Eremean Nights

Gibber Plains
Expansive gibber plains near Birdsville, Queensland.
When you fall off the horse you need to get back on the horse and find some snakes. Stewdawg and I failed to find inland taipans last April, but that didn’t mean we had given up. So one September afternoon, with the Critter Cruiser packed to the brim, we began the drive west.
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Gulf Frogging

Northern spadefoot (Notaden melanoscaphus)

In December, during one of my weeks off from working in the Pilbara, I decided to fly home to Townsville. After a grueling red-eye flight from Perth, I arrived one Tuesday morning, whereupon Stewdawg picked me up and we began the 7 hour drive to Georgetown. Having managed no sleep on the flight over, I slept for most of the drive.
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Ocellated Velvet Gecko (Oedura monilis)
A close-up of the dorsal scales of an ocellated velvet gecko (Oedura monilis).
I’ve been lagging far behind on the blogging front. I’m currently sitting in Perth airport after spending the past several weeks working in the scorching hot Pilbara, punctuated by “relaxing” time off around Perth (i.e., herping). Before that I spent a bit over a week conducting a fauna survey near Clermont, Queensland. So having been away from home for the last two months, I’m returning to NE Queensland for 5 days of “relaxation” (herping followed by beer) before heading back to the Pilbara. Busy days!
I’m hoping to catch up on all my trip reports over the next few weeks, but for now I’ll leave it at dumping photos from the Clermont survey in October. Not much story here, just lots of sweaty work and the reward of reptiles.
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Bartle Frere Barsided Skink (Eulamprus frerei)
Eulamprus frerei, photographed near the summit of Mt. Lewis, northwest of Cairns.
Volume 56(2) of Memoirs of the Queensland Museum is out, and in it we have a short note reporting a range extension for the Bartle Frere barsided skink, Eulamprus frerei (Zozaya et al., 2013). This species features in a previous post, The Top of Queensland: Mount Bartle Frere.
Canopy tree- Mt Lewis
The lizard pictured above was found in a hollow about 15 m up this tree.
Until recently, E. frerei had been recorded only from near the summit of Mt Bartle Frere, Queensland’s tallest mountain. Our note elaborates on another recent record from the summit region of the adjacent Mt Bellenden Ker. The big deal, though, is that last year we found an individual on Mt Lewis, over 100km north-northwest of the Bellenden Ker Range, which lies on the opposite side of the Black Mountain Corridor, a historically significant biogeographic barrier to rainforest fauna. Interestingly, the animal was found 15 m up a canopy tree, and at an elevation 200 m lower than the previously reported lower limit for the species. On Mt Bartle Frere the skink is known to inhabit large jumbles of granite boulders, which are largely absent from Mt Lewis; so instead the skinks must be living in tree hollows, similar to the sympatric Eulamprus tigrinus. Mt Lewis has been pretty extensively surveyed, and I suspect the fact that this species has never been recorded there before is either because a) people saw them and dismissed them as E. tigrinus, or b) they’re usually up in the canopy where we never see them. Considering all this, I think it’s likely that the species is even more widespread across the mountain-tops of the Australian Wet Tropics.
Check out the paper for more details (click the reference below to download the PDF). And while you’re at it, have a look at all the papers available in the most recent issue of Memoirs of the Queensland Museum. There are lots of good herp related papers in this one.

Zozaya, S.M., Scheffers, B.R., Hoskin, C.J., Macdonald, S.L. & Williams, S.E. 2013 06 30. A significant range extension for the Australian Wet Tropics skink Eulamprus frerei (Reptilia: Squamata: Scincidae). Memoirs of the Queensland Museum–Nature 56(2): 621–624.

Ring-tailed Dragon (Ctenophorus caudicinctus macropus)
Ring-tailed Dragon (Ctenophorus caudicinctus macropus)
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Whitsunday Leaf-tailed Gecko (Phyllurus ossa tamoya)
Whitsunday leaf-tailed gecko (Phyllurus ossa tamoya)
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Snakes of Australia
Stewart Macdonald and I have released an electronic field guide to Australian snakes. It’s currently available for iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch. An Android version will be released eventually.

Click to read more about the app.



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