Wednesday, 15 February 2012

Jottings from the Tropics: 15 February 2012


I heard the Papuan frogmouth again last night. That’s the second evening in a row. I have no plans to go wandering around the scrub in the middle of the night with a spotlight trying to locate the bird — far too many stinging trees — but if it nudges the lesser sooty owl and possums off the roof, I’ll be there with the camera.

(A Papuan frogmouth looks like a tawny frogmouth on steroids — as big as a sulphur-crested cockatoo and with jewel red eyes. Barbara and Allen at Wild Wings & Swampy Things have a photo of one nesting at their place near Daintree. Here’s another photo from the Wet Tropics Management Authority. If it does nudge the other animals off the roof, I’ll be sure to know about it.)

- o O o -

While in town yesterday, I ran into a succession of friends and neighbours. This allowed me to catch up on all the news and gossip, although there wasn’t much of either, this being a small town and not Sun Hill. (We are still talking about the time that some young fella tried to mug an eighty year old woman outside the supermarket. She whacked him with her handbag, pushed him over and probably would have given him a good kicking if others hadn’t intervened. That was almost three years ago and it has yet to get old.)

In the course of a conversation, one friend did tell me that before she goes for a swim in the river, she fetches her broom and gives the rocks a sweep. That’s the ones under water, not the ones on the bank. This reminded me of a friend at uni who was doing his PhD on the invertebrate fauna of waterfalls. Whole communities are adapted to living on vertical rock faces in very high flow regimes — crazy critters with gripping feet and great big suckers to hold them in place, because it’s a long way uphill if you slip.Especially if you're only 8 mm long.

As you can imagine, it is difficult to study these animals. My friend sampled them by rappelling down a waterfall and using a brush to sweep them into a collecting container not unlike a dustpan. When a couple of backpackers asked him what he was doing, he told them that the council paid him to keep things neat for the tourists. They went away happy and so did he.

- o O o -

They tell me that the bridge will be open by Friday. Not any old Friday. Not some random Friday on the downhill side of Easter, whenever that is. But this Friday. Tomorrow.

I will refrain from further comment on this matter until Saturday.

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