The Gun Case is Empty

IMGP0268

It’s been awhile since I’ve made time to make an entry about what I’ve been up to in the Australian outback. Lately I drive around in the Polaris quad seen in the photo above taking mediocre photos. Being the popular tourist destination that Uluru is, I often have inquisitive tourists approach me and ask me really great questions. Here are some common examples, and my common answers

Q: What kind of gun is in there?

A: Plasma cannon (after their confusion, I just say that it’s empty, which it is)

Q: Can you give me a ride

A: Depends, are you dying or about to collapse from heat exhaustion, or are you just to lazy to complete a 10 kilometer walk with absolutely zero elevation change? If it is the later, then no, if the former, then yes I guess so.

Q:What do you shoot around here?

A: Bears

Q: Where is the campground?

A: There’s no campground in the park, you have to go back to the resort area and buy a campsite or room there.

That being said, my primary job is not answering the questions of tourists, but to study the reptiles and amphibians in the park. I currently have 108 five gallon buckets (20 litre buckets for you folks that prefer metric measures) that I have dug into the ground around Uluru. And I am installing roughly 120 more. I go to each bucket everyday and see if anything has fallen inside, Sometimes I find a beaked gecko (Rhychoedura ornata photo below) in the pitfall trap, and that really makes my day.

Rhynchoedura ornata

 

In addition to looking inside buckets, I am also studying the tadpoles and frogs that use the waterholes at the base of Uluru as breeding habitat. Lately this involves using a d-frame net to sample tadpoles in the waterholes. I like this part of my research quite a bit because it means I get to visit parts of Uluru that tourists aren’t allowed to go to. This is great for two reasons: 1.) I don’t have to entertain their pesky questions and 2.) I get to see things that tourists generally don’t get to see.

Dip netting

Tiliqua occipitalis

For example, I saw a Euro (photo below) just the other day. My northern hemisphere readers will wonder what exactly a Euro is, and understandable so as the photo does pretty much look like a kangaroo. It’s not a kangaroo though. Euro’s are also known as Wallaroos and are smaller and stockier than the large red kangaroo’s that are also common around the park. Euro’s also like rocky hilly habitats, and as seen in the second photo they do their best to imitate the mountain mammals of the Northern Hemisphere. The one in these photo’s approached me at a waterhole, obviously wanting to quench its thirst, but confused and hesitant about my presence it decided to keep its distance.

That ain't no kangaroo, it's a Euro

The magestic bighorn sheep, it aint, but still pretty cool.

A magestic bighorn sheep it ain’t, but still pretty cool

Finally, today I had the good fortune of finding a Western Bluetongue (Tiliqua occipitalis) crossing a dirt track as I was cruising around in the quad. I took a ridiculous number of photo’s but I’ll not make any of my readers suffer through the redundancy of more than one.

Tiliqua occipitalis

Tiliqua occipitalis