Peaceful Doves at Ross Creek

View of Ross Creek, Townsville
Ross Creek at high tide

Townsville is on Ross River but the ‘river’ nearest the city centre is not Ross River as such but Ross Creek, a mangrove creek which separates South Townsville, Railway Estate and the port from Hermit Park and the city. I often stop where Queen’s Road crosses  Ross Creek (satellite-view map) when I have some spare time on my way home from the Aquarium (see previous post) – usually around lunchtime – and wander around with my camera. There is always something to see whether it is insect life on mangrove flowers, turtles or birds. A couple of weeks ago I spotted these Peaceful Doves, Geopelia striata, in a banjo fig tree.

Peaceful Doves
Peaceful Doves, Geopelia striata

Peaceful Doves are common in open woodlands around all of Australia except the South-West, according to Slater’s Field Guide, but they are particularly common in Townsville and their calls are integral to the soundscape of our daily life. They are small birds (the Diamond Dove is about the same size but all other Australian doves and pigeons are bigger) and feed primarily on seeds on the ground. We tend to think of them as ‘not very smart’ but they manage to survive quite comfortably in urban environments so maybe we are being unfair.


White mangrove flowers
White mangrove flowers

Coming home from the city via Queens Road I cross a mangrove creek which divides South Townsville from Hermit Park, and sometimes I stop off and wander along the creek.

I had my camera with me last time I did that. The mangroves are flowering, showing quite pretty little white flowers, and attracting pollen and nectar feeders like this Blue-banded Bee, which in turn attract predators like the Assassin Bug.

Blue-banded bee on white mangrove flowers
Blue-banded bee, Amegilla sp., on mangrove flowers
Assassin bug nymph
Assassin Bug, probably Pristhesancus plagipennis,  nymph

Mangroves themselves are fascinating in the ways they have adapted to survive and thrive in their muddy, salty environment. There’s a nice explanation of their adaptations here and I’ll leave you with a leaf which demonstrates one of their tricks:

Mangrove leaf detail showing salt crystals
What’s the white stuff, and how did it get there?