Big Question Marks

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Leaping Lizards!

Something happened last week in Brisbane where the temperatures suddenly shot way up from the usual 22-degree days to around 28C to 30C. Suddenly we're walking on the shadowy side of the street and everyone's in sundresses again. It's still supposed to be spring for another few months, and there are lots of flowers blooming in true spring spirit. But the best part about this early summertime is it's brought out the lizard population in the city!

Not far from our apartment is the South Bank Parklands, a great strip of grass, trees, walkways, and cafes (and the artificial beach) running alongside the river for many city blocks. Griffith University stands at one end of the parkland and just beyond the campus is a delightful little patch of jungly duckpond, where birds cruise around and kids play in the playground (and teenagers make out). We're well used to all of that scenery, so imagine our surprise when one day, we saw a big fat iguana-like lizard perched on a rock at the edge of the duckpond. And then a bit of movement catches your eye on another rock, and there's a smaller lizard, running on its hind legs in a near-standing position, just like a tiny velociraptor!

It's a lizard-vs-duck world out there.

The paths throughout the parklands are always packed with joggers and cyclists, and now add to that fearless lizards dashing across the pathways, just to make things a little more interesting. They don't appear very afraid of people, and they certainly aren't afraid of birds that are way bigger than them -- I witnessed a magpie vs. lizard standoff one day and the large and nasty magpie (the ones we're afraid of) was the first one to flee.

An unlikely jogging hazard

"Yeah.... what?!"

The former Gondwanaland park
We're not sure if the lizards were just hibernating during the last few months, or if they were holidaying in the Outback or something. But apparently the jungly duckpond area of the parklands was formerly something like a living educational theme park about Gondwanaland, the big prehistoric land mass that all the continents broke off from many eons ago. After the theme park was shut down, the "dinosaurs" of the miniature Gondwanaland (aka. Gondwana Rainforest Sanctuary) were either set free of perhaps escaped -- at least, that's one theory on why there are so many reptiles hanging around the river. But we also saw quite a few lizards sunning themselves on the rocks next to the cliffs of Kangaroo Point (a suburb near South Bank that rises high above the city atop some gorgeous riverside cliffs). It's lizard heaven here in Brisbane: rocks, sunshine, plenty of bugs...what else could a lizard want?

Lizard near the Kangaroo Point cliffs

We even have a resident lizard who's made his home on our own back patio -- a little skittish skink that lives in the raised root of our palm tree, and comes out for sunshine briefly until he's spotted by curious breakfasters peeping into his home. We named him Louie... and promise to snap a photo of him if we're ever quick enough one day.

Garden skink - a spitting image of our backyard pal Louie!
 (image by ozwildlife)