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.

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 

 

More Frogging at Wellard

It was going to be another wet, cold night – so perfect to get out looking for frogs.  I tried to arrange 2 of my brothers to join but only Leif could make it – Joel said he was too tired!  Leif wanted to see Slender Tree Frogs and I was keen to try Wellard Wetlands again as I hadn’t seen the Squelching Froglets the first time I came here.

We headed out to the aptly named Frog Pond at the wetlands and could immediately hear the chorus of Slender Tree Frogs and Squelching Froglets which I made a recording of.

The water level was up so all the grass that was dry last time had water underneath it.  This made spotting the frogs much harder as they had that much more cover.  We looked for some time – my previous experience not really helping.  Leif found the first frog  after maybe 30 minutes or so – a Slender Tree Frog (Litoria adelaidensis) – which slipped away as I came for a closer look.  It came back out of hiding a while later.

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We had heard other Slenders calling in the grass and taking a look we found this Spider (Wolf I think?) taking its whole family of spiderlings for a walk – amazing sight!

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I then got lucky and saw a flash of movement in the pond – another species – a Squelching Froglet! I got a photo in the pond and then moved it for better shots. A pretty small frog only about 2cm long and really makes a noisy call!

Leif found another Slender which we were able to relocate for some better photos.

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I really like the pose the Slender is working

And then we called it a night – success – Slenders for Leif and I had finally found the Squelching.  That’s 3 Criniaspecies and 2 Litoria in a couple of months.

 

Frogging for Slender Tree Frogs

I went out on Sun 12 June out with my new buddy I had met through a mutual contact from mammalwatching.com (a great site for all things mammals).  It was good night for frogging in the west – cold and wet – luckily it started to dry up as we parked up.

He had asked if I wanted to see Slender Tree Frogs (Litoria adelaidensis)  at Alcoa Wellard Wetlands – old tailing dams that have been converted into a wetland – a great place for birding by day and frogging by night!  I was keen and the weather was bad just like we needed it to be!  We parked at the Bertenshaw Rd carpark, just off St Albans Rd, Wellard – just outside the main entrance to the wetlands.

I pulled on my wellies but my buddy had waders – this was a sign things were going to be wet!

We walked in and almost straight away saw a motorbike frog just sitting on the path.  I didn’t get a photo as I had seen such a nice one the week before.

We headed down to one of the shallow ponds and could hear frogs really calling (follow the link to hear my SoundCloud recording).  You could hear the harsh ‘Grrrrrrk’ of the Slender Tree Frog and the “OOoo EEee” of the Squelching Froglets (Crinia insignifera) (it reminded me if the cricket chant “OOoo Ahh……  Glenn McGrath”).

I wasn’t initially able to to spot the frogs but you could hear them calling all over – in true style they sensibly stopped when you got close and the light affected them.  My buddy found a slender tree frog and helped to point out how they hang out hidden in the reeds with just their head out of the water calling for a girl to hookup with!

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Found insitu – hidden among the reeds

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Caught and moved for a better photo – not happy!

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Shame I didn’t have the eye in focus here but the skin detail on the flank amazing!

Once I had my eye in I was able to find one for myself.  Almost impossible to see by the casual observer – also if you moved in the water too quickly they would disappear under.  The pond wasn’t too deep for my wellies but waders will be needed for anything deeper or muddier!

I looked all over trying to find the Squelching Froglets – they are pretty small (only getting to 2.5cm) and call from the shallow water – I am sure they were among the submerged grass and impossible to spot – I just need to keep trying 🙂

We tried another pond that was just a muddy surface and then called it a night.

On the way home I spotted a Barn Owl in the car headlights sitting on a fence post.  I saw it driving and turned back for confirmation.  It was beautiful, staring right at me before flying off silently before I could get the camera out.

A great night with a new species photographed and another call recorded!

 

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