Two nights in Sydney’s outer region
While out to visit my relatives in the Blue Mountains region west of Sydney in Australia, I couldn’t help but go out for a night or two to see what reptiles and amphibians might be out and about.
The first place, at Aunt Rhonda’s is backing onto a ridge that forms part of the Hawkesbury Sandstone formation. The forest is made up of several Eucalypt species, plus an assortment of Turpentine trees, Geebungs and a few others. Recent rains had topped up the farm dam and the frogs were calling in earnest. The most vocal were the Eastern Dwarf Tree Frogs (Litoria fallax) with a penetrating “reek…pip pip” call.
These tiny frogs are about three centimeters long and are green or brown with a white belly and a dark stripe down the side. Next up were the small yet noisy Eastern Burrowing Toadlets (Uperoleia laevigata) which spend the day buried in the sand, coming out at night to call and feed, their call a short groan.
Normally in good numbers, but fairly rare this time were the Broad Palmed Rocket Frogs (Litoria latopalmata). Their call is a rapid yapping or chicken-like clucking. You can hear them in the background of the Eastern Dwarf Tree Frog’s call above.
Moving down the ridge though the leaf litter and over sandstone boulders I did hear a heap of frogs calling in a soak.Their calls were a short, sharp squelch. Knowing what they might be, I took a good recording of their calls then started to look. I lifted over some leaves and found one. As I suspected I had found a cute little frog restricted to this sandstone region, the Red Crowned Toadlet (Pseudophryne australis). A tiny frog, they are well adorned with a maroon back, dark sides with white frosting and a heavily marbled black and white belly. But the most striking feature is the bright red “T” mark on the head. Unusual among frogs, but fairly common with many Australian frogs is that they have an odd way of breeding. Males set up a territory in leaf litter in a damp area and begin calling. Females drop by and lay eggs which he adds to his collection. He continues calling for more, as the embryos in their massive eggs grow until they reach the stage of almost hatching. They stay in the stage until rains come and water releases them and they continue as normal.
Moving further down and hitting level ground I did hear plenty more frogs calling. Peron’s Tree Frogs (Litoria peronii) were calling with their descending fast paced laugh and one Tyler’s Tree Frog (Litoria tyleri) with a much slower call of several short rasping notes. Not finding the Tyler’s Tree Frog responsible for the call (typical for this species) I did manage a heap of excellent recordings of its call. The Peron’s Tree Frog calls in the background.
Eastern Banjo Frogs (Limnodynastes dumerilii) sat on the track looking for insects as did one Striped Marsh Frog (Limnodynastes peronii).
Walking back up the ridge I did find one Eastern Stone Gecko (Diplodactylus vittatus) walking about and an Ornate Burrowing Frog on top of the ridge. The Ornate Burrowing Frog is common further north and, like the Banjo Frog lives underground much of the time, emerging only after heavy rains or on wet, humid nights.
Also calling, but to proclaim family territories were the delightful Sugar Gliders. A small possum, they are grey with dark stripes down the face and a bushy tail. Between the wrists and heels there is a fold of skin that enables them to glide from tree to tree. Their territorial call is a yapping sound like a small dog. I managed to walk right up to one making his call and get an excellent recording of it. He looked at me, licked up a bit of sap from the tree and continued yapping away.
The next night I stayed with friends nearby, away from the sandstone region. Tim Garrett lives on farmland closer to Sydney. We searched around the farm dams of the property. Eastern Burrowing Toadlets, Broad Palmed Rocket Frogs, a Spotted Marsh Frog, Verreaux’s Tree Frogs, Eastern Froglets, Dwarf Tree Frogs and Peron’s Tree Frogs were in residence. Having photographed all of these before, and the road noise being too loud I decided not to make any recordings. On the way out, I did notice some eye-shine coming from a hollow log. A mystery frog retreated back into it before we could do anything about it. Coming back later I did catch it and identify it as a Bleating Tree Frog (Litoria dentata).
That was all for the two nights in Sydney’s West.