|Archer Point||June 3 - 5 2019|
|We feel the need for a bit of planning for our assault on
Cape York. The lighthouse has 4G mobile reception. So a couple of hours
being buffeted by the south easterly wind. We are not alone, the whole
coast, from the border to the cape, is being buffeted.
The clouds have cleared temporarily. We have a pleasant view to the north.
Our planning reveals we are a tad early. Lakefield National Park is either totally booked out or not yet open. A look at roads reveals Lakefield Road is not yet open.
We decide to head north to the Cape in a few days, camping where we can on the way, then make our way south slowly. We have a map of mobile phone coverage, and also our satphone, so are confident we can book campsites in national parks.
|A repeat of yesterdays view south as we descend from the lighthouse. It looks different in sunshine.|
|Having looked at a satellite view of Archer Point we
realise there is camping along the beach, to the south of the road in.
There are a couple of campers and the track further along the beach is a bit tight, with overhanging trees, for us.
We parked at the entrance and walked along the track, just in case. As the track became overgrown we headed to the beach. By chance we met the rangers coming the other way, in the 4wd buggy. The beach is solid. Further along are a few campsites accessible from the beach.
|A quick detour to take a pic of a tern. We think. A common tern. There's a few occasionally diving into the sea.|
|Our beach side campsite. We later adjust the angle so we
are more level, though its better inside than it looks from the outside.
We adjusted because the angle became worse as the wind blew sand from under the left rear wheel.
|The beach is very shallow, the sea retreats a long way. The mangroves are uncovered. This looked majestic to us.|
|From the headland.|
|Soldier crabs. They've been very busy.
Fascinating watching them burrow into the sand when they become tired of running away. The dig a small hole then turn upside down to cover themselves.
|The view from our campsite. Obree Point then Cowie Point furthest away.|
|While at Cape Tribulation we mentioned the effect being 30m
back from the beach, enclosed in rainforest had. We prefer the openness of
this campsite. We can watch life on the beach from our mobile bird hide.
We'll stay another couple of days. Hopefully the wind (its really quite strong) will subside. We are comfortable, but apparently Hughenden, many km inland, is suffering "wind chill".
There's something interesting about a sea churned up by the wind.
|The wind is still strong, with more reports on the radio of
wind chill. But finally an extended report from the bureau of meteorology
suggesting that there will be less wind tomorrow.
Overnight the sky was cloudless, we could see the stars. This morning the clouds returned, but also signs of clearing.
|A longer walk, across the next beach south. The eastern reef heron was waiting for me (Ali stayed home and played music) on the rocks between the beaches.|
|No bait. No catch. It looks like its been here a long time.
A fairly "loose" design.
There are a couple of bouys beyond the low tide mark, probably marking more pots.
|The heron had more success. I watched as it tried to manipulate the garfish lengthways in its beak. It took a couple of minutes as the garfish was a tad uncooperative. But eventually the heron won, lined it up, I blinked, and the hapless fish was gone, head first to digested oblivion.|
|Beach stone-curlews do come in pairs. I think. Though these
two looked more like they were staking out territory, a sharp peck that was
delivered a few seconds after this. Maybe just a parasite exposed by the
wind in feathers.
I saw only one after this encounter.
|I'm used to mangroves being planted in thick, oozing, gooey
mud. But these are in sand. Which makes it so much easier to venture into
the middle. Though of course there seems not as much life as in mud.
It did occur to me that a crocodile may find this little cove as enticing as I. I don't know enough about their habits. Some time during my walk it occurred to me that we usually see pictures of fully grown, several metre long, crocodiles, I wonder where all the small crocodiles are? I wonder what size they are before they think of tackling humans.
The patterns that the roots make are fascinating. As I retreat.
|Almost at the far side of the southerly beach, at the limit
of the camera, five white faced herons feeding. They were struggling, as was
I, to stand still in the wind. A wind that really is a wind, not a breeze,
not even a strong breeze. Enough to roll the soldier crabs across the sand.
Food for the herons seemed to be small crabs. There are lots about. There's what may be a patch of sea grass, though it isn't just poking through the muddy sand that's been captured.
The two beaches together form Walsh Bay.
|At the far side the beach is stony. The gap in the low clouds didn't last long.|
|More mangroves. Reminiscent of ....... mangroves. Like something with lots of multi jointed legs, on the move but going nowhere.|
|A little egret. Or the light phase of the eastern reef
heron. We can't really see the colour of its legs, they look a little
yellowish to me. The dark beak, and the size, and perhaps where its feeding,
suggest a reef heron.
I usually have difficulty taking pics of white birds. The detail of their feathers is usually lost in a bland whiteness. No amount of fiddling with aperture and shutter compensate. For some reason, today the light allows me to see some detail and gentle shadows.
|Then it flew away. As does most of the wildlife when we get
too close. The wind is not all bad, the birds can be flying into it but seem
to be still.
This campsite seems to produce something new each day. Perhaps when the wind fades we'll see other than sea birds. We can hear some in nearby trees, but don't see them.
In the meantime we are being sand blasted. Its beautiful clean, fine, white sand. Each morning we move the truck forward a metre, pack the hole where the left rear wheel sat with sand, then move the truck back. Today I tried wet sand that may last longer. A bit of success with repairs just after we arrived, I found the loose connection that slowly reduced the amps from alternator to house batteries - it was one end of the positive wire between the two starter batteries. The engine now also starts just a little easier.
Solar was good yesterday, the house battery reached 85%. With the portable panels deployed. Interesting locating them so the sand blows off them rather than being deposited. Probably not so good today. We have one failed panel which is dragging down another, but far too windy to contemplate climbing on the roof to fault find or bypass it.
|Next day was still windy. And cloudier.
A short walk across our beach to the south side. I'd seen one beach stone-curlew wondering about the beach. At the far side I saw two, and thought "how nice, they are together again". And then confusion .... there are three.
|But wait. There are four. And not recognisably (to me) as
I failed to find a fifth ....
The bird book, which must be right, describes them as uncommon, usually singly or pair.
I think I'm privileged.
|I walked up the hill between the two beaches. Easy walking in low, wind swept vegetation. The small grass trees (or at least relative) should give me a clue to how unfriendly the weather normally is, they are usually found at higher altitude.|
|We'll settle for common tern. The forked tail sets it aside
from similar looking sea birds. I stood at the water's edge, clicked the
shutter and hoped.
Possibly a visitor from Lake Baikal, or Kamchatka. Happy to be away from the northern winter.
|North To Jardine River National Park||June 6 - 8 2019|