Sunday, July 5, 2009

Bugong National Park

Yesterday, my friend Matt and I went bushwalking in Bugong National Park, to the west of Nowra. It was a nice sunny day, with only a little wind. It had been 8 years since I last visited this part of the park, but it was as interesting as I remembered. Once we hit some northwest facing escarpment, we encountered our first reptiles for the day, including this Copper-tailed Skink (Ctenotus taeniolatus). They are a very fast skink, and can be very hard to catch in warmer weather. However, today was cool enough for them to stay still.

Soon after, we found a juvenile Lesueur's Velvet Gecko (Oedura lesueurii), followed by an adult (left). This is the only species of gecko in the Shoalhaven, but it is possible that others (Eastern Stone Gecko and/or Broad-tailed Gecko) exist locally.

Lesueur's Velvet Geckos are found under small, flat, sandstone rocks, as well as under logs and behind bark on trees. They grow to about 12cm in length, and are capable of walking up smooth surfaces such as glass.

We found 2 Eastern Small-eyed Snakes (Cryptophis nigrescens), possibly the most abundant snake in the area. However, they are rarely seen due to their nocturnal habits. They are a small venomous species, with one recorded fatality, but they are generally very docile and can be handled freely. 

Another venomous species we discovered, was a basking Red-bellied Black Snake (Pseudechis porphyriacus), below. It stayed still long enough for us to take some photographs. Usually they take off in a flash once they sense you, but I think he was enjoying the sun too much to worry about us standing just 3m away. Eventually, he got sick of our smell, and slowly went under the nearby boulder.

The last interesting find of the walk, on our way back to the car, was a single Zieria sp. (below) growing on top of a cliff. I haven't had a chance to identify it yet, but it's likely a localised species, and potentially threatened. It was flowering, which is quite early for most species of Zieria, with small pink petals.

A great day, and well worth taking the day off work!