August 5, 2008
The following article was written by Ian Osborne and Laurie Taylor, both born-and-bred Daintree cattle farmers and appears on the Daintree Village Tourism Association website at http://www.daintreevillage.asn.au/.
Sustainable Tropical Beef Grazing plays an important role in the economy of Daintree. It is the industry that has withstood time, whilst other have, for many reasons failed.
Lush Daintree River flats produce young heavy weight steers off improved pasture and are well sought after by both export and local abbatoirs. Over the years many show ribbons and carcass competitions have been won.
Cattle grazing on river flats, which need little or no fertilizer because of the sediments deposited during yearly flooding from the upstream large World Heritage Area, are sustainably grazed on the hillsides of the valley in the wet season to maintain the viability of each cattle property. Graziers stress it is important to manage and maintain these hillsides with grasses that provide good ground cover to prevent erosion as well as good quality feed. Hillsides are burnt before the storm season in 2-3 yearly cycles to maintain the quality of the improved pasture.
Most cattle properties in the Daintree Catchment also retain large areas of tropical rainforest that has been sustainably logged over the last 100 years.
Sunday, August 3, 2008
Now the uncovered banks have new grass and late yesterday afternoon this little Swamp Wallaby came down to nibble at the fresh new shoots, while a pair of Pacific Black Ducks dived for food in the shallow water.