Lake Eyre Basin, Central-Western Queensland, Nov 2012

Accounts and photos of non-captive reptiles in their natural habitat outside of South Africa. Try to record with your account details such as time of day/night, temperature, weather conditions, lunar cycle, sex, rough age of reptile, and so on.

View Gallery

Lake Eyre Basin, Central-Western Queensland, Nov 2012

Postby moloch » Wed Nov 28, 2012 11:26 am

I recently had a week break from work so decided to visit a couple of my favourite areas in the eastern deserts. The first destination was the Lake Eyre Basin near Winton in central western Queensland. This is one of the relatively close places for me to herp but it was a 26 hour drive from my home. I spent a day and a half in the car to reach this beautiful place. The basin is the floor of an ancient sea. The old shoreline now is marked by a line of small, rock hills that are covered with spinifex. These is herp-rich habitat although many of the species are secretive and hard to actually see and photograph.
Image
Image

I really enjoy the colours of this hilly area at sunset. The low level light really brings out the reds of the rock and the yellow of the spinifex.
Image
Image


This is the habitat of Phasmid Striped Geckos (Strophurus taeniatus), spinifex growing on rocky soil. Several of the Aussie herpers on the forum have posted photos of these nicely marked little geckos from this area. I walked the flats and searched the clumps of spinifex but I was not successful to these species remains on my wish list.
Image
Image

I did have success with another of the more easily found spiny-tails, Strophurus krisalys. I found a few of these geckos with fantastic eyes.
Image
Image
Image

This was was practically "glued" to the road. The night was not overly warm and the gecko appeared to be attempting to soak up as much warmth as it could from the asphalt.
Image


This year, the big Prickly Knob-tailed Geckos (Nephrurus asper) were the most common gecko on the road. Large adults often stood upright like this on the shoulder of the road. These geckos were pugnacious and often would hiss, arch their backs and act threatening when I approached them for photos. Here are photos of several of those encountered.
Image
Image
Image
Image
Image
Image

... this one was hissing while I took its photo:
Image


Marbled Velvet Geckos (Oedura marmorata) are always a nice sight. I found several of these lovely geckos as they crossed the road.
Image
Image
Image


Pale-striped Ground Geckos (Lucasium immaculatum) were fairly scarce this year. I normally see good numbers but only found two on this trip. One acted in quite a strange way. It ran from me then arched its back and flicked its tail from side-to-side like a cat.
Image
Image
Image


I saw a couple Gehyra robusta in a culvert.
Image
Image


... bats in the same culvert.
Image


I think that this is a little Gibber Earless Dragon (Tympanocryptis intima). It was active at night on the road appeared to be soaking up warmth from the road like the geckos. These little lizards were one of the pebble mimicking species.
Image
Image


I saw a single Spinifex Slender Blue-Tongue (Cyclodomorphus melanops). This was the second of the species that I have found and both were on the road like this at night.
Image
Image


I believe that this was an Eastern Hooded Scaly Foot (Pygopus schraderi). It was huge and I assumed that it was a snake when I stopped the car. Markings were quite weak on the head of this old lizard.
Image
Image
Image

This year, I only saw two of these huge Yellow-spotted Monitors (Varanus panoptes). This one attempted to hide when I stepped out of the car.
Image
Image

... annoyed and stomping away:
Image
Image
Image

Image
Image

These are really lovely big lizards that usually appear fearless when approached.
Image


I usually returned to Winton each day to refuel. Winton is situated in the Mitchell Grass Downs, plains that are covered with grasslands growing on cracking clay. I saw a few Downs Bearded Dragons (Pogona henrylawsoni) here but they were all too wary for photos. This is also the home of Spencer's Monitors (Varanus spenceri) but I did not see any this year.
Image
Image


Emus were common in the grasslands:
Image


Australian Bustards were also a common sight. These were big, turkey like birds. The males inflate an airsac that hangs to the ground when calling.
Image
Image

I found a colony of these lovely Azures last year. I am not certain of the species. They could be either Satin or Silky Azure. These butterflies life around clumps of mistletoe. I found many flowering mistletoe in trees near a creek so worked this area to see the butterflies.
Image
Image
Image


The Azure (Ogyris oroetes or O. amarylis)
Image
Image


Caper White (Belenois java)
Image


The second destination on my recent trip was Windorah in the channel country of southwestern Queensland. The little town is surrounded by red dunes that are rich with reptiles. A paved road continues for nearly 120km to the west and finally ends with gravel tracks heading off into remote country. Habitat along this road changes often from red dunes to claypans to rocky hills ("jump up" country). I always love to drive to the end of the paved road although it was a sad sight this year. This was my fifth visit to the area and for the first time, I saw huge areas where the spinifex had been burned on the dunes and the land was now stocked with large numbers of cattle. If this persists, it will certainly have a big impact on the reptile populations.

Here are a few shots near Windorah. I love the red sand.
Image
Image
Image
Image
Image


There were still a few of these lovely Grevilleas in flower. These members of the Protea family produce lots of nectar so are popular with birds like Singing Honeyeaters, Spiny-cheeked Honeyeaters and Yellow-throated Miners.
Image


Gould's Monitors (Varanus gouldii) were common on the dunes.
Image
Image
Image


I always like to walk the dunes in the early morning and see the tracks of animals. I came across this and it has me perplexed. Tracks of a monitor and another animal that I could not recognize converged. Seems like there was quite a struggle. I did not see any signs of blood or body parts but I suspect that either the monitor attacked or was attacked by something. Any ideas?
Image


I walked up to the dunes a little before sunset to take photos in the low light. Along the way, I encountered this Canegrass Dragon (Diporiphora winickei) that was soaking up some of the last rays of the day. I've never seen one standing on a fence like this before.
Image
Image


Ctenotus are numerous on the sand though very hard to see well and photograph. I usually just have a brief glimpse as they disappear into a clump of spinifex. This small species was common on the dune slopes and crest. I am not certain of the species but one of the Aussie experts has suggested that it may be C. taeniatus. I also saw a few C. leonhardii, one of the more common species of the interior.
Image


Also collecting some evening warmth was this Central Bearded Dragon (Pogona vitticeps). These were common lizards in the area and I saw many.
Image
Image
Image

... when displaying like this animal, the colour is almost white with black on the tail, throat and breast. I saw another and was busy bobbing its head and then marching off towards the other lizard.
Image


These flattened ground beetles (Tenebrionidae) were common on the dunes at night. This one appeared to be recycling lizard droppings.
Image


Australian Painted Lady on the red dunes at dusk.
Image
Image


Caper Whites also visited flowers here on the dunes.
Image
Image


Nacaduba biocellata, one of the few species of lycaenids that I see in the outback.
Image


Night was pretty quiet on the road this year. I did see a few of these Northern Spiny-tailed Geckos (Strophurus ciliaris).
Image
Image
Image
Image


This Fat-tailed Gecko (Diplodactylus conspicillatus) is one of the few that I have seen at Windorah. These seem to be uncommon here in the east or at least I rarely see them. This one initially ran from me then froze and adopted this cryptic pose:
Image
Image
Image


This area was out in the basin west of Windorah. I stop here by day to see Ring-tailed Dragons (Ctenophorus caudicinctus) that live on the rocks. I found one nice male right at the top of the hill. It was sunning on a rock where it had a great view of plains below.
Image
Image
Image


Eyrean Earless Dragons (Tympanocryptis tetraporiphora) were scarce this year. I only saw two where on other trips I have seen large numbers of these little dragons. When the day becomes hot, they stand upright and face the sun. Sometimes they have their tails arched upward like a jumping kangaroo.
Image


These rocky areas were at the edge of the Eyrean Basin. I know of others who have seen Perentie here before but I had no luck.
Image

A nice native hibiscus of some sort was flower on the above hilltop.
Image

... as was this Solanum sp.
Image


I saw very little on the road at night so I tried walking through the broken country. This proved successful and I came across this huge Stimson's Python (Antaresia stimsoni). It was about a 1m in length and heavy bodied. The snake was gentle and never attempted to bite me while I took photos.
Image
Image
Image
Image


I did a bit of early morning driving in the Morney Plains, home of the Fierce Snake. As usual, it was very quiet and I saw little except a Tympanocryptis and a number of bearded dragons. A sign has been installed near a rest station that illustrates the elapids of the area. It really is a "who's who" of the Aussie elapid world with Fierce Snake, Death Adder, Mulga Snake, Speckled Brown, Ingram's Brown ... listed. Too bad that most of these are so hard to actually see!
Image

The Morney Plains, cracking clay covered with grassland:
Image

These animals were numerous on the Plains. Red Kangaroos are the largest kangaroo. They are a real hazzard at night!
Image

... female (left) and male (right)
Image


Australian Pratincoles like this were abundant. I also saw a few of the incredibly marked Inland Plovers that blend so well with the rocks.
Image


Australian Bustard:
Image


The interior is much drier this year and it looks like we are heading back into drought conditions. The last few summers have been wet so the budgies and zebra finch have bred continuously. I saw huge flocks of Budgies to the west of Windorah. From a distance, these were swirling clouds of green. A horde of these little parrots decided to land in a tree near the road. I watched as flock after flock flew in and eventually, the branches of the tree were weighted down with these tiny parrots. It takes many budgies to do this!
Image
Image


At night, I stopped at a small drainage to look for frogs. A few Black-tailed Native Hens took flight but I ignored them until there was a loud bang behind me. One of the flock flew right into my car and temporarily had stunned itself. These are weird looking gallinules that around ephemeral bodies of waters in the interior.
Image
Image
Image
moloch
SA Reptiles Member
 
Posts: 182
Joined: Mon Dec 29, 2008 4:30 am

Re: Lake Eyre Basin, Central-Western Queensland, Nov 2012

Postby Scar69 » Wed Nov 28, 2012 11:39 am

Awesome Pics Man,
Akshar Sookraj

"Use Your Enemy's Hand To Catch A Snake"
User avatar
Scar69
SA Reptiles Member
 
Posts: 213
Joined: Thu Apr 08, 2010 12:43 pm

Re: Lake Eyre Basin, Central-Western Queensland, Nov 2012

Postby rvanhuyssteen » Wed Nov 28, 2012 12:46 pm

Great post!

It is very interesting to see foreign landscapes, plants and animals. That Eastern Hooded Scaly Foot is really something else. Is it a fossorial species?

Very nice pictures, I enjoyed seeing the plants, birds and bats too.
User avatar
rvanhuyssteen
SA Reptiles Member
 
Posts: 87
Joined: Sun Oct 30, 2011 1:45 am
Location: JHB

Re: Lake Eyre Basin, Central-Western Queensland, Nov 2012

Postby julsm2908 » Wed Nov 28, 2012 4:16 pm

Wow. Very nice !!! :D
julsm2908
SA Reptiles Member
 
Posts: 17
Joined: Tue Nov 20, 2012 6:56 pm
Location: Tableview, Western Cape

Re: Lake Eyre Basin, Central-Western Queensland, Nov 2012

Postby nbdreyer » Wed Nov 28, 2012 5:13 pm

Awesome pictures! Thanks for sharing!
nbdreyer
SA Reptiles Member
 
Posts: 49
Joined: Thu Feb 08, 2007 9:23 pm
Location: Sundowner Randburg

Re: Lake Eyre Basin, Central-Western Queensland, Nov 2012

Postby John Rees » Wed Nov 28, 2012 9:58 pm

Another really beautiful and fascinating post Moloch. Thanks! I always love the photos of those beautiful desert areas and the herps.
John Rees
SA Reptiles Member
 
Posts: 193
Joined: Tue Apr 14, 2009 4:42 pm
Location: Pietermaritzburg

Re: Lake Eyre Basin, Central-Western Queensland, Nov 2012

Postby moloch » Thu Nov 29, 2012 11:18 am

Thanks for the comments.

rvanhuyssteen, some of the pygopodids are fossorial but I don't believe that Pygopus are. I think that they live and hunt in the clumps of spinifex in this part of Australia.


Here are a few shots that I took while in transit. Windorah is an 18 hour drive from Wollongong so I usually try to split the return trip with a stop in the Gundabooka area south of Bourke. Over the years, I've seen quite a number of interesting reptiles and amphibians near the national park. This year was no exception.

Firstly, here are a few habitat shots. Much of the area has a firm red sandy soil that supports a number of species of Eucalyptus and Cypress Pines (Callitris sp.). There also are rocky areas that are covered with a forest of densely growing Mulga Trees (Acacia aneura). The red soil areas seem particularly good for repitles and were the home of most of those included below.
Image
Image

Southern Spiny-tailed Geckos (Strophurus intermedius) were common again this year in this area. I love their eyes!
Image
Image
Image
Image
Image


I also saw a single Eastern Stone Gecko (Diplodactylus vittatus).
Image
Image


I saw very few snakes on the trip but did encounter 5 in the Gundabooka area. These included a DOR Brown Snake (Pseudonaja sp.),
three Myall Snakes (Suta suta) and a young Mulga Snake (Pseudechis australis).

Myall Snake (Suta suta)
Image
Image
Image


This little Mulga Snake (King Brown) (Pseudechis australis) was constantly on the move.
Image



I also generally stop in the Blue Mountains to enjoy the view and have a stretch. This area is only about 2 hours from home.
Image
Image

These big Cunningham's Skinks (Egernia cunninghami) live near one of the lookouts and I've watched these for several years now.
Image


Mountain Devil (Lambertia formosa) have beautiful flowers. This one was just beginning to open. These members of proteaceae produce lots of nectar and are popular with the honeyeaters.
Image


Sydney Flannel Flowers (Actinotus helianthi) have strange, fuzzy flower parts.
Image


The lookouts are good for hill-topping skippers.

Orange Ochre (Trapezites elena), a big skipper.
Image
Image


Southern Silver Skipper (Trapezites praxedes) were much more common.
Image
Image


Well, that is it for this trip. I hope that the images have given you an idea about what it is like in this part of Australia.

Regards,
David
moloch
SA Reptiles Member
 
Posts: 182
Joined: Mon Dec 29, 2008 4:30 am

Re: Lake Eyre Basin, Central-Western Queensland, Nov 2012

Postby Westley Price » Thu Nov 29, 2012 2:29 pm

Moloch, I seriously hope you are as envious of our local herping posts as we are of your's; it'll make the jealous sting I am feeling a bit better!

Great photography, great descriptions and great species. I just love your geckos down there.
"I am dying by inches from not having anybody to talk to about insects." - Charles Darwin
User avatar
Westley Price
Forum gatekeeper
 
Posts: 4015
Joined: Tue Feb 12, 2008 8:25 am
Location: South Africa

Re: Lake Eyre Basin, Central-Western Queensland, Nov 2012

Postby Serpent » Thu Nov 29, 2012 8:29 pm

Some outstanding photographs bud, and some realyy awesome looking reptiles. Thanks for sharing.
User avatar
Serpent
SA Reptiles Member
 
Posts: 355
Joined: Mon Jan 03, 2011 12:07 pm
Location: Pietermaritzburg

Re: Lake Eyre Basin, Central-Western Queensland, Nov 2012

Postby croteseeker » Fri Nov 30, 2012 4:32 am

Right on!!! :D

Those Spiny tails are something else.

But those Velvet geckos resemble our Western Banded geckos.

In your last landscape photos, I'd have been working the base of that cliff. :lol:
" a squat, scaly worm with, 'don't touch,' on one end and, 'that's why,' on the other."

-Thomas Palmer
User avatar
croteseeker
SA Reptiles Member
 
Posts: 201
Joined: Wed Dec 07, 2011 7:05 am
Location: Vanderbilt, Michigan, USA

Re: Lake Eyre Basin, Central-Western Queensland, Nov 2012

Postby moloch » Sat Dec 01, 2012 11:23 am

Thanks very much, everyone.

Westley,
I hope to visit South Africa sometime in the next couple of years and see some of your reptiles as well. Some of the lizards are so colourful or unusual and I would love to try to photograph these. Of course, the snakes are pretty incredible, too, and many are much more colourful than the rather drab elapids here in Australia.

Thomas,
Strophurus is one of my favourites here. There are a number of these and most have incredible eyes. Next weekend, I hope to look for one of the most colourful known as a Golden-tailed Gecko. It has been several years since I've last seen that colourful species.

Here is a shot of my campsite near Winton. On one night, I did not see another car. On my second night, a single truck passed me while I was driving and promptly hit a beautiful Black-headed Python on the road, the only snake that I saw in that area. It is so empty in this part of Australia. The night sky was just incredible due to lack of moisture and lights.
Image


Regards,
David
moloch
SA Reptiles Member
 
Posts: 182
Joined: Mon Dec 29, 2008 4:30 am


Return to Exotic reptile observation records

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 1 guest

cron