Possuming @ John Okey Park #5

Its been a little while since I last blogged – lots has gone on in my personal life – so that was priority and kept me from getting out.

Anyway I had met a guy from the US who hadn’t seen much of Australia’s wildlife and I offered to show him some possums – he is here only for a couple of months so we had to lock it in and negotiate the weather.

We went to John Okey Park in Gosnells which I have blogged about a few times.

This was my fifth visit and I have seen Common brushtail possums on every visit.  It was a cold, dry, July night and it started off slow – I thought they might be all hiding in their tree hollows!  We then started spotting quite a few possums.

It had been pretty wet for the week before and there were a few Moaning frogs around as well – we probably saw 4-5, spotting them from their dull greenish eyeshine.  I also heard a few slender tree frogs but didn’t go specifically looking for them.

We walked further down past the TAFE than I had been before seeing possums all the way along.

All up we probably saw 25-30 possums – a successful night!  Also I heard a few tales of the wildlife of the US – how Opossums don’t look as nice as our possums and I really would love to see wild bears!

 

Burrowing frogs

Australia can be a pretty dry place with long periods without rain.  As a result a number of our frogs keep moist by hiding away in burrows and come out when conditions are suitable.

I have blogged previously about turtle frogs that spend much of their lives down burrows.  My friend Jimmy had great information where 2 species of burrowing frogs could be found at the same location after the first heavy rainfall in April – except that rain didn’t happen in Perth this year!  We had been waiting for some rain all through April and it was now May and some reasonable rain was forecast.

Jimmy and I headed down Brookton Hwy at night and just before where the Bibbulmun Track crosses the Hwy there is a smallish wetland of sorts.

As we parked the car we could hear a chorus of frogs – the Whooping frog (Heleioporus inornatus) – “whoop, whoop, whoop” as the name suggests.

and the Sand frog (Heleioporus psammophilus) – “put, put, put” – some liken it to an outboard motor.

We could hear both species calling but just couldn’t find any on the surface.  We found lots of excavations with holes and approaching carefully and waiting – you could often hear the frogs calling out of them!

We looked extensively but no evidence of frogs on the surface could be found – it was still pretty dry as the rainfall had been fairly light.  The previous year Jimmy had found Whooping frogs jumping on the highway!  We dug up a burrow where we could hear a Whooping frog and voila – one popped out of the sand.  We washed it down with a little water to reveal the uniform brown that is characteristic of the species.  Some of the 5 Heleioporus species can be a little hard to tell apart from just looks alone – the calls are a pretty good indication.

Whooping frog @ Ashendon, Brookton Hwy

We kept hunting for Sand frogs which look similar to Moaning frogs but the call is very different.  We dug a burrow which cork-screwed into the sand but we didn’t manage to follow it.  We will have to wait until next year!

I did see a nice spider but my photo doesn’t do it justice – I think this might be a communal family one but I didn’t take a photo of the mass of web at the top of this plant.

Anyway – that leaves 3 Heleioporus I am yet to see – the Sand frog as mentioned in this blog and also the Hooting frog and the Western spotted frog – both can be found further inland and I just need to keep searching in the right spots!

Frogging – the Quacking Frog

On a wet saturday night in late May I persuaded my brother to come out in the cold and wet and look for frogs – the clincher was a promise of whisky after to warm up!

I had been at a WA Naturalists talk by WA Museum‘s Paul Doughty – Curator of Herpetology.  He inspired me to get out when it is cold and wet as that in when you find frogs in the South-West of WA – frogging in a beanie I recall him mentioning!

He had said there had been Hooting Frog Heleioporus barycragus heard at Lesmurdie falls recewntly so I thought we might head to a spot nearby – Whistlepipe Gully – at the end of Lewis Rd. Forrestfield (just off Welshpool Rd).

As we arrived we could hear Quacking Frogs Crinia georgiana – but they all went quiet as we moved towards them.  Unperturbed we walked alongside the stream thinking we heard Hooting Frog higher into the bush areas.  No frogs were seen – despite lots of looking and waiting patiently in the dark – the frogs are sneakier than us amateur froggers!

At one point we knew why the frogs were quiet – a Tawny Frogmouth had flown in and was checking out a late night supper.

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Blurry Shot of a Tawny Frogmouth

We kept at it for about an hour and a half in quite a lot of rain – it kept happening – we heard frogs and as we approached they shut up and we couldn’t spot them – our technique needs some serious refining.  I was trying out my new headtorch – Led Lenser H14.2 – it worked really well.

At this point the whisky was sounding pretty good as it had been raining much of the time.  We jumped into the car and my eagle eyed brother spotted something in the car headlights – definitely hopping.  We investigated and found a Quacking Frog – yes one of the ones we had been trying to find all this time!  Photos taken then back to the car for a warming whisky!  Successful night – no Hooting Frog but yes to Quacking Frog.

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