And the bush has friends to meet him, and their kindly voices greet him, In the murmur of the breezes and the river on its bars,
And he sees the vision splendid of the sunlit plains extended, And at night the wonderous glory of the everlasting stars.

Banjo Paterson (1889)

Monday, September 28, 2009

The Kimberleys 2

These are more pictures of the wonderful habitats and animals found in the southern Kimberley region near Halls Creek.

Not nice to walk through, but good healthy spinifex habitats like this one are one of the best areas to capture reptiles and small mammals.

An artistic shot of a Kapok Tree (Cochlospermum gillivraei) one of the common small trees found in the Kimberleys and throughout most of northern Australia. During the dry season they drop their leaves and are basically only sticks.

The Kapok has beautiful big yellow flowers which develop into these big seed pods that open to spread fluffy seeds into the wind. This is a bush tucker plant and the seeds were once used to stuff pillows.

One of the many old scenic cattle yards, which sometimes have with good shade trees, like this stunning one planted at the yard. Often good places to look for reptiles under old pieces of tin and junk.

A lovely Leopard Ctenotus (Ctenotus pantherinus) caught during trapping in one of the good spinifex sites. I think this has to be one of the most beautiful skinks found in arid regions of Australia.

Found in one of the creek waterholes in the survey area, a Ornate Frog (Limnodynastes ornatus).

One of the more common small monitors in our survey site and found in many rocky areas of northern Australia, a Spiny-tailed Monitor ( Varanus acanthurus). Usually easy to identify with a hard many-ridged long tail and striped neck.

Friday, September 25, 2009

The Kimberleys

The spring fauna surveys are starting to pick up and it seems a couple will be in one of my favourite regions, the Kimberley. Next week I shall be doing a small fauna survey on Koolan Island, about 130 km north of Derby, which is the gateway to the Kimberleys.

I thought I would put up some photos of our last fauna survey in the south Kimberley, just north of Halls Creek.

On some days the heat and humidity keep building throughout the day to cause huge thunderstorms in the late afternoon.

A camouflaged Ta-ta Lizard (Amphibolurus gilberti), so called because of a territorial hand waving behaviour. You can often see these guys running around the mining accommodation near well-watered gardens.

A view of the typical Kimberley woodland which was part of a survey area, located to the north of Halls Creek.

Woodland areas in northern Australia are good places to find Frilled Lizards (Chlamydosaurus kingii). Many people have seen what adult Frilled Lizards look like, but these pictures show a juvenile which has a different colour and very small frill on the back of the head.

The eye and patterns on the head are wonderful on this young guy, hopefully he will stay out of the way of hungry predators, such as eagles, and grow up to be a fine adult.

Not a snake, but a legless lizard, a Delma borea found in areas in northern Australia with a good ground cover of spinifex.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Birds of Herdsman Lake

A compilation of the birds found at Herdsman Lake in Perth, Western Australia. As most of this footage was gained during winter, many of the birds are not in their full breeding plumage.

Only 7km from the city, Herdsman is a great place to see Perth birds as you can get over 70 species in a day just around the lake.

The birds in the video are Australian Reed-Warbler, Welcome Swallow, Freckled Duck (rare), Australasian Shoveler, Black Swan, Blue-billed Duck, Grey Teal, Black-winged Stilt, Coot, Australasian Grebe, Dusky Moorhen, Purple Swamphen, Buff-banded Rail, Great Egret, Glossy Ibis and Nankeen Night-heron.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Zebra Spider Hunter Wasp

This is a video of a Zebra Spider Hunter Wasp found at Emu Rock, east of Hyden in Western Australia. The wasp has caught a spider and is dragging the body to her nest. I have seen Spider Hunters dragging whole spiders but never a de-legged spider before. Was it just too heavy or maybe this is a specific behaviour for this species?

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

The Huntsman

Video close-ups with music of a wonderful Huntsman Spider found east of Perth in Western Australia. Great views of his eight eyes and big black fangs.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Mr Dove meets Jaws

A fun video of a worried Peaceful Dove who comes in for a drink at an outback waterhole, then spots fish moving in the water. He has a 'What the hell is that in the water' look on his face.

Monday, September 14, 2009


I thought I'd post some of the pictures from a week-long site survey to the east of Laverton in the northern goldfields, which I just returned from. The very windy and dry cool conditions in this arid area at the time, made it hard to see many birds and other animals, but we did manage to find some interesting sites and fauna.

Some of the survey area has these wonderful breakaways. Great homes and shelters for many of the local animals, especially during the unbearable hot summer temperatures.

It was sad to see the remains of Pebble-mound Mouse nests at most of the rock outcrops and breakaways. The way you spot them, is to look for large collections of same sized stones. These mice were probably members of what is now called the Pilbara Pebble-mound Mouse (Pseudomys chapmani), which is only found in a small area far to the northwest in the Pilbara region of WA.

No one knows for certain why they became extinct in over most of these arid areas, but it was probably due to introduced rabbits, cats and foxes.

A picture from the web of a Pilbara Pebble-mound Mouse working hard to drag large pebbles to build it's rock-protected nest.

The other two rodents of which you can find old nests at outcrops, and which also became extinct in these areas, are the Lesser and Greater Stick-nest Rat. These nests were made of small sticks, often cemented with a black tar-looking substance.

One of the fantastic geckos we found in the survey areas, a Goldfields Spiny-tailed Gecko (Strophurus assimilis). Many Spiny-tailed Geckos look similar, but this one can be told apart by the wavy lines of spines (instead of straight) on it's back.

These guys also have wonderful eyes with beautiful patterns and interesting eyebrows made up of long hard spines.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Hooded Robins

This is video of Hooded Robins (Melanodryas cucullata) seen at Trephina Gorge, east of Alice Springs. There is a nice adult black and white male looking for insects, as well as a possible young female also on the lookout. It was really windy when I was taking the footage and the female shows how to keep a steady still eye on a wildly moving branch, when looking for insects.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Orchid Time

Springtime is here. When I'm out in Kalamunda National park looking for nesting birds to video, with the warmer weather I'm now hearing the movements of skinks in the leaf litter and it's usually then that I notice the newly opened spring orchids. Having done some work at the state herbarium, I always enjoy seeing interesting plants like orchids.

Here are a few of the orchids found growing near our home in the hills and some from the coastal plain.

These are one of the more common orchids found in the hills area at this time of year, the Cowslip Orchids.

Another common orchid is the Donkey Orchid, found growing in many areas at this time of year.

This is the Bird Orchid, due to it's colour and small size, amazingly hard to see under trees on the forest floor.

A small beautiful orchid found only in certain open areas amongst the forest, the Autumn Leek Orchid.

Another common orchid of the Jarrah forest and coastal plain, the Pink Fairy Orchid.

One of the many, many Spider Orchids belonging to the Caladenia genus.

A wonderful plastic-looking orchid, the Pink Enamel Orchid.

Another Caladenia species, possibly the White Spider Orchid. You really need a Caladenia book and a hand lens to often tell which species it is, and there seem to be new species all the time.

This one looks like the proper White Spider Orchid.

This one always looks like an angry triffid or the plant from the movie Little Shop of Horrors. A small but wonderful Rabbit Orchid.

And yet another species of Caladenia, the Leaping Spider Orchid.

And to finish, a nice Purple Enamel Orchid.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Spinifex Pigeons

During our last trip, I managed to get some good video of Spinifex Pigeons. This is a video of the wonderful Spinifex Pigeons (Geophaps plumifera) found at Ormiston Gorge in the West MacDonnell Ranges, west of Alice Springs. This is the white-bellied race (leucogaster) found in the outback of arid Australia.

The colours and bodies of these birds are well-adapted to the harsh hot and dry conditions of the outback. The colours match the rocky areas they inhabit. They also have metabolic adaptions that give them the ability to forage through the hottest part of the day, meaning that these birds can forage while most competitors and predators are resting from the heat .

The birds you can hear in the background are the piping calls of Red-browed Pardalotes and the harsh chatter of Brown Honeyeaters.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Pilbara Reptiles

Looks like the spring fauna survey work is starting to come in, with work in the Goldfields next week and a large fauna survey in the Kimberleys possibly next month. Most of our work over the past couple of years has been in the Pilbara region, so it will be nice to explore new areas and see some new animals hopefully.

Here are pictures of some of the reptiles we have caught on our recent Pilbara surveys.

A nice light-coloured Bearded Dragon (Pogona minor) found sunning himself on an old dead tree

A Western Hooded Scaly Foot (Pygopus nigriceps), a beautiful-looking harmless legless lizard. He is usually a nocturnal hunter of spiders.

A little story behind this rarely caught small snake (Vermicella snelli) often called a Bandy-Bandy. Brad, our herpatologist for this survey, who seems to have photos of just about every reptile in Western Australia, had never photographed this species. As luck would have it, his camera broke just before we caught this little snake. He was not happy!

A fine specimen of a Rosen's Snake (Suta fasciata), this snake isn't totally harmless, as a bite can cause severe swelling and pain.

This guy is totally harmless, a cute baby Centralian Blue-tongue (Tiliqua multifasciata). He seems to be sticking his tongue out to show us exactly what he thinks of being handled by humans.

A lovely adult Blue-tongue also sticking his tongue out. Often big skinks of the Tiliqua genus will open their mouth and stick out their coloured tongue as a defensive action, trying to scare off an attacker.