My friend Melissa messaged me the other night, letting me know she was heading out to the Lamington Plateau to look for various critters. It had been a stinking hot day, so the chances of finding interesting beasties were quite high. Unfortunately I had a heap of work to do, so I started writing a reply to let her know that I wouldn’t be able to join her. Just as I was about send the message, a strange feeling washed over me. It was like my snake-sense was telling me to go; that there was something out there, waiting for me. So I erased my message and phoned Mel to organise the details. Southern dwarf crown snakes (Cacophis krefftii) are known from the Lamington Plateau, and have been the number one species on my ‘snakes I really want to see’ list for quite some time. Maybe my snake-sense was letting me know that tonight would be the night.
Mel picked me up and we headed off to the mountains. The night air was warm and humid, the moon wasn’t too bright, and there was a bit of cloud cover. All in all, pretty good conditions for nocturnal reptiles. We started up the mountain and realised that tonight was going to be a froggy night. Litoria wilcoxii and Litoria latopalmata were jumping around all over the place. At the roadside ponds we heard Mixophyes fasciolatus, Litoria fallax, Litoria peronii, Litoria gracilenta, and no doubt some others that I’ve forgotten about. Once we got up into the rainforest, barred frogs were common on the roads.
Our next find was a southern leaf-tailed gecko, with an original tail. You can see how perfectly they’re able to camouflage against a range of backgrounds.
I was still holding my breath for a south dwarf crowned snake when eagled-eyed Mel yelled out ‘snake!’. She slammed on the brakes and I jumped out, landing right next to a little snake that had clearly seen better days. I would have preferred my first Queensland tiger to be slightly more active.
We hit the top of the plateau, turned around, and started back down. When we left the rainforest got down to the open eucalypt forest, a little pale squiggle squiggled its way across the road. Mel and I jumped out to investigate it. It was white, so I knew it wasn’t a crowned snake. I was expecting a boring gecko like a stone gecko or a dtella, but was pleasantly surprised when we found ourselves staring at a clouded gecko (Oedura jacovae). This was the species I had gone looking for when I was trying to track down my 250th species. I missed out on it last year, but I think it’s very fitting that it has now become my first new reptick* for 2010. One down, 49 more to go**.
* repticking: ticking off reptile species from your list as they’re spotted. Can be used as a verb associated with the activity of seeking out new reptiles. e.g.,:
“What are you up to?”
Thanks to Kerry Geddes for clarification of the meaning of this word.
**I’ve set myself the goal of seeing 50 new reptile species this year. We’re already in March and I’ve only seen one new species, so I’m not doing too well so far.