TIMOR-LESTE 2012

Victor Valley College Tropical Research Initiative
Herpetofauna of Timor-Leste
Phase VII

Nancuro, Manatuto District

This road from Natarbora junction to Nancuro was through a area of new rice-paddies which we had not noticed on our previous visit to the proposed reserve.

 

 

Rice paddies on the road to Nancuro

We then entered an area of grass much higher than our Troopies, before crossing several bridges and entering the forest. Our progress was eventually stopped, as previously, by a tree-fall, one of several we would pass as we walked the remainer of the trail to the beach itself.

We have visited the Nancuro proposed reserve on one previous phase:
For Phase IV (wet season 2011) click here

Nancuro proposed reserve
mouse-over to view Google Earth satmap
click to view large topomap

 

Through high grass Across ricketty bridges
To be stopped by treefalls The Nancuro beach

 

The author, fully equiped: Padded M1 tongs, snake bags, GPS

 

Nancuro Forest had been productive for us in the past and this visit was no exception. Amongst the invertebrates we found centipedes, the buthid Wood scorpion (Lychas mucronatus), and a stick-insect mimic praying mantis.

Inverts from Nancuro
Stick-insect mimic praying mantis Timor wood scorpion
Lychas mucronatus

The commonest amphibians encountered were the numerous toadlets of the Asian black-spined toad (Duttaphrynus melanostictus) but we also found the Striped treefrog (Polypedates cf. leucomystax) and Andrew collected two juvenile Pumpkin frogs (Kaloula cf. baleata) which were our first outside the convent grounds suggesting the species was native and not introduced with materials for the convent gardens. As they hop, these small round frogs expose flash-markings like eye spots on their thighs and rear, intending to intimidate a potential predator.

Amphibians from Nancuro
Asian black-spind toad (juvenile)
Duttaphrynus melanostictus
Striped treefrog
Polypedates cf. leucomystax
Pumpkin frog (juvenile)
Kaloula cf. baleata
Pumpkin frog (flash-markings on thighs)
Kaloula cf. baleata

Lizards were legion!
In the two days we found Four-fingered skinks (Carlia sp.3) with reddish brown heads, several large large Sun skinks (Eutropis multifasciatus), and both males and females of the Forest skink (Sphenomorphus cf. melanopogon) although curiously it seems to be the females that bore the black throat markings, and many small Sphenomorphus which may be juveniles or a different species. We were especially pleased to capture a specimen of Leschenault's snake-eyed skink (Cryptoblepharus leschenault).
We also obtained our first Nancuro Bent-toed geckos (Cyrodactylus sp.8), a male and a female.

Lizards from Nancuro
Four-fingered skink
Carlia sp.3
Sun skink
Eutropis multifasciatus
Forest skink (female)
Sphenomorphus cf. melanopogon
Forest skink (male)
Sphenomorphus cf. melanopogon
Forest skink
Sphenomorphus sp.
Leschenault's snake-eyed skink
Cryptoblepharus leschenault
Bent-toed gecko (male, with regenerating tail)
Cyrtodactylus sp.
Bent-toed gecko (female)
Cyrtodactylus sp.

 

The forest trail A typical hollow log, home to skinks and snakes

 

The forest should also be excellent for snakes. In the past we had failed to capture a Timor bronzeback (Dendrelaphis inornatus timorensis) but our best find was a Ground snake (Stegonotus sp.), clearly a new species of this primarily Melanesian genus which had not previously been recorded from Timor.

As previously it was a call of "snake" from Caitlin that set everyone running towards her location. Inside a hollow log in the darkness was another Ground snake which I was able to capture by crawling part way in and grabbing it. Shortly after Caitlin called again, she had another smaller snake trapped behind some tree-bark 1.0 m off the ground. It was another Ground snake, a juvenile this time. On top of this we also captured a Lesser Sunda pitviper (Trimeresurus insularis) in a large pile of brush.

Snakes from Nancuro
Ground snake (juvenile)
Stegonotus sp.
Ground snake (adult)
Stegonotus sp.
Lesser Sunda pitviper
Trimeresurus insularis
mouse-over image
Padded Midwest M1 tongs
(www.tongs.com)
are ideal for catching venomous snakes without injury to snake or fieldworker

 

Nancuro had once again been a resoundingly productive location and we believe it still has secrets to reveal.