Herping Australia during the worst time of year - Part 2

Discussion in 'Field Herping and Reptile Studies' started by StephenZozaya, Sep 24, 2010.

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  1. StephenZozaya

    StephenZozaya Not so new Member

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    This is the second and final installment regarding this particular trip. The majority of the time I spent with Kris during his trans-Australia roadtrip was concentrated in the Top End of the Northern Territory. This is an amazing area of sandstone gorges, massive wetlands, extensive mangroves, dry woodlands and monsoon rainforests. We saw a large diversity of reptiles considering the time of year, however, I did not photograph many of the species that I also often see here in NE Queensland. Because of this, some of the most abundant herps that we encountered (water pythons, keelback snakes, slaty-greys, brown treesnakes, burton's snake-lizards) will not feature here. Nevertheless, you should know that the area is full of them!

    This post will be even more brief on the narrations. I apologise if you were hoping for a big story.


    Katherine Gorge (Nitmiluk) National Park

    These two marbled velvet geckos (Oedura marmorata) were found under the same rock. Awesome geckos!
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    A northern spotted rock dtella (Gehyra nana). This species was extremely abundant in various rocky habitats of the Top End.
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    This Amphibolurus gilberti wasn't too happy about being woken up.
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    Northern spiny-tailed gecko (Strophurus ciliaris ciliaris). The remainder of our time in the NT yielded several more of the northern form of these gorgeous geckos.
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    Towards the end of our night in Katherine Gorge I nearly stepped on my very first children's python (Antaresia childreni). This was another animal that we would end up finding frequently, although, quite a few were DOR.
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    This yellow-sided dragon (Diporiphora magna) was chilling out in the Edith Falls area of Nitmiluk NP. This was our last herp this particular national park. He was a champion poser.
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    Umbrawarra Gorge was beautiful, however, we didn't see much other than a few Amphibolurus sp running around. Nevertheless, I would still highly recommend seeing it.
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    We camped at Robin Falls, a little area near the town of Adelaide River. While there I took the time to photograph some frogs (which were EXTREMELY abundant).
    Bumpy rocket frog (Litoria inermis)
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    Rocket frog (Litoria nasuta). Just so you know, they call these rocket frogs for a very good reason.
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    Wotjulum rocket frog (Litoria wotjulumensis)
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    Copland's rock frog (Litoria coplandi)
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    Fogg Dam Nature Reserve

    The famous Fogg Dam is a must if you are ever in the area. We found several species of snake while there, although most of them were those few species that I did not photograph (see the intro paragraph). Oh, and if you don't already know, try and keep your distance from the water's edge. There are crocodiles EVERYWHERE.

    This young saltwater crocodile (Crocodylus porosus) was crossing the road.
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    Back in the water.
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    Dahl's aquatic frogs (Litoria dahli) are abundant and very cool.
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    Up until this point all of the Amphibolurus dragons we had been seeing were A. gilberti. Finally we started finding something a bit different. Lashtail dragons (Amphibolurus temporalis) were numerous in good habitat, including suburban Darwin.
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    In north-east Queensland the common treesnakes (Dendrelaphis punctulatus) are usually black with a yellow belly or occasionally a bluish gray. In the Top End they are a magnificent gold and, in this particular instance, make great photo subjects.
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    Adelaide River Floodplain

    This Marbled frog (Limnodynastes convexiusculus) was sheltering beneath a brick near one of the "jumping croc" tour stations.
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    Northern long-necked turtle (Chelodina rugosa).
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    After checking a spot for water snakes I glimpsed some eye-shine near the road. I thought that it might be a python. Instead I found a freshwater crocodile (Crocodylus johnstoni) that seemed quite content to sit uncomfortably close the highway.
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    Kakadu National Park

    Carlia amax. I saw lots of little Carlia species but was unhappy with the photos of nearly all of them. I'm sure all you out there won't mind too much.
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    The black wallaroo (Macropus bernardus) is endemic to the Arnhem escarpment of the Top End and is, perhaps, the second coolest macropod I have seen in the wild, beat only by Lumholtz's tree kangaroo.
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    One thing the dry season is good for is making it easier to find arafura file snakes (Acrochordus arafurae), which was one of my target species. Unfortunately, we missed the mass migration of these snakes from the seasonal creeks and pools to the larger watercourses by a few weeks. In the end we managed to find two. The one below was found in a shrinking pool of water in Kakadu and the other was found while snorkeling later on in the trip. These snakes are unbelievably awesome.
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    Northern dtella (Gehyra australis).
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    The rockhole frog (Litoria mieriana) is one of Australia's few diurnal frogs.
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    The Arnhemland dtella (Gehyra pamela) is one of 3 gecko species that are endemic to the cliffs and boulders of the Arnhem escarpment.
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    The terrestrial gecko Heteronotia planiceps.
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    Northern giant cave geckos (Pseudothecadactylus lindneri) are a very large and aggressive gecko species endemic to the escarpment. This was another one of my target species and I was absolutely thrilled to find several.

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    They don't care for green ants too much.
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    A panorama of Gubarra, Mt. Brockman Range, which is an outlier of the Arnhem escarpment. Unfortunately, despite much trying, I was unable to find the third and final Arnhem escarpment endemic gecko, Oedura gemmata.
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    I seem to be handicapped when it comes to capturing Ctenotus. So although I saw several species, this Essington's Ctenotus (Ctenotus essingtonii) was the only one I managed to photograph.
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    The monsoon forest walk near Ubirr didn't have much to offer as far as terrestrial herps go. However, we saw several basking saltwater crocodiles (Crocodylus porosus).
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    A crappy photo of a rainbow Pitta (Pitta iris), my last Australian pitta species.
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    Two-lined dragon (Diporiphora bilineata)
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    Berry Springs Nature Park

    Despite being another very touristy spot, Berry Springs Nature Park was very kind to us. Not photographed is the file snake that we snorkeled around with.
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    Northern snapping turtle (Elseya dentata).
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    Northern yellow-faced turtle (Emydura tanybaraga).
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    Kris with a Merten's water monitor (Varanus mertensi). The goanna would let us get fairly close while in the water, but that didn't exactly help me get a better photo.
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    Litchfield National Park

    One of my last nights in the Northern Territory was spent in Litchfield National Park, and it could barely have been a better night.

    Northern small-eyed snake (Cryptohpis pallidiceps). Just one more Cryptophis to go!
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    This orange-naped snake (Furina ornata) was so small that I thought it was a blade of grass on the road.
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    Unfortunately I didn't notice the dust on the face while photographing it.
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    Northern carpet python (Morelia spilota variegata)
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    Zigzag velvet gecko (Oedura rhombifer)
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    The highlight of the night was this northern hooded scaly-foot (Pygopus steelescotti). This was my very fist scaly-foot and I was pretty thrilled.
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    That about wraps up the trip. A number of my target species managed to completely evade us (Olive python, Oedura gemmata, Nephrurus sheai, Varanus glebopalma), but all things considered it was a right good haul. I apologize for not photographing many of the snakes that I had seen before. They would have contributed a fair amount of additional photos to this post. Most of the species in question have appeared or will appear in other posts of mine.

    Until next time!
    Stephen
     
  2. waruikazi

    waruikazi Legendary

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    Should have sent me a PM i could have taken you to the good side of the East Alligator ;), still plenty of snakes here if you know where to look.
     
  3. StephenZozaya

    StephenZozaya Not so new Member

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    Next time I head that way I'll have to hit you up!
     
  4. sweetangel

    sweetangel Very Well-Known Member

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    lovely photos! just wondering what gear you use, and your flash situation? do u shoot direct flash, ring flash, multiple flashes??
    cheers
     
  5. StephenZozaya

    StephenZozaya Not so new Member

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    At the time that all of those photos were taken my setup was an old Canon 10D. Macro shots were taken with the Canon f/2.8 100mm macro and telephoto shots were taken with the Canon f/4 70-200mm L series lens. I use a camera mounted Canon 430EX II speedlight with a stofen diffuser, although I am now occasionally using an additional off-camera flash as well.
     
  6. -Matt-

    -Matt- Suspended Banned

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    Once again a fantastic post! Like I mentioned in part 1, I will be up that way in a few weeks time so hopefully I am just as lucky when it comes to finding herps.
     
  7. Min.Min

    Min.Min New Member

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    Amazing photos :D I went to JCU, great uni
     
  8. smacdonald

    smacdonald Well-Known Member

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    Great stuff, Stephen! Good luck finding your final Cryptophis. It would be pretty incredible if you ticked off that entire genus.


    Stewart
     
  9. StephenZozaya

    StephenZozaya Not so new Member

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    Intentional pun? :p

    Cryptophis would be the easiest non-monotypic Australian snake genus to tick off if it weren't for that little pink thing all the way up there.
     
  10. 1issie

    1issie Suspended Banned

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    SA the 1 and only state!!!!!!!
    Wow i would have been just as exicted to see one of those,lucky you stephen!!!!!!
     
  11. smacdonald

    smacdonald Well-Known Member

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    Liasis might be the easiest.


    Stewart
     
  12. StephenZozaya

    StephenZozaya Not so new Member

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    Touche. Antaresia would also probably be easier. Y'know, I retract what I said.
     
  13. norwich

    norwich Active Member

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    awsome photos mate thanks for sharing regards micky
     
  14. liney

    liney Active Member

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    very enjoyable to view- thanks for sharing
     
  15. Sigourd

    Sigourd Not so new Member

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    Great pics Stephen! The pics of the File snake in particular are fantastic.
     
  16. Nighthawk

    Nighthawk Very Well-Known Member

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    Love the Dendrelaphis punctulatus pics, the second in particular looks like it's smiling and posing for the camera, beautiful shots!
     
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