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)

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Camballin Fauna Survey Part 3

Night spot-light surveys can be very exciting or very boring, depending on how many animals you see. Hour after hour can be spent travelling down dusty tracks with no animals in sight. How many are out may depend on many factors. Season, temperature, moon, wind or sometimes no known reason.

It's a good night. We came across this Bush Stone-curlew on a lonely track.

A species of spider that we haven't seen before, living on big termite mounds.

Beautiful patterns on these spiders.

A female Red Kangaroo and joey were feeding near one of our trap sites.

A fantastic frog of arid areas, a Desert Spadefoot (Notaden nichollsi).

They come up when it rains, but when it drys they burrow vertically down with their large shovel-like feet.

A beautiful glossy Moon Snake (Furina ornata) that has just killed a skink for his dinner. I always get a buzz from catching this lovely snake.

Next morning it's off to check the trap sites again.

One of our trap sites in a woodland with termite mounds. An interesting observation was that many of the termite mounds had been taken over by armies of small black ants. Is this a natural event or some type of man-made environmental change? Old big termite mounds are extremely important homes to many of the local animals, so their loss could be devastating.

An early morning catch, a Northern Spiny-tailed Gecko.

Another lovely Glaphyromorphus (Eremiascincus) isolepis.

A huge Spiny-tailed Monitor (Varanus acanthurus). One of the largest we have ever seen. Fantastic tail!

Some animals come out in great numbers of certain days and often we don't know why. This day was a Mulga Snake (Pseudechis australis) day, with a number caught at our trap sites, including this one in the grass I almost stepped on. At another trap site, one of our zoologists was bitten and had to be rushed to Derby hospital. He was ok luckily. Snakes can control how much venom is injected and often just bite you to tell you to go away. Venom is an expensive substance for a snake to make, so they don't want to waste it!

He's a great animal! About 2.5 metres long.

Another predator on the hunt, a big Yellow-spotted Monitor (Varanus panoptes).

A nice big fellow, growing up to 1.5 metres.

So ended a great fauna survey at a very interesting site. A mix of Kimberley and Pilbara animal species.


Wilma said...

Love that spider! How big was it? What was the night-time temperature while you were there?

Angad Achappa said...

Lovely images.. That frog pic is awesome!!


Richard King said...

Thanks people.
The spider was only about an 1-2 inches across, not like our Huntsmans which can be a lot bigger.

Fred said...

a very dry barren looking spot, but once again you prove that when you know where to look, there is life all around us.