On a recent trip to Bowra Station, Queensland some fantastic mammals, amphibians and reptiles were found in addition to the birds discussed in an earlier post. On the approach to the Queensland border from Bourke the grass beside the Mitchell Highway was bright green after good rain during February-April 2014. In this area a Stripe-faced Dunnart (Sminthopsis macroura) which is a small marsupial listed as vulnerable in NSW was found hiding under an old beer ad sign (an extinct QLD beer in fact)!
At a site in Bowra where there was considerable surface water a Crucifix Frog (Notaden bennettii) was found right where we were bird banding. This truly stunning creature is found in the grasslands of the Murray-Darling Basin and further north and is most often encountered after rain.
Also visiting Bowra were some students and researchers from the University of Queensland who were keen to look for frogs and reptiles. One evening by the lagoon at Bowra homestead the inland subspecies (Morelia spilota metcalfei) of the widespread Carpet Python was found.
Another creature seen by the lagoon was the Short-footed Frog (Cyclorana brevipes). It is a burrowing frog found in the grasslands and woodlands of eastern and central QLD.
After dinner one night I found a Marbled Velvet Gecko (Oedura marmorata) right next to my swag. It was hiding in a fissure of a Gidgee (Acacia cambagei) which is by far the smelliest tree I have ever encountered. The Marbled Velvet Gecko is a relatively widespread species in northern Australia and has tiny scales which give its skin a velvet like texture.
Prior to this trip I had never paid any attention to moths but this one that my younger brother found on the bark of a Gidgee was particularly striking.
At first glance this moth of the Noctuidae family looked drab in comparison with the Thalaina macfarlandi. However, a close-up view of its eyes and antennae reveals quite a regal looking critter.
The Desert Tree Frog (Litoria rubella) was one of the most common frogs at Bowra whilst we were visiting in April. This species has a large geographic range and can be found in a wide range of habitats in northern Australia from grassland to gallery forest.
I hope I’ve presented to you, my fellow classmates (especially the Ecuadorians and Brazilians), an indication of the diversity of creatures that can be found in the typically dry and bleak-looking landscapes of the Australian semi-arid zone. I would like to thank Stephen Zozaya, Len Willan and Ted Edwards for their identification assistance.
By Mark Allen
Photography: Brett Allen