Friday, 13 March 2015

Two outa two ain't bad

Took a few days off work early last week and headed down to Lamington National Park for a bit of R & R and with the hope of seeing and photographing a couple of our skinks that inhabit this beautiful and spectacular part of South East Queensland. One of the skinks in particular the Tryon's Skink had eluded me every time I had visited the area in the past, but not this time.
It is an interesting feeling when you come across something that you have been keen to observe for a long time and finally there it is right in front of you in all its glory. The photographs are nothing special but the sense of achievement was definitely special.
Anyway starting from the beginning I left home reasonably early Sunday morning with the aim of calling into one of Brisbane's protected areas of city bushland before calling in on some good friends who had offered to look over the manuscript for the book and offer advice based on their considerable experience in Herpetology. My main aim there was to find and photograph a Tommy Round-head Dragon but I left with only a couple of shots of a fungi and an Elegant Snake-eyed Skink with nice yellow markings on its head.

Arrival at my camp site was late in the day so after setting up and cooking (read boiling some water) I headed off for a short walk on dusk. These two Southern Angle Headed Dragons were on the ground right beside the track. The darker animal ran from the track into the leaf litter and the green one immediately took after it. I have observed many colours in these dragons before but I have never seen one quite as green as this. He was obviously very excited or extremely pissed off about having the other dragon wander through his territory.

Later on the way back to camp the eye shine of this magnificent Fleay's Barred Frog caught my eye. Only the second specimen of this species of Frog that I have ever seen and the first time that I have managed to photograph the distinctive blue eye crescent.
It was already shaping up to be a pretty good trip.
This "cute" little critter was hanging around its front door waiting to invite a passing insect in for dinner.
There were a few cute "n" furries around as well.


A Ring-tailed Possum doing an impression of a T-Rex and and a very large Long-nosed Bandicoot. Sorry about the red eye, I don't know how to get rid of it and it's pretty much inevitable with my camera mounted flash on the point and shoot.
Next morning after heading off at 6.30 I had just under a 20km walk ahead of me. I was looking forward to catching a glimpse of my target species but after about 5k's I was starting to wonder what sort of condition I was going to be in by the time I got back. Working behind a desk and doing bugger all exercise is not good for you. It was pretty damp and there were quite a few interesting fungi around.
Finally I reached an area where the forest started to change and look more like the habitat I needed if I was to locate my target species. Then about 1.5 metres up in the fork of a tree I spotted some movement and was greeted with target species number one, A Rainforest Cool Skink (Harrisoniascincus zia). Unfortunately the glare was shocking and when I tried to move to a better position the skink disappeared and didn't return.

After walking up and back along a 2 or 3 km stretch of track a few times I was greeted by the sight of a sub adult Tryon's Skink on the edge of the track. Awesome 2 out of 2 target species and it was still morning. After a few quick shots before he disappeared I started off again and less than 20 metres along there was an adult Tryon's Skink perched on rock a few metres off the track. The light was crappy and he was a long way away but I still managed a half decent shot for the book. By this stage any thoughts of not making it back in one piece had been long forgotten and I pressed on back down into a rainforest gully.

A few K's down and well into the Sub Tropical Rainforest again this little guy was perched on a rock and disappeared as I got closer. I waited a while and he partially reappeared enough for this average shot to be taken. I will have to check with a couple of people but to me it looks like another slightly different looking Tryon's Skink. Trouble is it was in the wrong area and forest type for them and was only a short distance (approximately 30 metres) from where I began to see Murray's Skinks (see second photo below) quite regularly. The two species are very similar in a lot of respects and are classified in the same genus of Karma but they are supposed to occupy different habitats. It's probably a different looking Murray's Skink but I will advise when I find out for sure, if that is even possible from this photo.

Once at the bottom, the creek and associated waterfalls were powering with plenty of flow and creek crossings that were well under water. There were a lot of trees down as well some completely blocking the track entrances and exits making it difficult to navigate around them.
There were a few Pale-lipped Shade Skinks active around the base of the waterfalls but photography was difficult as they were all well within the splash zones of the falls and was it was next to impossible to keep the camera dry.
This little stumpy tailed dude caught and devoured quite a large emerging insect as I watched but unfortunately the photo is rubbish.
After the third creek crossing the rain started to come down quite heavily and i was forced to pack away the camera to keep it dry. Soon after the rain started the Pouched or Marsupial Frogs (Assa darlingtoni) began to call from the leaf litter on the forest floor. You often hear them in rainforest habitat but you NEVER see them. This is only the second one that I have ever seen. The rain was an absolute blessing bringing this guy out of hiding right in front of me.
These beautiful blue and white Lamington Spiny Crayfish were everywhere, in the water and on the tracks surrounding the creeks. Fiesty little characters.

The rest of the day was pretty quiet and it didn't take me long to start feeling sorry for myself again especially on the walk up the hill out of the gully. Ten hours or so after heading off in the morning I made it back into camp a little the worse for wear but still pretty happy with my achievements for the day.
To top off a great day a wonderful couple from Holland who were camped close to my campsite invited me over for happy hour and I was able to bore them with my stories as well as listen to some fabulous stories from their trip and also their home land. A great day all round.
It rained again that night for an hour or so and one of my new friends and I decided to go for another short night walk to see what the rain may have brought to life.
Another four Fleay's Barred Frogs were sighted this time on the track itself as well as a very large and stunning Southern Leaf-tailed Gecko with an original tail which was also crossing the track . I did not see a single gecko on the trees or the timber shade shelters.
That blue eye is absolutely stunning don't you think?

To finish off I have a couple of photos from later this week of three juvenile Eastern Brown Snakes all just a little different from one another. Nature is great.
It has certainly been a productive week, and I intend to head out again at the end of this month so hopefully I might have some new and possibly interesting photos and reports to blog then.

Thanks again for joining me.

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