Quest 300

People travel for a lot of reasons. Some people like to explore new cultures, others to see different sights. Some like the cities, some like it more natural. Or it might be as simple as visiting family. I like to travel to find and photograph reptiles. Well, that’s probably an understatement. Ticking off reptiles (as in finding new species and ticking them off a list, not as in finding them and annoying them) has become an obsession for me in recent years. At the end of last year I went on a quest to take my life-list up to 250 Australian reptiles. That involved seeing three new reptile species in the last twelve days of the year. It was close, but I managed to just scrape through. At the beginning of this year I decided to take my life-list up to 300 Australian reptiles. That meant I had to see 50 new species (new to me, not new to science) in a year. Sounds easy, right? That’s about one new species a week. Unfortunately, all of my work this year has been in places I’ve already surveyed. That meant that I was unlikely to see new species on work trips, which meant I would have to do some serious ticking in my own time to reach my goal.

Somewhat ironically, what was supposed to be my last reptile of last year turned out to be the first reptile of this year. At the end of last year I went to Mt Coot-tha to look for Oedura jacovae, but dipped out on them. At the start of this year I went to the Lamington Plateau to look for southern dwarf crowned snakes, only to find Oedura jacovae (in an area in which they’d not been found before).

Clouded gecko (Oedura jacovae)
Clouded gecko (Oedura jacovae)

In March I headed to Townsville and the Wet Tropics to try my luck. Despite lots of effort, I only managed to find a couple of new repticks (including Eulamprus sokosoma, Lampropholis coggeri and Carlia rostralis).

Cogger's sun-skink (Lampropholis coggeri)
Cogger’s sun-skink (Lampropholis coggeri)

I did manage one new reptick on a work trip, finding Delma inornata out near Dalby in April.

Unadorned delma (Delma inornata)
Unadorned delma (Delma inornata)

So in June of this year I had only seen seven new species out of my goal of 50. Pretty poor, Stewart. Pretty poor. So I decided to do what any self-respecting ticker would do. I hopped in a car with a mate and drove to the Kimberley. And so began the meaty bit of Quest300.

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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