Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Spot the Proper Frog!

A 'plunk' on the coffee table just now and there was a Giant White-lipped Tree Frog.  It's wonderful to know that these lovely creatures are thriving in the rainforest - we're hearing them all the time and often find them in the house (see our Blog archive).  Almost tripped over one last night sitting in the middle of the office floor - lucky I'd turned the light on!

Monday, November 28, 2011

Brown Cuckoo-Dove

Whew, what a strange year it's been - normally-busy times have been quiet yet November, usually a slow month, has been our second-busiest Nov in Daintree Valley Haven's 11 years so the Blog has taken a back seat for the past few weeks.

Here's one of our regular residents, a Brown Cuckoo-Dove (also known as a Long-tailed Pigeon).

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

The obstacle course

Yesterday evening we heard a loud crrraasshh nearby - quite a common sound in the rainforest as the trunks or branches of older trees sometimes rot away sending them crashing down (self-pruning we call it!) - so we didn't think too much about it until we saw guests who had gone into Daintree Village for dinner walking up the drive in the pitch dark.  They said a tree was blocking the way so they'd left their car the other side.

Peter took the tractor down but a) it was too dark to see much and b) the trunk he did see was too big for the tractor to move.  So early this morning we found it was actually two huge trees which had brought down a lot of other folliage and vines too.  Out with the chainsaw ... which instantly got jammed into the trunk.  Out with the tractor to try and move it a little so Peter could get the chainsaw free ... to find the tractor and the spare drum were both out of diesel!     So a 40km round trip into Mossman for fuel.

But a happy ending with a clear driveway again - thank heavens for tractors!

Monday, October 24, 2011

Wallaby Mum

We wandered out of the kitchen a few minutes ago and this cute sight was awaiting us!   Peter ducked back for the camera but there was no hurry as Mum and her joey calmly carried on feeding on the grass and, as you can see in her paws, Mum was into one of the dropped Star Apples.

It looks like the family is happy to stay around the house for a while - see Dad in my post the other day.  In fact yesterday when I was nursing a stunned Buff-breasted Paradise Kingfisher (see my Facebook Page post - www.facebook.com/daintreevalleyhaven) after it had flown into a window I looked up to see him watching the proceedings which, happily, did end happily!

(I'm trying not to duplicate too many posts on Blog and Facebook!)

Sunday, October 23, 2011

What a difference a few days make

Such beautiful weather again after a few very unusually-wet October days (17 inches of rain)  following a VERY dry couple of months the dam is now full to the brim and the spillway running over.  Lovely!  Early in the year we had so much rain a huge section of the dam wall was washed away and we lost most of the water - took a huge excavator 7 hours to repair.  We thought we'd have to wait till the official wet season at the beginning of next year before it refilled and now look at it!  This is the view from Sunbird Sanctuary and all three bungalows now have lovely water-views again.

We took a run up to Cape Tribulation this morning and it was so nice to see the rainforest looking so vibrant against the clear blue sky!  But hardly any visitors around and we almost had the road and the ferry to ourselves.  Sadly the media has done it again and scared everyone away with doom and gloom stories of 'all the water and floods in north Queensland' ... !!!

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Sunbird babies!

For the first time this morning we're watching Mum feeding her babies (or perhaps baby as we're not sure if she laid another egg) which must have hatched overnight - yesterday she was still sitting in the nest.

It's now day 29 since she started building.  I'll keep you posted on progress!  (There are far too many Butcherbirds around for our liking so we're forever chasing them away.)

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

The face at the window

Looked out of the bedroom window the other day and found I was being observed by a little Northern Swamp Wallaby!

Got the camera and went outside and he (I, er, could see it was a 'he'!) calmly watched me for a while and then went back to munching on some leaves.

Guests often spot one or two of them on our walking track although sometimes they hide in the long grass until they get close and then suddenly take off through the bush ... a few folks have had the fright of their lives 'cos they can't see what they've disturbed!

We don't have many fruits in season at the moment - only some white Star Apples - but later on when we'll hopefully have bumper crops of lychees, mangoes and carambolas (star fruit) the wallabies will have a ball eating the dropped fruits.

Saturday, October 8, 2011


Yesterday we were so upset to think we had lost our little Sunbird - and today she's back again and happily sitting in her nest!  Sometimes they disappear for a few days before they are ready to lay their eggs but it had worried us that there was one egg and no sign of Mum!

Friday, October 7, 2011

Sad news

It appears our worst fears may have happened.  Our little Sunbird has been missing for the past few days and on checking her nest this morning we found a single, cold, little egg.  And there has been a Black Butcherbird hanging around which we have tried to chase away whenever we could.  However ...

As I said earlier, there really only is so much you can do to give Nature a hand ...

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Giving nature a hand - day 9

At last, completion day.  For a while we thought she'd really lost the plot as the nest was getting bigger but there was no actual nesting hole!

A couple of days ago I caught sight of her flying in with a HUGE white feather, about twice as long as her, and it was fascinating to watch her break it down and stuff it inside as a nice soft lining for her nest.

Now we just wait until she lays her eggs - usually 1 or 2.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Giving nature a hand - Day 4

Not much progress during Day 3 but it's now the afternoon of Day 4.

Who's watching who?!

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Giving nature a helping hand - Day 2

Much industrious to-ing and fro-ing today and this is Mrs Sunbird's nest at 4pm on Day 2!

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Giving Nature a helping hand

Springtime here and our beautiful tiny Sunbirds are in a nesting frenzy and have decided that an insect-screen is the perfect spot for their suspended nest.  The first we knew was seeing the pile of 'first attempts' on our patio this morning.  The holes in the screen are just too tiny so, as we've done before, we poked a paperclip through the mesh and draped some of the dropped bits over it to give her a start.  I think she was a bit puzzled at first but building is now proceeding at a furious pace!  Now we'll just hope she stays safe - Black Butcherbirds are a terrible menace, but there's only so much you can do to help Nature.  I'll keep posting progress reports!

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Faster Mum!

We have daily sightings of these long-time resident, fresh water, Saw-shelled Turtles in the dam.  They usually dive into the water as you approach but just now I was able to creep a little closer and snap this cute family photo!

Friday, August 19, 2011

Stingless Bees

I've just been having a clean-up in the shed and unearthed the old electric BBQ grill from under an old towel and was stunned to find it being used as a hive by a colony of tiny stingless native bees!  We often see tiny openings in buildings and old trees with dozens of the little creatures flying in and out but have never seen what the hive looks like inside.  Now, having Googled (as you do!) I find that the larger round globules are the honey-pots which, when you squeeze, emit a small amount of rather runny mildly-sweet honey - you can just see them stuck to the standing grill at the back.  I think the mass in the middle may be the pollen pots but I'm not sure.

These bees do not produce a lot of honey so could not be used commercially, however they are wonderful pollinators for gardens.  So I've carefully replaced the top of the grill and the old towel and the bees are heading back in droves!

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Hi Everyone - as you may have noticed I haven't been blogging much lately.  As we get further into our busiest visitor season (and coping with a few health issues) I'll be concentrating more on our Facebook Page (http://www.facebook.com/daintreevalleyhaven) and posting anything interesting there instead.  At the moment my Blog posts are automatically duplicated there anyway.  So I hope you'll visit our Page and hopefully 'like' us there if you'd like to keep current with happenings in the Daintree Valley!

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Grass spiders

Some mornings the grass is covered with these little spider webs which really show up with the dew on them.  They're made by harmless little grass spiders although I've no idea what they're called other than that I gather they are from the family agelenidae which are funnel-weaving spiders - happily no relation to the highly venomous Funnel Web Spider which is of the family hexatheloidae. 

Monday, June 6, 2011

Another butterfly

As promised - this is another common tropical species, a Union Jack (delias mysis), and yesterday this one was fluttering around the Caliandra bush behind one of the bungalows, 'Sunbird Sanctuary'.  It's a little fuzzy I'm afraid.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Red Lacewing Butterfly

So many butterflies!  So many different species seldom seen here before, like this beautiful Red Lacewing (cethosia cydippe) which we are now seeing all over the property.  I took this shot this morning alongside our walking track - I'll post some other varieties over the next day or so.  A real kaleidescope of colours in the gardens and on our walking trails!

Friday, June 3, 2011


Such beautiful light through the trees on these lovely early-winter afternoons.

The trunks in the foreground are a couple of our huge very old mango trees which hopefully will start to blossom in the next month or two.  Two years ago we had the biggest crop ever - last year we had just ONE fruit ... and something ate it before we could pick it!

Saturday, May 28, 2011


Not much in the way of ripe fruits at the moment although several are 'in the pipeline'.  This is a young Soursop - related to the Custard Apple (also known as the Sweetsop) - they grow on the trunk and it's always a battle to get the ripe ones before the Flying Foxes do!

The Jakfruits (which we don't like anyway!) are not doing well after such a wet season but the Malay Apples are in full blossom and the Honeyeaters are going wild.  Quite a few bunches of green bananas coming on and after Cyclone Yasi devastated much of Queensland's banana crop they are hugely expensive in the shops so we're looking forward to having our own lovely sweet Ducasse bananas again.  The Limes and Lemonade fruits are almost finished now but there are a few Carambolas (Star Fruit) and yellow Passionfruit around.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Orange Cruiser

We never imagined a month ago that we would be praying for rain!  But after only 12mm (half an inch) in 4 weeks the earth was bone dry and we've been running the sprinklers every day.  But last night some lovely gentle showers brought 7mm so all is fresh and green again, the dust on the road has settled and the butterflies, like this Orange Cruiser, are out in force again.  More showers forecast so it might be a catch-up-with-bookwork day!

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Tree Frogs

It's been a while since we've had a visit from a Giant (or White-lipped) Tree Frog and this big guy spent the weekend on one of our front windows.  You can just see the white lip.  We love these guys 'tho they have a loud croak - especially if they get inside a downpipe from the gutter!

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Orange-footed Scrub Fowl

We call these resident birds "the Roosters" 'cos they make the most amazing raucous call - usually outside the bedroom window in the early hours!  There were two of them feeding on fallen Carambolas (also called 5-Corner or Star Fruit) this afternoon and we think they may be the offspring of our previously-resident adults as they are still quite small - and quite tame.

They build up a huge pile of dead leaves for their nest - sometimes up to 1.5 metres (about 4-5 feet) high - and they regulate the inner temperature by rearranging the leaves and digging holes in the pile to control the airflow - amazing.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Black Skipper

At first sight I thought this was a small moth sipping nectar from a bougainvillea flower but the clubbed antennae indicate it's a butterfly - it's actually a Black Skipper (toxidia melania) and the book tells me it's distribution is limited to rainforest from Mossman southwards to Townsville in far north Queensland, so this little fellow is just to the north of this range.  (We are a 40-minute drive north of Mossman.)

Wednesday, April 20, 2011


Nature's camouflage in action - this Praying Mantis (such a descriptive name) blends in so well against the green leaves.  This one's about 8cm (3 inches) long.

Postscript to my last 'Dove Orchid' blog - some light showers finally caught up with us but thankfully nothing serious so our post-wet-season clean-up continues.  Finally Peter's managed to mow most of the long, long grass for the first time in several months!

But the saga of break-downs continues.  Last week we eventually got the repaired pressure-water-cleaner back - a 'must-have' in the tropics - but now the Landcruiser has problems, the spa motor which has been working perfectly while no-one has been staying has packed up just in time for Easter guests, and now an attachment to the tractor is broken.  Sigh!

Thursday, April 14, 2011

... and the sun's still shining ...

Orchids fully out today and not a cloud in the sky - have they got it wrong this time?!  Not that we're complaining about lack of rain!  For the first time in 3 months Peter's today just managed to mow the overgrown grass in our roadside paddock - mind you he 'threw' two drive belts on the ride-on mowers doing it!

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Weather-forecasting plants

Oh it's been sooo nice to see soooo much sun over the past week and we've managed to get sooooo much done, ready for our 'full house' of guests over Easter.  Then I happened to look at our Dove Orchid - in bud again which invariably means rain within 24-48 hours!   Will let you know when it arrives!

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

More valley neighbours

A familiar sight as you drive through Stewart Creek valley.  These delightful goats belong to a neighbour who farms Brahman beef-cattle on the lush valley flats.  As you can see the grassy slopes stop where they reach thick rainforest which covers all the valley hills - over the hills they become part of the huge, mostly-inaccessible, Daintree National Park.

We never tire of this lovely 8km drive home from Daintree Village - in and out of the rainforest and through this tropical farmland as the trail follows the winding Stewart Creek.

Monday, April 4, 2011


This Kookaburra watched as I squelched my way round the walking-track the other day!

We've been having some beautiful weather and have managed to get most of the grassy areas back under control but there is still a huge amount of water run-off from the valley hillsides which make mowing, or even slashing, impossible in some spots.

The other day the tractor got bogged at the top of a very gentle slope - and the Landcruiser also bogged when trying to tow the tractor!

Monday, March 28, 2011

That's one week we're happy to see the end of.  Peter's agonising throat pain misdiagnosed by one doctor, next day admitted to hospital with an enormous abscess on one tonsil, blocking three-quarter of his airway.  Happily intravenous antibiotics, morphine and drip did the trick and he was able to come home 2 days later but still on strong antibiotics for 10 days.

On the plus side our old ride-on mower - the 'new' one can't cope with really wet ground - finally got it's new engine and thanks to some fantastic weather the boggy ground is starting to dry out and today Peter's much better, back 'at work' again and getting much of the property under control.  We've been embarrassed for guests to see it so untidy, and our walking track is still closed although hoping tomorrow we'll get that cleared and mowed too.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

New-look furnishings

This is Sunbird Sanctuary with it's 'new look' - I finished making the blue pillow-cases this morning and have another four to make for the other two bungalows.  This is the new King-Twin bed and there are new Queen beds in the others.

You can just see some of the hundreds of Pagoda-flowers through the window - all alive with butterflies!

Hopefully we'll soon start to welcome some more guests!

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Spoke too soon!

Hmm, well we thought the rain had stopped for a while ... !  

Too wet outside so we're again office-bound.  Watching a slideshow of my photos on the computer I found this one, taken in 2009, but I still like this shot of a Chestnut-breasted Mannikin taken on our walking-track.

These beautiful little birds are usually seen in fast-moving flocks flitting over open grassland, chasing insects.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Sun, Sun, Glorious Sun!

At last a beautiful sunny day and this huge Dragonfly was taking full advantage.  It also means we can start to work outside, although we're really ashamed at the state of our normally-mowed grassy areas which are still far, far too boggy to attack with the ride-on mower.  Even our walking-trails are no-go areas for anyone not wearing gumboots!  Now we just need a few more sunny days and then we will soon get things back to normal.  For the second time Peter has spent a few hours on the tractor repairing the wash-outs on our driveway - his first attempt ended up dumped onto the grass next to the gateway after another torrential downpour!

Friday, March 11, 2011

Rainy season

It really hasn't been photography-weather lately but in between showers this afternoon the butterflies were again out in force.  Here's a lovely Cairns Birdwing outside the kitchen - not a brilliant shot as we head into early evening and overcast skies.

For anyone following the progress of our Buff-breasted Paradise Kingfishers - the other day yet another slightly stunned juvenile after flying into the window!   Any suggestions for a caption???

Another happy ending as it soon recovered and took off.

Monday, February 28, 2011


'Before', 'During' and 'After' shots of the old and new air-conditioners in each of the three bungalows.  Our builder did a great job of blocking the through-wall holes - now the patches have been painted and you wouldn't know they were there.

The old ones were very noisy and didn't have a de-humidifying cycle - always a problem keeping homes smelling fresh during our rainy season.  And it is turning out to be a really wet season this year!

Now we're delighted with the new machines which are whisper-quiet and the 'Dry' function is working really well - no more musty smells!

The Wettest Wet

Such a lovely wet season!  And it HAS been wet with over 1.6 meters (65 inches) this month alone.  We love it - nothing to do but curl up with a book and do ... nothing!  Today the rain has stopped and wow! the butterflies have emerged in droves!  I took these clips about an hour ago as dozens of Ulysses, Swallowtails (shown) and others which were too quick for the camera included Green Triangles, Cruisers and others unknown, fluttered through the Pagoda flowers.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Lest we forget

Today we are all 'with' the people of Christchurch and Canterbury as their terrible ordeal is brought to us live on the news channels.  Who knows if next week, Heaven forbid, another unfolding natural disaster may take over the headlines.  But let's not forget ALL the victims still enduring the devastations caused by "yesterday's" news - Queensland's floods, West Australia's bushfires, Cyclones Yasi and Carlos, and now NZ's earthquake ... and these are just in Australasia alone.  Sadly with news coming to us so instantly we seem to have such short attention-spans.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Butterflies galore

The gardens are really alive with butterflies today - Ulysses, Birdwings, Swallowtails, Cruisers and some new ones we've never seen before - all notoriously fast-moving!  This Ulysses was just outside the kitchen window - and a beautiful Golden Orb Spider is building it's web outside one of the front windows - this is it's 'underside' view.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Baby Kingfishers

A beautiful day today after the rain and the birds are happy!   I finally managed to snap one of the two 'baby' Buff-breasted Paradise Kingfishers which are always flying round the driveway.  This little fellow is just starting to develop it's colours but is yet to start growing the distinctive long thin white tail plumes.  You can see the start of the blue head feathers and it's breast will eventually be a deep rufous colour and the beak will turn bright red - you may like to check my archive of these beautiful birds.

They usually stay around until March/April and when the juveniles are fully-fledged they will migrate back to Papua New Guinea.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

We love the rainy season!

And boy has it rained in the past 10 days since Cyclone Yasi (thankfully!) missed us!  280mm - over 11 inches - in the past 24 hours alone.

And how we love the rainy season, the rain thundering on the roof and overflowing the gutters, that oh so distinctive smell of warm tropical rain and then the vibrant colours when the sun comes out again, the birds singing and within hours the gardens are alive with butterflies.

I took this shot of the front of the house this morning.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Thank you Ergon Energy!

Happiness is - the power coming on half an hour ago after 5 days!  Hot showers again - whoopee!

Saturday, February 5, 2011

All's well in the Daintree (appearing on Blog and Facebook!)

An 'interesting' week to say the least.  Increasing fear for us all with the approach of Cyclone Yasi and then, for most of us folks north of Cairns an enormous sigh of relief - but profound horror at the utter devastation of communities further south.  Almost unbelievable that Queensland could suffer two natural events of such magnitude within a space of weeks - so many folks who supported the flood victims further south now in dire need themselves.
Our preparations started early in the week with everything moveable being shifted, locked-up or tied down.  Our home is a very open tropical house with few windows in the living area, mostly floor-to-ceiling (except we don't actually have a ceiling!) insect screens so all the furniture was stacked in the one corner of the living-area which does have windows, which we taped for safety.

Severe tropical cyclone Yasi was forecast to cross the coast on Wednesday night but right up until about 9pm we had still not had a breath of wind.  It picked up then and it was a wild and woolly night outside and the power went off about 10pm.  Peter and I spent the evening in the office - our walls are solid besser-block and this is the safest roon - with the battery radio to hear what was happening everywhere and a couple of bottles of red wine! (as you do!).

Next morning we looked out expecting a scene of devastation but all we saw was like this - lots of small branches and leaves and only a couple of trees down on our 30 acres!  We were SOOOOO lucky!  Only minor vegetation damage throughout the whole region - very little structural damage and, thank goodness, no casualties.

We only had 3mm - not even half an inch - of rain when Yasi crossed!  However since then it's made up for it and in the past 24 hours we've had 240mm, about 10 inches!

Now, three days later, there are still about 140,000 houses without power throughout Queensland - we thank heaven for our generator which is hooked up to the house for emergencies.  Now all the phones north of Mossman are out.

Luckily yesterday morning we decided to drive in to Mossman to stock up on petrol for the genny and a few supplies as by the time we came home the water was just under our brand new bridge - and I took this photo this morning, about 10 minutes ago!  Earlier it was much higher but as usual it's going down quite quickly so by this afternoon it should be passable.

So we really are grateful for (a) generator, (b) satellite broadband, (c) Skype ... plus (d) a good sense of humour!

Of course our refurbishment-schedule is now behind-hand.  Builder and electrician had been arranged for this week to replace the air-conditioners in the cabins - and our lovely new Sealy beds are still in Brisbane!   Luckily no guests booked in - in fact we are always reluctant to take bookings in February anyway as the weather is so unpredictable.

But all very, very minor inconveniences compared to so many other Queenslanders ........

Wednesday, January 26, 2011


Oh what incredible weather!  After so much rain - mostly light rain but so consistent that the ground has been waterlogged - this week of glorious sun is drying things out and the rainforest is alive with birds and butterflies.  I don't think our English guests realise quite how lucky they are to be here now after last week's rain!  We feel sorry for the schoolkids, and families - fancy having the weather clear up the day you go back to school!

This morning I was watching, and trying to photograph, a tiny little newly-fledged Sunbird in a Geisha-Girl bush - it was learning to sip nectar while Mum and Dad fluttered around keeping watch.  Suddenly this beautiful female Cruiser Butterfly (Vindula arsinoe) appeared and landed on the adjacent Hibiscus - the female is larger than the male which is predominantly brown.