Windorah, Queensland 1 -- Red dunes

Discussion in 'Field Herping and Reptile Studies' started by moloch05, Dec 2, 2008.

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  1. moloch05

    moloch05 Well-Known Member

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    My son, Nicholas, and I have just returned from a quick trip out to Windorah, Queenlsand. Windorah is an isolated town in the channel country of the far southwestern corner of Queensland. This area is a long drive from Wollongong so we spent many hours in the car and traveled a little over 4500km in five days. We hoped to photograph many of the inland herps and possibly find a Fierce Snake (Oxyuranus microlepidotus) out on the Morney Plains west of the town.

    Windorah is surrounded by red dunes. This year, the region has received lots of rain so the normally yellow spinifex (porcupine grass) was green and flowering.
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    These dunes supported a great number of herps. One of the nicest were these Central Military Dragons (Ctenophorus isolepis gularis). Males of this race have a lovely lemon-yellow throat. These dragons were the most common on the sandy flats and often sheltered beneath the spinifex. On one occasion, I saw a male perch on top of a termite mound but usually, they were seen on the sand.
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    Females lacked the black and yellow facial markings.
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    Central Netted Dragons (Ctenophorus nuchalis) were also abundant on the red sands but I did not take any photos of these in this habitat. Males of this species often perched atop termite mounds but they were incredibly wary and I could never approach closely enough for photos.

    Central Bearded Dragons (Pogona vitticeps) occurred in this habitat but they were more common where there were trees and brushy thickets. We found a baby sheltering in a spinifex clump at night and sometimes saw adults sunning from the tops of spinifex in the late afternoon. This adult was active on a hot night.
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    We saw a few Blue-lined Dragons (Diporiphora winneckei) in spinifex growing on the crests of the dunes.
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    Skinks were of course well represented. On this trip, I saw large numbers of Ctenotus for the first time. I think that this was probably the result of cooler day temps when compared to prior visits. On this trip, two of our three mornings were in the low 30s and only once did the temps exceed 40. Ctenotus were a real challenge to photograph and definitely a test of one’s patience. They usually were seen as they raced from one spinifex clump to another. Often, I could not see any markings at all.

    One of the prettiest Ctenotus were these little C. schomburgkii that seemed to live only on the upper slopes or crests of the dunes.
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    We only found a single Ctenotus saxatilis. It was active on the crest of a dune.
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    I think that these are Ctenotus herbetior. These skinks were the most common on the sand flats although we did see a few on the crests of dunes as well.
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    We found this Ctenotus on the crest of a dune. I am not certain but think that it may be an Eastern Striped Skink (C. robustus), a widespread species found in a variety of habitats. Ctenotus are frequently difficult to identify. If it is a C. robustus then this sighting may represent a small range extension of the species.
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    Several species of Lerista skinks live near Windorah. I only found a single species, Lerista emmottii. It was a superb burrower and it only took a moment for it to vanish beneath the surface of the sand.
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    I saw a single Menetia greyii, a tiny skink that is one of Australia’s smallest lizards. It was active on a fallen branch but it escaped into cover before I could take a photo.

    Gould’s Monitors or Sand Goannas (Varanus gouldii) were common. This one crossed the road in front of us but then sat beneath a shrub and it allowed me to closely approach it for photos.
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    For some reason, we did not find many nocturnal reptiles at all on this trip. The weather was warm, conditions were moist with recent rain and there was a new moon so the lack of nocturnal reptiles was surprising. We found a single spiny-tailed gecko while we walked the dunes at night. I think that it was one of the newly described Strophurus krisalys due to the two rows of tubercles on each side of the mid-line of the body.
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    One of the highlights of this trip was this beautiful juvenile Jewelled Gecko (Strophurus elderi). Nicholas discovered it after searching clumps of spinifex for an hour or so. I had a hard time seeing it at first even when it was not too far into the clump … thank goodness for Nick’s sharp eyes! These little geckos are not easy at all to find but I doubt that they are rare.
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    We only found a single Smooth Knob-tailed Gecko (Nephrurus laevis laevis). This female was very dark and quite different to those that I saw recently in Western Australia.
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    We found several Variegated Geckos (Gehyra variegata) on the trunks of trees growing on the dunes but I did not take any photos. On prior trips, we also have recorded Prickly Geckos (Heteronotia binoei) and Beaked Geckos (Rhynchoedura ornata) on the dunes but we did not see any this year.


    We only saw a single snake in the dune areas and this one was unfortunately a DOR. A truck passed us one night and then hit this beautiful, 2m Black-headed Python (Aspidites melanocephalus) ... a sad event.
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    Here are a few more interesting animals from the dunes.

    Crimson Chats are nomads that follow the rain. They were abundant this year due to the good season.
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    Ring-necked Parrots often stopped by our camp.
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    This beetle looked much like a seed from a tree. I think that it is one of the darkling beetles (Tenebrionidae).
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    A weevil on a leaf of a Grevillea.
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    This small grasshopper blended well with the red sand.
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    We found a few scorpions while we walked at night. Some were yellow like this animal:
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    … and others were black:
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    We saw a few flowers.

    Grevillea:
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    A native hibiscus:
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    ... others:
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    Regards,
    David
     
  2. Schlumpe

    Schlumpe Active Member

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    Great shots.

    Do mind me asking what camera are you using?
     
  3. inthegrass

    inthegrass Very Well-Known Member

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    as usual, it is a pleasure to see you post pics and info from your roadtrips.
    cheers:)
     
  4. Colin

    Colin morelia

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    awesome pics as always moloch :D mate your threads are always of exceptional standard and pics are sensational.
    I really like the habitat shots too.. it gives you a feel for the environment the reptiles were located in. great stuff and thanks for sharing. .
     
  5. herpkeeper

    herpkeeper Very Well-Known Member

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    Moloch, top pics as always ! ;)
     
  6. JasonL

    JasonL Almost Legendary

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    Geez man, you lead the life..... I bet you took your time with the elderi.... Great pics as per usual....... :(
     
  7. mistymtn

    mistymtn Well-Known Member

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    Stunning shots as always. Thanks for sharing.

    Cheers
     
  8. warren63

    warren63 Very Well-Known Member

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    Thanks great pics
     
  9. Renagade

    Renagade Very Well-Known Member

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    great pics, looks like you and your son had a top time.
    check out all that red sand!
     
  10. the.badger

    the.badger Well-Known Member

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    Wow, second pic of the jewel gecko is amazing!
     
  11. Shannon

    Shannon Well-Known Member

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    Thanks so much David, this post was an absolute pleasure to read and more so - view! The photos are stunning and you found some gorgeous reptiles. Well worth that long trip. Thanks for sharing.
     
  12. Luke1

    Luke1 Suspended Banned

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    fantastic photos david!!!! your trips always amaz me! well done!

    Luke
     
  13. sezza

    sezza Active Member

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    amazing shots! Thanks so much for sharing!
     
  14. Brigsy

    Brigsy Well-Known Member

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    Awsome pics, would love to do a trip like that!!!!
     
  15. Col J

    Col J Active Member

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    Great pics as usual, David. Just love that channel country. Shame about the BHP.

    Col J.
     
  16. AUSGECKO

    AUSGECKO Very Well-Known Member

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    Awesome pics David!! Thanks for sharing:D
     
  17. iceman

    iceman Well-Known Member

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    great pic's moloch, would love to get out there one day myself.
     
  18. Wild~Touch

    Wild~Touch Very Well-Known Member

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    Thanks for sharing :) you've made my day
    Cheers
    Sandee :)
     
  19. porkosta

    porkosta Well-Known Member

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    Great photos. Thanks for sharing
     
  20. xScarlettex

    xScarlettex Active Member

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    wow! fantastic photos! sad about the BHP tho =(
     
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