Dainty Green Tree Frogs

I was woken at 4am by the noise of hundreds of Dainty Green Tree Frogs (Litoria gracilenta). The noise was enough to wake and the bedroom was over 100 metres from where the frogs were. They are beautiful little frogs (also known as Graceful Tree Frog) only about 40mm – 45mm long. I could only see a couple while I was taking the video.

We’ve had them in the shack  before but only one at a time.

Sunbirds nesting in our verandah (cleaning the nest)

We’ve had a couple of sunbirds nesting in our verandah at Portland Roads Beach Shack. They build a nest hanging off a piece of string in about 2 weeks, then have the babies.

We have been watching them and noticed that they seem to take the babies shit (neatly wrapped in a little white bundle) out of the nest, fly away with it drop it off somewhere.

Beautiful big python at our backdoor

The other night I was met at our back door by a 3.5m python. It was very quiet and relaxed but it too big to have around the house.

Earlier in the day some of our little birds had been getting quite agitated and making warning noises, but I couldn’t see anything at the time. So I think the python had eaten something from our garden.

I asked our neighbour to help bag it and then I re-located it on the banks of a nearby creek.

He grabbed the python and I helped put it in a bag – this was my first time handling a snake like this; it was very strong – two of us struggled to get it in the bag.

I then drove to a nearby creek and let the python out on the bank – it seemed like a nice place for a big python to live.

Orange-naped snake

This little Orange-naped snake (Furina ornata) was hiding next to our outside stairs. In spite of it’s very, very  bright orange colouring, it was well camouflaged in the dull brown leaf litter.

I presume it was a young one as it was only about 30 cms long –  they apparently grow to around 70 cms.

Fly/drive/stay deal – the wet season is the best time for wildlife

You can Fly into Cape York and spend some time exploring. There is heaps to see in just one area. Explore the Iron Range National Park, Chili Beach and Lockhart River area from Portland Roads.

To encourage people to visit Portland Roads Beach Shack during the wet season, we have negotiated deals with Skytrans and Lockhart River Car Hire so that our customers can get discounts when booking through us.

Jade coloured tree snake

This colourful tree snake is very long. At the other end his colour changes to an olive green. He is living under this water tank in our yard.

Jade coloured tree snake, Portland Roads

Jade coloured tree snake, Portland Roads

Major Skink in our kitchen

We often have interesting guests at Portland Roads. I was just talking to some Lizard people and told them about this little fellow. So just found out that this is a Major Skink. He was in our kitchen and ran under the bench, behind some boxes. This photo was in July 2011, but I also saw one the other day (December 2011). I surprised him throwing a bucket of water on the garden.

Major Skink, Portland Roads, Cape York
Major Skink, Portland Roads, Cape York

Passing yachts and ships at Portland Roads

There is some quite interesting history in the naming of Portland Roads (Cate will write an a post on this soon). The ‘Roads’ is short for Roadstead which is an old nautical term for shelter.

We often have boats, yachts and ships moored in our sheltered bay. Everything from sports-fishing (Nomad Sportfishing), motherships from Seaswift, to passing yachts. We also have huge container ships further out to sea.

Some of our groceries are delivered by the Emu Bay – the ship moors every two weeks during the prawn season. We also can get gas and fuel.

Spring is sprung and the wet is nearly here

I’m not sure that we actually have spring here, but the plants and trees are bursting with new life. And we are seeing more and more different animals and insects each day. Of course the humidity keeps rising too. But the winds are lessening and the sea is calming and becoming glass-like in the mornings. There is burning off happening and this gives us some incredible sunrises where the air is smoky and the morning sun is a red as a sunset.

Nurdles at Chili Beach Cleanup 2011

I’d never heard of nurdles before – it’s a beautiful sounding word but unfortunately has sinister connotations.

Nurdles at Chili Beach Cleanup 2011

Nurdles at Chili Beach Cleanup 2011

Nurdles are small plastic resin pellets (usually under 5 mm diameter)  used as the main raw product in the manufacture of plastic products.
They are one of the main sources of marine debris.
Nurdles resemble fish eggs, absorb toxins and there are billions of them out there (some estimate there are more the 120 billion kilograms with about 50,000 nurdles per kilogram).
Heidi from Tangoroa told me that they once collected 6,600 nurdles in 1 sq m of sand in WA

Tangaroa Blue Ocean Care Society has more information in their pdf Fact Sheet on Nurdles

I learnt about nurdles while attending the annual Chili Beach Cleanup in July 2011. It was a great time with many interesting people attending.

They included students from Lockhart State School, residents of Lockhart, Portland Roads and Restoration Island, Kawadji-Kanindji Rangers, Jen Goldberg from Ghostnets, Heidi Taylor from Tangaroa Blue Ocean Care Society, Sheils Barra from Cook Shire Council, Barry Murray from Rio Tinto, National Parks Rangers and various travellers.

Anna and Matt and Ronya, Lotta and Torben

Anna and Matt and Ronya, Lotta and Torben

Anna, Matt and their 3 children Ronya, Lotta and Torben were wwoofing on Restoration Island whilst on a holiday around Australia.

They are from Denmark in WA were they own Windrose B&B which is being managed by a friend from Germany whiile they are travelling around Australia.

They had just spent a week or so with Dave on Restoration Island, and as he was coming in for the cleanup they decided to join him.

The Kawadji-Kanindji (Land & Sea) Rangers  – Claudia, Caroline, Denis and Neil,  had previously cleaned another section of Chili Beach on the weekend. They had worked with Andy Baker, the QPWS Ranger,  Jen Goldberg from Ghostnets and Heidi Taylor from Tangaroa Blue Ocean Care Society. It was great for these people from different organisations to be able to work together with the common goals of removing and cataloging the marine debris. The Kawadji Kanindji rangers are keen to continue doing marine debris clean-ups and monitoring of the area.

Neil, Andy, Claudia, Denis, Caroline, Heidi

Neil, Andy, Claudia, Denis, Caroline, Heidi

The  Ghostnets website says “Formerly known as the Carpentaria Ghost Nets Programme, GhostNets Australia is an alliance of 22 indigenous communities from coastal northern Australia across the three states of Western Australia, Northern Territory and Queensland.  The programme was established in 2004 with funding from the Australian Government. Since its inception the programme has supported Indigenous Rangers to remove over 7,500 ghost nets of varying sizes.  This has resulted in recovery of a proportion of the trapped wildlife, particularly marine turtles (52%), and the prevention of the ghost nets from returning to the sea, continuing their destructing life-cycle. Less than 10% of these nets have been attributed to Australian fisheries.”
And from Heidi’s website:
“In 2004 Tangaroa Blue Ocean Care Society was founded by Richard and Heidi Taylor. Tangaroa Blue Ocean Care Society is run as a non-profit organisation with the goals of:
– creating awareness in the community of marine environmental and conservation issues through marine environmental science projects; and
– proactively participating in and organising marine conservation projects which address marine conservation issues.”

The litter over the three days included 81 bags plus a lot of larger items. It weighed 1171 kg in total.
The roughly 50 volunteers on Monday covered a distance of 1.24km over about 2.5hrs.

piece of fibreglass at the Chili Beach cleanup 2011

piece of fibreglass at the Chili Beach cleanup 2011

We found an incredible variety of debris: cans, paddle pop sticks, foil, bottles of all sorts, plastic bag remnants, hard bits of plastic, polystyrene foam, shoes, bleach/cleaner  bottles, fishing paraphernalia, cigarette lighters, skincare bottles, toothbrushes, weather balloon foam and a huge piece of fibreglass from a yacht.

The  bleach bottles are used in some coral reefs to kill fish – they are thrown (full) into the water with slits cut into them  – and the bleach kills or stuns the fish for easy collection but unfortunately the coral gets killed in the process.

Some of the bits of foam collected were from weather balloons. In order to accurately forecast the weather, the Bureau of Meteorology sends up 2-4 weather balloons every day from  every office around Australia. The balloons have an almost 1 square metre piece of polystyrene foam with a silver lining for the radar, a large ballloon and at night 2 AA batteries. All of these drop back to earth and cause a huge problem as debris. I believe the Bureau of Meteorology is working to lessen the impact of weather balloons on the environment.