Just before dark yesterday, we had an unexpected visitor: a juvenile cassowary emerged from the the forest, near our veranda. It has probably walked along the creek in search of fallen fruits, mushrooms and, if it is lucky, the occasional frog.
It is about 2/3 adult size, with clearly visible brown juvenile feathers on the thighs and tail, a bright blue neck and short, pink wattles, making it 1-2 years old.
Wattles and casque still have a lot of growing to do.
It might be a young male, as the tail feathers seem longer than on a female.
The colouration along the neck is already quite vivid.
He was back this morning, pecking at some mushrooms, before wandering down to the creek and into the forest.
The large Acacia tree between cabin and creek seems to be a favourite for our Lumholtz’s Tree-kangaroos. They were back in that tree 2 weeks ago, eating and resting for a few hours in the morning, before descending and seeking more shade for the hotter part of the day in a smaller Symplocos tree nearby.
They are difficult to photograph in bright sunshine (at least with my little compact camera), one can hardly see their eyes in their dark faces.
Regent Skippers (Euschemon rafflesia) are the largest of the Australian skippers, and beautifully coloured, especially our tropical subspecies E.rafflesia alba. The first butterflies appear in late September, and it seems they complete 3 generations before they make themselves scarce towards the end of March.
They are very unusual in having a feature, which normally is an important difference between butterflies and moths: males have a spine on the hindwing (a frenulum), which couples it with a loop under the forewing.
They are easy to observe, as they often settle on shrubs for a while. This one even sat on my hand for a while!The food plant for their caterpillars (Wilkiea pubescens, a tall shrub) grows in abundance on our property. Wilkiea fruits are very popular with many birds, like Superb Fruit-doves, and we’ve even watched a tree-kangaroo eat mouthfuls of the unripe berries.
Sometimes they even come to lights at night:The female skippers lays a single, ribbed egg on the underside of a leaf.
The emerging larva builds a shelter by cutting out part of a leaf and folding it back onto the upper surface. They emerge to feed at night.