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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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.

Frogging at Lesmurdie Falls

My trusty brother and I went out last night (06/06/2016) in the pouring rain, fog and cold – good frogging weather! We were hoping to see Hooting Frog (Heleioporus barycragus) – I had heard they had been calling in the area.

Just heading down the path we found a nice large Motorbike frog (Litoria moorei) enjoying the weather – while we looked like drowned rats!  We left the proper camera in the car so I apologise about some of the phone camera shots.

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Motorbike frog (Litoria moorei)

We headed onto some little goat tracks, crossed the stream and then promptly got lost!  We could hear Quacking Frog (Crinia georgiana) but always off the track and also went quiet – much like our experience a couple of weeks before at Whistlepipe Gully.  We walked all the way to the bottom car park and then returned via the official track.  On the way we spotted this gnarly spider out hunting – or maybe looking somewhere dry!  Not sure what it is but had huge front fangs.

We also spotted this little flower which was braving the weather as well – maybe not as impressive during the day but looked pretty cool under torchlight.

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Some nice views of the city from the waterfall lookout.

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The city lights

My brother had said he wanted to see one more frog and he would be happy.  We hadn’t heard any of the deep calls from the Hooting frog – so that had been a dip.  Just before we got back to the car park I spotted a tiny grey frog in the middle of the concrete path – after a closer look we called it a Quacking frog – due to the red markings on the thighs – we noted it had smaller forearms than the one from Whistlepipe gully – so we called it a female as they don’t have to do the WWF wrestling that the fellas get up to at mating season.

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Quacking Frog – red on the thigh can just be spotted.

All in all a good night – very wet – but made good by a warming dram of whisky and choc before heading back home.

Looking for Wambenger

I had read a couple of months earlier that Simon Cherriman had seen a Wambenger (Brush-tailed Phascogale Phascogale tapoatafa) at the end of a guided bird tour.  This is a critter I have been wanting to see for many years.  The exact location wasn’t given but was in the Perth Hills region.  A couple of months later I got another email from a different source that mentioned they had a Phascogale hanging around – Bingo – I had a pretty good idea where now!

My new mammal watching buddy joined me on a still, nearly moonless mid May evening – perfect conditions.

We walked for approx 2 hours – seeing about 4-5 Western Grey Kangaroos (Macropus fuliginosus) and a couple of brush-tailed possums I couldn’t get shots of as they were too high in the trees.

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We found a nice Bleating Frog (Crinia pseudinsignifera) just by a pond (identified by its call) and couldn’t get a great shot of this Motorbike Frog (Litoria moorei) as it hopped into a hole too fast for us.

Just as we were heading to the car to call it a night my buddy heard something in the trees – success!! It was a Wambenger and it moved fast in the tree..

We got a few average shots but really didn’t want to disturb it.

A great night of spotlighting with 3 different mammals and 2 frogs – all very close to a capital city.  The location I will also keep quiet as it is great to see – its pretty close to Perth and too much activity would surely bother it.

One last point – we did find this scat that we haven’t been able to ID – some have suggested it might be a Quenda – we didn’t see any but might be a possibility.

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Unidentified scat – approx 5cm long