I walked the Many Peaks trail again last weekend, almost exactly a year after my previous visit. This time, walking with friends, I didn’t stop so often to look at little wildlife, but we still took about five hours for the twelve kilometres or so. That seems, in fact, to be a reasonable minimum time for the route for anyone who wants to enjoy it.
The Wet is well over but there is still open water. The water birds, however, still have other options and are not in great numbers on the Common. That said, we did see Drongo, Magpie Geese, Egret, Peaceful Dove, Honeyeaters, Rainbow Bee-eater, hawk (probably Black Kite), Plovers, Scrub Turkey and other species.
The Tawny Coster is now so well established that it was one of the commonest butterflies but there were plenty of the usual Swamp Tigers, Blue Tigers, Crows (both Common and Brown) and others.
My very first impression of Townsville’s landscape, thirty years ago, was of dead-flat land interrupted by peculiarly isolated hills and ranges, and it has only been reinforced over the years by views and events.
The views? Getting to know the topography from the top of Castle Hill, Mt Stuart or (most recently) Mt Marlow on the Town Common reveals a coastal landscape of mangrove flats rising (minimally) to the suburbs which wrap around the bases of the hills, with Ross River, Ross Creek and the Bohle River winding lazily through them.
I hiked up Mount Marlow via the Many Peaks Trail on the Common (see map) four years ago and noted in my post about it that I was glad I had chosen not to rush it. Last Tuesday I started an hour later, at about 9.20, but finished at the same time, and wished I had allowed more time for it.
We’ve had lovely weather for ducks in the last week – ever since I posted about last year’s rainfall, in fact, although I don’t think my post was the cause. I visited the Town Common on Wednesday morning and enjoyed sloshing around in intermittent drizzle before the really heavy rain started about 11 o’clock. Everything was beautifully green and the waterbirds were feeding happily.
Most of this group were Cattle Egrets (more precisely Eastern Cattle Egrets, Bubulcus coromandus) – which are pure white in non-breeding plumage and rufous in breeding plumage. The bigger pure white birds are Intermediate Egrets (Ardea intermedia).
Pacific Bazas, also known as Crested Hawks, are beautiful birds of prey which are uncommon enough to call for a photo at everyopportunity. We saw one in the Quarantine Station picnic grounds at Pallarenda on Friday as it flew up to perch in a tree.
From behind, we could see its head jerking up and down as it tore at prey which it was holding against its perch; from in front, I was able to get photos showing us what it was doing. It was carefully shelling a Giant Grasshopper in exactly the way we would shell a prawn, and for the same reason: to avoid the crunchy bits.