Last Sunday I headed south west towards the Queensland granite belt region with the aim of photographing nine animals that I needed for the book. It turned out to be one of the best trips away that I have had for a long, long time. The weather was consistent with clear skies and daytime temperatures in the mid 20's, nights falling to about 10 degrees C. The wind in the area was quite strong especially in the first two days but it had little effect on the wildlife with many frogs still actively calling around the margins of the creeks at night. Reptile activity at night was limited early on but improved a little with the last of my three nights proving the most fruitful. I have always loved the area which is probably why I was so relaxed and enjoyed the trip so much but on top of all that I managed to photograph four, possibly five (one to be confirmed) of the nine target species which is pretty bloody good, especially for me. When I visited recently (can't remember the month - see one of my previous posts) the forest had just had a fire rage through it and it was quite depressing to see it in that condition. Now the bush has well and truly begun to re-generate and looks pretty good despite the obvious ravages of the fire still being evident.
One way in which I did surprise myself this past few days was with my communication abilities with a few people that I met along the way. Anyone who knows me will also know that I struggle to communicate effectively using the spoken word especially with people I don't know. Anyway I met and had a couple of interesting conversations with a nice couple from Brisbane and a couple of older coots (like myself) originally from the land of the long white cloud. Top blokes and lady, thanks for making the trip even more memorable.
The only disappointing thing this time around (and this is one reason why I usually prefer the company of animals to people) was a number of obvious signs of human interference with the micro habitat such as recently moved and not replaced rocks and sheets of bark torn from trees and logs in what would appear to be an attempt to capture reptiles. Buy a camera and be patient, fuckheads unless of course you are full on poaching for profit, in which case the best result might be that you get caught in the act either by the authorities or a very large and angry Eastern Brown snake. Which ever way it goes I can't understand why people think that it's ok to destroy stuff for their own personal pleasure or gain without any regard to the natural world or anyone else.
This had me baffled. Obviously an awful lot of people have been involved over a period of time in the construction of these cairns. I guess I can understand some primitive instinct within us that might drive people to do this but doesn't anyone ever think about what they are doing? As if we are not already doing enough damage in our cities, towns and farming communities to force nature to struggle just to survive. How we (lots of people not just the odd jerk) think that it's ok to remove rocks effectively destroying the homes of dozens of creatures for what? Where lucky that there are no giants out there that like making funny little piles of crap out of the roofs of our houses eh! I reckon that might piss off the odd home owner.
Sorry for the soap box bull shit, but I find it hard not to (over)react.
Back to the good stuff, the country is spectacular and is renowned for its wildflowers in spring and this spring was no exception although I reckon it would probably have been even better a few weeks earlier in the season. The photos below will give you an indication of what I am saying.
As indicated in the title this is going to be the longest post I have ever created so I hope I don't loose anyone along the way through boredom. I was thinking of splitting it into two posts but what the hell lets see how it goes.
There was water in the creeks but some areas were a bit low as you can see.
I would love to be here when the water is flowing enough to create these patterns in the granite, it would be spectacular.
This place is also renowned as a twitchers paradise and the birds were certainly there in all their glory this time. Unfortunately my bird photography skills leave a hell of a lot to be desired so here's a few of the less fuzzy shots that are at least recognisable.
Immature Australian Magpie. This shot was a bit of a fluke as it turned toward me just as I took it.
This Satin Bower Bird was photographed in rainforest on the way home on the Wednesday.
The rest of the photos are of the critters and I have pretty much left them in chronological order to make it easier for myself. This really is a long post - sorry.
What's that Skip? Non Australians and aussies under 50 might not understand that reference.
A few vocal Emerald Spotted Tree Frogs
A couple of male and a couple of female Stoney Creek Frogs. These were by far the most common frog of the trip and I managed to get a very clear recording of the males calling which was another bonus for me.
A few different Bleating Tree frogs. One of my target species.
An unusually coloured and patterned Broad-palmed Frog followed by a fairly stock standard model of the same species.
A Beetle or a Weavil, not sure which that was wandering around in the leaf litter during the day.
Think this is a common old Garden Skink although the dorsal scalation looks a little weird. The photo is not all that flash either which doesn't help.
The Cunningham's Skink Granite Belt style. Magnificent animals.
A Martin's Skink.
A sub adult and an adult male Eastern Water Dragon.
The following series of photos depicts an Eastern Bearded Dragon going from "You can't see me - can you?" to "get that thing outta my face arsehole."
Another of my target species, a beautiful Lesueur's Velvet Gecko
A couple of Dubious Dtella that were performing acrobatics amongst the shrubs.
Lizard food, (a beetle) wandering around at night.
This little fella had me a bit bamboozled at first but it turns out it's a juvenile Southern Spotted Velvet Gecko.
Another target the White's Skink. Those in the know will say I wasn't aiming very high with my target species (some are common animals) but I needed better photos of them for the book so they all count for me.
This is my possible target animal. When I first took the shots I assumed it was a Nobby Dragon and it may well be that but after studying the pics it has a few features which I believe are consistent with a Tommy Round Head Dragon. Waiting for advice from more learn ed colleagues. Turns out it is a Nobby Dragon - should have trusted my instincts. Oh well have to keep looking for a Tommy Round Head.
This little (30mm long which is pretty big for an ant) fella brought back some uncomfortable childhood memories of being badly stung and or bitten. They hurt like hell too. I call them a Bull Ant not sure of the proper terminology.
A couple of unusually coloured Eastern Water Skinks. They weren't too far apart and when the bigger one spotted the smaller skink he saw him off and out of his territory real quick.
Another Beardie that resented me getting too close.
A Nobby Dragon, not as common as I remembered but I guess the fire may have taken a toll on them.
A couple of Jacky Dragons. These guys were a little less conspicuous as well.
A sub adult and an adult Southern Spotted Velvet Gecko.
More lizard food, a large Grey Huntsman.
Another Lesueur's Velvet gecko, on timber this time rather than the granite.
The piece "d" resistance of the target species the awesome Granite Belt Leaf-tailed gecko. This is the first of two I was lucky enough to spot in the last hour of my last night. He has an original tail and the second specimen had a re-generated tail. Can you spot him easily in the first photo?
Another Huntsman not sure of the species though.
The second of the Leaf Tails. I was stoked with these.
On the way home I stopped in and took a short walk through the rainforest in the hope of getting some better shots of a Challenger's Skink. I saw at least six of them which just topped off the trip for me. None of them posed all that well but I did manage a couple of usable shots.
That was an epic task getting this post organised but I hope you enjoy it almost as much as I enjoyed taking the photos. I am really inspired at the moment too so hopefully I can bring a few more to the table over the next couple of months. Unfortunately I don't have too many holidays left but there are always the weekends I suppose.
Cheers everyone. thanks for reading.
Cheers everyone. thanks for reading.