For my massive 2005-2009 Report see the link: viewtopic.php?f=2&t=4352
Well, as some of you know, I am a self-confessed hoarder (of photos, nothing else!). In truth I haven't posted any of these yet because I wasn't able to find much this year. I mean, I found 23 species of snakes in total and untold numbers of frogs and several lizards species, but most of the serpents were DORs and their more fortunate counterparts were eluding me..
Until I met Kevin I would never have thought to photograph a dead animal, but he soon convinced me and I have been systematically mapping out what snakes I have in my region and where they are located to gain an overal better understanding of what I am searching for ever since. This has lead to some very exciting potential finds for the future.
The main goal of our short expedition in the summer was Ophiophagus hannah, which we failed to find. We were doomed from the start, as this snake is rare in most of its range, especially in China, and the region proved more remote and inaccessible than I had thought. We were also limited on time and supplies, so this will have to wait until a future expedition. Some qualified and known herpetologists from Hongkong found them on a survey of Huaping National Nature Reserve (the edge of which we herped until heavy rains forced us to turn back) ten years prior and the area is still the largest patch of primary rainforest in this part of China.
The bulk of my time was spent in and around the collection of green (provincial level) and red (national level) nature reserves in the north-east of the autonomous region.
Well, enough of my mindless blabbering.. on to what I did find and all of the landscape and cultural shots to give you a glimpse of what my world looks like:
My wife and I arrived in Guilin in early July and headed back to her hometown, about eight hours travel from there, almost immediately after. We were excited to be back, although the air quality had dropped significantly. Many areas of the city had been fixed up, though, as there was a lot of construction going on when we left two and a half years prior. It was already late when we arrived in Suiyi Village, Xincheng County, Laibin Prefecture, a Zhuang minority area.
The next day my wife's parents got us out working early. "O, we haven't seen you for several years.. to the fields!" I didn't mind, though, as it was a good opportunity to survey the lands. The day before I had found a large shed snake skin, but hadn't thought to photograph or take it with me and show Kevin.
My wife was content to work closer to home.
Almost immediately after I left the house I spotted a tree full of these genus Nephila spiders. They get BIG. I have seen a variety of species here in the humid subtropics.
These Fejervarya limnocharis were everywhere amongst the rice paddies and elsewhere. I didn't take too many photos of frogs because my camera had trouble focusing on the small ones.
In the evening I borrowed her mum's electric scooter and somehow made it 30km and back over this large range of mountains with battery left to spare. The technology has improved. This small lake was quite serene. I should have stayed after dark, but until Kevin came I was more of a diurnal herper.
Upon our return to Guilin we found an apartment and moved in some of our old things and then it was time to buy a motorbike! I had sold my old one *cry* and decided to buy a used one, as I still don't have a drivers license and may try for a car in the future. I only had several days to get our apartment ready, find a job, and buy a motorcycle until Kevin arrived.
As soon as I bought a motorcycle my Australian friend John and I were off on a short trip. To get out of the city we had to cross this long, narrow third world bridge (which I know you can't see too clearly in this photo), complete with a troll (old woman charging per vehicle and person). Several days later I decided to cross it with Kevin and with the added weight almost broke through the bridge and flew into the large river that runs through the city.
We made our way to a large reservoir that was created by damming two rivers in a nature reserve and spotted this fisherman preparing his nets.
After a short trek up one of the random roadside trails we decided to have a dip in a small stream where John almost stepped on a Pseudoxenodon bambusicola in 2008 (in February!). Then John was off and my wife and I got settled in and had internet installed just a day before Kevin's arrival. I was really looking forward to it, as no one had ever come to visit me in China - especially not a fellow enthusiast with a lot of experience.
Our photos of these five days may parallel, as I can't see 90% of the photos on Flickr and don't know what he has posted.
Almost immediately after he arrived and a quick lunch we set out. I asked him "Do you need a shower or a rest?" "No, where snake is?!" (or some approximation) was his answer, although he was interested in my wife's cooking.
I decided to take him past the reservoir into Qingshitan Provincial Nature Reserve, a mountainous area (as opposed to the famous Guilin karst peaks) with patches of subtropical broadleaf rainforest at higher elevations and semi-wild plantations of bamboo and banana plants and raging rivers and streams all around.
We decided to randomly turn into a small village and explore one of several trails leading away from it, up into the mountains, and found this gem:
We soon dubbed it the paradise trail for its spectacular scenery, wildlife, and accessibility. At one point we thought that we had trekked several kilometres and were planning to head back to the motorbike I parked near the beginning of the trail and it turned out we were only twenty metres from it! We had been so busy photographing all the spiders, frogs, mantids, waterfalls, etc. that we had assumed a great distance had been traveled.
Kevin, doing his thing.
Me, looking serious..?? Note the huge tree cricket on my hook.
These genus Rubus berries grew at higher elevations and were delicious. We found a large webbed hole near this particular patch, but it looked old. I have yet to find the larger Theraphosid spiders here in China, but plenty of other large carnivorous invertebrates.
The next morning we headed out to Huaping National Nature Reserve to start our main quest for the King Cobra. Kevin has already covered this bit well, so I'll just post my photos.
It was handy to have Kevin's GPS to see how close we were to the reserve and what our elevation was. We stopped at about 1200 metres elevation and immediately found these:
Then it started to pour and wee took shelter under this:
We soon moved on after an interesting encounter with a local and headed down the other side of the mountain we had been navigating.
This trail proved fruitful and we found these:
By now it was almost nightfall and after a niiice dinner we started to road cruise on the way back home and found some interesting DORs and Opisthotropis latouchii, perhaps the strangest snake I've seen.
After that whole motorcycle ordeal we started our next day and quickly found a nice-sized, bitey Sinonatrix percarinata, many juvenile Sphenomorphus indicus, and one larger, adult skink that Kevin was dissappointed we lost (Eumeces elegans or chinensis??):
The last two days went by really quick and Kevin continued his journey south.
Near my home in Guilin city.