Burrowing frogs

Australia can be a pretty dry place with long periods without rain.  As a result a number of our frogs keep moist by hiding away in burrows and come out when conditions are suitable.

I have blogged previously about turtle frogs that spend much of their lives down burrows.  My friend Jimmy had great information where 2 species of burrowing frogs could be found at the same location after the first heavy rainfall in April – except that rain didn’t happen in Perth this year!  We had been waiting for some rain all through April and it was now May and some reasonable rain was forecast.

Jimmy and I headed down Brookton Hwy at night and just before where the Bibbulmun Track crosses the Hwy there is a smallish wetland of sorts.

As we parked the car we could hear a chorus of frogs – the Whooping frog (Heleioporus inornatus) – “whoop, whoop, whoop” as the name suggests.

and the Sand frog (Heleioporus psammophilus) – “put, put, put” – some liken it to an outboard motor.

We could hear both species calling but just couldn’t find any on the surface.  We found lots of excavations with holes and approaching carefully and waiting – you could often hear the frogs calling out of them!

We looked extensively but no evidence of frogs on the surface could be found – it was still pretty dry as the rainfall had been fairly light.  The previous year Jimmy had found Whooping frogs jumping on the highway!  We dug up a burrow where we could hear a Whooping frog and voila – one popped out of the sand.  We washed it down with a little water to reveal the uniform brown that is characteristic of the species.  Some of the 5 Heleioporus species can be a little hard to tell apart from just looks alone – the calls are a pretty good indication.

Whooping frog @ Ashendon, Brookton Hwy

We kept hunting for Sand frogs which look similar to Moaning frogs but the call is very different.  We dug a burrow which cork-screwed into the sand but we didn’t manage to follow it.  We will have to wait until next year!

I did see a nice spider but my photo doesn’t do it justice – I think this might be a communal family one but I didn’t take a photo of the mass of web at the top of this plant.

Anyway – that leaves 3 Heleioporus I am yet to see – the Sand frog as mentioned in this blog and also the Hooting frog and the Western spotted frog – both can be found further inland and I just need to keep searching in the right spots!

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Alison Baird Reserve spotlighting

I met a couple of friends at the UWA flora reserve called Alison Baird Reserve, Wattle Grove – just off Welshpool Rd (cnr of Brook and Bickely Rd).  I had last come here in the mid 90s in my uni days and did some plant surveys.  Its a locked reserve so we had arranged special permission to visit.

Our main objective was to look for any mammals of an evening.  We thought we might see quenda, possums and small chance of maybe some others.

Professer Hans Lambers has this Youtube video on the reserve detailing how rich the flora is for such a small reserve.

We walked for approx 1.5hrs without seeing any mammals – the only animals we heard were calling Moaning frogs (Heleioporus eyrei).  We did see signs of ground spiders, rabbit diggings, rabbit scat and also wedge shaped quenda diggings.

I only took one photo of this Firewood banksia (Banksia menziesii) during the evening. We had looked carefully at a number of the flowering Banksia on the odd chance we might see a Honey possum (its a small striped mouse size marsupial that only eats nectar – on my bucket list of mammals to see!)

We all agreed it was nice to be out looking but this night was not a success if you’re only counting the animals you find.

 

My blog – one year on!

Today marks one year since I have been blogging and I thought it was a good time for some reflection and also planning for the next year!  Above are a few of the photos of the wildlife I have seen this past year.

I started blogging on 11/05/2016 with the spotting of a Wambenger (otherwise known as a Brush-tailed phascogale) in the Perth hills.  This was a carnivorous marsupial I had always wanted to see and after following a few clues I finally saw a wild one.

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Wambenger @ Perth Hills

Since then, I have written 32 blogs covering all sorts of different wildlife – mainly from around Perth, but also from Sydney and down south in the Ferguson Valley and Bremer Bay.

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Swamp Wallaby @ Warriewood Wetlands, Sydney

Some of the stand outs would have to be seeing Orca (Killer whales) on a pelagic bird watching trip.

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Orca Male @ off Rottnest

Finding strange looking turtle frogs!

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Turtle frog @ Bold Park

And perhaps the best of all was a trip to Dryandra about 2 hours out of Perth where we saw Woylie and also Chuditch (Western quoll) which I have always wanted to see.

Chuditch @ Dryandra

This next year I have a few target species:

  • Numbat – I haven’t seen a wild one before and will require time at Perup, Boyagin and/or Dryandra during the day.
  • Red-tailed phascogale – I have seen twice before but never managed to get a photo
  • Mardo (yellow-footed antechinus) – it is a small carnivorous mouse-sized marsupial
  • Rakali (water rat) – it is a large native rodent found around Perth but they are pretty cryptic – I have tried a couple of times this year with no luck.
  • Tammar wallaby – I need to try and get over to Garden island where there is a good population.

I have also signed up for a bio blitz in Woodanilling (few hours south-east of Perth) later this year in September.  If you have not heard of a bio blitz before it aims to get a group together for a short period to record as many observations as possible.

I look forward to this next year of blogging and sharing more wildlife experiences with you.   I also need to keep working on the information side of the site – where I have been documenting how to find wildlife around Perth.  It’s a work in progress.

Huge thanks go to my lovely wife who minds the fort when I am out & about and also edits my writing! Thanks also to my enthusiastic 3 year old son Liam who is very keen to come out with me at night, but he doesn’t stay up late enough quite yet, however he does join me during the day.  And also my beautiful 7 month old daughter Sienna – she joins us bush walking and is not afraid of a snake!

And to my friends and family who join me on my adventures and also encourage me via chats, emails and blog comments.