Alpha bravo

Last month I spent a couple of days out Alpha, west of Emerald. We saw a bunch of critters. Driving out from Emerald we saw on the road what was probably a black whipsnake (Demansia vestigiata), but neither of us got a good enough look to ID it with any confidence.

Driving along the roads (both dirt and sealed), we saw lots of dragons scuttling off into the roadside vegetation. I saw one of these dragons perched on a bit of tyre in the middle of the road. As we approached in the car it deperched (is that a word?) and sought cover under the tyre. We got out to investigate and found a central netted dragon (Ctenophorous nuchalis) under the tyre. He obviously didn’t see us as a threat, and he soon came back out onto his perch.

Central netted dragon (Ctenophorus nuchalis)
Central netted dragon (Ctenophorus nuchalis)

Central netted dragon (Ctenophorus nuchalis)
Central netted dragon (Ctenophorus nuchalis)

Central netted dragon (Ctenophorus nuchalis)
Central netted dragon (Ctenophorus nuchalis)

We found plenty of central netted dragons sunning themselves on the roads or perched on elevated objects, such as sticks and termite mounds.

Central netted dragon (Ctenophorus nuchalis)
Central netted dragon (Ctenophorus nuchalis)

Central netted dragon (Ctenophorus nuchalis) habitat
Central netted dragon (Ctenophorus nuchalis) habitat

We also saw a couple of other dragon species.

Nobbi dragon (Amphibolurus nobbi)
Nobbi dragon (Amphibolurus nobbi)

Nobbi dragon (Amphibolurus nobbi)
Nobbi dragon (Amphibolurus nobbi)

Eastern bearded dragon (Pogona barbata)
Eastern bearded dragon (Pogona barbata)

The patches of spinifex on red soils were skink central. We saw lots of supercharged lizards darting between clumps of grass. A bit of patience revealed two species of Ctenotus.

Leopard ctenotus (Ctenotus pantherinus)
Leopard ctenotus (Ctenotus pantherinus)

Ctenotus hebetior
Ctenotus hebetior

Another spinifex inhabitant was the ubiquitous Burton’s legless lizard (Lialis burtonis). These widespread legless lizards are found in most habitats across most of mainland Australia. I’ve seen most of mine at night, but they can be active by day, as this one was.

Burton's legless lizard (Lialis burtonis)
Burton’s legless lizard (Lialis burtonis)

As we were driving around some paddocks we saw a few bits of corrugated iron. Sheets of iron on the ground make great homes for a variety of critters. We had a look under all the iron and found some really exciting creatures such as house mice (Mus musculus) and Bynoe’s geckos (Heteronotia binoei). One particularly large pile yielded the first close snake encounter of the trip.

Spotted python (Antaresia maculosa)
Spotted python (Antaresia maculosa)

At night we’d drive the roads trying to find some nocturnal critters running around. I was hoping to see a prickly knob-tailed gecko (Nephrurus asper), but I think all the rabbits were keeping the knob-tails at bay. I’m pretty sure there were knob-tails around, as there was a complete absence of dolphins. While knob-tails were nowhere to be seen, we found plenty of other beasts to keep us busy.

Orange-naped snake (Furina ornata)
Orange-naped snake (Furina ornata)

Curl snake (Suta suta)
Curl snake (Suta suta). We found a few curl snakes on the roads, including one in the middle of town.

Curl snake (Suta suta)
This curl snake (Suta suta) was just a baby.

Bandy-bandy (Vermicella annulata)
Bandy-bandy (Vermicella annulata)

We found two black-headed pythons (Aspidites melanocephalus) on the road. The second one we found was a big, boof-headed individual who, judging by his scars, had seen a fair bit of action.

Black-headed python (Aspidites melanocephalus)
Black-headed python (Aspidites melanocephalus)

Eastern spiny-tailed gecko (Strophurus williamsi)
Eastern spiny-tailed gecko (Strophurus williamsi)

Eastern spiny-tailed gecko (Strophurus williamsi)
Eastern spiny-tailed gecko (Strophurus williamsi)

Box-patterned gecko (Diplodactylus steindachneri)
Box-patterned gecko (Diplodactylus steindachneri)

The area had received a fair bit of rain just before we got there, so a few frog species were out in force.

Ornate burrowing frog (Opisthodon ornata)
Ornate burrowing frog (Opisthodon ornata)

Green-striped burrowing frog (Cyclorana alboguttata)
Green-striped burrowing frog (Cyclorana alboguttata)

During the day we saw plenty of bird life, including some dancing brolgas (Grus rubicunda) who of course stopped dancing as soon as we got the cameras out.

Brolgas (Grus rubicunda)
Brolgas (Grus rubicunda)

On the way back home we stopped off at a lookout and found a Carlia pectoralis running around.

Carlia pectoralis
Carlia pectoralis

We got back to Emerald and flew back to Brisbane.

About Stewart Macdonald

I'm a wildlife ecologist living and working in Queensland, Australia. I spend most of my time in the bush finding and photographing wildlife.
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5 Responses to Alpha bravo

  1. Warren says:

    I like the close-up of the gecko tail. Do you ever shoot level with/under the animal with a shallow depth of field? It can make for an interesting perspective. You can see the technique used at euroherp.com.

  2. Evan says:

    Wow, that’s a hell of a trip. Nice finds!

    Evan

  3. Bett Holmes says:

    We were in Cracow in July and spotted what we thought was a tiger snake on the road to Nathan Gorge. Having seen your beautiful photo of the black headed python I rather think that it was one of those. It was approx. 2 metres in length and absolutely beautiful. Please email me if you wish me to send as an attachment. Cheers. Bett

  4. Stephen says:

    The Amphibolurus nobbi is a very good photo but does not look like an Amphibolurus to me more like a Diporiphora the yellow stripes down the back do not look right and the head does not look flat enough but i may be wrong, probably am as i didn’t see the animal.

  5. Stewart says:

    Thanks Stephen,

    It was definitely an Amphibolurus, not a Diporiphora.

    Stewart