Danngarr is the Kundedjnyenghmi language name of the frilled lizard Chlamydosaurus kingii but Aboriginal people often refer to it in Aboriginal english as “the blanket lizard.”
Danngarr carries his blanket tucked back along his body most of the time, but when cornered he erects it into a large and colourful cape in the centre of which is an open mouth with a few very sharp teeth and a bright yellow gullet. This specimen was sitting on the side of the road as I drove along a rough bush track on the Arnhem Plateau on the weekend but as I approached he quickly dashed to the nearest tree and disappeared around the back. I know his habits of old from when I was a young feller working with Aboriginal guys on a forestry project near Maningrida. Around the time of the first rains Danngarr comes down from his usual arboreal haunt and hunts around for insects on the ground. As we used to drive out to work each morning my fellow workers were amazing at spotting Dangarr sprinting to the nearest tree while we were travelling at about 60kph. With a mid morning snack in mind they would approach the tree from the blindside and then quickly duck around the other side and grab the lizard by the tail. Mostly the lizard would only be at about chest height but if the quick grab technique didn’t work then short sticks were employed to knock the lizard out of the upper branches. Often we’d arrive at the work site with five or six lizards in the back of the truck. A very white meat and a bit like dry and stringy chicken but quite tasty. Danngarr with blanket erect was a mascot creature for the Sydney Olympic games and also had a gig on the reverse of the Australian 2c coin. Japanese tourists in the Top End are always very keen to see Danggarr. As well as being used for a defensive threat pose, the blanket is also used for thermo-regulation. They are large lizards and grow to about 85cm.

You don’t expect a wildlife photo opportunity in Brisbane’s CBD when on the way to photograph a wedding. But it happened in a small bit of very manicured parkland off Wickham Terrace in Brisbane. Just beside the path amongst the mulch and irrigation pipes was a very tiny Bush Stone-curlew chick and its parents. The chick hurried over to mum while dad made it plain they didn’t want to be disturbed, putting on a very effective threat display, including sound effects. While the Bush Stone-curlew (Burhinus grallarius) is doing well across north Australia, both in town and bush as far south as Brisbane, the latest information from Birdlife Australia is that it is declining in both New South Wales and Victoria. Closer to home, a tragic footnote to my blog on the Bush Stone-curlew sitting on two eggs in the front yard of a religious hostel at the end of my street. On my morning walk today, not far from the nest site, I found the mother bird standing over the bodies of the two tiny chicks on the roadway — victims of traffic and the reliance of BSCs on camouflage. The father bird was standing nearby on the footpath but the mother wouldn’t leave the dead chicks and get out of the traffic. I moved them to the grassy footpath and left the parents to their obvious state of grief.