On Desert’s Edge



Filmed on:

Sony HDR-XR550VE

Canon EOS 60D


Buy GoPro HERO Camera at GoPro.com

This video took a long time to make, many hours of searching, filming and especially editing. The problem was, every time I thought I had it made, something new would appear and I would have to go back and add more to the video. This happened until it became necessary to split the production into two parts (for upload/download reasons).  Part two is very exciting with some weird and wonderful footage. There are some articles on this site that put much of this in readable form…

Read Other Edge of the Desert Life of the Northern Territory

Read Into the Red Centre- Surviving the Dry

Read Into the Red Centre – Geckoes and Dragons

Script:

In the Australian outback, the reptiles you are most likely to encounter are lizards, especially the Dragons like this male Yellow Sided Dragon. He is sitting on a twig, catching the first of the morning sun. While he is warming up, he’ll remain dark to absorb as much heat as possible. This also makes it hard for predators to spot him from above. When he finally gets to operating temperature he turns brown, red and yellow. This is very attractive to the drab females. There is much to learn about a male by his colours. Males cannot maintain their colours if they are sick or parasite ridden. As they are so obvious to predators they must also be able to outsmart them to survive. Males in full colour display to passing females by finding high vantage points above the grassland.

The much larger cousin of the yellow sided dragon is the bearded dragon. Commonly seen on fence posts and tree stumps they put on this display when disturbed. If you corner one on the ground, prepare to take a step back…

Searching through the grass for a meal of lizards, rodents or frogs is this Western Brown Snake. These are some of the most feared snakes in Australia, with a powerful venom and short temper. Despite this, they are more than happy to go about their business of finding a feed, rather than attack a person. The best course of action to avoid a bite is to leave them alone. During warm weather they hunt at night.

Monitor lizards are well represented in Australia, with over half of the world’s forty or so species found here. This is a Black Headed monitor, a variety usually seen on cliffs and boulders, but sometimes found crossing the road. They eat practically anything including frogs, birds, eggs and even their own young!

As you get closer to the edge of the desert you will see red sand dunes with patchy growths of spinifex grass. Spinifex is uniquely Australian and most of them are extremely spiny, falling into a patch would be a mistake. Small animals however, love it as it makes an excellent home.

Never straying far from the safety of a burrow is this Central Netted Dragon. When danger threatens they don’t hang around.

Taking a break from the blinding sun in the shade of some spinifex, the Military dragon is painted up like a soldier as it marches about the dunes looking for insects. It stops its toes from burning by lifting them off the ground.

A common walkers companion on rocks beside footpaths is the Centralian Earless Dragon, named for its apparent lack of ears. In the cool of the morning they sit out in the open, but as the day warms they seek shade. As the day cools again in the afternoon, they climb back up their favourite rocks to impress partners and threaten rivals.

No, it’s not an extra from a science fiction movie, but it might as well be.

This is Australia’s Thorny Devil and it eats ants, up to 15 00 in a sitting.

Its thorny back protects it as it eats

and their colour is camouflage

Ranging across the desert they look for new ant trails and partners.

They have a most unusual way of getting about. It’s as if it is unsure of each step.

They are only commonly seen just before summer, and just after. For the rest of the time, they stay hidden and keep their secrets to themselves.

Roaming the dunes of Central Australia in a slow, plodding manner, the Centralian Bluetongue Lizard eats things it can catch, such as fruits and berries, snails and slower insects. When threatened they cannot run fast on such short little legs, so they resort to flashing the blue tongue and flattening the body to look bigger. This usually does the trick.

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