Travelling through outback Queensland after rainfall is cause for excitement. Semi-arid Australia transforms as the seedbank germinates, floodwaters permeate through Country, and wildlife breeds/disperses while water and vegetation is abundant.
Edgbaston Reserve recently provided us an opportunity to witness this transformation in all its glory.
Arriving a few weeks after a large rainfall event, we entered Edgbaston Reserve set on witnessing the aftermath of explosive breeding in the local frogs. We weren’t disappointed.
Metamorphs and juvenile amphibians peppered the green landscape, dispersing from soaks and springs in clay pans through the Mitchell Grass Downs. Our ears were blasted by the calls of Green Tree Frogs, Desert Tree Frogs, Rocket Frogs, and Desert Froglets as we walked through the hard Spinifex and Mitchell Grass.
The calls of Crucifix Frogs perked our ears as we searched through the soft spinifex, ghost gum, and ironbark woodlands above the escarpment. Of interest to us was the diversity of burrowing frogs (Cyclorana). Green-Striped Burrowing Frogs (C. alboguttata) and Eastern Snapping Frogs (C. novaehollandiae) comprised many, but other more morphologically similar Cyclorana were also present (C. cultripes, C. brevipes, potentially C. mainii).
During the day we spent our time travelling the landscape looking for interesting habitats, admiring the abundant birdlife and photographing the local kangaroo populations of Eastern greys (Macropus giganticous) and big reds (Osphranter rufus).
We'd settle down for dinner and watch the spectacular sunsets in anticipation for the countryside to come alive after dark.
The large abundance of frog activity did not go unnoticed by the local population of Mud Adders (Denisonia devisi). These were common around some of the dams in the western side of the reserve. Freshwater crabs (Austrothelphusa transversa) scurried from land back into the safety of water when approached with light. Like fish through the reserve these are an ancient species, representative from a time where Australia had a shallow inland sea.
Stimson’s Pythons (Anteresia stimsoni) hunted the landscape in search of small mammals such as the Desert mouse (Pseudomys desertor) as they scampered the cracked, clay landscape for seeds.
Stunning geckos perched themselves in vegetation, upon rock formations and hunted upon the wide, flat plains. Young Inland Marbled Velvet Geckos (Oedura cincta) could be found throughout the park in varying ages. Spiny Tailed Geckos (Strophurs williamsi) ambush hunted in the vegetation of brambly bushes while Chain Backed Dtellas (Gehyra catenata) and Variable Dtellas (Gehyra versicolor) ranged from high in the trees to crossing the countryside. Brigalow Beaked Geckos (Rhynchoedura mentalis) hunted the flat lands alongside Eastern Fat-tailed Geckos (Diplodactylus platyurus), which emerged from their spider burrow for the night.
The invertebrates of western Queensland also explode after significant rain events. Brightly coloured butterflies and grasshoppers were commonplace in the park. Impressive (and likely undescribed) Wishbone Spiders left their burrows in search of a mate. Cup Moth Caterpillars and stick insects fed upon fresh growth in the eucalyptus trees. Flies and mosquitos hunted any humans who showed any bared skin. Wherever we tried to hide, they would find us.
It was a pleasure to witness this unusual event: an unbelievable transformation of a seemingly barren landscape to one teeming with life. There is much to admire, and much more to discover in this amazing country.
We hope to return someday to continue the adventure and perhaps even photograph some of Edgbaston’s famous endemic fish.