Southern Australia Herping

Discussion in 'Field Herping and Reptile Studies' started by Demansiaphile, Sep 3, 2013.

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  1. Demansiaphile

    Demansiaphile Not so new Member

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    So, I just did a small trip to SA, I don't like using names, so I'll reintroduce you to the Driver and the Twin. Who were first seen here.

    http://www.aussiepythons.com/forum/field-herping-reptile-studies-5373/herping-2012-a-199803/

    The Driver and I landed in Adelaide late Thursday afternoon. We sat waiting for Twin to join us from Melbourne. This weekend we were all meeting an Internet friend. which we will soon know as Spewy, he had herped the Adelaide area quite extensively and we thought it might be cool to see some different herps we wouldn't normally target. After several months of Internet chatting we all decided to make a date and go for a herp!

    Spewy showed up and we made our way to the nearest pub to break the ice and get to know each other. After having much needed guy talk and a chicken schnitzel we headed off to go back to Spewy's house and have a look at his extensive collection of Pygopods.

    It was about an hour from Adeliade to Spewys house. Unfortunately that hour turned into 4. As some inconsiderate person broke too hard and suddenly. Which caused a very unhelpful chain reaction. The car which had broke hard made the car infront of us stopped suddenly. Within seconds we collided, I had enough time to brace my feet against the dashboard, as we crashed my head hit the rough and I heard The Driver yelp in pain. Spewy's coke glass glasses flew into the windscreen. Then we all quickly realized in the few split seconds that we had we were in for more. The lights from behind us grew and the tires screeched as the car behind us tried desperately to stop. We all violently jolted forward and I thanked god that I wore my seat belt this time. Cursing, we all made sure we were ok. Eventually we got out of the car an inspected the damage. It was a write off. The front and back bumpers were totaled, the doors struggled to open and the boot did not open. After the shock wore off, we traded insurance details with the four cars that had been involved, the tow trucks came and we got picked up by Spewy's mom.


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    The night was young but we deicded that we had enough excitement for the night and it was time for a nap.

    I woke up at 6, and started Googling car rentals nearby. We also got a message from an Uncle of Spewy that he would let us borrow his car from the family farm. The only problem was that we had to pick it up from there, which was 40 mins away. We decided to rent a car and drive to the farm. Retrieve the borrowed car and then return the rental. This was all very time consuming and we also made a date with another herper to find the infamous Pygmy Blue Tongue at 12:30. We were running late and it seemed everything was going wrong. The truck infront of us was going 10km user the limit and then a house on the back of another truck hindered us even more! We had no food, or esky, no equipment but we had to make a move and deal with this all later.

    Eventually we made it to the Pygmy blue tongue site. Here I met a man named Ikol who had be studying and monitoring Pygmy blue tongues.

    We didn't have much time as Ikol had to be in town for work purposes. He said that he had looked at the spider burrows that they inhabit but it was still too windy even though that it sunny, furthermore the site has been hit by a strong storm the night before making the soil too wet to bask on. He decided that we should look at them down the burrows using an optical fiber camera. I peered down and saw a tiny pygmy scaly eye blinking back at me. A little disappointed that i didn't get to photograph them but ecstatic to have seen them I promised him I would be back in November.
    He also said that we should try flipping all the rocks nearby for Aprasia pseudopulchella. So we started to actively herp I managed to find no Aprasia but a Shingle Back moving through the habitat , which was rather bleak, a hilly grass field with several small rocks scattered sparsely.
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    I handed the Shingle Back to The Driver and Twin and i went on herping. From the other side of the rolling grass hill I heard Ikol yell out. We quickly made our way towards him and he held a small wormy reptile in his hand. Aprasia pseudopulchella. I was happy my first reptick in less than a few minutes. We sat down to take some very average photos during this time Ikol went to ask the landowner if we could gain access to the rest of the property.
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    Aprasia pseudopulchella by J. Kelk, on Flickr
    We then walked down a long grassy plain for several minutes until we crossed a small rocky creek. After the creek passed the grassland revealed several rocks ad out crops.

    Ctenophurus decresii further up the water stream a decreasi hid underneath a dinner plate sized rock. Twin, and I caught it as Spewy lifted the stone.
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    Ctenophurus decresii by J. Kelk, on Flickr

    Delma molleri, extremely abundant at this site. 5-6 specimens were found under hand size rocks ranging from adult to last years hatchlings. Spewy was on a role and found at least 3 of them, Twin nailed it with another 2.
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    Delma molleri by J. Kelk, on Flickr

    Lerista bougainvilli these guy were found several times at the site. Again in the same habitat as Delma mollerii
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    Lerista bougianvilli by J. Kelk, on Flickr

    Considering we had no supplies, not to mention anywhere to sleep we made our way back to town.
    Spewy dropped us off at the Big W to buy a tent for Twin and The Driver, as he made a police report about last nights car accident!

    I was feeling a little bit restless. I needed to be out in the desert and soon. It had been too long since I gazed on red dunes.

    Several hours and one police report later we were at Pernatty. It was cold 20c and I was pessimistic. Even though Spewy was the exact opposite. I would soon learn to trust him whole heartily as we found 2/3 target species plus more in a weekend.

    Upon arriving on the destination we found that rain had recently been past here. The ground was a bit firm, insects were still out and about which gave me a slimmer of hope. We soon flipped a small Lerista edwardsae from under a large dead mulga branch. Tick! We also found several more user rocks and more mulga branches.
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    Lerista edwardsae by J. Kelk, on Flickr
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    Lerista edwardsae by J. Kelk, on Flickr
     
    Last edited: Sep 4, 2013
  2. Demansiaphile

    Demansiaphile Not so new Member

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    Nephurus deleani was found by Spewy whilst following a spider. And again later by Twin on a larger sand dune where we got lost and walked around for what felt too long[​IMG]
    Nephrurus deleani by J. Kelk, on Flickr
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    Nephrurus deleani by J. Kelk, on Flickr



    Lucasium damaeum, plenty of these were running around the dune hills, they had large variation and always ran back to shrubs for cover.
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    Lucasium damaeum by J. Kelk, on Flickr
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    Lucasium damaeum by J. Kelk, on Flickr

    Simoselaps bertholdi
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    Simoselaps bertholdi by J. Kelk, on Flickr

    Was flipped under a large log. This was a beautiful species that I had not even considered when preparing for the trip. It was a huge surprise even though Spewy had mentioned several times that they may be out since there was several Leristas under logs. Which are most likely a common prey item.

    The initial photography section of this night was very long and took maybe an hour, The Driver had the devil in methane gas form in him from eating multigrain bread. This is how Spewy was named Spewy. Vomiting violently after one vehement fart.

    Here, I learnt several new tricks for Nephurus. Hold the head up with a ring made from your thumb and index finger. After it has calmed down, move back slowly.

    The second photography section was much later at night. Around 3:30am. I had found a sleeping beardy that Twin aptly named a rainbow morph. Driver and Spewy came over to have a look and we went on another walk looking for more geckos. Behind the dunes was mallee/mulga and we walked for several minutes paying no attention to direction. After we figured out we were lost we walked in what we thought we was the right direction. Being fed up, we Googled our position and walked to the closest road to find us several hundred metres east of our camp. Spewy and I basically hit the hay as soon as we got back. The others spent another 45 mins instead of 5 mins taking photos and another hour to put up their tent up.
     
    Last edited: Sep 4, 2013
  3. Demansiaphile

    Demansiaphile Not so new Member

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    The next morning I awoke early to strip bark for Varanus gilleni. I failed after 90 mins and came back to a still sleeping camp eventually Spewy woke up and we started having a delicious slice of bread for breakfast. At 8am everyone woke up and Driver jokingly lashed out at me for giving him advice not to bring his swag for this trip as he had only slept 1-2 hours.
    [​IMG]


    We hit the road, making several stops to find gilleni. I thought it was going to be very easy as an associate of mine had found 2-3 earlier in April. We came up with nothing and made our way to the Range.

    After driving several hours and throwing banana skins at trucks (Mario cart style). We arrived to the Southern Flinders Ranges then we made our way to a National Park and walked a short trail. The habitat was very different in Pernatty even though we only drove a few hundred km. From large red dunes with mallee and mulga to mountainous ranges that were lush with flora. Very early on we came across two tawny dragons, tree skink and Liopholis margaretae sitting on a rock outcrop.


    We saw several Ctenotus robustus and more L. margaretae and Tree Skinks on logs and crevices. We walked on past the trail to find a large rock creek. We fished out a Liopholis margaretae and took some photos.
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    Liopholis margaretae by J. Kelk, on Flickr

    One L. margaretae kept poking its head in and out of a crevice. It escaped us for hours as we took photos. I started a different style of shooting, similar to a wide angle shot which has the animal in the forefront and the habitat behind. Since I was using my macro lense I set the ISO to 1000 and lowered my shutter time. This let the entire background light up and gave me the effect I was after.
     
  4. Demansiaphile

    Demansiaphile Not so new Member

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    We realized that we didn't have a rake which was going to crucial to our night on the spinifex dunes. We made our way to the closest town which happened to be Burra. As most small towns goes everything was shut by 11:30, several hours before our arrival. After visiting all the road houses, I got a bit illegal, so I jumped a fence behind an old house and stole a rake. We jumped back in the car and made our way to S. elderi habitat.



    The night started off very slowly. I raked through leaf mulch for several minutes and found one small slink that quickly ran away, Driver found one later that doing the same thing which we caught. After a pointless fruitless road cruise, Spewy found one elderi, but lost it on the spinifex. After several hours of herping we only found a few bynoes, and a L. Damaeum. I was growing doubtful and then Twin flipped a parasuta nigriceps. A new reptick, and Twin was on fire! Things were picking up as Twin found another elderi which we managed to catch with only a few spinifex spines entering my bloodstream. They are often found in spinifex, dead, live positioned low and high on the shrub.
    [​IMG]
    Strophurus deleani by J. Kelk, on Flickr
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    Strophurus elderi by J. Kelk, on Flickr



    We decided that we should take some photos and have a break since it was 10 with only five animals to show. Generally eye shine was very prolific but it seemed the temperature dropped very quickly which may of caused the lack of activity.
    [​IMG]
    Parasuta nigriceps by J. Kelk, on Flickr



    I took several photos of the jewelled gecko and all of them were terrible. The lighting was crapola and I could not get the lighting right. So I turned to Twin and swapped the elderi for a parasuta.


    From previous experience I knew that parasuta were painfully hard to pose, I tried to use my hand as a cup which don't work. I tried using a used soup can and left it there for several minutes. All that succeeded in doing was covering it in chicken, corn and sand. After pinning it and cleaning it off with my shirt I let it go and it stayed in a very natural pose for decent amount of time. So I repeated that. I readied my camera, pinned it down with my hand, curled it with one hand and quickly moved away. Which made for some very above average photos in a short amount of time.

    I eventually made it back to the elderi. By this time The Driver who had been suffering from a terrible head ache (probably from the car crash) decided to say **** it and go to bed.
    The second crack at photos turned out much better and the animal sat much more natural and less awkward than before.
     
    Last edited: Sep 4, 2013
  5. Demansiaphile

    Demansiaphile Not so new Member

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    After taking photos we decided to go for another walk to try and find Delma butleri and australis. They are often found at the bottom of dead spinifix mats. Lifting them up reveals inverts sometimes unsuspecting Delma on the ground or a tail wriggling from the bottom of the uplifted spinifix mat. Spewy came across a rather large and ideal dead mat and said this is perfect for Delma whilst kicking away a clump. The final kick revealed a small Delma butleri which we jumped on!
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    Delma butleri by J. Kelk, on Flickr
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    Delma butleri by J. Kelk, on Flickr

    Filled with a new vigor we kept searching on for another hour or so and made no progress. We decided to head back. At the car it was decided that we should take the risk and wake up The Driver. As he was admiring it we made our way out again. Our phones and head torches were going flat and found nothing in the cold cold night. We found ourselves lost with no idea where we were...again. Walking for what seemed a long time in one direction we decided to look at our phones and see if we could position ourselves. Spewy pulling out his iPhone and opened maps, which instantly made his phone die... Twin pulled out his and saw it was on 5% battery. Going as fast as his pathetic thumbs would let him he found out position and it turned out we had been walking parallel to the road for about a Km. A short five minute walk perpendicular to our original direction found us back at the car, quickly in my trackies and into a small coma.

    Waking up, realizing I was freezing, I pulled my arms into my jumper sitting in near darkness. Admiring the starlight and milky way. If you have never been out in the middle of no where you are missing out on something that OUR ancestors adored,wondered and theorized about. It's beautiful and infinite. The rising sun slowly diminished the darkness and my friends slowly woke up. The Drivers headache had dissipated and we all felt awesome. I was excited and jumping in my skin at the prospect of another day of herping. So we did everything in haste!
    Soon in the car we were smashing it at 120km back to Adelaide. A few hours on we found ourselves at a long dirt road, on some agricultural land that had not been farmed for a long time.
    [​IMG]

    Instantly we started seeing T. rugosa crossing the road. After getting too excited, Spewy explained that they are extremely common in this area. We saw several more on the road all very similar in colour which consisted of brown with gold speckling.
    We jumped the fence onto private property and started flipping pieces of tin. This place was amazing. Hundreds of tin sheets and concrete tiles. The first sheet hid one shingle back next to a decaying less lively shingle back. Making our way through the field we flipped a Common Blue Tongue. These looked very different to the Eastern QLD scincoides. I often see these in my backyard. Soon after I flipped a Lerista dorsalis. This was new species for me so I slammed my hand on it and a large burning sensation rang up my arm. I screamed in pain not knowing what happened. My friends came to my aid and asked of I had found a brown and got bitten. The burning sensation mellowed but still hurt enormously. I put it down to a invert stinging me and I went on looking for Lerista since I had lost the last one. We flipped several Parasuta spectablis. When looking for this common snake make sure to look in the leaf litter and loose dirt under the tin as they and other species often lie hidden in it.
    [​IMG]
    Tiliqua rugosa by J. Kelk, on Flickr

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    Tiliqua scincoides by J. Kelk, on Flickr

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    Tiliqua occitapitalis by J. Kelk, on Flickr

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    Parasuta spectabalis by J. Kelk, on Flickr

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    Lerista dorsalis by J. Kelk, on Flickr

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    Tiliqua rugosa by J. Kelk, on Flickr

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    Tiliqua rugosa by J. Kelk, on Flickr
    They are like puppies

    We stopped at a random bridge near a largish river and flipped some rocks as Driver had never seen Thickies. Not long after Spewy found this.
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    Underwoodisaurus milli by J. Kelk, on Flickr

    At the edge of the property we flipped a male Western Blue Tongue. I was ecstatic as I had never seen these before and Spewy has only seen them once before in this area. To make things better we flipped a female who happened to be early the stages of pregnancy! This spot was great and I will not tell a soul about it. Within 10 minutes I had found 3 new species and at least 10 animals.

    Soon after finishing up photos we were on the road again and made our way to Adelaide hills in hope to find a Pygmy Copper Head. That turned into disappointment and laughter as we only found a baby blue tongue and some small skinks I had not seen beforehand and a photo taking by Driver, of myself taking a number two in the bushes. I'm hoping that's not on the Internet any more. We decided to drive back as our time was running short and Twin had to be at the airport in an hour. We made our way back to civilization and said our good byes insisting that we would be back and Spewy would be in QLD soon for a short herp!


    Aprasia pseudopulchella
    Ctenophorus decreasi
    Delma molleri
    Lerista bougainvilli
    Lerista edwardsae
    Simoselaps bertholdi
    Nephurus deleani
    Lucasium damauem
    Liopholis margaretae
    Stophurus elderi
    Delma butleri
    Parasuta nigriceps
    Tiliqia occipitalis
    Parasuta spectablis
    Lerista dorsalis
    Hemiergis decresiensis
     
  6. jedi_339

    jedi_339 Well-Known Member

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    Great photos there mate,

    You've got me quite excited as I've been planning a herping trip for the same area at the start of November, only problem is it's two months away :(

    Great finds and sounds like a very eventful trip, possibly more eventful outside of finding animals.

    Did you get out as far as the eyre peninsula? I'm not sure if i'll get to pernatty or if i'll head to the peninsula instead.

    Great work again

    J
     
  7. Dendrobates

    Dendrobates Active Member

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    Once again a good herping thread doesn't get the respect it deserves on here. It's sad.

    That Burra local is going to be saving his dole cheques for weeks so he can afford a new rake. Shame on you all.
     
  8. DisturbedDave

    DisturbedDave Active Member

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    Great photos. The narration kept it even more interesting! Good work.
     
  9. dickyknee

    dickyknee Almost Legendary

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    Nice pics mate , I will be heading over there to do a similar trip in a few months with the owner of that smashed vehicle ...
     
  10. mcloughlin2

    mcloughlin2 Well-Known Member

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    Awesome thread, sounds like a great trip.
     
  11. Demansiaphile

    Demansiaphile Not so new Member

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    Aspid, lucky it was in Burra, they don't actually have trees there. Just lots of grass.
    Thanks for the kind words.

    Dickyknee, make sure to wear a seat-belt. Apart from that Spewy, really really knows his stuff in that area. I almost felt like tourist, very knowledgeable guy.
     
  12. buckziggy

    buckziggy Not so new Member

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    I like the delma molleri you found
    nice find:D
     
  13. kankryb

    kankryb Active Member

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    great pics ,love the last rugosa shot
     
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