Dispatches from the field: South Australia tree skink reconnaissance

By Julia Riley

The Tree Skink (Egernia striolata) field crew has just returned from fieldwork in South Australia. We (Julia, James, Martin and Dan) were checking out two new field sites for potential long-term monitoring of social systems.

Our trip began by flying to Adelaide, and even though it was Good Friday Adelaide ended up being quite the bustling place! First, we drove to Para Wirra Recreation Park, through beautiful Barossa Wine country that was filled with both grape vines and herds of sheep. At Pirra Wirra, Tree Skinks inhabited crevices in rock outcrops along a dry(ish) river bed. We spotted many lizards, and even were able to capture a few! They were very skittish and seemed to know what we were on about!

After Para Wirra, we headed to Birds Australia Gluepot Reserve. It was quite a trek, as the driveway to Gluepot was 50 km long over desert sand! I got my first glimpses of Emus and Western Grey Kangaroos during that drive. Gluepot is Mallee Scrubland as far as the eye can see, and is also one of the few places left where Mallee Fowl and Scarlet-chested Parrots visit. Tree Skinks at Gluepot inhabit crevices and hollow dead branches of Eucalyptus trees. We spotted many skinks at this site! We even spotted some trees with multiple individuals in them – up to 4 individuals basking on one tree! We found a convenient spot to set up a long-term study site at Gluepot, and even started setting it up.

There were so many skinks abound that we got our work done quickly, and were back in Sydney 5 days earlier than expected. Great news! But, I was also a bit sad to leave beautiful Gluepot and the quiet desert. I am very excited that I am lucky enough to return in spring! Next stop: Albury, NSW!

Click on the image to see photos from the field trip

Click on image to see photos of tree skinks (Egernia striolata).

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