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 Post subject: So Far in the Sonoran
PostPosted: March 15th, 2012, 4:58 pm 
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Joined: July 3rd, 2010, 8:05 am
Posts: 222
Location: Phoenix, AZ
I’m currently contracted through the Arizona Game and Fish Department to camp out in the desert, ten days on four days off, monitoring a bald eagle nest. For someone who has recently moved to Arizona for the state’s natural history, this job is a wonderful way to start my residency. I’m situated in a riparian corridor and surrounded by mountains that provide me numerous biotic communities to explore. The past two months haven’t seen many herps, other than common side-blotched lizards and tree lizards, but the past couple of weeks things have heated up and I’m starting to see a bit more diversity.

Of the following photos, some are just crummy phone pics I took for NAFHA records, while others I put some effort into…this should be obvious.

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Desert banded geckos were found occasionally throughout the winter under cover.

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This greater earless lizard was an early spring find.

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The first snake of the season was this Smith’s black-headed snake.

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About a week ago, I was happy to see this regal horned lizard scurrying across the road.

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A walk up a beautiful spring fed wash near my camp resulted in this long sought lifer stretched out in the sun.

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The black-necked garter snake might not be a big deal to other herpers, but it’s a species I’ve alwas wanted to see.

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The walk back to camp got me a glimpse of a Sonoran whip snake that was just too fast for me to get my hands on, as well as this retired desert tortoise.

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Just before coming home the other day, I found a beautiful canyon, with a seemingly permanent stream running through it, where I came across this red-spotted toad. This place looked amazing, but it was getting dark and I had to get back to camp, needless to say, I can’t wait to get back and explore the area further.

Since I’m in the field ten days in a row, my time at home is mostly spent enjoying the company of my dog and my girlfriend. Luckily, while chasing herps around might not be her thing, she does like to play outside. This allows me to get a little coincidental herping in.

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Yesterday we went mountain biking where we found this crossing the trail. Diving for a desert patch-nosed snake while clipped into the pedals of your mountain bike doesn’t look too graceful.

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Excited by having just life listed the patch-nose, I had to have a closer look at some sunny boulders along the trail. Almost immediately, I was greeted by this big atrox that was out on the crawl.

I’m back into the field for another ten days starting tomorrow, and I can’t wait to see what turns up.

Michael Cravens


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 Post subject: Re: So Far in the Sonoran
PostPosted: March 15th, 2012, 5:05 pm 

Joined: July 2nd, 2010, 5:48 pm
Posts: 603
Location: AZ.
Good for you...and lucky and happy is the man whom enjoys his work! Vic


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 Post subject: Re: So Far in the Sonoran
PostPosted: March 15th, 2012, 5:31 pm 
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Joined: June 7th, 2010, 7:08 pm
Posts: 542
Location: Montana
Sweet, I was wondering when we'd see your first AZ post. Sounds like a sweet job for the right person. One question, are you worried about the heat kicking your ass camping later in the summer? I'm sure this has been thought over already, just curious.
I look forward to up coming posts.

The black neck is cool...lifer and all, but love that Tantilla.


-Dell


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 Post subject: Re: So Far in the Sonoran
PostPosted: March 15th, 2012, 5:40 pm 
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Joined: June 7th, 2010, 3:44 pm
Posts: 2623
Location: Ventura, CA
Great gig! :thumb: :) 8-)


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 Post subject: Re: So Far in the Sonoran
PostPosted: March 15th, 2012, 6:58 pm 
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Joined: July 3rd, 2010, 8:05 am
Posts: 222
Location: Phoenix, AZ
Thanks Guys!

Dell, the job is over when the nestlings leave the nest, likely sometime in June. It will get hot, but I typically handle heat well, so I imagine I'll survive.

Michael Cravens


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 Post subject: Re: So Far in the Sonoran
PostPosted: March 15th, 2012, 7:31 pm 
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Joined: June 8th, 2010, 8:30 am
Posts: 652
Location: Clifton, Arizona
Awesome gig!
Those cyrtopsis are beautiful!


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 Post subject: Re: So Far in the Sonoran
PostPosted: March 15th, 2012, 9:11 pm 

Joined: June 7th, 2010, 12:37 pm
Posts: 1207
Location: Ft. Smith, Arkansas
Sounds like a pretty awesome situation, Michael! Looking forward to seeing what else pops up for you.


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 Post subject: Re: So Far in the Sonoran
PostPosted: March 16th, 2012, 6:30 am 
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Joined: June 7th, 2010, 7:08 pm
Posts: 542
Location: Montana
MichaelCravens wrote:
monitoring a bald eagle nest

Hope we get to see a few photos of neonates, and the nest they reside in.

Are Arizona bald eagle numbers so low they need to monitor the nest?

-Dell


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 Post subject: Re: So Far in the Sonoran
PostPosted: March 16th, 2012, 7:58 am 
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Joined: June 8th, 2010, 12:54 pm
Posts: 259
Location: Colorado
I love that shot of the tortoise shell. The rest are ok too ;)


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 Post subject: Re: So Far in the Sonoran
PostPosted: March 16th, 2012, 8:21 am 
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Joined: June 7th, 2010, 5:46 am
Posts: 327
Superb !


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 Post subject: Re: So Far in the Sonoran
PostPosted: March 16th, 2012, 8:37 am 
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Joined: July 3rd, 2010, 8:05 am
Posts: 222
Location: Phoenix, AZ
Thank you everyone for the comments! They are appreciated.

Dell, there are 60+ breeding pares in the state and are stable. At one time numbers were low enough to make a program like mine unquestionably necessary, now there are varying opinions. Almost all of these birds are along only two rivers, rivers that see heavy public recreation. That in itself justifies a level of protection. I'll get pics when we band the nestlings and be sure to share them here.

Michael


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 Post subject: Re: So Far in the Sonoran
PostPosted: March 16th, 2012, 5:47 pm 

Joined: July 14th, 2011, 8:18 am
Posts: 402
Location: Denver, CO
nice smith's black-headed :) the eagles sound pretty cool, too
-Ian


Last edited by SnakeDude on March 17th, 2012, 12:01 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: So Far in the Sonoran
PostPosted: March 17th, 2012, 9:48 am 
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Joined: February 6th, 2012, 7:24 pm
Posts: 77
Michael,

sent you a PM.


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 Post subject: Re: So Far in the Sonoran
PostPosted: March 17th, 2012, 10:20 pm 
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Joined: June 8th, 2010, 11:13 pm
Posts: 1868
Location: A Sovereign TX Enclave in the Greater Kansas City Area
Was the gecko "caudal luring" when the photo was taken?


MichaelCravens wrote:
Of the following photos, some are just crummy phone pics I took for NAFHA records, while others I put some effort into…this should be obvious.



The only way the difference was obvious was that you added your signature to the "effort" pics...I don't think you ever post bad photographs.


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 Post subject: Re: So Far in the Sonoran
PostPosted: March 18th, 2012, 7:17 am 

Joined: June 8th, 2010, 7:12 am
Posts: 6988
Location: Hesperia, California.
Great post! If I ever move from the Mojave... it would be to the Sonoran... :D jim

PS... I SO want a job like yours... :crazyeyes: :D


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 Post subject: Re: So Far in the Sonoran
PostPosted: July 1st, 2012, 6:00 am 
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Joined: June 8th, 2010, 4:51 am
Posts: 176
Location: Chicago, Illinois
Michael, I had somehow missed this series. Looks like a cool job. I can't wait to see the next 2 parts. I also like the fact that you appreciate Garter Snakes. Peter B.


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