Christmas trip 1 – The drive home

Christmas. The season to be jolly. A time when friends and family come together to reaffirm their love for one another and spread messages of peace and joy. Plus you get time off work and you can go looking for snakes. I’m booked down in Brisbane each Christmas to do the family thing, so a few days before the jolly fat man was set to make an appearance, I loaded up the car in Townsville and headed south. Just as I pulled out of the driveway, I caught a glimpse of my own reflection in the rear-view mirror. But my reflection was wearing a different shirt and speaking in an American accent. Hang on! That’s not my reflection, that’s my younger identical twin, Stephen Michael Zozaya the Fourth. He had no friends or family in Townsville, so he wanted to spend Christmas with me (and apparently his wife was fine with this).

We headed south to the Whitsunday region, where we met up with Paul Horner. After a thirty-year career at the Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territory, culminating in his becoming Curator of Terrestrial Vertebrates and publishing a massive taxonomic review of the genus Cryptoblepharus, Paul retired to Airlie beach. We stayed the night with Paul and went spotlighting in Conway State Forest. I was after a species of leaf-tailed gecko that I’d already seen, but a leaf-tailed gecko sans tail is not a particularly impressive beast.

While walking around, we came across the first reptile of the trip, and a new one for both SMZ4 and me: Saproscincus hannahae.

Hannah's shadeskink (Saproscincus hannahae)
Hannah’s shadeskink (Saproscincus hannahae)

We then found a Eulamprus amplus sleeping on some rocks (well, sleeping until our flashes awakened it), a trap-door spider, and our target gecko on the rocks not too far away.

Lemon-barred forest-skink (Eulamprus amplus)
Lemon-barred forest-skink (Eulamprus amplus)

Trap-door spider
Trap-door spider

Mount Ossa broad-tailed gecko (Phyllurus ossa)
Mount Ossa broad-tailed gecko (Phyllurus ossa). Note the complete, original tail.

The next morning we headed south to Bulburin National Park to look for another species of leaf-tail. We found a few of them on the exact same tree I had seen them on the previous year.

Ringed thin-tailed geckos (Phyllurus caudiannulatus)
Ringed thin-tailed geckos (Phyllurus caudiannulatus). Regenerated tail on left and original tail on right.

We got up early the next day to look for diurnal skinks, but only managed to find a fairly common species.

Diamond-shielded sunskink (Lampropholis adonis)
Diamond-shielded sunskink (Lampropholis adonis)

Saproscincus hannahae

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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