Day 2

Today was an exciting first day in the field; we searched for the rare Mountain Skink, we chased a copperhead snake and caught a funnel web spider with venom-dripping fangs!

 

Team shot 500

Early this morning Cara and I joined the Reptile Team (ANU’s Damien and Jess) to go in search of a rare skink in the alpine region of the Namadgi National Park. We drove for a couple of hours up into the sub-alpine region of the N.P and spent three hours trying to find the elusive Mountain Skink! It was a bit fresh up at 1600m so the skinks were well hidden. We checked under every rock we could find and as it became warmer, we were able to use the specialised fishing rods to attempt to lasso the skinks! I was not able to actually catch one but I was able to half catch quite a few of them! We did find a full skin of a copperhead, which was impressive!

finding skinks 500

finding skinks 2 500

snake skin 500  snake skin2 500

After not having much luck at our first site, we decided to try a new spot and headed to Mount Franklin. We checked out the ruins of the old ski fields and walked to the top of the mountain. On our way up we managed to come across a copperhead snake. A couple of my colleagues are super keen on snakes so they chased after it and were down on their knees lifting rocks, trying to find it again. I was up on a high rock that I thought would be a safe vantage point! They ended up finding the copperhead, who was very scared by all the ruckus, and scurried away before we could get a good look at him. 

scenery 350 copperhead 350 copperhead2 350

On our way home we stopped at a reserve to try to catch a funnel web spider that was spotted the previous day. Damien lifted a large log and was, again, on his knees, riffling through the leaf litter with his bare hands. He found the funnel web and coaxed it into a specimen jar. The spider was a large male, incredibly venomous and had venom dripping from his fangs.

We have come back to camp to learn that another team have discovered a new species of spider, at Parliament House of all places, which is exciting news for Bush Blitz. I also watched Jess and Damien work on a blue-tongue lizard that we found on the road, working to preserve it for the museum. First his liver was sampled for DNA analysis and then he was injected with formaldehyde to preserve. Interesting process that is a bit sad but necessary to learn from these types of surveys. 

funnel 500 lizard 500 day 2 funnel2 500

Tonight we are going to head out to do some spotlighting and meet some of the Birragai locals. Tomorrow I am with the Spider Man (Robert) and we are going to go to similar sub-alpine areas as today, in search of some big, hairy spiders!