Day 3 - exploring the biodiversity of the Simpson Desert

After a 6.00 am start to the day and an early breakfast, we set off to check the pit traps. Today there was another Painted Dragon and several Sandy Inland Mice (Pseudomys hermannsbergensis) in the pit traps but no new reptile species.

The day started to warm up quite quickly and the humidity was more intense than yesterday (I would say it was around 26 degrees Celsius). After setting off along the edge of the claypan, we soon reached the swale country at the far end of the claypan, which was rich in herbage (Scaevola collaris, Crumbweed (Dysphonia frankaenia), Native Stock (Blennodia senecio or gregorai). There were also specimens of Acacia muriana and Acacia georginai in the swales. In fact, it was like walking through a lush meadow at times and you could easily forget that you were walking through the Simpson Desert.

Again, the birdlife was amazingly diverse and the birdcall was melodious and mellifluous at all times making walking very enjoyable in the high humidity. We observed many Crimson Chats, many Diamond Doves, the Wedgetail Eagle, the Rufous Songlark, many Budgerigars, the Pied and Singing Honeyeaters, the Masked and the Black-faced Woodswallow, the Cinnamon Quail Thrush and most surprisingly; a Boobok Owl, that was being attacked by a Spotted Harrier or a similar bird of prey.

We were fortunate to find an unusual and rare mistletoe that may not have been identified by the national herbarium as being endemic to this region. Charlie took a sample and showed us how he recorded this sample for further analysis. Charlie pressed it using a plant press (this parasitic plant appears to imitate the Gidgee Bush).

Desert tree

After breaking for lunch we set off again and walked for another few hours to reach Camp 3 (S 25 degrees 45.370 minutes, E 138 degrees 03.627 minutes) We discovered a piece of the cutting edge of an indigenous cutting or scraping tool but did not find any wakirri (walking became more difficult after lunch as the humidity and temperature increased.) Today we had walked about 11 km in total.

After unloading the camels and setting up our swags, we set off to dig the pit traps along the dune crest close to our campsite.

Setting pitfall trap

By this stage, I was getting to know the 12 camels. They were organized into two teams or two strings. In the A team we had, Jumpa, Claude, Char, Sultan, Dusty and Sauli and in the B team we had Eddi, Billy, Bronson, Gemma, Nedi and Punjab. The camels all seem to have the own personalities and some were far more vocal than others.

Michael and camel

A great day's exploring the rich biodiversity of the Simpson Desert.