Saturday, 4 April 2015

Wet as weekend.

Just photos no waffling on today. An afternoon walk in the local rainforest. Alright I might waffle a bit - This little patch of rainforest here on the Sunny Coast has been a favourite haunt for a lot of years now but recently, say the last year or two maybe more it seems to be changing. Sometimes there are lots of critters to be seen, others like today bugger all which is understandable. The thing that is really noticeable lately though is that the leaf litter is disappearing. There are lots of giant earth worms in there pulling leaves into their burrows for snacks and a few Brush Turkeys tidying the place up for their egg mounds which are all normal occurrences in a healthy forest but there is bugger all leaf litter on the ground anywhere. My understanding is that a rainforest runs on its leaf litter layer. I'm no ecologist or scientist but it just doesn't seem right to me. Does anyone have any theories as to what might be going on here? Stupid me didn't think to take a photo to highlight my point, but there you go, told you I wasn't the sharpest tool in the shed.

A Murray's Skink, one of two sighted today. They are usually thick on the ground.
This fella had a recent run in with something that either wanted to eat him or get him out of its territory.

A juvenile Southern Angle Headed Dragon also with a very short tail. Sorry about the blurry pic.

A large adult male of the same species. Scruffy looking bugger.

A forest within a forest - growing up the base of a tree.

A very small epiphyte starting life in the forest.

Told you it's been wet there were fu fu fungi everywhere. Well not really but there were a few.

Another forest within a forest. This time a little fairy princesses forest.

Cheers see you soon.


Thursday, 2 April 2015

The Frog Blog

I am thinking that I should change the name of the blog to the Frog Blog. The last few trips both extended and day trips have produced frogs and more frogs and very few reptiles especially snakes. Not that I am complaining because I do love frogs but I really need more photos of reptiles than frogs for the book especially now. 
Anyway I have recently returned from a three day trip out into the Brigalow country just to the west of the South East Queensland Region. I left with a list of five snakes, a number of small skinks, one monitor and two frog species that I hoped to see and with any luck photograph whilst I was out there. The plan was to spend a fair percentage of both nights cruising and the morning and afternoons actively searching while resting during the heat of the day. All of the rivers and creeks were flowing and the weather on the first day was fine and pretty hot so I was hopeful that I might be able to cross a few critters off the list by the end of the third day. 
The first night was a disaster - a couple of geckos and common frogs and to top it off the high beam and spot lights on the car blew after only five minutes of driving, leaving me low beam only which on my car is pretty ordinary. Better than nothing I guess but it made life difficult for an old bugger with average eyesight.  The moon was waxing and 63% of full and it was very bright with little cloud cover to offer any periods of darkness for the animals to move about safely. By the end of the night I was feeling sorry for myself and seriously thinking of heading home the next morning but a good nights sleep with the Dingoes howling in the background had me more motivated when I awoke the next morning.

A beautiful Box-patterned Gecko.

Broad-palmed frog

A Bynoe's Gecko a widespread and very variable species.

A Dubious Dtella, another common species in the area.

Green Tree Frog, one of Australia's most recognisable frogs although they do not always have the white spots on the sides as this big fella did.

Walking around the campsite the first night there were numerous huge webs strung between the trees each with a resident female Orb Weaver spiders (species to be advised) to avoid.

Spider eye shine was everywhere so there was certainly no shortage of prey for reptiles and amphibians. An unknown species of Huntsman hunting on the rough bark of a tree.

Some shots of the country.
A Naked Tree Frog.
A trippy looking cockroach.
The following morning I headed a little further west to spend the day beside one of the major rivers in the area. The results were again poor in comparison with the effort expended with a few small skinks one of which may have been a target species (to be confirmed) a pair of Jacky Dragons and a couple more geckos.  The banks of the river were devoid of the normally ever present Water Dragons which was a bit unusual, and even the bird life seemed to be scarcer than you might have expected. In the early afternoon a storm began to close in producing some much needed rain for the area and the possibility of a wet or at least overcast night. The rain eased just on dark but unfortunately the temperatures dropped considerably from the previous night.

Carlia sp. The photo was taken with a long zoom as the skink was positioned in the centre of a wood row so the quality is not great. My shaky hand is no good from a distance. With the assistance of Scott Eipper this little fella has been positively identified as an
Orange-flanked Rainbow Skink (Carlia rubigo), which skyrocketed my target species achieved list from two to three species.
 A pair of Jacky dragons, once again photographed from a distance.

A large Dubious Dtella with a regenerated tail.

A more sombre specimen of Bynoe's gecko.

A magnificent Wedge Tailed Eagle surveying his domain perched atop a dead tree. Another photograph that would have benefited immensely from a steady hand.

An Egret silhouetted against a darkening sky.

Although the rain eased before nightfall it had been enough to awaken a number of the burrowing frogs that call the area home. You may notice that two of the frogs below are covered with dirt and dust which indicates that they only just emerged from their underground sanctuary. Two of the burrowers were on my target species list and I managed to get them both including the Superb Collared frog which I had never seen before.

Not a burrowing species, but an attractive Broad-palmed frog.

A few different coloured Eastern Snapping Frogs, including a newly emerged specimen. These frogs can grow to an enormous size (for a frog) and often eat other frogs including their own kind.

A particularly attractive green striped frog.

And a not quite so colourful specimen. 

A newly emerged Holy Cross Frog, one of my all time favourite frog species.

A couple of other Holy Cross Frogs. Check out the colours on the last one - fantastic and I love his facial expression as well. He actually seemed to appreciate the light around him which attracted a few insects which were eagerly devoured. there were no frogs calling this late in the season so I imagine they had all emerged primarily to feed rather than mate.

Three different coloured Ornate Burrowing Frogs all found within about twenty metres of one another.

A Painted Burrowing Frog, only the second one of these that I have ever photographed. They have a vertical pupil which is not really noticeable in these photos.
No offence to this little guy, but probably the ugliest Rough Collared frog that I have ever seen.

And last but not least a Superb Collared Frog, a first for me and a great way to finish off the night.

I had stopped to allow this Echidna to cross the road and jumped out to try and get a photo of him when I found the Superb Collared Frog. By the time I had photographed the frog this bloke was long gone.

Despite quite a few stops along the way the trip home was relatively uneventful. This small Eastern Long-necked Turtle was crossing the road in a fairly dry area with no obvious water in sight. He couldn't have been too far from water though judging by the amount of live weed that was growing on his shell.
A beautiful butterfly feeding in the mud beside a major river. No idea what species it is.
Thanks to some of the members of the Australian Invetebrates Forum this has been identified as a Chequered Swallowtail (Papilio demoleus).

Another stunning critter from the same spot. A Jewel Spider from above and below. These are tiny and quite common but I always find them fascinating.

A South Eastern Morethia Skink which did not want me to take his photo.
 Finally some evidence of previous human activity. An area of already disturbed habitat totally destroyed very recently by some ignorant fuckwit or fuckwits with absolutely no respect for the habitat or the animals that rely on it for their lives. It took a good hour to replace everything back as close to its original position as possible. Some people shit me to tears.

Thanks again for joining me hope you enjoyed the read.