Amazing what you can cram into 2 days in Tassie

On the weekend just gone I was lucky enough to be invited to the wedding of good mate Peter Allen and his wonderful partner Andi down in Tasmania with a good group of other birder friends. When one is attending a wedding in one of the greatest wildlife areas in the country what is one to do aside from value add some wildlife experiences around the grand event? Lets see just how much I can cram into 2 days in Lutruwita. I arrived late afternoon into Hobart with Rohan and we picked up a car and checked into accommodation just past Sorrell before eating a decent Indian prawn curry. We decided to spotlight along Weilangta Forest Drive where I had good success last year with quolls and a Long-tailed mouse. Things got off to a good start with a Long-nosed Potoroo at the start of the drive but it got very quiet soon after with not even a pademelon to be seen.

Thermal Masked Owl

Thermal Masked Owl

Eventually we got to the “site” where Isaac and I had found Long-tailed Mouse last year and we poked around there with thermal for 15-20 minutes until I detected a small mammal on the ground. It was very cryptic and while I strongly suspected from what we could see in thermal it was a Long-tailed Mouse we just couldn’t be sure which was frustrating as it would be a new mammal for Rohan. It seemed to be centered around a burrow and would venture out then scoot back all the while in thick cover. We decided to let it be and would hit it again when we passed back later. Things continued to be pretty quiet with just common species until we stopped at a creek crossing up near Orford and played a quick Masked Owl call which had an immediate call back with a lovely pale male circling round before perching very high above us. I jogged…. ok I waddled up the road to see if I could encourage it to move to a nicer perch and we noticed in the moonlight that it was followed by a very silent and beautiful honey coloured female who just regarded us from a distance silhouetted in the moonlight. Beautiful!

Spot the Masked Owl

Spot the Masked Owl

Moving back towards Hobart we stopped at another creek crossing and got out for a poke around. I thermaled a few roosting birds including a nice male Scarlet Robin with the full moon making it almost like twilight. I saw a shadow of a bird pass over my head and swung the headlight around a bit wildly but could not find the bird. Eventually I looked straight up and there was a beautiful dark female Masked Owl looking at me curiously. A bit of a panic as I grabbed my camera from the car but she didn’t go too far and posed for a few nice pics. One of the nicest birds I have ever seen. We were absolutely stoked and realised there was only one thing left to do – get Rohan that Long-tailed mouse. Drove back to the “site” and immediately found it again on thermal but again was proving cryptic. I walked away and left Rohan to it and eventually he was able to get decent enough views to confirm what we already strongly suspected – it was a Long-tailed Mouse! We cruised back to the accom considering this a very successful nights work.

Masked Owl

I think I am in love

Up not too early we heading down the Tasman Peninsula stopping at the Dunnalley bakery for breakfast and coffee. Our targets were Buff-banded Rail and BT Native-hen which might not seem much to a mainlander but are Tassie megas. They were both at the Port Arthur lavender farm which was not yet open and after poking around the edges we poked in the car park and had both in about 30 seconds. Job done – how easy is that? From here we cruised down to the heath near the Remarkable Caves to look for Striated Fieldwren – it was a glorious morning with wall to wall blue sky and albatross cruising just offshore. Very birdy with lots of honeyeaters, we eventually found a pair of the Fieldwren about a kilometer in – LGA ticking FTW.

Tassie goes alright

Tassie goes alright

Now it was time to get ready for the main event – Peter and Andi’s wedding – so we scooted back to the accom with only a little birding on the way. After attempting to scrub up a little we arrived at the wedding which was a fantastic affair. I definitely did not shed a tear. Was great to share in the special day and to catch up with good friends. We even managed some cheeky spotlighting at the end of the night without success.

Wedding of the century

Wedding of the century

Up at stupid o’clock the next morning I dropped Rohan at the airport before heading back down to Eaglehawk Neck for the post wedding pelagic. We were under strict instructions from the groom to have a good day but not a great day – and so it proved. Was really good to be out on the water again on a very pleasant day. Birds were great with highlights including Blue Petrels, Southern Fulmars, many dozens of White-headed Petrels and a few Soft-plumaged Petrels as well as over a dozen various Wandering type albatross. The best part however was catching up with people. I was pretty tired as I got onto the plane home a little over 48 hours after arriving – a very productive couple of days.

My first Souther Fulmar from a boat

My first Souther Fulmar from a boat

Plue Betrel

Plue Betrel

Crabeater Seal in Port Phillip Bay

Last Saturday morning I was casually browsing Facebook when I saw someone had seen a Crabeater Seal down on the Mornington Peninsula! This is a very rare seal on mainland Australia with records generally every 10 years or so – it normally occurs on the pack ice around Antarctica so was a long way from home! They are considered likely the most numerous pinniped in the world and despite the name mostly feed on krill which they sieve through amazing teeth which function a bit like whale baleen. I had previously tried and failed to twitch one in 2016 – only seeing the slide mark where we had just missed it. The poster was cryptic about where it was but looking at their pictures it would seem it had to be somewhere between Dromana and Rosebud so I jumped in the car and went for a drive. I popped out in Dromana and scanned down the coastline and could see orange flagging tape towards McCrae – BINGO!

I pulled up a few hundred metres up the beach and with a quick scan of the binoculars and could see a seal in the water near the orange fence. Walking up I could see some ranger, volunteers and a group of interested public and of course the Crabeater Seal! At first glance the seal seemed in decent condition but after watching it for a while it was clear it was listless and probably not very well. It had been very warm over the proceeding few days which would have been very uncomfortable for an animal used to an environment which rarely hit above freezing. Gus McNab soon turned up and we sat and watched the animal for a few hours taking photos from a distance. Simone brought Lucas down – he now has Leopard, Elephant and Crabeater seal on his Aussie pinniped list – pretty good. The seal didn’t do much – blowing bubbles and generally resting. Lots of people came for a look and asked many questions.

Crabeater Seal

Crabeater Seal

Crabeater Seal

Crabeater Seal

Crabeater Seal

Crabeater Seal

The seal was outside the McCrae yacht club and it was somewhat amusing when one of the members came over and asked the ranger if the seal could be moved on – I don’t know if he expected her to pick it up and carry it down the beach. After about 4 hours the seal had a burst of energy and swam about 10 meters further down the beach and then lay there looking particularly poorly. It was no surprise that about a half hour after I left I heard that the seal had died. The prognosis for an animal used to freezing temperatures this far from home in warm weather was never going to be good. As the volunteer I first met there said – I had always wanted to see a Crabeater Seal but never wanted to in a situation like this.

Crabeater Seal

Crabeater Seal

Crabeater Seal

Crabeater Seal

Mighty Mouse

A few weeks ago I joined with Isaac Clarey for a typical weekend away in Tasmania – a double header pelagic with a little sprinkling of spotlighting and other wildlife watching thrown in. Arrived down mid afternoon on the Friday and had a bit of time to kill before Isaac landed so poked around some bush around the airport with a few nice birds. We headed straight down to the Lufra hotel and checked in and grabbed dinner and a beer as custom demands. We joined up with Nick afterwards for a bit of a spotlight – it was very quiet but eventually picked up a Masked Owl in thermal which obliged us with a nice photo opportunity. It turns out I had photographed the exact same male bird almost two years ago to the day a few km away – good to know its still around. Later we found a Tasmanian Boobook around the Blowholes but not much else going on.

Tassie Boobook

Tassie Boobook

Masked Owl

Masked Owl

Up early and on the Pauletta for what turned out to be a very pleasant day at sea. Lots of birds with the highlight being a single Westland Petrel and always good to be out in the Southern Ocean with friends.

I have done the Weilangta Forest Drive a number of times birding during the day but never at night so we decided to change that. It is a dirt road just out of Copping which travels through wet forest that I always thought should be good for spotlighting. In farmland near the start of the drive we found a dark morph Eastern Quoll which we chased around with thermal for a bit but were unable to get close enough for decent photos – a very good start. We ended up finding good numbers of Eastern Quoll of both dark and fawn morphs including in the middle of the wet forest which was very exciting. Its a species I have only seen a few times away from Bruny Island.

Eastern Quoll

Eastern Quoll

We continued on stopping for the occasional quoll and eventually came across a very freshly dead Brush-tailed Possum in the middle of the road which was still warm to the thermal despite no cars having passed on the two hours we had been there. Near the disemboweled corpse was a quoll scat so we stopped and searched hoping for a Spot-tailed. As we searched Isaac found an unidentified rodent in thermal which was fossicking around the understory. Watching it in thermal it looked and behaved like a Pseudomys which is a native mouse and here the only possibility would be the Tasmanian endemic Long-tailed Mouse – Pseudomys higginsi. However the animal was very light shy so it took some time to get some decent views as it would keep retreating under light. When I did get binocular views I could clearly see the diagnostic bicoloured tail, relatively large size and rounded Pseudomys face. Very much reminded me of a Plains Mouse with a long tail. Having safely ruled out Black Rat as the only other real possibility we were able to celebrate with some high fives – it was a new mammal for both of us and high on my most wanted list. We ended up watching it via thermal and the occasional burst of light for about 45 minutes before we moved on. Isaac managed some decent photos but I failed dismally! The habitat was wet forest regrowth that had probably been logged in the last 20 years or so. The animal spent most of the time fossicking around and grooming and feeding – I am disappointed I didn’t use the thermal video feature to document this behaviour. While we were watching the mouse an Eastern Quoll sauntered up to check out the dead possum until it noticed us. Unfortunately we had to turn and head back to the Lufra soon after.

Long-tailed Mouse (honestly!)

Long-tailed Mouse (honestly!)

Long-tailed Mouse (Isaac Clarey)

Long-tailed Mouse (Isaac Clarey)

Long-tailed Mouse (Isaac Clarey)

Long-tailed Mouse (Isaac Clarey)

Up early again the next morning and the weather definitely felt colder. All in all a more exciting day at sea in still relatively pleasant conditions with the highlights being Sooty and Salvin’s Albatross and about five Westland Petrels which really seem to be a reliable May special from this port. All in all a great, if rather too short weekend. Thanks to Isaac for the company and for sharing a few mouse pics.

iPhone Sooty Albatross

iPhone Sooty Albatross

Booroolong Frog in Victoria

Over the past few years I have been poking round Victoria slowly finding new tetrapods (birds, mammals, frogs and reptiles) through a combination of research, time in the field and word of mouth. I had a few days planned wildlife watching in NE Victoria so I decided to have a bit of a try for the Booroolong Frog – an endangered species which is only known from a couple of sites in Victoria and more extensively in New South Wales. Conscious of the effect of things like chytrid I was prepared to go and have a look and listen during the day to recce the site but had no interest in disturbing the frogs. I arrived at the site mid afternoon and immediately thought there must be some sort of mistake! The creek ran through cow paddocks with the electric fences running right across the creek. Cows (and a bull) stood there looking at me while shitting in the creek! There was perhaps 30 meters of creek between these fences and that had clearly been used for some 4wd practice recently with tyre marks and pools of oil residue. Hardly the site for an endangered, sensitive frog??!!

Pristine endangered species habitat

Knowing that other closely related “Rocky River” type frogs are often active during the day I went for a quick poke around and almost immediately had a small frog leap from the rocks into the creek. It swam strongly against the current and sat on the edge providing the opportunity for a couple of quick mobile phone pics. A Booroolong Frog! That was easy! Looking at the disgraceful state of the site I was unlikely to be any threat at all. Walking around both sides of the small area I saw several more each exhibiting the same behaviour of leaping straight into the water and swimming strongly against the current. A local farmer pulled up and we had a chat – he indicated they used to be very common but the recent fires had knocked them about. I did initially have thoughts of coming back after dark to spotlight them but the site was so degraded and depressing and I had seen the frog I decided against it and headed back to Chiltern for the evening.

On one hand the state of the site was very disturbing and the fact that cattle are effectively been run across the creek its entire length on grazing freehold would seem less than ideal. But the frogs are clearly persisting and based on my limited experience in the small part of the creek I could access perhaps doing well here despite the challenges.

Booroolong Frog

Booroolong Frog

Booroolong Frog

Booroolong Frog

Booroolong Frog

Booroolong Frog

Booroolong Frog

Booroolong Frog

Stuff and Nonsense

I know its been a long time between posts – same issues as last time with a post Covid funk and lack of motivation. I thought I would share a few of encounters with some smaller terrestrial mammals in Victoria over the past 6 months or so.

The first is Southern Brown Bandicoot at the Cranbourne Botanic Gardens. This has to be the easiest place to see this declining species with them sauntering around the picnic areas and the enclosed garden area. I have distinct memories of seeing them as a child near home in Frankston but unfortunately all that area is houses now. Cranbourne Botanic Gardens is a nice oasis in an area of increasing urban sprawl. Away from Cranbourne I find they are still reasonably common around Bayles in West Gippsland with an evening drive around the various back lanes usually getting a sighting or two. They have declined significantly elsewhere in Victoria.

Southern Brown Bandicoot

Southern Brown Bandicoot

Southern Brown Bandicoot

Southern Brown Bandicoot

Two years ago I was successful in finding Long-footed Potoroos in North-East Victoria but I was yet to see the supposedly more common cousin, the Long-nosed Potoroo on the mainland (have seen in Tasmania). I decided to remedy this so tried a couple of spots in East Gippsland and was successful at the second site. Thermal scope was a game changer allowing me to pick them up easily even in thick cover. They are a charismatic little species and noticably smaller than the Long-footed Potoroo. This area is covered by the Southern Ark fox control area which is the largest wildlife protection project in Victoria. The success of this project has been shown with numerous camera trap records of both species of potoroo and both local species of bandicoot. I was very happy with my encounters with the Long-nosed Potoroos and was even able to take my son back a month or so later to see his first ones.

Long-nosed Potoroo

Long-nosed Potoroo

Long-nosed Potoroo

Long-nosed Potoroo

Eastern-barred Bandicoots used to be found in Western Victoria on the Volcanic Plains and nearly became extinct on the mainland with a few stragglers taken into captivity and bred up. Recently they have been released on Phillip Island and have apparently been doing very well. While they never historically occurred here the heavily modified farm habitat now seems perfect for them. My sister lives there and had commented that she had seen them many times so I went out for a night walk. We found many bandicoots (~20 or so) and I was able to get a few nice pictures. I understand further introductions of endangered species are planned for the island as it has been considered fox free for a number of years. Looking forward to seeing how things go over the next 10-20 years.

Eastern Barred Bandicoot

Eastern Barred Bandicoot

Eastern Barred Bandicoot

Eastern Barred Bandicoot

Eastern Barred Bandicoot

Eastern Barred Bandicoot

A common theme with all three of these species in Victoria is strong fox control! Long may it continue.

Ghosts of Pelagics past

It has been a long time since I have posted anything. Pretty fair to say I have struggled a bit – first with lockdowns and then a real post Covid funk that has made it somewhat difficult to get motivated. Couple that with a busy work and family life and maintaining a blog has probably fallen well down the priority list. But the time has come – I am back baby! I thought I would ease back in with some of the amazing birds (and blubber) I have seen on pelagics over the past year or so. Despite lockdowns I have managed to get out on a few and have been lucky enough to see some good things.

Cape Petrel

Cape Petrel

We will start back in May last year (2021) where in between lockdowns I was lucky to get down to Eaglehawk Neck for another double header pelagic weekend. We had a good crew together so after a bit of spotlighting and a couple of beers the night before we headed to sea with high expectations. Day one was a really good day at sea with plenty of Pterodromas – White-headed, Soft-plumaged and Providence. There was also a good array of great albatross with both Royals, Snowy and both NZ Wanderers seen which is always nice to pick through. Probably the highlight of the day was a lovely Westland Petrel seen well by all – a few years ago was considered a mega off Australia but does seem a regular off this port in May now.

Westland Petrel

Westland Petrel

Southern Royal Albatross

Southern Royal Albatross

We backed up again the next morning and the omens were good! Beasts had been consumed, beers swilled and a Masked Owl seen while spotlighting the night before. Today was to be very different to the day before and oh so much better, with a distinct cold water tone. Again plenty of great albatross and similar Pterodromas to the day before. Things changed quickly though with Grey Petrels, a couple of Sooty Albatross then a Light-mantled Albatross providing epic views for all on the boat. We were not done with the great birds either with Black-bellied Storm-petrel and more Westland Petrels providing excitement. One of those weekends where I had no new birds but was absolutely epic!

Grey Petrel

Grey Petrel

Light-mantled and friend

Light-mantled and friend

Sooty Albatross

Sooty Albatross

In June and December I was fortunate to get out on boats in East Gippsland to visit the Bass Canyon which is a bit of a new frontier for seabirding in the state. On the first trip we saw good numbers of Providence Petrel which had previously been basically unknown for Victoria. On the next trips we saw good numbers of Bullers Shearwater which again was previously considered very rare in the state. I think in the right time of year both will be shown to be regular in the Bass Canyon. While there were never the numbers of birds as an EHN or Portland pelagic there was still plenty of other variety and potential – things like Cook’s and White-headed Petrel and great albatross.

Providence Petrel

Providence Petrel

Buller's Shearwater

Buller’s Shearwater

Cook's Petrel

Cook’s Petrel

Rolling into the new year and February I was back down at Eaglehawk Neck for probably one of the greatest pelagic weekends of my life (and it will be hard to beat) On the Friday night we had a few beers and rolled out to find a couple of Pygmy-possums – all very respectable and I was quite fresh as we got on the boat the next morning. We had a really good day with plenty of great albatross and the usual suspects including a very high number of 35 Buller’s Shearwaters. But the highlight was surely the numbers of Pterodroma’s – 16 Mottled Petrel, 38 Cook’s Petrel and 57! Gould’s Petrel all heading North to South made for an excellent day.

Gould's Petrel

Gould’s Petrel

White-headed Petrel

White-headed Petrel

Back on the boat on the Sunday we felt that all the proper rituals had been followed but we had no idea how well it was going to pay off. The conditions were extremely benign as we set out with little swell or wind and a fair bit of fog around. Inshore we had a large whale surface a couple of times beside the boat – good views and photos obtained which showed it to be a Sei Whale! A new mammal for me and many on the boat. Early on at the shelf we had a “young” brown Wandering type albatross come towards the boat and a few of us joked we should check if its an Amsterdam…. I took a few shots as it came in and checked the back of the camera…. it had a cutting edge! I quietly mentioned this but did not get as excited as I should have as quite honestly the brain was still trying to process. Eventually everyone got very excited as we realised we probably had an Amsterdam Albatross – a near mythical type of “Wandering” albatross that has perhaps 150 individuals left in the world and only breeds on Amsterdam Island in the southern Indian Ocean. It made a few more passes and many photos were taken. It is perhaps the 3rd or 4th Australian record and everyone was a bit shellshocked!

Amsterdam Albatross

Amsterdam Albatross

Amsterdam Albatross

Amsterdam Albatross

Amsterdam Albatross

Amsterdam Albatross

Sei Whale

Sei Whale

Things started to hot up after this with many petrels passing through with 27 Cook’s, 25 Gould’s and an extraordinary 121 Mottled Petrels seen for the day! There were again many other great albatross seen but despite scanning the Amsterdam never returned. Later in the day Isaac called out an interesting Storm-petrel which turned out to be a New Zealand Storm-petrel – another mega sighting of a species that was thought extinct until 2003. The bird gave several passes which allowed a few shots to confirm ID – perhaps the 4th or 5th Aussie record. As we cruised back into port in very benign conditions Mottled Petrels continued to stream past in great numbers. Just to round off one of the best pelagic days ever we had a distant South Polar Skua chasing terns as we passed the Hippolytes!

Mottled Petrel

Mottled Petrel

New Zealand Storm-petrel

New Zealand Storm-petrel

Into April I crossed the border into the strange land of South Australia for a pelagic out of Port Mac. It was good to catch up with Dave and Sue Harper and I really like the boat – a big couch, good viewing deck and a barbeque for lunch! What is there not to like? We had a really good pleasant day at sea with Humpbacks on the way out and many hungry birds feeding close to the boat. For me the highlight was four Northern Royal Albatross – a species I haven’t seen that often just over the border in Victoria. Looking forward to getting out again in the future – if they will have me!

Northern Royal Albatross

Northern Royal Albatross

Just a taster of what has been seen over the last year or so at sea. More trips coming up soon and I reckon I am in a good place to share. Thanks to Sim and Lucas for letting me get out there and people like Rohan and Dave for organising boats!

New Zealand Storm-petrel

New Zealand Storm-petrel

Potoroo success

Probably my most wanted Australian mammal over the past couple of years has been the Long-footed Potoroo – a secretive denizen of remote forest locations in the North-East and far East of Victoria. I have had a couple of attempts to find this over the past couple of years and recently got close but no cigar. Having previously tried in East Gippsland and on hearing of some recent success stories in Northern Victoria I decided to have a crack up there. I was spending a few days in Mount Beauty and my mate Jim Wright was in Bright so we met up and headed out on a bit of an expedition. It was a fair drive through some magnificent country to get to a likely area. Jim has a fully kitted out 4wd which is quite a useful tool in this area.

Potoroo mobile

Potoroo mobile

We arrived in the general area I wanted to explore and did a bit of recce – it was an area of Mountain and Alpine Ash with Snow Gums up high with some very nice old trees in the gullies. It looked as if it had avoided much of the fires over the past 20 years or so. We started spotlighting at about 1200m ASAL on foot right on zero dark thirty and within 10 minutes I had eyeshine on the ground on a small embankment above the road. Lifting binoculars I immediately saw it was a potoroo! We had perhaps 15 seconds of excellent binocular views before the animal melted away silently into the undergrowth. Needless to say I was ecstatic!! The animal was larger and more upright than I remember Long-nosed Potoroo’s being and was also darker – in some ways reminded me more of a Bettong. We did not see the feet on this view but the rest of the animal was seen very well. Further spotlighting in the immediate area got us Yellow-bellied and Sugar Glider and Bush Rat.

We drove a bit and spotlit other areas on foot getting more Yellow-bellied Gliders but not much else. Right on midnight we were thinking of calling it a night and were driving somewhere to setup the swags when we saw an animal on the road which in the distance I took for a Brush-tailed Possum – then it started hopping! We drove up and got excellent views of a large Long-footed Potoroo as it struggled to get up an embankment – its large feet and dark tail very evident. Eventually it made it up the embankment and hopped into the night. All in all a very successful night as we rolled out the swags. Up early and back – it was a very successful jaunt – maybe photos next time.

Potoroo habitat

Potoroo habitat

Potoroo habitat

Potoroo habitat

Aprasia action

Last week I jumped away for a couple of nights with Owen Lishmund and Dan Ashdown up to the North-west of Victoria to search for the breeding Ground Cuckoo-shrike and a number of reptile species, in particular the very range restricted in Victoria – De Vis’s Banded Snake (or Mud Adder as I like to call it) We headed off at a respectable hour stopping off at Mount Korong for the fossorial skink Hemiergis decresiensis or Western Three-toed Skink at a site Dan knew and he quickly found one. A new reptile but one that is hard to be too excited about. After a lunch stop at the over-hyped bakery at Wycheproof we hit up Lake Tyrell looking for dragons without much success. Its amazing the development that has been done here for the tourists that come for the salt lake experience – I think I preferred the old rutted tracks and isolation to be honest.

Hemiergis decresiensis

Hemiergis decresiensis

From there we went into the Northern part of Wyperfeld to look for the recently nesting Ground Cuckoo-shrikes – these are normally an extremely rare visitor to Victoria and an even rarer breeder. They were first reported during lockdown in Melbourne which was painful but had stuck around to raise two broods so were still here. We started by seeing two distant adults but then had no fewer than seven birds very close as both broods now mobile and seemingly reasonably curious – very different to how I have seen them elsewhere! This was a new Victorian bird for me and I was a little bit excited! We didn’t want to bother them too much so took a couple of happy snaps in the harsh light of day then left. This was my closest and longest view of the species despite having seen now in every mainland state and the NT previously.

Ground Cuckoo-shrike

Ground Cuckoo-shrike

Ground Cuckoo-shrike

Ground Cuckoo-shrike

Near the edge of Wyperfeld we poked around a couple of bush blocks where Dan again turned up the goods with an Aprasia under a log atop an ant’s nest. Aprasia are small, worm-like members of the Pygopodidae (Legless Lizard) family that feed on and live amongst ant colonies – this one was about the size and thickness of a HB pencil (if that). Owen and Dan were immediately very excited – firstly because we had found an Aprasia which are rarely seen and secondly because if was the rare and range restricted Aprasia aurita or Mallee Worm-lizard which is only known from a handful of locations in Victoria and one in South Australia. Based on atlas records it does look like we found a new site. Only 18 months ago I had never seen a Legless Lizard of any description and now I have seven species under the belt.

Aprasia aurita

Aprasia aurita

Aprasia aurita

Aprasia aurita

We were on a bit of a high as we left towards Mildura but unfortunately I had to euthanize a badly injured Eastern Brown Snake on the road which dampened everything. We picked up supplies (and beer) in Mildura before heading out NW towards a billabong where we were going to search for the snake this evening. De Vis’s Snake was only found in Victoria in the last 20 years and is restricted to the very NW part of the state where it nocturnally hunts frogs. After a good steak and a couple of beers we headed out quickly picking up a couple of gecko species which seemed promising. But an ill cool wind blew up and we searched for many hours without result before retiring to bed. There were a few frogs around but things seemed to go very quiet after an hour or so as the temperature dropped away. We were a bit late rolling out bed as we cruised around on a relaxing day. Starting with a morning coffee and bacon at Cullulleraine we did finally see some live Eastern Brown Snakes and then Eulamprus quoyii or Eastern Water Skink which again only just creeps into Victoria here – this is a big unit and significantly larger than its southern cousins. After poking around along the Murray we went south into Murray-Sunset which was quiet in the heat of the day.

Back at the billabong the evening temperature was significantly higher and as dark fell and we ventured out we felt much more positive with at least 5 bats on detector, geckos up and about and insects teaming. Down around the billabong there were many, many frogs up and about so we thought for sure there must be predators about. But after a number of hours of searching we had to give up again. back at camp we had a couple more beers to commiserate before planning the next visit. Unfortunately the next morning we had to get up and head for home – stopping to bird in a few likely spots on the way home. Mud Adder is now in the same pot as Long-footed Potoroo – time to go try for again ASAP. Still with the Aprasia and Ground Cuckoo-shrike this was a very successful trip and looking forward to heading out with Dan and Owen again soon.

Lymnodynastes fletcheri

Lymnodynastes fletcheri