The wet season in the tropical north brings out the frogs in droves, and the wet seasons at the start and end of 2012 were no exceptions. Townsville is situated close to a number of interesting and diverse habitats, ranging from mountain rainforests to dry savannah, so amphibian diversity is very high. And apparently they all prefer to face the left.
Javelin frog (Litoria microbelos)
As we drove back from our utter failure of a trip to the semi-arid zone, we were dejected. And wet. Very wet. Stopping in at White Mountain National Park to take a break, my cunning Swedish companion made the entire trip worthwhile when he noticed reptick number two for me for 2012: Varanus storri.
Storr’s monitor (Varanus storri)
What better way to celebrate the Australia Day long weekend than by getting out into the heart of this dry, dusty land and harassing some critters?!? My Swedish companion and I packed up the car on Friday and headed west. That’s when it started raining. And it didn’t stop for the entire weekend. We kept driving west thinking that we’d eventually break out from underneath the clouds. We didn’t. It was wet. We got wet. Surprisingly, we still managed to track down some beasts. Nothing new, but the semi-arid zone is always interesting after a bit of rain. And during a bit of rain, apparently. We ended up coming back early because we were concerned some of the creeks west of Winton would flood and we’d be trapped out there for days or months.
Eastern brown snake (Pseudonaja textilis)
I got an email Saturday morning telling me that a rare bat species (Saccolaimus saccolaimus) had just been seen near Cairns. That’s a mere 4.5 hour drive from home, so I jumped in the car and planned to be at the site before dusk so I could see the bats as they emerged from their roost. I found the roost easily with the help of my local contact, and also found a nesting Papuan frogmouth in a nearby tree.
Papuan frogmouth (Podargus papuensis) on nest
From the Brigalow Belt, we headed north-east and spent a final night in a rocky jump-up west of Winton.
Gibber earless dragon (Tympanocryptis intima). They crouch among the pebbles, hoping that you don’t see them. Didn’t work on me.
After Main Range, we headed to the Brigalow Belt. I’ve spent a fair bit of time in the the brigalow belt, so I was unlikely to see much new stuff. There was, however, one species found in the area that had continually eluded me: the woma. I know a number of people who’ve seen them out that way, but I’ve never managed to track one day. We spent a few days in the region, and had quite the surprise on our last night…
Dunmall’s snake (Furina dunmalli)
Northern New South Wales proved to be very fruitful, but we had deadlines to meet so we started north. We stopped in at Girraween and Main Range.
Wyberba leaf-tailed gecko (Saltuarius wyberba) displaying excellent camouflage
After seeing all there was to see in Brisbane, we headed down to northern New South Wales for Christmas. We stopped at a creek on the way down and found some giant barred frogs (Mixophyes iteratus).
Giant barred frog (Mixophyes iteratus)
On Christmas Day I was rewarded with a decent look at a grey goshawk (avitick!) circling above me. After the Christmas formalities were over, we spent a few days travelling through north-eastern New South Wales. Despite having lived in South East Queensland for most of my life, NE NSW was largely unexplored territory for me. We had a number of beast we’d wanted to track down, and got a few bonus species along the way.