Cape York, Australia

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Mattsnake
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Location: Cairns, Australia

Cape York, Australia

Post by Mattsnake » June 27th, 2015, 1:03 am

A couple of weeks ago I did a quick 4 day trip up north to try and escape the winter cold and find a few critters whilst I was at it. The destination was Iron Range National Park which is a well known spot for wildlife nuts and especially bird watchers due to the area having a fair few endemic species. Unfortunately it rained nearly the whole time we were there, and the sun didn't show itself till the morning that we left. However, there were still nocturnal reptiles moving about the place, just not a great deal of life during the day, and no monitors until that sun came out.

Iron Range is well known for it's lowland rainforest, however a lot of the area is actually heath land and vine thickets. One of the first things you encounter when driving the rough road in is Mount Tozer.

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Pitcher Plants grow in the heath/swampie area around the mountain.

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Because of the rain there were a few frogs about the place, but I only photographed a couple, and this first one was the only new species for me.

Cape York Whistling Frog (Austrochaperina gracilipes) which are a tiny frog not a great deal bigger than a fingernail.
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White-lipped Tree Frog (Litoria infrafrenata)
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Dainty Tree Frog (Litoria gracilenta)
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The Claudie River runs right through the middle of the National Park, and it looks and feels like being in New Guinea. This river is filled with large Estuarine Crocodiles (Crocodylus porosus), but unfortunately I didn't get any photos of them and only saw one decent sized one slide off a mud bank into the water never to be seen again.

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A few of the local bird species were fairly common in this area though, and I'm not much of a birder, but even I was stoked to see a couple of the species that are only found in the very far north of Australia (and also in Papua New Guinea).

Eclectus Parrots (Eclectus roratus)
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Palm Cockatoo (Probisciger aterrimus)
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Another species only found in this area is the Giant Tree Gecko (Pseudothecadactylus australis), which as their name implies are very well suited to life in the trees. Even their tail tip has an adhesive grip.
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Spotted Pythons (Antaresia maculosa) are common across most of the north-east of the country.
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But the species that brings most herpers to this part of the country are these guys.. spot the snake…..
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They are a fairly common species of python in the right habitat, and obviously thrive in this area due to the large amount of small mammals running around the rainforest floor.

Green Tree Python (Morelia viridis) in situ in typical perching position.
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A young one sitting in ambush amongst the long grass
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However the highlight was, and much better than a green coloured python, this Coastal Taipan (Oxyuranus scutellatus). Easily one of Australia's best snakes, and have always proved to be very elusive for me.
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Major Skinks (Bellatorias frerei) are a large skink species that doesn't seem to be too fussy on habitat. Living in both the thick rainforest and in the coastal sand dunes.
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Chili Beach
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And a Green Python found nearby…
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Another animal that is endemic to this part of the country is the Spotted Cuscus (Spilocuscus maculatus)
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Another Green Python perched up high in a tree
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Each night this big adult Green Python would sit in ambush in the exact same position, then retreat back up into the canopy to rest during the day. During the 4 nights we were there it caught itself two meals.

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Still being greedy with a feed already in it's belly
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On the way home and once the sun made a brief appearance we decided to check out a rocky area in search of a few more species…
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Merten's Water Monitor (Varanus mertensi)
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Coen Rainbow Skink (Liburnascincus coensis)
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Hoskin's Ring-tailed Gecko (Cyrtodactylus hoskini)
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And last of all a ridiculously fast moving species, the Greater Black Whip Snake (Demansia papuensis). Big elapids always make everything better.
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The End.

speedy
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Joined: May 26th, 2012, 5:44 pm
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Re: Cape York, Australia

Post by speedy » June 27th, 2015, 2:19 pm

Awesome Matt. So jealous of everything you found and I'm surprised to see you took photos of birds.

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SurfinHerp
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Re: Cape York, Australia

Post by SurfinHerp » June 28th, 2015, 11:01 am

Fantastic post Matt :thumb:

I really like the Giant Tree Gecko and all the pythons :mrgreen: :mrgreen:
Great close-up photo of the gripping tail tip on the gecko.

One of these days I'm taking the family to northern Australia!


Jeff

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Jeroen Speybroeck
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Re: Cape York, Australia

Post by Jeroen Speybroeck » June 28th, 2015, 11:10 am

That was great, thanks. Need to go there someday for sure!

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nhherp
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Re: Cape York, Australia

Post by nhherp » June 28th, 2015, 11:56 am

Very nice. I especially enjoyed the natural morelia specimens hosting nematodes.

-N-

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Berkeley Boone
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Re: Cape York, Australia

Post by Berkeley Boone » June 30th, 2015, 3:22 am

Very nice! I too would have been pretty excited about the palm cockatoo and the eclectus parrots! And the selection of green tree pythons was fantastic!
Thanks for taking us along with you!
--Berkeley

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Fieldnotes
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Re: Cape York, Australia

Post by Fieldnotes » July 1st, 2015, 2:57 am

Some amazing animals, and even more amazing are the photos.. WoW! :thumb:

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Calfirecap
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Re: Cape York, Australia

Post by Calfirecap » July 1st, 2015, 5:29 am

That's one awesome 4 day trip! GREAT photos too.

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Scott Waters
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Re: Cape York, Australia

Post by Scott Waters » July 1st, 2015, 12:45 pm

Great post.....thanks for sharing!

I put a snippet on the Herp Nation FB page about the GTPs ambush position, and a link of course. Very cool!

https://www.facebook.com/HerpNation

Scott

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Bill Love
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Re: Cape York, Australia

Post by Bill Love » July 1st, 2015, 7:01 pm

Very enjoyable and beautifully photographed post.

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TravisK
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Re: Cape York, Australia

Post by TravisK » July 2nd, 2015, 3:00 pm

Mattsnake wrote:Another species only found in this area is the Giant Tree Gecko (Pseudothecadactylus australis), which as their name implies are very well suited to life in the trees. Even their tail tip has an adhesive grip.
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That is amazing! Does this occur in any other Gecko species?

Mattsnake
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Joined: January 14th, 2011, 6:41 pm
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Re: Cape York, Australia

Post by Mattsnake » July 15th, 2015, 12:43 am

Thank you very much everyone.
TravisK wrote:That is amazing! Does this occur in any other Gecko species?
I honestly don't know if it occurs in any other gecko species. I definitely haven't seen it in any other species in Australia!

Mattsnake
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Joined: January 14th, 2011, 6:41 pm
Location: Cairns, Australia

Re: Cape York, Australia

Post by Mattsnake » July 15th, 2015, 12:45 am

speedy wrote:Awesome Matt. So jealous of everything you found and I'm surprised to see you took photos of birds.
Thanks mate. I've been trying to get into birds to try and get me through the winters, I just need a decent lens to photograph them, and I'm pretty useless at identifying them too. Eclectus and Palm Cockies were definitely a must see for me up there though, and I also saw a Magnificent Riflebird but couldn't get it out in the open for a photo.

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