Wednesday, October 24, 2012

California Snorkeling & Herping

This post is somewhat late, since all this took place in early September (a month and a half ago), but we wanted to put up our pics of snorkeling and herping in southern California for your enjoyment. The snorkeling is at La Jolla Cove and the herping is in Riverside and San Diego Counties.
 A view from inside the cove in the morning
Mix of cormorants and sea lion feces.
Silly stingray thinks it's hidden
 Out in the open and surrounded by sea grass
 A fully torqued sea lion (above)
Sea lion and seal share the same spot (below)
 Checking me out made me a little nervous.
 Leopard shark (below) just passing by.
The cove is full of leopard sharks swimming in the shallows
Nothing better than a day full of snorkeling and herping....time for some land species. We found the below Boreal Toad near Lake Perris.
This was a small long-nosed snake we've found. 
Anza-Borrego and its surroundings are home to 4 rattlensnake species. We discovered 3 of them this trip. Below is a Red Diamond Rattlesnake we found in the lower flats.
Habitat shot of an oasis in the arid desert.
Bighorn sheep running up the rocks.
This one had a radio collar.
Apparently, this isn't the time of year for mountain kingsnakes that inhabit the higher elevations above the desert floor, but we did find some Pacific treefrogs, Western fence lizards, and Western skinks.
Glossy snake
The second rattlesnake species in the area, a sidewinder. 
A second, smaller sidewinder was found later. This one had nice coloring.
And the third rattlesnake species, a pretty little Speckled Rattlesnake. The Southern Pacific wasn't found this time around, but 3 out of 4 ain't bad.
A neonate Lyre Snake found on the same stretch of road as the above rattlesnake.
Anza-Borrego is one of the best places to go if you want to find Spotted Leaf-nosed Snakes. 
The most frustrating part of the trip was finding a very large (for the species) California Black-headed Snake out on the crawl at night, with half its body in a crevice and half sticking out. We found it on a rock face while looking for Granite Night Lizards. It managed to escape in between the time we captured it and the time we made it back to the car for the camera. Huge disappointment! (I jacked the below pic as a demo, not the actual one)
We did, however, find what we were looking for in the way of Granite Night Lizards, although it was just a single specimen.
You get the point. I love those odd. They behave like geckos, but are so flat and fun-looking. Anyway, that sums are our weekend of snorkeling and herping!

Saturday, September 8, 2012

A Little Cruising

Devin and I caught this little rubber boa while cruising the canyon roads of northern Utah. 
A couple minutes later on a different road, we saw this Great Basin rattlesnake getting crazy with strikes and rattling loudly.
Devin moved back to California after that, but my friend Keegan and I cruised up this bloke in the Alpine Loop.
We heard some rustling while photographing the rubber boa. A quick investigation on the source of the sounds revealed two big porcupines. One wattled into the bushes, but the other stuck around, so I manipulated it out in the open for quick snapshot.
We used Keegan's basketball shorts to get some quills.
While I was fooling around with porcupines, Devin was over in California doing some road cruising of his own. 
A pretty little night snake.
Devin also cruised a Speckled Rattlesnake.
Road cruising together would have to wait a bit longer until I could find some time to fly to California.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Salamander Update

Remember when I was in Oregon in April and caught that salamander larvae that I couldn't identify? Yes, it was the naughty one that ate the three tiny tadpoles that were transported in the water bottle with it. Fluffy was her name.
Well, Fluffy is loving life, and she has since metamorphosed into a beautiful and healthy adult salamander. I wondered if she was a newt larvae, but as it turns out, that little larvae that I caught at Champoeg State Park was in reality a Western Long-toed Salamander. Here she is below on my hand.
 She enjoys eating crickets and worms and spending time with Jasmine and Jonathan, two Ensatinas that she shares her home with. She also likes sitting in that "pond" under the stick and poking her head up to breathe.
One of the Oregon Ensatinas patrolling the enclosure. They also love their crickets. That's all....just an update.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

St. George Encore

It's no secret why Devin and I decided to go back down to St. George the very next weekend. We caught 3 Reticulated Gila Monsters a couple weeks back, and we've been itching to catch our first Banded Gila Monster. As the sign below would indicate, we're in the right place. But the daytime weather this weekend was right around 100 degrees, quite different than a week ago. But to save you the anxiety, no, we were skunked once again and would not see a Heloderm this weekend. We did see other herps.
Getting into town a little late, we missed herp rush hour for road cruising and instead focused on getting warmed up with a few amphibs. Following a high-pitched whistle sound led us to some Woodhouse's Toads at the edge of a pond.
We also cracked the case of the tadpoles from the week before. They were Red-spotted Toads, like this little guy.
Then, to our shock and disgust, we located some Pacific Treefrogs behaving inappropriately. Their calls were pretty loud and overwhelming, but we did hear the intermingled low-pitch "bum, bum" of bullfrogs and saw a big boy sitting at the edge of the water that quickly leapt into the weedy abyss.
Is there a better way to start the morning than by finding a rattlesnake freshly killed by a nature-lover's rock?  Oh, there is? Oh. Well, that's how this morning began. Why do people that come out into the wilderness to enjoy nature then see fit to destroy it when they see it? I don't get it.
We can always be cheered up by the friendly face of a big ol' male tortoise. This pic is in situ.
Check out this guy's gular shields that curve up past his face! You know what they say about big gular shields...
A non-herp, but my first time seeing this mammal out "on the crawl". Can you see her?
Cropped and zoomed in, a better look at the Kit Fox.
Two tortoise burrows next to each other and partially concealed by grasses.
And not far from them, we found this female tortoise that lives there. Her fresh tracks can be seen in the sand from when she just emerged.
The heat brought us to the river, where we managed to sneak up on and capture this duck-billed water bird. A rare find, this elusive water fowl quacked in joy to being warmed by my hands.
Psh! I didn't even want to see softshell turtles anyway. What else lives in these waters? Is that a muskrat swimming toward me? No, it just turned out to be some other smaller species of rat that apparently likes to swim and dive underwater when pursued. I have often heard the phrase of looking like a "drowned rat", but perhaps this puts a face to the name. (No animals were harmed during the taking of these photographs.)
Back to herps. This mating pair of Desert Horned Lizards were seen together from our car near the Utah/Arizona border.
The male has the broader tail base. Love his coloring.
The female has a narrower tail, and she had more pinkish coloration.
Devin and I have become good at finding Lyre Snakes, and they've become a staple. We found this one further north than any other specimen we've found, basically at the northern end of its range and fairly high in elevation. We always find them in relatively high areas, always rocky, sometimes partially wooded.
Devin actually got bit by it, but unfortunately not bad enough to study the effects of a mild invenomation. Lyre Snakes are always notorious for being uncooperative for photo shoots.
And here's what a Great Basin Rattlesnake from southern Utah looks like when its head is not smashed by a hiker's rock.
Licking the air to taste for clues. That's my Old Spice you're smelling.
A final shot of this Great Basin Rattlesnake from the Utah/Arizona border, which is close to the southern limit of its range. It would've been ideal to find a Banded Gila Monster, but we love the journey regardless.