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, July 26, 2010

Spiny-tailed Gecko Videos

The first video is of a Spiny-tailed Gecko (Strophurus spinigerus) as he wanders around the garden in the late afternoon, looking for a good spot to go hunting insects during the night. These geckos are native to the southwest of Western Australia, but we don't often see them in our Perth hills garden.

The second video is of him cleaning his eyes with his blue tongue, possibly after catching an insect or licking some nectar off our red grevilleas in the garden. These geckos belong to the tail-squirter group, because as a defence they can squirt a sticky, smelly fluid from pores on the top of the spiny tail.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Angry Kaluta

A great little mammal that you sometimes catch in the north-west is a Kaluta (Dasykaluta rosamondae) and wow, are these guys small and angry or what! They try to rip your fingers off!

The best way to hold an angry Kaluta when you haven't got gloves is by the scruff of the neck, like mum Kalutas do with the babies.

Cute little face, but boy what a temper!


The 50m trapline in typical Kaluta habitat, with lots of spinifex to hide and hunt in. I'm getting more Kalutas out at the end of the line.


Video of one angry Kaluta that was more interested in ripping my fingers off than getting away. The Kaluta finally decides it can't destroy them, so with a look of disgust leaps into the spinifex. The voice is my boss, who thinks it's great and is having more fun than the Kaluta!

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Musky Rat-Kangaroo

While walking through some rainforest near Cairns in North Queensland last Christmas, we came across this Musky Rat-Kangaroo (Hypsiprymnodon moschatus) out looking for fruit and insects in the late morning. This is a short record video of this little marsupial, as I'm very surprised not to find more footage around of this fairly common animal of this area. I suppose most are very shy and will quickly bound away if they notice you.

So what's so special about it?
  • It's believed to be an ancient ancestor of all kangaroo-type animals
  • Has long hind legs, but gaits on all fours instead of hopping on the hind legs
  • The smallest marcopod and only one with five toes
  • It's out during the day and sleeps at night in a rough nest (most Australian animals are nocturnal)
  • Has a musky odour (hence the name)
  • Is the only one member of it's family Hypsiprymnodontidae
  • Is only found in a very small rainforest area of north Queensland

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

More Little Mammals

One of the small mammals that you often catch on fauna surveys, even in arid Australia, is the introduced House Mouse, but sometimes what looks like one isn't.

What's in the bag? A nice little Sandy Inland Mouse (Pseudomys hermannsburgensis). Long scientific name!


A cute fellow found across most central areas of arid Australia.


Australia had waves in colonisation by rats and mice from Asia, when sea levels dropped during ice ages. The first wave animals changed to become different looking specialists, but these later wave animals still really look like normal mice.


He's starting to get cheesed off (ha ha) by being in the sun.


Time to go back to his family and friends, that live in a complex underground burrow system.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Birds of the Lambir Hills, Sarawak Borneo

This is a video of a few of the birds found in the Lambir Hills National Park and Borneo Tropical Rainforest Lodge that I went to a couple of months ago. The national park and lodge are located about hour's drive from Miri in Sarawak. A new area for birds as most of my birding has been on the eastern side in Sabah.

I would normally try and use my big steady Canon XH A1 and tripod, but due to shy birds, rain and this being a more on-the-go birdwatching holiday, I had to use my hand-held smaller HV40 camcorder. Still a great video camera!

There are 5 birds species in the video, they are Olive-backed Woodpecker, Orange-bellied Flowerpecker, Red-eyed Bulbul, Grey-bellied Bulbul and the wonderful Fluffy-backed Tit-Babbler.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Little Mammals

The checking of traps first thing in the morning is always exciting as you never know what you're going to get. In the Pilbara it's often reptiles, but sometimes you get little mammals that normally people wouldn't see.

A bucket trap has two Long-tailed Planigales (Planigale ingrami).

Small (<120mm) carnivorous marsupials, hunters of anything they can overpower and eat.

Looks a bit like a tiny ferret in this shot.

Nice little animals, that often have a habit of shutting their eyes and just staying quiet while you handle them.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Welcome Swallows at Herdsman Lake

It's winter in Perth and the days and nights are cold by Australian standards. The birds don't start moving as much as they usually do, until later in the morning. A cool wind blows over the local lakes such as Herdsman, where the Welcome Swallows take time among the reeds to warm up in the sun, before flying off to hunt insects over the fields and water.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Angry Northern Quolls

As part of a fauna survey in northern Australia, Northern Quoll (Dasyurus hallucatus) capture and monitoring is important. These native carnivorous marsupials are endangered, especially from introduced predators and the poisonous Cane Toads spreading across the north. All Australian Zoologists have a great respect when catching these wonderful, but aggressive quolls.

That's one angry male Northern Quoll, and those long teeth will go through a glove like a hot knife through butter. Interesting to have such a big male, as all males die after mating.

Typical habitat of Northern Quolls, rocks with lots of hiding holes and big spinifex clumps. Lots of food too, small mammals, lizards and birds.

Another beautiful but annoyed quoll, running around in it's cage.

This time it's a smaller female, but still with a nasty set of teeth that will bite to the bone, if she gets a hold of you!

Quolls often have this crazy look and will go still and pretend to be dead, so you losen your grip, suddenly they twist and are gone! Doesn't she have a lovely "I just want to kill you" look?

Friday, July 9, 2010

Crested Dragon Video

In keeping with the dragons theme, here is a short video of a Crested Dragon (Ctenophorus cristatus)
found warming itself on a rock along the Hyden-Norseman Road, in the south-eastern part of Western Australia. A wonderful area of extensive Salmon Gums woodlands with big rock outcrops. This dragon except for the tail and leg bands, lacks the usual colours so is probably a juvenile or young female.

These lizards belong to a group often called Bicycle Dragons, because when they run fast they are upright and running on their back legs.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

The Dragons

There are about 70 species of dragons found in Australia in many different habitats, most being found in the warm arid northern areas.

The area around Wodgina provides a number of habitats for dragons. One species would occur on or near the rocks, while a different one would occur on the sandy plains below, often within metres of each other.

The sandy soil loving Central Military Dragon (Ctenophorus isolepis).

The rocky soil loving Ring-tailed Dragon (Ctenophorus caudicinctus).


A dragon that loves eucalypt-lined river systems in the Pilbara is the Long-nosed Dragon (Amphibolurus longirostris). 


Easy to identify with that long nose and super-white lip.

This is one lucky dragon, a Dwarf Bearded Dragon (Pogona minor), who was almost a pancake. You can see he's sitting on our tyre track from the way in and almost got run over when we were coming out.

He (or she) wasn't going to move.


Wonderful face patterns, including a strong ring-like structure I haven't seen before.


A nicely shaped head with great scales. You can see the pale Parietal Eye in the centre. For more info about the eye, see


Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Dusky Woodswallow

A short video of Dusky Woodswallows, one of six Australian woodswallow species. These were found feeding on the edge of the Darling Range scarp in a woodland at Lesmurdie, near Perth Western Australia.

Dusky Woodswallows usually hawk for insects from an branch, but will also land on the ground to feed and sometimes take nectar from blossoms. They often look very sleek, due to a special waxy powder down they spread during preening.

Monday, July 5, 2010

The Snakes of Wodgina

Catching a snake always gives me a rush. They are some of the most wonderful and beautiful animals found in the Pilbara, but must always be treated with respect. Wodgina provided some cool snakes.

A Yellow-faced Whipsnake (Demansia psammophis), a day hunting, lightning-fast snake that chases lizards.

They grow to about a metre and are not considered dangerous to humans, but they can bite at lightning speed. I had a close experience with one near Perth that slid out the funnel trap opening while I was trying to see inside. Suddenly I had an annoyed whipsnake head only an inch from my eye, luckily he was only having a look at me too!

The subspecies in the northwest is cupreiceps with a nice copper head and tail.

The wonderful Black-headed Python (Aspidites melanocephalus) we found while driving along the railway road late one afternoon. The videos of this snake are at

My boss Trin over the moon holding the Black-headed Python.

One of the four fantastic snakes from the genus Simoselaps. A Desert Banded Snake (Simoselaps anomalus).

Such a beautiful harmless small snake, found in sandy spinifex deserts of Western Australia where it swims through sand to hunt small burrowing lizards.

All of the Simoselaps have stunning body patterns.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Ancient Landscapes

The sun rises again over the ancient landscape at Wodgina.

Some more of that wonderful sky that looks like it's wood or cloth on fire.

Old mountain ranges that are almost worn way.

The line of hard quartz forming the backbone of the ancient range runs to the horizon.

Fresh water in an old river system is a rare sight in this arid land.

Only a small set of pools among the sandstone rocks and nothing else for many miles..

The water attracted aborigines to this rock, leaving many ancient etchings.

A varanid?

A gecko?

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Video - a Hemiergis in the garden

What's a Hemiergis? Often called Earless or Mulch skinks, with five of the six Australian species occuring in the southwest of Western Australia. This is a short video of Hemiergis initialis, known as the Southwestern Earless Skink, which is living in our garden. You can tell which species it is by counting toes and the colour of the belly. You can't see it, but this one has a bright yellow colour on the belly.

It's winter here in Perth and the Hemiergis are moving amongst the garden leaf litter during the day, though usually they are only active at night. They love wet cool conditions, so much that if you hold one in your hand too long it starts to get heat stress! The females have live young and sometimes speed up development by hiding in leaf litter with morning sun.

They are a nice little skink and I always love finding these guys when I'm gardening.