Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Frogging Iron Range

I was, as I say, very lucky in Iron Range. The skies opened up, unseasonally, and dumped a good amount of rain while I was in the park, creating a mini-wet season just for me. Normally, considering that the park is closed for the duration of the wet season, it would be pretty hard to be there when frogs are active. And also luckily, I managed to get across the Pascoe River before the big rains that might make that crossing impassible.

Whilst wandering around by a creek I heard a noise that sounded a lot like one of the whistling microhylid frogs. After only a couple of minutes' searching, I found it and confirmed that it was indeed the Cape York Nursery Frog, Austrochaperina gracilipes. Nice little guy and I was to frequently hear its call piercing the night air throughout my stay.

I happened to also find the Bridled frog, Litoria nigrofrenata, whilst cruising the roads. This guy actually occurs through many of the areas I've already traversed in the wet tropics but strangely I've never managed to locate one until now.

Whilst a common and widespread frog, the Dainty Green Treefrog, Litoria gracilenta, seems to show quite a bit of variation over its range. I was surprised by the (to my eyes at least) very distinct looking 'version' of this frog that I came across numerous times in Iron Range.

However, my final frog discovery was to be the most exciting. When I was stopped by the side of the road for some reason I happened to hear a low croaking growl coming from a nearby temporary stream that had filled with water after a particularly hard downpour. A short search revealed it to be the northern species of Green Eyed Frog, Litoria eucnemis. If you've been reading for some time you'll remember the southern species Litoria serrata from down in the rainforests between Cape Tribulation and Townsville. Though the two species look practically identical, the call is distinct and a fair gap separates the populations.

It was great to see some really nice frogs after a bit of a 'dry' spell!

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