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Australia, 2010!
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Part III: Green Gold in Iron Range National Park
     After observing the turtles, it started to rain, so we headed back to camp.  On the way back, Michael showed us a DOR Varanus keithhorni that he had seen on the previous day.  What a tragedy to see such a cool varanid that way.  Iron Range is one of the few places to see these monitors, so I hoped to get a view of a live one during the trip.  At Portland Roads, we took a quick power nap in anticipation of more searching for the endemic herps that evening. 
   As everyone prepared to leave,  Michael told us about the smugglers tree, which was used back in the day by nefarious individuals to illegally collect rare parrots from the park.  The plan was to head out to the smugglers tree to check it out before the evenings road cruising.  On the way there, our vehicle decided to slow down a bit and look out the windows for green tree pythons (Morelia viridis) as we drove through the park.  Sure enough, I was lucky enough to spot a green out my window!  It was magnificent!  This snake almost glowed in the dark it was so vibrant.  This individual had an almost perfect stripe of white scales down the dorsum.  It was not very large, probably under 3 feet long, and was fairly thin.  There were also several skin worm cysts just under the skin on the latter third of the snake, an apparent result of a frog heavy diet.  There was a profound silence among the group, broken only by the sound of snapping cameras, as if we were walking on hallowed ground just looking at this amazing animal.  What an amazing animal!
Green tree

Green tree python
     After such an incredible find, we were hungry for more.  We scanned further up the road to see if we could press our luck, but to no avail.  We did spot a couple more interesting species along the road, including a gigantic white-lipped tree frog (Litoria infrafrenata), a Furnia tristis, and another spotted python (A. maculosa).
White-lipped tree

Yellow naped snake
     After returning back to the beachhouse, we got a little slack from the others for ditching them at the smugglers tree to go herping.  Their anger was alleviated a bit when we told them what we found and took them there the following morning.  The little python was making it's way up the tree for the daily roost in the tops of the branches.  We got some great shots in the early morning light.  Not much better than finding a GTP in Iron Range!
     Driving along the road through the eucalypt forest Allen spotted a large lizard, which ran into the forest ducking into the leaf litter.  Upon closer inspection, a patch of moving leaves revealed a large Major skink (Egernia frerei).  He didn't want to pose for pictures very much, and we had to uncover him just to get some photos.
Yakka skink
     We turned up a Macleay's water snake (Enhydris polylepis), which we attempted to photograph.  This was difficult as the snake continually wanted to bury itself in the underwater leaves.  I wonder if the skink and the water snake subscribe to the same newsletter?  I got a couple OK shots of the snake.  While trying to maneuver the snake for photos, I got a little nip on the finger.
Macleays water
     I took a little walk along the road with dad and Rico to see what we could see in the afternoon.  As we walked along, I heard a rustling on the side of the road.  I ducked into the forest just in time to see a canopy goanna (Varanus keithhorni) quickly ascending a large tree.  The others came running when they heard my excited exclamations of "keithhorni!" I had to circle the tree to see him as he tried to stay out of view.  As he got up in the higher branches, he was clearly visible, but out of range for descent pictures.  It was a thrill just to be able to see such a cool monitor lizard!  Pictured below is a close-up of the DOR we saw the day earlier, which illustrates the cool scalation of these varanids, which is very similar to the black tree monitor (Varanus becarri).
     We decided to go check out Chili beach before dark and along the way spotted another varanid, an argus monitor (Varanus panoptes).  It was content to sit on the side of the road and let us photograph it as long as we stayed in the car.  As soon as the car door opened, however, the monitor was gone as quick as a flash into the forest.
Argus monitor
     Chili beach was pretty sweet, despite the trash that was all over.  Some very large trees had been blown over by the wind, and were still alive with their huge root tangle up in the air.  We decided to take a nice group shot.  We also got a group shot in the forest of Iron Range.  It was a great group of guys and we got along very well.  L to Rt: RobRoy, Dave, Rico, Justin (me), Allen, Jason, Michael, and below is Dave.  Not pictured in the top pic, but present in the bottom pic is my awesome dad.
                Herpetological Symposium group

Australian Herpetological Symposium group
     The evenings herping found us searching again for green trees along the road through the sections of rain forest.  Dad, Rico, Dave, and I decided to walk instead of looking from the car so we could duck into the forest to search through promising sections of forest.  While looking intently into the forest, I almost stepped on a small dark snake that looked suspiciously like a coastal taipan (Oxyuranus scutellatus).  Thanks, Dave!  Well, our searching paid off again, as another green tree python (Morelia viridis) was found!  This individual was not in as good of shape as the first one and looked like it was in desperate need of a meal.  It had a lot of nice blue on the sides and it's skin was quite wrinkled.  Regardless, we found a second green tree! 
Green tree python
                (Morelia viridis)
     After finding the GTP, we were once again, driven by adrenaline to continue herping into the night.  We walked further up the road and to the old bomb site clearing to look for some Liasis pythons.  We found another Boiga irregularis, but the search for water pythons was fruitless.  After finding a second green tree python, we felt that our luck had been spent, and we decided to travel down to the Tablelands for some herping in that area.
Page 4, More Time in the Tablelands