Friday, 27 February 2015

Shrub Frog

A Shrub Frog - clinging to the back of a mirror in our old outside washroom

In the days before we installed an indoor washroom we often used to see this Shrub Frog. It would sometimes climb out on to the top of the mirror and stare back at me as I enjoyed an early morning shave.

Shrub Frogs (also commonly known as "moss frogs", "bush frogs", and "tree frogs") are extremely agile, able to accurately leap relatively large distances and land safely, and can walk up seemingly any vertical surface including wet tiles and wet glass without slipping at all. If you stand still fairly close to a Shrub Frog for long enough there is a fair chance that it will jump on to you, which, trust me, is always an unsettling experience. Shrub Frogs can be quite vocal at times too.

This blog post is linked to these memes:-
Nature Notes
Saturday's Critters
Camera Critters
Please do pop over and take a look at them.

Wednesday, 18 February 2015

Asian Openbill (probably)

We spotted the bird shown above strutting its stuff in our local park. I think that it's an Asian Openbill, but I'm not sure. Any help with identification that you might offer will be greatly appreciated.*

This blog post is linked to the following memes:-
The Bird D'Pot
Wild Bird Wednesday
Please do pop over and take a look at them.

* Thanks to everyone who's commented on and helped with identification of this splendid bird, and with especial thanks to Shey Wicklund at Shey Wicklund Photographs, I can now say with some certainty that this bird is an Asian Openbill Stork.

Saturday, 14 February 2015

A Snake in Trouble

A Chequered Keelback

The above snake is a Chequered Keelback, and it was dying at the time of taking this photo. Its body shape indicates that it had just eaten and I guess that its meal didn't agree with it. It slithered awkwardly to the spot shown above, then lay there and died.

I've noticed that there's a high "untimely death" rate amongst snakes. We frequently see individuals that have been run over, trapped in gates doors and fences, mashed up in machinery, savaged by cats, brained by humans, and as with this one terminated by acute health issues. If you add to that the large number that are eaten alive by other snakes then a snake's life must indeed be a very precarious one.

Chequered Keelbacks are not venomous (some Keelbacks are). They are reputed to bite "fiercely but harmlessly". I don't know how true that is. They grow to a little over a metre in length. This one was shorter than that at 80 centimetres or so.

The following photo shows the ailing creature approaching its final resting place. You might notice that apart from appearing bloated its body also looks twisted and awkward. Snakes normally appear far more elegant, agile, and active than this one did.

Oh dear....

This blog post is linked to Camera Critters blog hop. Do pop over and take a look at it.

Tuesday, 10 February 2015

Two Lady Lizards Having A Rumble

Two female Eastern Butterfly Lizards involved in a very serious stand-off on our front grass.
Butterfly Lizard altercations seem to involve lots of press-ups, puffing up the body, stern looks, and chasing. I've never seen more than the briefest moment of physical contact during these exchanges.

I don't know for certain what the two female lizards shown above were arguing about but my best guess is that they were having a dispute over territory. Eastern Butterfly Lizards live in burrows and establish a home territory of a modest thirty or so square metres. They don't tolerate Butterfly Lizards other than their own offspring in their territory. A female Butterfly Lizard will share her burrow with her offspring for several months after they hatch*.

This blog post is linked to the following memes:-
Nature Notes
Saturday's Critters
Do pop over and take a look at them.

* My reptile book says that females share their burrows with their young. I've never seen any evidence of this.

Sunday, 8 February 2015

Blind Snake

A Blind Snake
– unearthed in our garden, adjacent to our banana plants.

Blind Snakes live most of their lives burrowing below ground in soft soil, but are sometimes also to be found in leaf litter and decaying logs. We occasionally encounter lone individuals when digging the garden, as was the case in the photo above. Sometimes Blind Snakes are thrown to the surface during ploughing too but seem to survive the experience largely unharmed.

My understanding is that Blind Snakes are harmless. They look and behave in a very similar manner to earthworms and are easily mistaken for them. But they do have very tiny eyes, disproportionately tiny eyes. Their eyesight is poor. It is thought that their eyes are only able to distinguish between light and dark but beyond that are pretty much useless. Their heads are short and not clearly defined.

The above specimen is 25 to 30 centimetres long. The next photo should give a clearer idea of its size:

Meuller's Blind Snake?

My best guess, and it is only a guess, is that the above snake is a "Meuller's Blind Snake". If so it's probably not yet fully grown. Meuller's Blind Snakes can grow to 45 centimetres long.

Having unintentionally disturbed this individual we studied it, photographed it, and allowed it to go on its way unharmed. Interestingly it had remained motionless when it knew that we were nearby, and had not reacted at all when we disturbed it with the scythe for photographing. But within moments of us leaving it be it disappeared. We never saw it go, but go it did, and quickly.