A rainy night on the road

On November 19th rain was in the forecast and it has rained off and on since November 20th. Prior to the storms I placed three rain gauges around Uluru; One 500 meters due north, one 500 meters due south, and one 500 meters due east of the base Uluru. I have checked the rain gauges after every rain shower, and to date roughly 50mm (nearly 2 inches) of rain has fallen on Uluru. On November 24th and 28th roughly 10mm of rain fell in just a few hours during the evening. That’s enough to encourage the frogs to exhume themselves from beneath the sandy soils of Uluru Kata-Tjuta National Park. After these rain showers I spend most of my day at water holes at the base of Uluru. However, after dark, the National Park is closed to the public. Other than a handful of park staff returning home from trips to the grocery store, the roads are totally free of traffic. Two nights ago I drove back and forth on a roughly 10km stretch of road, here’s some of what I saw.
Neobatrachus sudelli

Neobatrachus sudelli – Sudell’s Frog-I saw dozens if not hundreds of these crossing the road on the evening of November 28th.
Neobatrachus sutor

Neobatrachus sutor – Shoemaker Frog-There were also hundreds of these out on the road.

Notaden nichollsiNotaden nichollsi with exudate

Notaden nichollsi – Desert Spadefoot – This frog was the main reason I was out driving around. When I was working here from December through May I only saw one of these guys and I didn’t have my camera at the time. When I was out on the 28th I found a couple dozen of these guys. Compared to the other two species, these frogs have attitudes. The other frogs sit calmly while you take their picture, and if you pick them up to reposition them for a better shot, they generally cooperate. However this frog continuously turns its back on the camera, and usually just before the shot is clicked off. The second image is what they do when they are irritated by the cameraman; they puff up their body, pull their legs in and exude a white sticky fluid that is pretty difficult to wash off. Overall I think they are pretty handsome frogs, that is, when they choose not to manifest their irritation with the photographer, .

In addition to the three species of frogs, I found two species of lizards
Pygopus nigriceps

Pygopus nigriceps – Hooded Scaly Foot – Yes it is a lizard, Australia has lots of species of legless lizards. Which is just one among many reasons why Australia is such a fascinating place.Diplodactylus conspiculatus

Diplodactylus conspiculatus – Fat Tail Gecko – There were lots of these running across the road, and for awhile I ignored them as I see them pretty regularly. I got out to investigate one though, and noticed the water that was beaded up on it’s head and back, so I did my best to get a good photo. I’m generally a bad photographer, but this image came out alright.

Tiliqua multifasciata DOR

Tiliqua multifasciata – Centralian Blue Tongue – There are two species of blue tongue lizards in the park. When I was here from December to May of this year I saw a few of the Western Blue Tongue Lizards, but could not find the other species. This lizard has been very high on my “want to see it” list since my arrival to Australia over a year ago. I nearly always stop to investigate roadkill; this guy was laying belly up when I pulled over to investigate. As I approached it, I said to myself “please don’t be what I think it is”, and then I yelled “Dammit!” as I flipped it over. It must have been hit by a tourist or tourist bus leaving the park just after sunset, as it was laying in the outgoing lane and I had not seen a single car go by for a couple of hours. Roadkill is always interesting, but I prefer critters to be alive the first time I see them. Luckily I saw a lively one crossing the road less than 15 minutes after taking a drive to the grocery store on the evening of the 29th.
Tiliqua multifasciata

I saw two snakes while I was driving, but I was only able to get a photo of one

Simoselaps fasciolatus

Simoselaps fasciolatus – Narrow-banded Snake – A very small and very attractive snake.

I only photographed the amphibians and reptiles that were on the road; even then, I didn’t photography two roadkill Moloch horridus (Thorny Devils) that I saw. I also neglected to photograph any of the hundreds of centipedes or orthopterans (grasshoppers, crickets and katydids) that were sitting on the roads. Both the centipedes and the orthopterans that I saw were impressively large and they seemed to be feeding on their roadkill counterparts, which is gruesomely cool. When it rains in the desert, there’s a lot going on, and it’s impossible to take it all in.

Initial preparations

Today I finally had the opportunity to sit down and learn how to mesh my Facebook profile with my WordPress page. Stay tuned as I am planning some initial posts in the next few weeks that will focus on my strategies for packing and preparing to move to another country for the next three years. Specifically I will be haggling with myself over what to bring with me, as my intention will be to travel and move light.

 

The Beginning

This is just an initial post on my new web-site.  This URL was acquired for me as a going away present by Mark and Marie Dittmer, my aunt and uncle who live in Higginsvile, Missouri. The general plan for this web-site is for it to be a forum for me to post stories of my Travels.  Please visit this site often as there is certainly more to come!!

Hooroo

Drew,

The distance from Higginsville, Missouri to Ayers Rock, Australia is 9,686 miles as the crow flies. If 2000 steps makes a mile, and if you were to walk it, there are only 19.4 millions steps, give or take, between here and there.  It’s said the journey of a thousand miles begins with one step. No telling how many you’ve already taken nor how many more will come.  But know that Life is the Journey, and it is better to Travel Well than to arrive. The key is to always keep on steppin’.

This website is our gift to you. Something to take with you where ever you go and something to leave behind where ever you’ve been. It may also help in sharing the Australian experience with your friends and family back home. We hope so.  There will surely be much to tell and much to show.

We wish you safe Journeys and endless Travels.

Love,

Uncle Mark and Aunt Marie