Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Cassowary Scat/Tracks on the Beach in Front of Proposed Ella Bay Resort Complex/Urban Development

On Sunday 7 February 2010 I decided to go for a beach walk at Ella Bay.
I knew that both Barra Creek and Biggerabarra Creek had broken out to the sea and would block my travel but at the end of the day a short walk is better than no walk at all.

Being cut off from the northern end of the beach was not a problem a few days later when I brought the sea kayak along!

I’m glad I decided to make this trip as I was well rewarded for my enthusiasm as you will soon see.

I sometimes see cassowary tracks on the beach at Ella Bay but they are usually trashed by Agile wallaby tracks and do not photograph well.
They say every dog has his day and fortune smiled on me on Sunday!

As I walked in front of the proposed resort complex/urban development I saw a great big pile of fresh cassowary scat and clean fresh cassowary footprints. I would say I only missed the bird by minutes.

The scat consisted of mostly one type of seed and after photographing it I saved some seed for a germination test.
At the moment I believe the seed is most probably from Mackinlaya fruit which can be found growing mere metres from the waters edge at Ella Bay. Indeed The Mackinlaya plant I photographed over a period of months at Ella Bay for the story Ella Bay’s Magnificent Mackinlaya Fruit was growing right next to the waters edge.
Of course I have germinated Mackinlaya seed from similar cassowary scats before with brilliant germination rates.
Anyway time will tell!

Moving on from the scat (and yes I did wash my hands afterwards), I was very happy with the cassowary tracks that accompanied it!

So often I have seen cassowary tracks spoilt by wallabies and the elements and to find a good set was a real joy.

So here are the track shots!
Interestingly a set of dingo tracks ran parallel with the cassowary tracks for a short distance.
There’s a good chance they belong to a black and tan dingo I call Sox who regularly patrols the beach by herself and also with the pack. I believe she is pregnant so is probably keen for extra protein!

Here is a photo of sox.
And here are some photos of 2 other pack members.
Please excuse the photo quality but generally dingoes are a bit camera shy!

Here is a video of Sox scavenging the beach by herself

Here is Sox hunting with the rest of the pack. Sox is the animal on the left of the screen.

These dingoes are fairly small light dogs and even as a pack I doubt their self preservation instinct would allow them to risk harassing a cassowary. For any dingo a broken leg is a death sentence.

Besides that, agile wallabies are plentiful at Ella Bay and I sometimes find the remains of a successful dingo hunt!
Well that’s enough dingo chatter.

I noticed the beach calophyllum trees Calophyllum inophyllum were in flower. I am quite fond of these shady coastal giants.
A lone Laughing kookaburra Daecelo novaeguineae was having a bit of a laugh at my exploits.

If he meets up with an Ella Bay goshawk he won’t be laughing so hard! It wouldn’t be the first time… see The Grey Goshawk: Ella Bay’s Deadly Forest Assassin.
I also saw an uncommon visitor to the bay a Great frigate bird Fregata minor.
The chest markings and apricot head tell me this bird is a juvenile. These amazing birds can stay on the wing for a week solid and scoop their meals off the surface of the ocean. They are also well known as pirates who will steal food from other sea birds.

I have seen these birds before at Ella Bay but not as close.
As I said before, Barra and Biggerabarra creek were both flowing out into the sea halting my journey north.
What’s that you say swim it!
No thanks!!

As I turned around and returned to my vehicle I thought about lots of things.

I thought about how important beach side food resources are to Ella Bay cassowaries.

I thought about how 3 kilometres of fencing along the Ella Bay Road will isolate cassowaries from these food resources.

I thought about the farcical “Satori cassowary gate” that the proponents had come up with and the pathetic success rate it achieved when used on deer in Canada. I blogged about this in a story Satori's 'innovative' cassowary gate exposed as ineffective Canadian deer gate!

I made a commitment to myself to further investigate the importance of beach side food resources to Ella Bay cassowaries.

Of course that was quite a few days ago now and since that Sunday I have discovered and witnessed some awesome things….but that’s another story which I will be blogging about soon!

Until then…

Cheers Russ

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