Rainforest Life: Outing #12 – Day 4

(Monday 20-October-2014)

@11:52am

Grey and cloudy in the national park this morning. The air is cool bordering cold and the skies look set to open any moment now.

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The Currawong have begun circling the camp – no doubt for the uneaten bread I left out for the Possum and Bush Rat last night – so we’re sitting patiently, very quietly, hoping the large black and white birds show-up close enough for a photo. Edit: No photo, they didn’t swoop down for the bread today.

Until I see my beautiful dinosaurian friend, REPTILIAN MATTERS will go at the end of the day, since there’s no point saying he didn’t come again today at only ten in the morning with so much of the day left to go. Might as well change that to MONITOR MATTERS, while we’re at it, since that’s a more fitting section title.

Having said that though, the fact that it’s cold and rainy today means he wouldn’t come out anyway: I never see him on cold, overcast days.

FIGHT TO THE DEATH

@~12:20pm

For at least half an hour now, two ants have been locked in battle with one another. At first I figured they were just trying to snatch some piece of food from each other – since I’ve seen them do this before – but upon closer inspection, discovered they had nothing in their mouths and were simply locking ‘horns’ like stags do when they fight.

I watched them a while, and saw the larger of the two insects clearly had the advantage and so I gave them a little flick with my finger – attempting to seperate them – which led to the little one momentarily gaining the upper-hand. This didn’t last long however and as I stood and watched, the larger if the two regained control: locking it’s jaws onto the smaller ants leg.

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Eventually the underdog got his jaws around the big ones legs and the fight continued this way until – convinced nothing I did would distract them into ending the fight – I left them to it and got back in the tent.

It’s the first time I’ve seen any kind of dispute between any species of ant out here, in fact, I’ve specifically made a point of commenting upon how well the local populations get along with one another: even cross-species I’ve not seen any fighting or aggression from any one ant towards another. Though you’d assume they fight all the time, that’s the first altercation I’ve so far witnessed.

To be honest, because I didn’t actually watch the fight right to the bitter end I cannot categorically state that it was ‘to the death’, but the fact that by the time I started watching, the little one had already lost one middle leg and a feeler – well – it certainly points that way.

A HANDFUL OF CUTE

@12:43pm

Just finished watching the two ants battle it out, I get in my tent and start making coffee. While I’m waiting for it to heat on the stove – which is right outside the door in the vestibule – I look out the open door and start zoning-out staring at some random tree, when I hear leaves rustle slightly as something runs along the ground in front of the tent door right in front of me.

I flick my eyes down and what do I find? None other than the sweetest little lizard on the planet – a Velvet Gecko – scampering right along the edge of my tent. A quick google search, along with some image comparisons and reading about habitats,  distribution and range informs me it’s most likely a Lesueur’s Velvet Gecko, and that Velvet Geckos are the most common species in Australia – found throughout the coastal areas right around the country.

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Beautiful little lizards. They don’t bite, they’re not very fast runners and once you’ve handled one just a few minutes they seem to quickly relax and become less inclined to try to wriggle or fight their way free. I found the odd Gecko or two around sheds in Adelaide – in the years I pissed away living in that toilet of a city – and they were always a delight to find and handle.

The only care you need to take is in not accidently squishing the tiny things they really are very delicate.

Their skin – for anyone who has not yet had the pleasure – feels just like rubber. Not the cheap shit either, I’m talking silicon-grade rubber. Sadly for the Gecko this makes wiggling free just that little bit harder since their skin naturally grips your own. Feels great though. On each tiny hand are five tiny, tiny fingers with fat, rounded tips and underneath each tiny fingertip are sticky-pads. These enable the Gecko to walk vertically on almost any surface, even upside-down – horizontally – with no effort at all.

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After our little impromptu photo shoot, I placed him up the side of my tent – out of the rain – and he stayed there for a few hours before suddenly walking down then hopping off the tent and into the undergrowth. No doubt he had pressing lizard matters to attend to before sunset.

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MONITOR MATTERS

@6:03pm

No sign of the Lace Monitor beast around camp today.

Though it’s still light, it is dusk now and the sun is about to set so I suppose we can rule-out any visits from the star of the show, today. I might go for a walk tomorrow and see whether I can find any lizard corpses lying around, but the area is so big and his burrow could anywhere within a radius of kilometers of this camp for all I know.

A forty year old reptile suddenly dying because of one fucking stupid mistake with a 10c plastic bag: bad, bad, bad. Lets hope that’s not the direction this takes, ’cause saying I’d feel guilty about it would be the mother of all understatements.

Rainforest Life: Outing #12 – Day 4
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Jason
Animal-loving cleaner with a parrot.

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