Be Grateful For Slugs. Or Even Raccoons..
..Because you could have one of these. It’s about the size of a chicken. Looks harmless enough?
Well, no. Believe it or not, this is its nest. Difficult to get perspective from the photo I know, but that mound is about 1.5m high. Same height as me. I couldn’t see over the top of it. And they can be up to 4m wide..
The male brush turkey builds and tends the nest, scratching up soil and leaf litter from an enormous area around it. Imagine having that heap suddenly appear plumb in the centre of what used to be your White Border? At Cairns Botanic Garden that’s exactly what happens. Although they might dispute, with some justification, that their border was ever entirely white.
Here he is, with larger yellow wattles than the female (top pic), bedding down the nest.. possibly less than enthused by the intrusion if his expression is anything to go by. But if he does choose to build a nest right beside the garden cafe then what can he expect?
The female brush turkey turns up sufficiently long enough to bury her eggs deep in the mound and then promptly skidaddles, relying on heat from the composting process to incubate the eggs. Once they hatch it’s down to the youngsters to dig themselves out of the heap and start out in life on their own.
And don’t think you’ve escaped if you see no brush turkeys. Because you might still have one of these..
And they do exactly the same. Just omit the vertically aligned tail (all the better for scraping with) and add a pointy head. My usual disclaimer for rainforest photography, light levels are extremely low.
A few more images from the rainforest before we move on:
One of the main predators of brush turkey and scrub fowl eggs as it happens.
The rainforest is such a magical place. And the coolest place to be when the heat reaches record levels, as it did in Far North Queensland to coincide with our stay. You know me, I’d much rather be too hot than too cold. But when it gets to over 40C perhaps even I have found my limit.
One afternoon we had what was classed as a ‘severe thunderstorm’. In England it would have been called a hurricane, promptly given a name, and would have shut down the entire country. When the ornaments on the deck table took flight we hastily retreated inside, only to see the chairs that we’d been seated in moments earlier similarly take to the air and end up in the shrubbery. Swiftly followed by a sofa..
The Wait-A-While Vine
Because if you’ve been snagged by one that’s precisely what you’ll do. See the barbs on the stems?
Figs. Growing high up in the canopy of a host tree.
One of the cassowary’s favourite fruity snacks. They may look soft and yielding but falling from such a height they have the power to ricochet off the boardwalks and cannon into any unsuspecting passer-by. Ask me how I know.
Flying foxes on their daytime roost. You’ll hear these long before you see them.
A hanging basket with a difference. The ferns have two types of fronds: the long green fronds that carry the spores for reproduction and photosynthesis and short brown fronds which protect the roots and collect debris, providing nutrition for the plant. Not to mention all the other life that collects in there.. insects, frogs, snakes and other plants which germinate in the nutrient rich environment.
And finally. To get to the rainforest we had to cross the Daintree River on a ferry. If you’re a bird, and it’s very very hot, why go to all the trouble of flying across when you can hitch a ride for free?