The vehicle swiftly pulled over and did a U-turn on the Arnhem Highway, somewhere in Kakadu between the South Alligator and Mary Rivers, Northern Territory.
Frilly was still there, standing up with that upright posture that dragon lizards (agamids) have.
Slowly, quietly, we all got out of the vehicle, cameras primed. Eight people clung to the vehicle edges, trying not to break the outline.
But dragons have sharp eyes. They are visual hunters, with full colour vision, and they don’t miss much.
Before a single camera could click, Frilly was off: speeding towards the Kakadu savannah woodland like a bullet.
“Watch her, don’t take your eyes off her!” I called. I don’t know Frilled-necked Lizards well, but I know dragons. When threatened, they will use their speed to dash to a tree or refuge and disappear right in front of your eyes. Frillies are big, arboreal dragons, so I figured it would be a tree.
She disappeared on the opposite side of a eucalypt. We waited until she had settled then went over.
She had disappeared. We looked and looked, checked that we were looking at the correct tree, and looked again. Finally one of us saw her. We were all looking on the right tree, but her camouflage was so good, and she was so still, that she was almost impossible to find.
Frilled-necked Lizards Chlamydosaurus kingii spend most of their time in trees in Kakadu. They are very safe there, and use the height to scan the ground for prey – which is mostly insects. Frill-necks are very agile, and will jump straight onto the ground to catch insects.
When we saw this Frilly, she was on the road – maybe moving between trees, or looking for an easy meal.
The famous frill is used as a threat display, and to regulate their body temperature. Watch:
This gorgeous Frilled-necked Lizard was one of many reptiles seen on the 6 day Wild Top End tour, in Kakadu National Park.
NOTES & REFERENCES:
Great info here: https://www.aboutanimals.com/reptile/frilled-lizard/