Sleeping Lizards and Giant Stick Insects

Carly and I recently spent a few weeks in the UK and upon our return we were too busy to go out and about looking for wildlife.

When we finally had a free saturday we woke up to the sound of the wind howling past our windows. All day the weather was terrible and the gusty winds had dropped the temperature and humidity right down. This is not good when you’re looking for snakes…..they’re not fans of the cold dry weather!

Despite the terrible conditions we decided to go out and see what we could find. When we got to our spot we began to doubt if we’d see anything at all, the path was covered in debris ranging from ankle deep leaves and twigs in some parts, to whole tree limbs accross the path in others. Nevertheless, we kept heading up the hill, hoping that something was out there….

The first animal we spotted was a beautiful, sleeping Chinese water dragon  (Physignathus cocincinus). Usually, they are on the end of tree limbs, but this one was hunkered down in the centre of the tree, clinging to a sturdy branch.  I started to wonder if everything else was hiding like this too…

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERALuckily enough, not everything was hiding away, and a little later on Carly spotted this Forest Lizard (Calotes emma) asleep on a small branch. Carly said he looked like a character from a Disney movie! I had to agree, the little guy looked very cute, eyes closed as if deep asleep in a land of dreams : )OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe only non-sleeping reptilian find for the night was this Siamese Leaf-toed Gecko (Dixonius siamensis)OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAfter the gecko, we came across a tree limb that had fallen accross the path, and rather than crawl under or through it we decided to head into the forest on another path. I’m glad that we did….OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERANot far into the forest, something, WHIZZED past my head! Usually, this type of occurrance can be attributed to a nosey bat.  This time though, it wasn’t a bat and Carly excitedly grabbed me and turned me around pointing into a tree further down the path.

There it was, perched on a small branch, looking back at us with pooling black eyes, this Collared Scops-owl (Otus lettia) OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe absolute highlight of the evening though had to be when Carly spotted a behemoth of a stick insect…..and I couldn’t resist picking it up for a closer look.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA I was about to return it to the bush where it came from when I spotted a second, even bigger, stick insect on the same bush! It was so well camouflaged that I only noticed it when I almost released the first one on top of it. I couldn’t beleive my luck!OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThis was the first time that we had visited this area at night and not seen a snake and I have to admit that I was a bit gutted.  Even though deep down I knew the conditions weren’t right; and it was our 13th visit, I still felt disappointment.  Despite the sparse encounters that evening, the wildlife we did see more than made up for the lack of serpentine sightings that night and I think you could agree.

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