Awesome Winter Herping

Discussion in 'Field Herping and Reptile Studies' started by GeckPhotographer, Jul 20, 2013.

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  1. GeckPhotographer

    GeckPhotographer Very Well-Known Member

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    So it's winter. I hate winter. It's cold, wet, bleak and worst of all, all of the reptiles around me become inactive.

    Fortunately over the past couple weeks I managed to escape some of winter. These are some finds from the Simpson Desert of far western Qld.

    Disclaimer: It is is illegal to handle native wildlife without a permit. This thread shows one native mammal being held. This individual is being held not by me, but by someone holding the appropriate permits for scientific reasons.


    I don't know how many of you have driven from Sydney to the Simpson Desert before, but let me tell you it's not a short drive. And at this time of the year it's not a particularly interesting one either. The only reptile found on the trip up was this Common Dwarf Skink.

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    Menetia greyii by Stephen Mahony, on Flickr

    After arriving in the Desert and setting up camp things began to improve. Day time temperatures were in the mid 30Cs with nights being a pleasant 10-15C. This led to plenty of day time reptile activity with Central Military Dragons being the most common reptiles around.

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    Ctenophorus isolepis by Stephen Mahony, on Flickr
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    Ctenophorus isolepis by Stephen Mahony, on Flickr
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    Ctenophorus isolepis by Stephen Mahony, on Flickr

    Another common reptile around the dunes was the Leopard Ctenotus, an attractive but fairly fast larger skink which are quite attractive.
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    Ctenotus pantherinus by Stephen Mahony, on Flickr
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    Ctenotus pantherinus by Stephen Mahony, on Flickr
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    Ctenotus pantherinus by Stephen Mahony, on Flickr

    Poking around didn't take too long to turn up one of these sand-swimming skinks, which were common in many habitats we looked at.
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    Lerista labialis by Stephen Mahony, on Flickr
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    Lerista labialis by Stephen Mahony, on Flickr

    After the first day I was pretty happy with the reptiles we had managed to see, and keen to head out for dusk to check whether I might be equally lucky with geckos. While the night was warm enough to walk around without a jumper, there was no gecko activity. In fact the first 3 nights passed without a single gecko of any kind.

    The next day followed the trend of little interesting finds. The other group managed to see a Moloch which I missed out on as well as some interesting skinks. My group turned up a scorpion.

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    Lychas Scorpion by Stephen Mahony, on Flickr

    Fortunately after that un-eventful night the next day began to produce some more reptiles again.

    Narrow-lined Ctenotus were seen in only small numbers, unfortunate seeing as how attractive they were.

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    Ctenotus dux by Stephen Mahony, on Flickr

    Ctenophorus nuchalis started emerging in the heat of the day to sit outside of their burrows, the temps weren't feeling much like winter at all.
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    Ctenophorus nuchalis by Stephen Mahony, on Flickr
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    Ctenophorus nuchalis by Stephen Mahony, on Flickr

    The next day was less productive, but still yielded one reptile I had been very keen to see for a while now, the Canegrass Dragon.

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    Diporiphora winnekei by Stephen Mahony, on Flickr
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    Diporiphora winnekei by Stephen Mahony, on Flickr





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    Diporiphora winnekei by Stephen Mahony, on Flickr
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    Diporiphora winnekei by Stephen Mahony, on Flickr

    Finally after 3 nights of nothing I broke the streak and managed to find a single gecko on the dunes at night.
    I had seen Northern Spiny-tails before, but always find them quite attractive.

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    Strophurus ciliaris by Stephen Mahony, on Flickr

    While the next few days were uninteresting for reptiles the next 2 nights started producing geckos.

    Beaked Geckos were easily the most common species running around the lower dunes. They are usually pretty hard to photograph, but I feel I finally got one pic to be happy with.

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    Rhynchoedura eyrensis by Stephen Mahony, on Flickr

    Bynoe's Geckos were also around if one inspected areas with plenty of fallen wood or junk. They were a nice shade of red compared to other parts of their range.

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    Heteronotia binoei by Stephen Mahony, on Flickr

    Ironically the gecko I encountered least commonly was the Variegated Dtella, usually the most common species in most places. They were still around and the first I found I optimistically thought might have been a Gehyra purpurascens, but no luck.

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    Gehyra variegata by Stephen Mahony, on Flickr

    The best gecko over these few nights was the Sand-plain Gecko, the only new gecko for me on the trip, and one I've wanted to see for a fairly long time which has always avoided me.

    First came a little bub.
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    Lucasium stenodactylum by Stephen Mahony, on Flickr

    Then and adult.
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    Lucasium stenodactylum by Stephen Mahony, on Flickr
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    Lucasium stenodactylum by Stephen Mahony, on Flickr

    The next day was the best of the trip, first off a Mulgara was caught in a pit trap by some of the researchers and we got to see it. This was my favourite animal of the whole trip.
    For those truly reptile-centrics my excitement at this may seem 'odd'. Mulgara (this being the Brush-tailed, one of 2 species) are carnivorous marsupials of the Dasyurid family. Within the family only Quolls and Tassie Devils are larger, both of which have quite different morphology to the main radiation of Dasyurids which are generally a lot smaller. So the Mulgara is effectively the largest Dasyurid predator within the radiation of conservative morphology!
    ^ The above was mumbo jumbo? They are super freaking cute little wrecking balls that will take on anything!!!

    Being held by one of the researchers.
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    Dasycercus blythi_017 by Stephen Mahony, on Flickr

    It didn't sit still when released.
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    Dasycercus blythi_044 by Stephen Mahony, on Flickr

    Not long after this Mulgara I went to sit under a shady tree and drink some water. After a couple minutes I realized this little guy was staring at me.
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    Moloch horridus by Stephen Mahony, on Flickr
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    Moloch horridus by Stephen Mahony, on Flickr
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    Moloch horridus by Stephen Mahony, on Flickr
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    Moloch horridus by Stephen Mahony, on Flickr
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    Moloch horridus by Stephen Mahony, on Flickr

    After this day the trip began to wind up a fair bit. One day was spent driving into the Northern Territory and we managed to find a Gibber Earless Dragon.
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    Tympanocryptis intima by Stephen Mahony, on Flickr
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    Tympanocryptis intima by Stephen Mahony, on Flickr

    But after this most of the animals that turned up I had already photographed earlier on the trip, and it wasn't long before it came to an end and we headed home.

    That's the end of the reptiles but here's some scenery.

    View from my tent.
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    Spinifex Plain by Stephen Mahony, on Flickr

    A Gidgee Swail from on top of the dune.
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    Gidgee Swail by Stephen Mahony, on Flickr

    One of many sand dunes.
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    Sand Dune by Stephen Mahony, on Flickr

    From the top of a dune.
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    Dune Top by Stephen Mahony, on Flickr

    A swail with hard rocky ground and Gidgee
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    Stony Gidgee Stand by Stephen Mahony, on Flickr

    Spinifex Plain in the swail.
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    Spinifex Plain by Stephen Mahony, on Flickr

    A swail with mixed Gidgee and Spinifex.
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    Gidgee and Spinifex Swail by Stephen Mahony, on Flickr

    Sunset
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    Sunset on the Simpson by Stephen Mahony, on Flickr

    Plants
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    Purple Pea by Stephen Mahony, on Flickr
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    Purple Pea by Stephen Mahony, on Flickr
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    Fried Egg Daisy by Stephen Mahony, on Flickr
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    Little White Flower by Stephen Mahony, on Flickr
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    Yellow Flower by Stephen Mahony, on Flickr
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    Purple Bush by Stephen Mahony, on Flickr
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    Green Bird Pea by Stephen Mahony, on Flickr

    Hope you enjoy the thread.
     
  2. NickGeee

    NickGeee Subscriber Subscriber

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    Amazing pics, love the moloch!
     
  3. Umbral

    Umbral Very Well-Known Member

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    Fantastic pics once again, thanks for sharing!
     
  4. andynic07

    andynic07 Very Well-Known Member

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    The colours of the desert are so vibrant, love the pictures well done I really did enjoy the thread.
     
  5. SteveNT

    SteveNT Very Well-Known Member

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    Great stuff cobber. Makes me want to head into the desert again. It's been a while.
     
  6. wildthings

    wildthings Well-Known Member

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    Amazing, you can definitely be happy with the photo of the Beaked gecko, shows it off very well and loved your analogy of the Mulgara, just like it's relatives haha, and love your pics of the flowers, the purple pea is gorgeous...can I come too next time :D
     
  7. Xeaal

    Xeaal Well-Known Member

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    That was fantastic! You really captured the colours beautifully! Thank you for sharing with us.
     
  8. marto

    marto New Member

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    Wow, those shots of the Thorny Devil are amazing, such a cool lizard.

    Excuse my ignorance on lizards, and a slight off topic, but can they be kept in captivity?
    EDIT: Just searched and answered my own question.
     
    Last edited: Jul 20, 2013
  9. saintanger

    saintanger Very Well-Known Member

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    very nice pic's love the thorny devil and the northern spiny tail.
     
  10. Maxwell

    Maxwell Active Member

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    Some of these landscape pictures would look amazing blown up on canvas
     
  11. Rob

    Rob Super Moderator Staff Member

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    Great thread. Love the Moloch.
     
  12. Morelia.spilota

    Morelia.spilota New Member

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    Stunning Photo's sir thanks for sharing them with us...

    Craig
     
  13. GeckPhotographer

    GeckPhotographer Very Well-Known Member

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    Thanks for all the compliments guys. As I'm sure you can imagine I was pretty pleased about seeing the Moloch, stunning reptiles!
     
  14. Enlil

    Enlil Not so new Member

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    The ecology of the place would be great to study.
     
  15. GeckPhotographer

    GeckPhotographer Very Well-Known Member

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    As I understand it, there's multiple groups including the one I went with studying the ecology of many of the habitats in the area.
     
  16. Bushman

    Bushman Very Well-Known Member

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    Excellent account Stephen. Your photos are first class.
    Thanks for sharing.
     
  17. benc63

    benc63 Not so new Member

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    Very nice thread Stephen, just the thing to get me through these cold winter nights.
     
  18. Narelle

    Narelle Not so new Member

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    Really enjoyed all your images. What a wonderful trip it looked like. What lens were you mostly using for the reptile shots?
     
  19. GeckPhotographer

    GeckPhotographer Very Well-Known Member

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    Hi Narelle.

    Funny story actually, couple days before the trip my good macro lens broke and I had to borrow an old Canon 50mm macro that my dad used for a video camera. Lens still worked all right obviously, nice and sharp, but was very hard to control shadows which sort of sucked.
     
  20. krusty

    krusty Almost Legendary

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    Great photos.thanks
     
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