Growing up as a kid, we would often go on camping trips a couple of times a year somewhere out in the outback. I fondly remember back in those days we would see an abundance of wildlife on each trip …from the many different bird species, to numerous ground living marsupials, the usual grazing animals and all sorts of wonderful creatures in between.
And it was the reptiles that were most commonly seen and observed on our travels and as a result, I developed an appreciation of the most, especially Lizards. It is perhaps no surprise then, from this experience growing up and later in life, I had developed a “soft-spot” for these wonderful creatures and after all these years I now find myself teaching and instilling this appreciation into my own two growing boys.
So it is with this post we want to share in an impromptu meeting we had with an Argus Monitor whilst camping at Lake Ballard 230kms north-west of Kalgoorlie, whereby we were ‘accepted’ by a particular monitor we initially watched casually skirt our campsite, to then allow us all to observe all of it’s natural predatory instincts for an hour or so how he/she hunted for food whilst we were in its presence.
What we didn’t know about the salt lake of Lake Ballard before arriving, was around 3pm every afternoon this time of year, the many Argus Monitors (commonly referred to as Yellow Spotted Monitors or Goannas), come out of their burrows after the peak heat of the day and hunt all around the campsite’s sand dunes until dusk then retire back to their burrows.
On our last afternoon before heading back to Kalgoorlie the following morning, a 4ft long Goanna (the boys affectionately name ‘Digby’) appeared. The temperature was starting to cool down and Celia and I were reading a book under a tree when Digby came into our view. We watched it for a moment and it was obvious he was not in the slightest concerned by our presence, neither was he looking for handouts from us. The Goanna carried on as though we were not even there. Meanwhile, both Aidan and Lochie were playing away under a group of Acacia Mulga trees 75M away with some of their toy cars building roads as young boys love to do. (We were all taking a little quiet time, patiently waiting for the sunset to emerge later that evening).
We watched the goanna begin to hunt – with his forked tongue reaching fever-pitch, moving deftly side to side and honing in on his next victim. I’ve taken plenty of images of monitors before but not while hunting, as they are “fight or flight” animals and they mainly flight – but not this one. I grab my camera and attach the 90mm lens and walk over to the where we last saw the Goanna about 40M from camp. At first, he was not too sure about me. He did not flee but rather froze, half in the fight pose I’m guessing. I stood still at this point trying not to exchange eye contact for a couple of minutes and eventually he determined we meant him no harm and went back to hunting – so we carefully followed, from a distance. We watched him find, dig and eat at least 20 Jewel Beetles, at least 2 Scorpions we could make out, one large dead Scorpion (carrion) and numerous grasshoppers in the space of an hour or so …
Below are 9 images from this encounter – which is your favourite image? Please comment in the comment section and all images are numbered from 1.0 – 9.0.
Image 1.0 ↓
Picking up and honing in on a scent trail – Copyright Geoff Hunter
Image 2.0 ↓
Those Claws! Doing what Goannas do best, dig – Copyright Geoff Hunter
Image 3.0 ↓
“Tasting the air” – Copyright Geoff Hunter
Image 4.0 ↓
Finds something new – starts digging.
Image 5.0 ↓
Thrusting the sand away …
Image 6.0 ↓
Constantly on the lookout and was always aware of surroundings.
Image 7.0 ↓
Did you know some Monitors/Goannas can stand – almost Kangaroo-like? This was at the point Lochie joined Aidan & I watching him and was running towards us in noisy flip-flops. The noise prompted the Goanna to stop, standup and obtain a better perspective of what the noise was about When the Goanna saw Lochie he went straight back to his business. Copyright Geoff Hunter
Image 8.0 ↓
“Come here” – another meal. Copyright Geoff Hunter