Monday, July 28, 2008

Donkey orchid

Diuris maculata, I believe.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Simpson desert trip highlight

Together with the frogs, of course, this thorny devil (Moloch horridus) was one of the stars of the trip...

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Simpson Desert part 2: Frogs!

I've just got back after another trip into the Simpson. Luckily there was a bit of rain out there before we arrived which resulted in a couple of frogs being active!

The first I found on the trip out there when we stopped for the night - between Nyngan and Bourke. It's Neobatrachus sudelli, the Painted Burrowing Frog. I could hear frogs calling but they were a long way off.

In the Simpson there was only about 15 mm, enough to wet the sand but not enough to fill clay pans where frogs would breed. I searched at night but it was actually thanks to our pitfall traps that we caught two frogs.

One was the beautiful Notaden nichollsi, the Desert Spadefoot Toad (a close relative of N. bennetti, the Holy Cross Toad). Of course these frogs aren't real toads, but rather ground frogs in the Myobatrachid family.

The other was a Neobatrachus species like the first I saw, but it's N. centralis this time, the Trilling Frog. Check out the vertical pupil!

These desert frogs are all burrowers - they dig downwards through the sand and sit out the dry periods. With a bit of rain they surface, feed (largely on termites and ants), breed if they can, then dig themselves back under the sand to wait.

I was very happy to see these gorgeous little frogs - there are many desert adapted species in Australia that I've heard a lot about but this was the first time I'd seen any.