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Australia, 2011
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Part III: The Dorat Road
     Several of the locals pointed us to the Dorat road for good herping.  A bit of a drive south and we found the road. As we neared the turnoff, we could see stormclouds ahead and as we arrived, we could see that it had rained a bit just prior to our arrival. This was a good sign, as rain brings out the herps. These were the first rains after the dry, so our timing was perfect. Anticipation was high for the night, and we started out well just before the sun went down.  We stopped near the start of the road to check some tin while the sun was still out. We found a nice dragon species, which I have tentatively identified as a female swamplands lashtail (Amphibolurus temporalis) under a large piece of tin. We then heard Rico call out that he had something. As we got closer, Rico had the tail of something that was most of the way down a burrow. Closer inspection revealed the spiny tail of a goanna, but it was difficult to tell what species. After a quick dig, Rico had his prize and washing it off in a little rainwater revealed the species (which incidentally was what I had guessed it to be), a yellow-throat goanna (Varanus baritji)! It was a very nice individual with a highly reduced pattern and a grey stripe down the back. I was very excited about this find! You could tell it was the end of the dry, as this little goanna was a bit skinny. After a photoshoot, the monitor was released under the tin it was found under and we headed out to do a bit of cruising on the Dorat.

Yellow throat spiny tailed monitor, Varanus

Yellow throat spiny tailed monitor, Varanus
      Cruising is always a mixed bag, and sometimes it can be very productive, while at other times you may see nothing. Fortunately, this night was highly productive!  We noticed a distinct pattern of activity of the reptiles that were seen. During different times of the night, different species were observed in a distinct window of time. First up were the fast moving elapids and colubrids. The first elapid appeared to be a Weigel's black snake (Pseudechis weigeli), but I was later told this was likely an undescribed species of the black snake family. We saw two individuals, indicating a healthy population despite the cane toads that are everpresent. Apparently, this species is a bit too small for cane toads, so they persist to reproductive age without being too heavily affected by the invasive bufo.  It was difficult to get pictures of these flighty snakes, but luckily we had our "Aussie guide" to wrangle them for pictures.

Pseudechis species

Pseudechis species
      Various small lizards, including the enigmatic Burton's legless lizard (Lialis burtonis), as well as the northern spiny-tailed (Strophurus ciliaris) and the zigzag velvet gecko (Oedura rhombifer) geckos, were commonly seen. They were a bit difficult to spot. I really like the patterns and colors of the S. ciliaris in the Darwin area and was happy to find several!

S. ciliaris
Lialis burtonis

Oedura rhombifer
       The next snake was arguably one of the most beautiful species of the trip! The brown tree snakes (Boiga irregularis) are vividly patterned with red-orange bands, giving them the common name Night Tiger, a more fitting description compared with the booring brown tree snake. The night tiger was found on a long stretch of road that ran off the Dorat road towards Litchfield NP.

Boiga irregularis
      The next species to come out on the road, unfortunately for us stayed a little too long on the road. We were very sad to find our first childrens python (Antaresia childreni) dead on the road (DOR). This individual had a recent meal in it's stomach, and was likely seeking additional warmth from the road to aid in digestion. Unfortunately, we would not see a live childrens python during our trip, but would find two additional DOR individuals. They appear to be very common along this stretch of road, but not too good at avoiding cars. Interestingly, they were one snake that was very difficult to see, which may be why they are run over more frequently.
Childrens python Antaresia
     It was getting pretty late, and we decided to make one more pass before returning home. That turned out to be a very good plan. Shortly after starting our last pass, we stumbled across a beautiful black headed python (Aspidites melanocephalus). What a sight! It had beautiful reddish bands and was a slender young adult. After a lengthy photo shoot, we watched this magnificent python crawl off into the scrub. 
Black Headed python (Aspidites

Black Headed python (Aspidites melanocephalus)
      This rejuvenated our cruising efforts, and we decided to make another pass or two. After a while, and very close to where we spotted the blackhead, another very large python was observed in the middle of the road. In my excitement and haste to get a look at this beauty, I forgot I was the one driving and dove out of the Ute with the rest of the crew. This resulted in the vehicle rolling forward precariously close to the snake, before Peter jumped back in to stop the rolling object. The snake was a fairly large olive python (Liasis olivaceus). It was fairly docile and tolerated our photography. It was a very beautiful animal and we spent quite a while just watching the majestic serpent as it tried to avoid the American photographers. We assisted it off the road and watched this amazing creature retreat into the underbrush. What a great night of herping!
Olive python
                (Liasis olivaceus)

Olive python (Liasis olivaceus)

Olive python (Liasis olivaceus)
      After the olive python, we didn't see too much more, aside from some very attractive frog species. The first rains had brought them out of hiding. Too bad I don't know my frogs better. I need to get a field guide prior to my next trip. All in all it was one of the best nights of herping and we were all very happy with our finds.

Part IV: Kakadu