Frogs & Wallabies…

My friend Andrew and I had been planning for a while to spotlight at one of the lakes near his house in Ballajura. Emu Lake is natural but surrounded by quite a lot of housing.  Our primary target was frogs.

We quickly found the first of many motorbike frogs (Litoria moorei) for the night which all seemed quite small and just chilling out in vegetation around the lake.  They were easily found from their eye shine in the beam of the head torch.

We found many and I added a few photos so you can see the variability of their colouration.

Just as we had nearly finished circumnavigating the lake we found these Moaning frogs (Heleioporus eyrei) just sitting on sandy patches amongst the grass, up from the lake.

The motorbike and moaning frogs were not calling but I did hear some Slender tree frogs (Litoria adelaidensis) calling in distant reeds – none were actually seen.

We then headed for Mirrabooka Bushland as I had read there had been Western brush wallaby (Macropus irma) found in a pretty urban location in the last couple of years.  Recording had been made of Parks & Wildlife’s NatureMap – so it was likely to be accurate and not a mix up with a normal common Western grey kangaroo.  The bushland is 85ha of mostly Banksia and pretty sandy tracks.  It is just next to Reid Hwy and can be accessed on the Western side of Northwood Dr, Mirrabooka.

The brush wallaby is proving to be a hard animal to photograph – I have seen them on perhaps 4-5 occasions but as soon as they see a person or the car stops they head for cover very quickly.

We walked a few trails not seeing any wildlife, only hearing at one point a single crash of something large which might have been a wallaby, but it didn’t keep going.

The only living animal was a Tawny frogmouth (Podargus strigoides) which I saw flying through my spotlight and then landed on a branch for a not so great photo.

Tawny frogmouth @ Mirrabooka

I think I would like to try again in the bushland as its a very urban location and would be amazing to find a wallaby in such a location.

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Possuming @ John Okey Park #5

Its been a little while since I last blogged – lots has gone on in my personal life – so that was priority and kept me from getting out.

Anyway I had met a guy from the US who hadn’t seen much of Australia’s wildlife and I offered to show him some possums – he is here only for a couple of months so we had to lock it in and negotiate the weather.

We went to John Okey Park in Gosnells which I have blogged about a few times.

This was my fifth visit and I have seen Common brushtail possums on every visit.  It was a cold, dry, July night and it started off slow – I thought they might be all hiding in their tree hollows!  We then started spotting quite a few possums.

It had been pretty wet for the week before and there were a few Moaning frogs around as well – we probably saw 4-5, spotting them from their dull greenish eyeshine.  I also heard a few slender tree frogs but didn’t go specifically looking for them.

We walked further down past the TAFE than I had been before seeing possums all the way along.

All up we probably saw 25-30 possums – a successful night!  Also I heard a few tales of the wildlife of the US – how Opossums don’t look as nice as our possums and I really would love to see wild bears!

 

Herping at Canning Dam

My naturalist buddy Jimmy and I planned to come out herping just before Christmas on the really hot 38°C day.  Hot days mean warm nights and this can mean the herps are more active into the evening.  It was also moonless so we hoped that would help us see more.

We headed up to Canning Dam – our primary target Southern Death Adder – Jimmy has been looking for them for a number of years with no luck as they are really hard to find.  They tend to sit in leaf litter motionless just waiting for an unlucky prey item to come past – the warm nights can bring them onto the road to be found.  Jimmy had checked it out the night before with no luck but had found a roadkilled one a couple of weeks before – so we know we are in the right spot.

We brought our bikes as the Water Corporation block off access at night – this allowed us to cover plenty of ground.

Our first wildlife was an inquisitive Tawny Frogmouth that checked us out.

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Tawny Frogmouth

We then found our first of what was to be many – Barking Gecko.  They get their name from their behaviour when threatened – they arch their backss and bark quite loudly.  They have real character and are beautifully marked.

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Barking Gecko

Just across the road from the Barking Gecko, Jimmy spotted another gecko – which after a closer inspection was a Clawless Gecko – Australia’s smallest species.  This one was only 4-5cms long and beautifully coloured.

{edit  Jan 2018 – I have since had it identified by Ryan Ellis a WA Museum research assistant – that this is a Speckled stone gecko (Diplodactylus lateroides) – recently described in 2013 in this paper – Thanks Ryan!}

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Speckled stone gecko @ Canning Dam

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Speckled stone gecko @ Canning Dam

We found plenty more Barking Gecko but they weren’t that obliging for photos!  They are the biggest geckos that I have seen.

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Barking Gecko

We looked carefully on a granite outcrop where Jimmy had seen a good sized Carpet Python the night before – sadly not there tonight.  Our night was snakeless – shame…

We did hear a few White-striped Freetail Bats – they are audible with the human ear and often heard.

Towards the end of out travels we crossed over the river that comes from the dam and there were plenty of frogs – Motorbike, Slender Tree and probably a Moaning Frog.

All in all a great night with two new geckos for me but a distinct lack of snakes – well we will just have to do another trip!

On the way home I took some shots of a roadkilled 2D rabbit and bobtail.

Queens Park Bushland Night Stalk

I joined up with the Friends of Queens Park Bushland to go on one of their night stalks.  Sian, the organiser wasn’t sure if it would just be a couple of people.  It ended up being a rainy day that cleared later in the afternoon and there were maybe 12-15 people who joined.  I got there late after getting the kids in bed. I came with my friend Hodgey.

The Queens Park bushland is a number of reserves about 36 hectares in total with a number of different habitats.  The group has done a huge amount of work re-vegetating, weeding, surveying and even constructed a wetland where an old drain used to be.

When we got there the bigger group was already spotlighting and we looked at what had been attracted to a light trap that had been set up.  The trap was simple enough – a tall clothes airer draped with a fine white mesh with a UV light inside.  All the local bugs flocked to it!

I am not so great on my bugs – but the community at iNaturalist have been helping me get some ID’s – see all my observations from that night.

The group came back and enjoyed drinks and fruit mince pies – the night stalks are really well organised and I encourage you to to go to one.  Join up the mailing list to find out when the next one is on – or you can ask me 🙂

A few of the group stayed on for more spotlighting and we headed out – 6 in all.  Almost immediately I spotted a Southwest Spiny-tailed Gecko.

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This was a much paler specimen from the one I found with my bro Joel a few weeks back.  The eyes are so amazing.

The reserve doesn’t have many large animals but it does have really cool invertebrates as above.

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Moaning Frog

This moaning frog just sitting on the side of the track.

We disturbed a Collared Sparrowhawk from a tree near the path but was able to get this shot when it landed nearby – a lifer for me!

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Collared Sparrowhawk

Sian showed us this little hole in the sandy path which I never would have noticed.  With a little encouragement from a twig – out popped a huge black wish-bone spider – a type of trap door spider but it has a web like a sock around the top of the hole.

We then found this little banjo frog – another lifer for me – I have heard them but have never seen one before.

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Banjo Frog

We then found another black wish-bone spider also in the middle of the sandy path.  They get their name from the shape of their burrows.

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All in all a great night – new species of vertebrates for me and heaps of inverts too!

More urban possuming.

My wife’s cousin Elise was visiting from the UK and was keen to see some Aussie wildlife.

We headed to my possum spot in Gosnells (John Okey Davis Park – end of Prince St, Gosnells) – this was my third visit see here and here for previous reports.  Elise spotted the first two which is great for a first time possum hunt!

There seemed to be quite a few pairs – I assume these are the babies that are out and about for spring.

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We also spotted a nice moaning frog – it only had one eye but seemed ok.

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It was a great night – 15 odd possums all up and Elise was so pleased to see her first wild possums.

 

Frogs and Possums..

 

An old friend of mine had expressed an interest in frogging as he has been encouraging Motorbike frogs in his garden for many years.  I had a free night and wanted to get out again before the birth of baby number 2 – I might not get a chance for a little while after!

It was a wet night in late September so still good frogging weather and I thought we could head back to a spot I had been before and blogged about but hopefully find my friend some different frogs that he hadn’t seen before.  The other blog will help you find it.

We didn’t initially see any possums but could hear Slender tree frogs calling along the Canning River – they have a harsh sounding “Grrkkkkk”.

We spotted a couple of possums.. this place is full of them!

And then I luckily spotted this Slender tree frog calling from some reeds above the river.

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It was a pretty cold night so he didn’t move at all and allowed himself to be repositioned for some more photos.  He was put back onto the reeds and immediately started calling again for a girlfriend!

As my friend is interested in fish as well we looked in the water which I hadn’t done last time.  We saw quite a few pesky Gambusia (another failed Aussie introduction – meant to eat mossies but doesn’t but eats native fish which do eat mossies!) but noticed some freshwater crayfish and this small catfish like fella.  We also saw some nice freshwater shrimp.

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We walked over the boardwalk still looking out for different frogs and then saw this creature that causes so much damage to our environment.

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While I don’t hate individual cats, I hate their impact on the native fauna.  They are born predators and I wish pet owners would be responsible and keep them in at night.  Not sure if this was a roaming domestic or a feral?

Not long after seeing the cat we saw these Moaning Frogs through their eyeshine.  Awesome little frogs – often burrowed down in the ground.

My friend took this shot of me in action taking photos of the frogs!

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Another awesome night seeing all sorts of wildlife and so close to suburbia and the city.  I want to keep working my way up the Canning as their is a bush corridor – to see if the wildlife is still their closer to Perth.  Total possum count approx 25 – a few more than last time..

 

 

 

Possums in Perth!

I recently saw that someone had posted a possum sighting on one of my favourite websites iNaturalist.  It was in Gosnells which is only a 20 minute drive from my house but pretty much in central suburban Perth.  This pricked my interest so I invited a friend to come and explore.  We travelled to John Okey Davis Park which backs onto a bush corridor on the upper reaches of the Canning River.

I am always optimistic prior to exploration but just as we got there, I thought – how likely are we to see anything?  Well 3 minutes later we had seen our first brushtail possum!

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We also heard something large dash away on the ground – possibly a cat or maybe a fox?  We walked a little further and saw our second, then a third!  There were possums everywhere..

The best technique for spotlighting is to either have a good headtorch or a place the torch on the side of your head near your eyes, as then you can pick up eyeshine of the nocturnal animals.  You need to scan the trees and the undergrowth looking for a little double glow!  With possums and many mammals it is orange/red colour.  After a while you get your eye in – my friend didn’t spot the first few but then was finding his own.

We also were able to get very close to a few to get some really nice photos.  They must be pretty used to people as their is housing all around outside the bush strip.

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I also managed to find a Moaning frog – just for the dual white eye reflection on the ground.  Cute little guy (Not sure if its a guy or gal though).

And then not far from the Moaning frog – this Slender tree frog hiding in some vegetation.  The only frog heard calling was Squelching Froglets but we never found any – but they are pretty small.  I have heard these Moaning frogs can drive people mad.  If you live near a wetland and they burrow into your grass near your bedroom window – they can call all night long – listen to one here.

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What an amazing evening – I think probably 20 possums or so all up and 3 moaning frogs and a slender tree frog.

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The following image is a rough map of where the possums where and the crosses where the frogs where found.

Spotlighting Map

Taken from Google Maps