Flora & Fauna by the Beaches of Bowen

While I went to the Whitsundays in search of life in the ocean, I found plenty of creatures on land. Most of the birds were not particularly interested in being photographed — even the common ones have a bad habit of flying away. So I spent much more time listening to kookaburras and sulphur-crested cockatoos than I did seeing them (the latter liked to wake me up at 5:45 in the morning). But I did have a close encounter with a curious (and hungry) pied currawong:

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Loud and feisty rainbow lorikeets were also in good supply…

… and when I traveled up to Bowen, I found bush turkeys all along the beachfront:

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Then there was this sign at the Mackay Airport, which brought the whole idea of Australian birds to a Hitchcockian level:

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Fortunately, I missed out on the vicious magpies — a good thing, since both my hat and my umbrella were already checked in with my luggage.

While hiking in Bowen, I was hoping to see a rock wallaby or an echidna. Sadly, I encountered neither. I did see several dozen shiny, speedy lizards along the trail. But the only animal that stayed still long enough for me to capture it with my camera was this beautiful bug:

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Very little was flowering in this part of Queensland — they are mid-drought right now. But I did see several kapok trees on my Bowen hiking adventures.

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Apparently you can eat the flowers (one website offers this appetizing description: “mucilaginous and slimy … like marshmallow”):

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The tree has a fruit that, as it ripens, eventually produces silky fibers that can be used as stuffing or tinder:

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I also found these little flowers mid-hike:

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Out on Bowen’s many beaches, I loved watching the crabs scuttle around. But the only specimens I could find that were willing to pose for me had already shuffled off this world’s mortal coil:

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Still, they are beautiful even after the life has left their very small bodies.IMG_5423

When I got lucky, I could see tiny sand bubbler crabs pop up out of their holes. These guys suck food out of the sand and then filter out the sand bits through their mouths, depositing it in the form of little balls all over the beach. This doesn’t sound appealing, but it makes for incredible art!

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