I spent Easter in Western Australia camping along the southern coast and out in the wheatbelt. We spent a couple of nights in the Dryandra Woodland, a remanent patch of eucalypt forest in the wheatbelt. Not a bad place to spend some time, particularly if you are looking for Easter bilbies (more on this next week).
I was trying to take a photo of an inquisitive brushtail possum (something that felt quite strange being a kiwi who is used to trying to kill them) when I spotted two glowing orbs in the darkness. And then they blinked. It was a little bit creepy and it was with some trepidation that I cautiously approached them to see if I could identify the owner (it didn’t help that my partner was winding me up with made-up (I hope!) horror stories of giant Australian nocturnal spiders!). It turned out that we were being watched by a Western spotted frog (Heleioporus albopunctatus) who sat very obligingly for some time while the ecological paparazzi snapped away.
These guys get up to 7.5 cm in length and are pretty solid as far as frogs go. They are found throughout the wheatbelt region of Western Australia and are typically associated with swamps and temporary water bodies. Once the autumn rains begin, males dig burrows up to 1m deep and sit in the bottom calling to attract a mate. Mating occurs at the bottom of the burrow (out of the sight of prying eyes) and the females lay their eggs. The burrows will fill with water after rain and tadpoles hatch out and are washed into larger water bodies where they take 2-3 months to develop into frogs.