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)

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Western Glossy Swamp Skink

The name of this skink is a bit of a mouthful, a generally shy, secretive and fast-moving skink, it will be gone before you call out it's name! The Western Glossy Swamp Skink (Lissolepis luctuosa) until recently (2008) belonged to the genus Egernia, but now belongs Lissolepis which is represented in Australia by 2 species. These semi-aquatic skinks are related to the similar Egernia skinks, but are solitary and very shy.




Around Lake Seppings at Albany, where this photo was taken, they tend to be more easily seen, especially when sunning themselves in the open sunny patches on the lake's edge. They may be more use to seeing people here, but they still don't stray far from thick vegetaion and if you come too close, they're gone at lightening speed into the reeds, even diving into the water.




Perth is about the northern limit of their distribution, but they are  more commonly found at the swamps, lakes and creeks along the south coast as far as Cheynes Beach, east of Albany. Around Perth the Swamp Skink is disappearing, mainly due to urban development and wetland habitat destruction.




The Glossy Swamp Skinks are sometimes confused with the larger King Skinks (Egernia kingii), which also occur in these southern coastal areas. As the name suggests, the Glossy Swamp Skinks are more glossy, have a different pattern and only grow to 34 cm.
The other Lissopelis skink, the Swamp Skink (Lissopelis coventryi) is found only along the southern edge of Victoria. These two skink species populations were probably once connected, but are now separated by almost 2000 kilometres, due to the drier climatic conditions and environment in southern Australia.

I'm looking forward to my next trip to Albany and seeing these beautiful skinks again, and hopefully getting some good video!


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