At 02:49 25/08/98 +1000, Jo Wieneke wrote:
>Its great news about the Julatten trees, Congratulations. Now what's to be
>done about the spread of the great green menace of sugar cane across large
>areas of the Tableland. Last time I was up that way I was horrified at how
>much there was. It'll be good for owls and others that feed on cane rats
>and some sp like Crimson Finches that don't seem to mind the cane but how
>about others that prefer rice or corn fields or cattle paddocks or woodland?
>Is anyone monitoring the changes in bird populations in these areas?
Alas, Hinchinbrook Shire Council, 100+ km up the road from Townsville, has
been indulging in a little gardening of its own. The magnificent raintrees
in the parkland along the centre of the main street have had their outer
branches lopped as they were getting in the way of heavy trucks. We were
surprised at the extent of the pruning as I haven't noticed many 20 metre
high vehicles trundling along Highway 1.
What the metallic starlings think of the new arrangements when they return
in a couple of weeks to one of their favoured nesting sites is anybody's
guess, but I don't think they'll be too impressed. The trees now look
lop-sided and I am half expecting for the tops to be removed on the grounds
that they pose a danger to low flying aircraft.
5 km north of the town the Gairloch Bridge crossing over the Herbert River
has finally been reopened after the January floods tore huge craters in the
road; this is a top spot with yellow orioles calling all around but they
are maddeningly difficult to find.
Further downstream at Dungeness the Herbert River is gradually silting up
at its confluence with the Hinchinbrook Channel, perhaps signalling that
the river is about to change channels once more. It's current route
differs from the one taken earlier this century and a hazard marker in the
channel indicates the former site of the post office. As no canelands are
in jeopardy perhaps the Herbert River will be allowed to take it's own
course, but then again the council might send in gunships to blast the
At the proposed development site at Dungeness, where mangroves were cleared
some time ago, the pair of Beach Stone-curlews are very much in evidence;
also 3 overwintering eastern curlew, a common sandpiper and a pair of
sharp-tailed sandpiper were seen (early returns?) Around the headland at
Lucinda, Lucinda Spit continues to grow and is now over a kilometre in
length and 3 metres at its highest point; it's at least twice the size it
was when we began to monitor wader numbers there twelve months ago.
Caspian, crested and lesser crested terns were there in modest numbers, but
no waders yet. 5 Intermediate Egrets were resting on one of the sand bars:
I have seen Intermediate Egrets at the Cairns Esplanade but this was the
first time I have seen them on sand at Lucinda. Turtles have not yet
I hope we are right about Mareeba Shire Council, but it might be that the
council has decided to wait for the heat to die down. I won't get my hopes
up until a preservation order is taken out to protect the trees.