Sunday, 30 November 2014

Rain glorious rain, and a hot photographic session on the Sunshine Coast.

These guys were absolutely everywhere. Eastern Water Dragons in a bewildering range of colours and sizes.

The turtles were pretty accommodating as well. Maquarie Turtles.

And a moss covered Kreftt's Turtle.
A dream come true. A reddish Brown Common Death Adder.

A very large Eastern Bearded Dragon.
Would you believe a Coastal Taipan. Unbelievable! The photo clearly highlights the keeled scales typical of this species.
I went too far that time didn't I? Alright you got me. All of these pics were taken on the Sunshine Coast no bull, however there is a small catch. I forgot to mention that I might have popped into Australia Zoo at Beerwah on Saturday and well you know I just couldn't help myself. I would really love to be able to say that Taipans and Death Adders are common on the Coast but unfortunately that's not the case. I remember a story from an old time coast resident, the great Mr Stan Tutt who once told me that a Death Adder had made its way into his families Kenilworth kitchen when he was young and that whilst the family ate the dog brought the danger that was lying under the table to their attention. All those sets of probably bare feet  especially in the children's case within striking distance and no one was viciously attacked and bitten says something for the snake I believe. Despite the stories and myths surrounding snakes and their despicable actions and attitude towards us human beings, never once in nearly fifty years of studying and spending time with these creatures have I encountered anything that would correlate any of these stories. In fact I have many stories of my own that clearly indicate that even when directly threatened a snake will seek to disappear rather than confront a person. It's such a terrible shame that the reverse scenario isn't true also.
Please enjoy some of the other critters showcased at the zoo.
I did volunteer work there about ten years ago and I remember really looking forward to cleaning the Rhinoceros Iguanas enclosure. One in particular was a real character. Wonder if it's the same one?
The layout of the zoo has changed dramatically in ten years - good job everyone.

Two species of Dragon that you wouldn't normally see sharing the same perch.
I can't take a decent bird picture for the life of me, even captive birds won't co-operate.

You lookin at me?

It's a sad state of affairs when we can't even ensure that the future of magnificent creatures like the Rhino's and the Sumatran Tiger is safe. What chance do the less impressive critters have?

The Aldabran (?spelling?) Tortoises were another of my favourites all those years ago as was Harriet the Galapagos Tortoise who unfortunately passed away a few years back. I fondly remember being lucky enough to be able to share some quality time with her and shedding a tear when I heard of her passing.
Check out the amazing patterning of the shell.

 If anyone tries to tell you that Eastern Brown Snakes won't climb, don't believe them.


I splurged and purchased an annual pass so you may have to put up with a few more photos from the zoo down the track. Hopefully though I will be able to bring some more photos of critters in their natural habitat to the table in the meantime.


Saturday, 22 November 2014

Another lean weekend, but with a twist

Brisbane was hit by severe thunderstorms during the middle of this past week, and despite the fact that the Sunshine Coast received very little rain I decided to head to Main Range National Park in an effort to photograph three frogs that have eluded me to date.
I really need to do some research into better weather sites as upon arriving late on Friday afternoon I realised that the storms had made very little difference to the area that I was visiting although there were some small puddles evident along some of the road verges.
As darkness approached another storm was building to the south which although encouraging producing plenty of thunder and lightening dropped very little rain on the range.
The following photographs show of one of the views from a lookout at the top of the range. Pretty spectacular country despite the conditions.

It's not hard to tell that the frogs are desperate, laying this egg mass in one of the few small puddles along the edge of the road. With the current temperatures and drying winds I would imagine that without further decent rain these eggs would be doomed within a day or two.

My first target species just as it was getting dark. A beautiful sculpture but I was hoping for a real one.
As night fell a chorus of frogs erupted from the creek. Unfortunately they were the more common Great Barred Frogs, but a frog is frog after all and I made my way towards the sound. As I crossed the creek the first time a small and particularly attractively patterned Rough- Scaled Snake caught my eye as it hunted for tadpoles amongst the leaf litter in a separate pool at the side of the creek. I watched him for quite some time as he nosed around amongst the leaves.

Then I noticed this Great Barred Frog on the edge of the creek a few metres away.
When I got back to the Roughie he had the tail of one of the large M. fasciolatus tadpoles sticking out of his mouth. Dammit I missed the most interesting part of the hunt, and I was pretty pissed with myself as you don't get the chance to witness something like this all that often let alone photograph it.

The Roughies were pretty common along the creek though none were as pretty as the first.
All of the calling Great Barred frogs were smallish in size less than 50mm long.
Stoney Creek Frogs were numerous also although I did not see any males or hear any calls from this species.

This one threw me a bit initially. I thought that it was a Broad-palmed Frog to begin with looking at the mottled pattern on its back.
Finally later in the evening and well away from the creek at higher altitude I manged to glimpse my first ever Fleay's Barred Frog. Unfortunately the light was wrong or I was just too excited to operate the camera properly or something and the photos aren't all that flash. Despite that and considering the prevailing conditions I was stoked to finally find and photograph a critter that I had actually set out to look for specifically.

Later as I prepared to retire for the night I decided to have a wander around the paddock that was my campsite for the night, and low and behold found another of my target species for the weekend, the Eastern Pobblebonk ( Limnodynastes dumerilli). This frog was only a juvenile at about 25mm in length, but is another first for me at least in terms of photography. Two out of three, my best result for a long long time. Hopefully this could be the turning point for me and my luck may improve from now on.

Chuffed with the results of the previous night and with a really good nights sleep under my belt I made a snap decision early the next morning to head south for a further 100 to 200 k's to one of my favourite places in South East Queensland. I arrived at Girraween National Park in the Granite Belt at around 8am and it was obvious from the outset that the conditions here were far worse that those further north. The temperatures were already in the mid thirties and climbing and the country was very very dry. A huge area of the park along the creek and along the left hand side of the road into the park was burnt to a crisp. Turns out that the bunt area that I was looking at was a controlled burn to keep out a major wildfire that had been started three weeks earlier on one of the parks boundaries by a tractor slasher striking rocks and creating sparks that ignited the surrounding grassland. It was way too hot to walk the tracks and I doubt any critters would have been active anyway so after a quick walk along the creek I decided to head home home early and spend a bit of extra time with missus as it's our thirtieth anniversary on Monday. Happy anniversary darl and thanks for being so understanding about my regular trips away.

There were a couple of reptiles active in the shade of a few unburt trees along the creek. This Eastern Water Skink had lost his tail but he was still pretty cheeky.

The Water Dragons were less inquisitive tending to bolt off as soon as I approached.
A long range shot of some granite in the unburnt section of the park. Congratulations to fire fighters and National Park staff who managed to contain the blaze - great job guys.
The creek still contained a bit of water in pools but large sections that would normally be flowing and well under water were dry as a bone. the grooves in this granite were made by "liquid sandpaper" as water containing small particles of rock and sand swept over it.
Obviously I hadn't posted for a few weeks, but the weekend before was busy at at 40 degrees C (the hottest November days on record I believe) I didn't feel like doing a lot of walking and I'm pretty sure the animals would have felt the same way.
Lucky there's no such thing as climate change eh Tone?
One of my mates who is a local snake relocator here on the coast did give me a call during the week however as he had relocated and was releasing an adult Eastern Brown with a fairly prominent banded body pattern. Couldn't resist and even though the temps that afternoon were in the low thirties he was a surprisingly well behave little brownie. Not overly attractive right now but I would imagine that after a slough he would be a spectacular specimen.

Well, once again thanks for looking and I would still love to see a few comments if anyone has them. Don't really care whether or not they are good or bad I am just keen to know whether or not keeping this blog running is worth the time and effort.
Cheers, talk to you next time,