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)

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Back To Paradise

I have just returned from Paradise, after another wonderful level 2 fauna survey, this time a 14 day survey. The country was still in great condition with lots of wildlife after a good late wet season in the Kimberley, but the nights were very cold and the days often cool and windy, limiting some of the animals we caught.

Most boab trees have now lost their leaves and the grass is brown, but most of the wattles and grevilleas are still in flower in many areas.

One of our interesting skink captures, a Ctenotus uber. Interesting in that our surveys in this area have greatly extended it's known range, as before it was only known from far further south in the Pilbara region.

One of our most common skinks in the area, a Ctenotus inornatus.

Another common lizard here, but this time a dragon Diporiphora lalliae.

There are a few Diporiphora in range, but lalliae have a single strong gular fold on the throat.

Now he's getting a bit annoyed!

Some of our trapping sites were in areas of big spinifex clumps, provding great animal habitats.

Most spinifex areas had these baby Ctenotus pantherinus.

Here's a couple of older pantherinus. These beautilful spotted skinks are also commonly called Leopard Ctenous.

Two nice twin D. lalliae.

Another wonderful dragon, a Dwarf Bearded Dragon Pogona minor.

So well hidden! They can change colour to blend in with the environment.

This one's a lot lighter in colour, at the bottom of the bucket in the pit trap.

A beautiful Spotted Tree Monitor Varanus scalaris, caught in grassy woodland .

The spinifex sites also supported these striped Ctenotus piankai.

Boabs are amazing trees, lots of foliage during the wet season, then during the dry they lose all of their leaves.....

and develop these wonderful big boab nuts that you can eat. The white pith inside tastes a little like powdered milk with a zing! I'm sure someone could create a nice recipe for them.

A nest of a Spotted Nightjar, if you can call it a nest!

Very hard to see amongst the rock scree.

The billabongs we visited during our Northern Quoll survey in May, still had lots of water in them.

A nice find at one of the billabongs, was this colourful Jewel Beetle.

There are lots of species of these beetles and they all look amazing.

Another site we visited again was Snake Creek that connects to the Fitzroy River. We had our cameras set up here again and unfortunately filmed lots of feral pigs and cats this time.

One bird I was really hoping to see was Flock Bronzewing, a pigeon that is very hard to locate. Their stronghold is in the eastern Northern Territory, but with good rains they have now travelled to this area of the Kimberley. Once there were huge flocks of thousands, but over the last hundred years numbers have greatly reduced.

This shot by Rob Drummond shows how beautiful male Flock Bronzewings are. A great sighting of a flock of 170+ bronzewings and it's a new lifer for me.

Another lifer for me from the last trip here, was the Red-chested Button-Quail.

The head pattern, red chest and reddish flanks distinguish it from the other button-quail found here.

We caught this brightly-coloured female (with red chest) and less colourful male in the same funnel trap.

The more common Little Button-Quail looks totally different in the hand, but it's a lot harder to tell button-quail apart when they burst from the grass at light speed!

So end our level 2 fauna surveys at Paradise, which first started two years ago, but hopefully we will have more in the Kimberley area of Western Australia, as it's such a beautiful place with  fantastic animals.


Mr. Smiley said...

A wonderful trip in the best part of Austrlia. Great photos.

Saract said...

This is a very nice post!