Horribly Slack

It has been a terribly long time since updating my blog, that is in the tradition of starting most diaries – we soon become so distracted by what we are doing that writing about it too can easily slip our mind.

A few highlights..

Powerful Owl with prey, the tail half of a ring-tail possum.
A mustard-bellied snake, from a rescue in the Blue Mountains, NSW
An Ornate Sea Snake, which I had the privilege of assisting on a rescue with.
Blue Mountains Tree Frog, calling from a mossy boulder

An Evening Walk on the Central Coast (Jan 2014

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This adult Lace Wing was an encouraging find, in their immature form, lacewings are predators of other insects, some speceis form mounds to trap ants that slip in – sometimes assisted by flicks of sand launched their direction. Other lacewing larvae may be free roaming and wait in ambush with their jaws. Either way, they indicate that insect prey is present! This species lays their eggs in a horse shoe pattern on little stalks.
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After dusk, we found this Golden Crowned Snake, Cacophis squamulosus, they are nocturnal, and have a pinkish peach coloured belly which can sometimes have them falsely identified as another local snake, the Red-Bellied Black Snake.

 

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A close up of the head detail which gives them their namesake common name:

 

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Under some breaking down plant material, we found a Three-toed Skink

 

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A Garden Orb Weaving Spider, with a small specoes of Longicorn Beetle ensnared in the web. Seems there is more invertebrate prey available to fuel lizards, we should head back again during the day to search for large skinks and dragons.

 

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Another invert, a juicy Cicada emerging having drunk sap from the roots of the surrounding trees.

 

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On the walk back, we found evidence of other species in the area, a freshly Dead On Road (DOR) Blackish Blind Snake, Ramphotyphlops nigrescens

Both of snakes these appeared to have been in good condition leading up to their abrupt deaths.

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And a long-DOR Red-bellied Black Snake, Pseudechis porphyriacus

Insights into the life cycle of Striped Marsh Frogs, Limnodynastes peronii

A super common species found on the Central Coast. the Striped Marsh Frog, Limnodynastes peronii, which I helped Veronica Grigaltchik with collecting floating foam egg nests during her field work.

A recording of the males “Tok.. Tok.. Tok”  call:

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Adult Striped Marsh Frog

 

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Adult male, calling from damp cover

 

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Floating egg nest in a sheltered, damp position

 

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Getting a closer look, for collection under a scientific permit

 

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A closer look at the developing embryo
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Tadpoles free from their eggs
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Marsh Frogs like many other species, as tadpoles, are vegetarian, eating the algae filmd which grows on the rocks and walls of their environment, as well as broken down plant material – though, have fed assorted tadpoles dead snails, which are quickly hollowed out from their shells. In captivity, they may be supplemented with fish food, frozen lettuce which has been frozen or boiled to break down the cell structure to help make it more readily torn apart and consumed – served at room temperature in small amounts as to not fowl and corrupt the water.

 

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A developed tadpole

 

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A small metamorph which has mostly resorbed the reserves of energy from the no longer needed tadpole tail

 

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Frogs make up a valuable resource in their environment for other wildlife, including this Red-Bellied Black Snake.

Common Eastern Froglet, Crinia Signifera, Highlights of their Life Cycle

These are one of our most common and smallest local frogs, and may breed in ephemeral soaks, including patches as compact as a tyre depression on a fire trail, which can make for easy observations should you be strolling along a trail at night, though, you may even find them active during the day in a warm sheltered spot – sitting still for a few minutes, they can return to calling and being active.

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A male calling from the base of a water plant in a soak

(A recording of their call: Common Eastern Froglet Call )

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Calling from under fallen leaves by the waters edge

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Calling from a small soak, note expanded vocal sack

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Amplecting

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Amplecting with egg deposition, the males “nuptial grip” around her abdomen, applies pressure to assist in the female depositing the eggs.

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A closer look at some deposited eggs

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Developing into tadpoles inside their eggs – these eggs were deposited in a shallow soak in the middle of a fire trail

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Crinia metamorphs that were raised to ID the eggs.. hinting at their variable colours and patterns

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Some will go on to mate as adults, others, will be filtered out by predators – like this Black Bellied Marsh Snake, Hemiaspis signata

Mind your step – Red-bellied Black Snakes!

Bushwalking often rewards me with interesting wildlife, some of which is better enjoyed from a distance, like this young Red-bellied Black Snake, basking in the morning sun beside a small, slow running stream. Even though it is young, it is still dangerously venemous & should be treated with caution.
Red-bellied Black Snake, Pseudechis porphyriacus
Red-bellied Black Snake, Pseudechis porphyriacus
 
A few days later, walking the same track I find a similar looking Red-Belly. There is a good chance it is here for the Common Eastern Froglets I had seen in the area.
Red-bellied Black Snake, Pseudechis porphyriacus
Red-bellied Black Snake, Catching some rays
 
Along another track in the same area I was lucky to see an older, larger Red-Bellied Black Snake. Perhaps a year old, it’s face has less brown on it.
Red-bellied Black Snake, Pseudechis porphyriacus
Red-bellied Black Snake, Are you lunch?
 
I have seen a few Adult Red-bellies on my walks, slinking under lantana in the hopes of a meal of plump Antechinus, which I’ve seen bounding away clear of the dense cover – while the Red-belly can still be heard slowly probing around, still following it’s scent.
Red-bellied Black Snake, Pseudechis porphyriacus
Red-bellied Black Snake, Looking for lunch
They are suprising great swimmers for land snakes, convenient if one of your favourite meals is frog, this one was disturbed from its hiding place under canoes where frogs were sheltering.
Red-bellied Black Snake, Pseudechis porphyriacus
Red-bellied Black Snake, Swimming away!
 
…I wonder how they got their name!
Red-bellied Black Snake, Pseudechis porphyriacus
Red-bellied Black Snake, Pseudechis porphyriacus

 

Bomb’s away..

This Australian Bombardier Beetle, Pheropsophus verticalis was found beneath discarded plastic by the waters edge of an old quarry. This ground beetle possesses a chemical defence – chemicals are fired from the tip of it’s abdomen and combine in a chemical reaction that releases a burst of intense heat,  smoke, an odd smell and if handling without gloves they will stain your fingers yellow for about a week. Anything looking to snack on this beauty would be left with a singed tongue and a mouthfull of horrible tasting smoke!

Australian Bombardier Beetle, Pheropsophus verticalis
Australian Bombardier Beetle, Pheropsophus verticalis