Thursday, August 27, 2009

More Critters at Lacey Creek

Michele: Yesterday we took a walk in the rainforest with the kids and the mums (Gavin's and mine) to Lacey Creek. Although it has been very dry here for the past month, the walk by the creek was absolutely delightful. The bird song in the forest is amazing. We saw sorts of house plants gone wild (will expand on this in a future post) as well as strangler figs, termite mounds, and lots of cassowary scat, some of it quite fresh looking. At one point along the trail they have markers next to about a dozen trees explaining how the cassowaries use each tree for food. It was a very well-planned display and the shed at this site hosted an amazingly large spider. Our spider book helped us narrow this down to a golden orb-weaver spider. Now I'm a spider admirer but I agree with Scott J. that no matter that they aren't poisonous, walking into one of their webs and having them crawling over you would be horrible.

The highlight of our walk was waiting at the parking area. A dad cassowary with at least one young were eating fruit fallen from a tree. When we approached, the chick ducked into
the woods. The chicks have rather plain speckled brown coloring to blend into the foliage. The dads do the parenting. The moms lay the eggs and then take off to pursue their careers, I mean pursue their pleasures. The dads sit on the eggs and raise the chicks until the next mating season. Now that we've learned all about cassowaries, I have a feeling that I will hear lots of cassowary analogies each time I travel to conferences.

In this photo you can also see the cassowary's feet. They have three toes with super-creepy sharp talons. Think raptor and you will know exactly what these look like. Cassowaries have been known to attack people with their talons though the last fatality was over a hundred years ago. Never the less, we stayed our distance.

We haven't yet visited a single wildlife sanctuary or zoo but already we've had fabulous chances to see lots of Australian wildlife in their habitat. While northern Queensland may not be a cultural mecca (Monica, the nearest Ikea is 1600 km away), I feel incredibly lucky to be spending time in this part of the world.

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