Monday, 9 April 2018

One man's trash is another lizard's treasure

Tommy roundhead, Collingwood Park.

A search for reptiles out in degraded bushland near Ipswich proved fruitful last week, with a variety of interesting animals found.

First up was a tommy roundhead (Diporiphora australis) found sheltering beneath some discarded carpet.

This little dragon—the smallest agamid in South-east Queensland—is one that I’ve encountered only once before, in the sandstone country of Plunkett Regional Park.

It was interesting to see that this Ipswich specimen was quite a bit darker in colouration than the Plunkett creature, perhaps as an adaptation to the black clay soils that it camouflages itself against.

Discarded waste, Collingwood Park.
Finding this creature hiding amongst dumped rubbish was a sign of things to come for the rest of the afternoon; I had many great sightings under mouldy cushions, smashed tv sets, rubber tyre piles and sheets of metal, and a noticeable paucity of them under natural logs and rocks.

This is not unusual, and is apparently a phenomenon well known to field workers who spend time with reptiles and frogs, being brought to my attention by biologist Tim Low in his fantastic book, 'The New Nature'.

An eastern striped skink (Ctenotus robustus), large centipede (Scolopendromorpha Order) and several cane toads (Rhinella marina) offered thrills on varying levels, but by the far the best find of the day was a truly enormous green treefrog (Litoria caerulea).

Green treefrog, Collingwood Park.

I felt highly honoured to meet this chubby queen of the forest, and was loathe to disturb or cause her any harm, so after a few quick snaps (and no touching), I gently placed her trash shelter back the way I found it and let her be.


I should mention that this method of searching for wildlife can be extremely dangerous, as one may suddenly find themselves in close quarters with highly venomous, startled creatures.

My technique includes lifting objects at their sides rather than slipping my fingers underneath them, and pulling the object towards me so that wildlife can flee in the opposite direction. 

I am fairly certain it is illegal to flip rocks and logs in National Parks and other conservation areas, so for ethical reasons, I choose to do it only in degraded bushland, where I mostly focus on discarded trash anyway.

Sadly, much of the bushland I was in last week is being destroyed to make room for housing, and the soundtrack to my afternoon of wildlife-spotting was the constant hum of bulldozer engines and the snarl of trail bikes.

Large grass-yellow (Eurema hecabe), Collingwood Park.

10 comments:

  1. 'Chubby Queen of the forest' - that is beautiful :) Well done again Christian.

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    1. Thanks Paula, glad you enjoyed the blog post :)

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  2. Great post, Christian! This wildlife deserves documenting, as you are doing. Cheers Stephanie

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    1. Thanks Stephanie, I am certainly glad I got to document that frog!!

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  3. As much as we would love to see what lives under logs and rocks, we never turn them over as we try to be as non-invasive as possible. However, it looks like the various rubbish we see from time to time is well worth a closer look. Thank you for your tireless inspection of all creatures great and small.

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    1. Yes, I certainly wouldn't be "flipping" in the beautiful and protected areas you visit! I do think documenting the creatures that live in places more vulnerable to clearing and destruction can only be a good thing though, and if any Collingwood Park locals launch a campaign to save their woodland, I'll be the first to offer up the "Queen of the Forest" as a face for their plight!

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  4. I am frightened of reptiles but will see and enjoy them in pictures:)

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    1. Aww, well I wish you a wonderful encounter with one that eases your fear! :)

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  5. Thanks so much for your kind comments on my blog. I really enjoy to come here and relax and see your photos and your area. I am very happy to see that yellow butterfly, it is a beauty getting some minerals from the soil.

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    1. Thanks Nora, sorry, I only saw this now as I logged in to write another post! I too enjoy the escape that your blog provides me! :)

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