Herping the West Coast 2010 (bit of a DUW)

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David Jahn
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Herping the West Coast 2010 (bit of a DUW)

Post by David Jahn »

It's great to see all the FHF precrash re-posts and many new herping trip posts rolling in. I haven't posted much for a while, but since the Norcal mid-summer herping activity slowdown is upon us, I figured it's a good time to throw together some of my own highlights from the first part of 2010. So far this year most of the action has been here in central and northern CA, but I've also had several trips south to S. CA and north to Oregon and Washington. (Some day I need to get a new compass that includes East, and break out of this West Coast rut). At least I've been able to find a few herptiles along the way.

GENERAL NORCAL

Local winter herping was fairly productive, with much of the usual Norcal stuff showing up. After dropping off my daughter in San Jose for a couple hour event, I shot up into the coastal mountains to flip a few rocks, and found this nice CA Giant Salamander. This is the first one I've found, I'm so ashamed it took so long!

Dicamp ensatus
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Rough-skinned newt (Taricha granulosa)
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Arboreal Salamander (Aneides lugubris)
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Young lugubris
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This Rhino turned up in February (Rhinocheilus lecontei)
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Charina bottae
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Hypsiglena torquata nuchalata
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a couple of Bay Area M. lateralis lateralis. (I also have an very nice mental image of the protected M. lateralis euryxanthus periscoping out of the grass at the edge of a trail, but it didn't want to wait around for me to pull out my camera gear to translate the image to digital format...)
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Crotalus oreganus oreganus
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Sight at an old barn of a rattlesnake only partially committed to basking... I think the snake blushed a little as our group was all pointing and laughing at how ridiculous it looked when we first saw it. Aside from that, it stayed completely motionless the whole photo session, including through some close up pictures, apparently thinking was still invisible it if it didn't move.
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T. atratus atratus
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With the unusually cool weather and rainy season lingering late into spring, Norcal was particularly green this spring
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A couple of the more attractive flavors of T. elegans terrestris
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But even more attractive are the CA red-sided garter snakes (T. sirtalis infernalis). Here are several different individuals Sam M, Jim S, and I found.
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At the time, we dismissed this one that Jim found as ugly due to all of the black on top of the head. But upon later review of photos, it had by far the nicest blues of the bunch. Jim, hope you accept our apologies!
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This Yellow-bellied racer (C. constrictor mormon) is bluer than most Blue racers...
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Not a herp, but Jim Scott almost stepped on this while walking through some tall grass. Mom was MIA.
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Pituophis catenifer catenifer
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Nice, reddish gopher snake from near San Jose
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Phrysonoma blainvillii
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At one pond we herped here in July, Jim noticed a couple RLF in reeds and grass a good 5-10 yards from the water, in the middle of the day (very odd for this species to be this far from water this time of year). Rana draytonii
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I went with R. Hoyer to a place in Contia longicaudae (new Forest Sharp-Tail) range where I've herped for a couple years but only found Contia tennuis. He assured me that C. longicauda should be present, and what do you know... next time I returned, a couple weeks later, there she be!
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So, for perspective... total 2010 C. tennuis = 123, total ever C. longicaudae = 1!
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EXTREMELY LOCAL HERPING

As a bonus, living on the edge of town, I'm able to find a number of the more common herps right in my back yard. My daughter turned up this particularly colorful Ensatina while helping me pull out ivy.

Ensatina eschscholtzii croceater
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One of the largest Contia I've seen
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Backyard ringneck (Diadophis punctatus amabilis)
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I always get several king snakes in the yard each year as well. This one particularly liked one of my large boards. After finding it initially on March 9th, I held onto it for a few days to get photos, then released it under another board 30 yards away that housed a family of mice. Then after hanging out there for a few weeks it disappeared, and a couple weeks later turned up back under the original board, where it remained for over a month until 5/27 (supposedly late in the season to be flipping kings). Maybe it'll return again this fall...
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After lifting the brick on the right, I checked under the cement base on the left, finding 3 sharp-tailed snakes.

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After carefully placing the Contia back under the base, I stood up and just then noticed what I'd missed the first time when lifting the brick. What is that IN the brick?!!!

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SIERRA NEVADA MOUNTAINS

Herping the Sierra Nevada mountains in April/May for most herpers means you're targeting Mt. Kingsnakes. (unless you're Sam Murray, where you'd be targeting garter snakes, lol). But there are lots of cool herps to find in the mountains (even the garter snakes), and the scenery just can't be beat.

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L. zonata (multicincta)
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T. couchii
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Love how high the orange goes up the sides on the Coral-bellied ringnecks (Diadophis punctatus pulchellus).
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For the first Sierra snakes of the year, Sam and I both flipped a large, promising rock, finding a Rubber boa/Whipsnake combo.
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T. elegans elegans
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Just after Todd B. asked me whether I ever find young boas that are orange or pinkish, I found my first ones on my next Sierra trip. They apparently lose this coloration quickly after the first couple sheds. In the bay area, all the neonate boas are lighter than adults as well, but colored more light tan/olive.
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SOCAL - MAY 2010

Jim Scott, Sam Murray and I met up with a few other guys in Socal for a great couple days of herping the lower desert and surrounding areas. As we arrived, we made one of the best finds right on the exit ramp as we finally left the freeway. It's always great to start making quality finds just seconds into a herping trip!

M. flagellum piceus
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Socal Phrysonoma blainvillii
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T. hammondii
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Rosy boas
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San Diego Night Snake (Hypsiglena ochrorhyncha klauberi)
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Pseudacris cadaverina
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Banded Rock lizard (Petrosaurus mearnsi), demonstrating its granite-gripping talents. I think it was also mocking us.
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Another
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C. Ruber
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It's been a long time since I've been this stoked to find a gopher snake. But in this case it was a Sonoran (P. c. affinis)
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C. o. annulata
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Phyllorhynchus decurtatus
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One of Todd Battey's friends held onto a pair of Baja Coachwhips Masticophis fuliginosus for us to see and photo
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Right after releasing those coachwhips, the group of us had this 3rd coachwhip leap off of a wall next to us and nearly land on top of us! I think it was because I had focused all my telekinetic and telepathic energies to harmonize at the same wavelength of Masticophis brain waves and direct the snakes into our path , but Jackson claims it was just overshooting a fence lizard...
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OREGON - JUNE 2010

I took a family vacation in OR for a week, spending a few days in the Willamette Valley, Eastern OR, and then Southern OR. I was able to get away a couple times to look for herps. My older daughter and I accompanied Richard Hoyer on his field studies of Rubber Boas one day, where I think we saw 26. I didn't photo any of these since they looked the same as the CA boas I've photographed... but I did photo a good sampling of garter snakes.

Red-Spotted Garter snakes (T. sirtalis concinnus)
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Boring-phase NW garter snake (T. ordinoides, aka T. ordinary)
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Orangish phase NW garter
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Super organish phase
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WYB Racer (C. constrictor mormon)
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Then onto Eastern and then Southern OR
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My daughters and brother made it to the top of this rock while I herped the desert (can you see the 3 of them?)
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Toad that hopped through our campsite right after dark (B. boreas boreas)
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Young N. Pacific Pond turtle, found in the tiny stream above (A. marmorata marmorata)
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T. elegans elegans
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Taricha granulosa
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And just for fun, see if you can determine which of the following 2 photos is a T. elegans and which is a 3-striped phase of T. ordinoides?

(Snake #1)
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(Snake #2)
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WASHINGTON - JULY 2010

While in Seattle for my daughter's soccer tournament last weekend, I was able to break away for a short time and spend an hour to search for some snakes that are new to me. I missed 4 of the 6 snakes I saw (garter snakes in thick grass at edge of thickets = quick reflexes needed), but I found my target of T. sirtalis pickeringii, although wish I'd been able to get photos of a bluer one.

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Hope you enjoyed

David

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Dr. Dark
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Re: Herping the West Coast 2010 (bit of a DUW)

Post by Dr. Dark »

GREAT post!!! Those are without a doubt some of the highest quality photographs I have seen on this forum! Outstanding job!

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rosy-man
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Re: Herping the West Coast 2010 (bit of a DUW)

Post by rosy-man »

great post

Paul White
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Re: Herping the West Coast 2010 (bit of a DUW)

Post by Paul White »

Wow. Some stunning finds.
This may sound weird/perverse but I think my favorite was that ringneck with the funky sides; is that normal for that subspecies?

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Chad M. Lane
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Re: Herping the West Coast 2010 (bit of a DUW)

Post by Chad M. Lane »

Great post Dave! (or is a John? LOL) You've got some great photos this year thanks for posting them!



Cheers,
Chad

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Ross Padilla
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Re: Herping the West Coast 2010 (bit of a DUW)

Post by Ross Padilla »

Wow, what an amazing post! My favorite all year! I thought those CA red sided's were SF Garters at first. Looks like you guys made the best of your So Cal trip. Awesome photos too. :thumb: :beer: :thumb:

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MHollanders
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Re: Herping the West Coast 2010 (bit of a DUW)

Post by MHollanders »

This was definitely one of the better west coast posts I've seen. Love some of that photography.

Later, Matt

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tspuckler
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Re: Herping the West Coast 2010 (bit of a DUW)

Post by tspuckler »

Some of those Garter Snakes are spectacular and your photography is excellent.
It looks like you've found a well-rounded number of herps.
That was a very nice post!

Tim

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Re: Herping the West Coast 2010 (bit of a DUW)

Post by Zach_Lim »

outstanding photography! Although I am a sucker for Z's, those red sided garters were the highlight of the post IMO. Great shots and great finds.

Jim Scott
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Re: Herping the West Coast 2010 (bit of a DUW)

Post by Jim Scott »

Great job Dave. I knew your herp shots were going to be good, but I'm really glad you included the scenery/habitat shots. I think those pictures really bring a reader into the experience. Plus we get tired of seeing the same old boring, ugly animals you post every year. :D

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Erik_NorCal
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Re: Herping the West Coast 2010 (bit of a DUW)

Post by Erik_NorCal »

Awesome post! Great photos! Love the rubber boas. :thumb:

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Knightkrawler5
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Re: Herping the West Coast 2010 (bit of a DUW)

Post by Knightkrawler5 »

Those garters are simply amazing! too much eye candy in this post :thumb:

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Natalie McNear
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Re: Herping the West Coast 2010 (bit of a DUW)

Post by Natalie McNear »

Fantastic shots! It's great to see some awesome NorCal stuff on here; there is not enough! I believe you and I met briefly in person at that one place a month or so ago (I think I was photographing a rattler?)... Always good to meet fellow FHFers in the field.

Keep up the great work. :)

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Jason Hull
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Re: Herping the West Coast 2010 (bit of a DUW)

Post by Jason Hull »

Awesome post David. Great group of animals.

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Fundad
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Re: Herping the West Coast 2010 (bit of a DUW)

Post by Fundad »

Nice Photos, and variety of herps.. :thumb:

Fundad

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liucommajames
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Re: Herping the West Coast 2010 (bit of a DUW)

Post by liucommajames »

nor cal herpers > socal herpers. there. i said it.

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Re: Herping the West Coast 2010 (bit of a DUW)

Post by Zach_Lim »

liucommajames wrote:nor cal herpers > socal herpers. there. i said it.
+1 vote right here haha!
Then again, SoCal got rosys and pulchra...

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Re: Herping the West Coast 2010 (bit of a DUW)

Post by Zach_Lim »

Oh, and another thing, why don't shovel noses follow the red/black rule....damn Chios...

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Casey Lazik
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Re: Herping the West Coast 2010 (bit of a DUW)

Post by Casey Lazik »

David,

Excellent post! I thoroughly enjoyed it. You did the West Coast proud! Snake #1 is T. ordinoides. Snake #2 is T. elegans. Easy to tell by the small head size in the Northwestern. Don't even need to count the 7 upper labials vs. 8 on the elegans.
Thanks for sharing.

Casey

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David Jahn
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Re: Herping the West Coast 2010 (bit of a DUW)

Post by David Jahn »

Thanks everyone, I really appreciate the comments.
Paul White wrote:This may sound weird/perverse but I think my favorite was that ringneck with the funky sides; is that normal for that subspecies?
In my experience it's pretty typical that Coral-Bellies have orange extending 2-3 rows onto the dorsal scales (3 on this individual), and it can be pretty striking on larger snakes. I don't know if that's an official marker, but compare it to 1 row of orange on my D. p. amabilis photo.
Jim Scott wrote:Plus we get tired of seeing the same old boring, ugly animals you post every year.

That's the great thing about having a poor memory... I can enjoy the same herps and take the same photos over and over again for the first time! Lol, that reminds me (occasionally I remember something), after night driving a king snake a couple months ago, Jim rolls his eyes and complains while Sam M. and I decide to break out our camera gear, wasting precious herp activity minutes, "C'mon guys, it's just a king snake, do you really need photos of another one!?" Here Jim, from that night, this photo's just for you. I title it "yet another getula photo".
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Natalie McNear wrote:Fantastic shots! It's great to see some awesome NorCal stuff on here; there is not enough! I believe you and I met briefly in person at that one place a month or so ago (I think I was photographing a rattler?)

Thanks, and it was nice meeting you! I think you had just moved the snake to safety on the side of the road. Glad that it made it safely through at least one more night out there!
liucommajames wrote:nor cal herpers > socal herpers. there. i said it.

:lol: Of course, socal herpers probably would say we're only better because we'll drive farther to get the quality herps (say 400 miles... south...)
Casey wrote:Excellent post! I thoroughly enjoyed it. You did the West Coast proud! Snake #1 is T. ordinoides. Snake #2 is T. elegans. Easy to tell by the small head size in the Northwestern. Don't even need to count the 7 upper labials vs. 8 on the elegans.

Thanks, and yes, this challenge was obviously too easy, I received PMs that all correctly ID-ed these as well. Of course, you guys all live in the NW and see them every day! I did this in the spirit of a post that Jeremiah made a number of years ago, where he had a series of garter snake photos of one species that resembled another species. Sadly that post is long gone... maybe he'll repost it some day.

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Sam Murray
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Re: Herping the West Coast 2010 (bit of a DUW)

Post by Sam Murray »

Awesome stuff Dave! It's nice to see it all in one big spread. The eastern/southern Oregon habitat photos have me salivating. You know... if I squint hard enough I think I can just barely make out a taeniatus in one of those bushes. ;)

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Mathias Holm
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Re: Herping the West Coast 2010 (bit of a DUW)

Post by Mathias Holm »

Wow! Awesome post!! :thumb:

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Re: Herping the West Coast 2010 (bit of a DUW)

Post by mikemike »

liucommajames wrote:nor cal herpers > socal herpers. there. i said it.
+1 more, but I might just be biased since I lived there my entire life... until a week ago.

Great post Dave.

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Fieldnotes
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Re: Herping the West Coast 2010 (bit of a DUW)

Post by Fieldnotes »

very cool :thumb:

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Will Wells
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Re: Herping the West Coast 2010 (bit of a DUW)

Post by Will Wells »

Nice shots! I really enjoyed your post.

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todd battey
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Re: Herping the West Coast 2010 (bit of a DUW)

Post by todd battey »

Great shots, Dave! It was great fun spending some time with you in both northern and southern California. We both know that SoCal is where the really cool herps live (aside from those garter snakes and salamanders and ...). Anyway, great post.

Todd

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David Jahn
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Re: Herping the West Coast 2010 (bit of a DUW)

Post by David Jahn »

Thanks again everyone for the comments.
Sam Murray wrote:Awesome stuff Dave! It's nice to see it all in one big spread. The eastern/southern Oregon habitat photos have me salivating. You know... if I squint hard enough I think I can just barely make out a taeniatus in one of those bushes. ;)
Oh they’re in there. Somewhere.
Zach_Lim wrote:
liucommajames wrote:nor cal herpers > socal herpers. there. i said it.
+1 vote right here haha!
Then again, SoCal got rosys and pulchra...
mikemike wrote: +1 more, but I might just be biased since I lived there my entire life... until a week ago.
todd battey wrote:We both know that SoCal is where the really cool herps live (aside from those garter snakes and salamanders and ...).
lol, and I thought I was pulling us all together by posting herps from all over the state (and west coast), but looks like we’ll have to have a herp-itition to settle this one! Snake hooks and cameras at dawn, pick a date!

David

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RenoBart
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Re: Herping the West Coast 2010 (bit of a DUW)

Post by RenoBart »

This is a great post. I can't wait to get back over there.

Bart

Brian Eagar
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Re: Herping the West Coast 2010 (bit of a DUW)

Post by Brian Eagar »

Sweet post and some excelent pics.
Particularly enjoyed the garters and the coral belly.

Jackson Shedd
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Re: Herping the West Coast 2010 (bit of a DUW)

Post by Jackson Shedd »

Really nice stuff in there, Dave. That Contia with the bill is a whopper!

I know I saw that coachwhip shoot out over that wall, and there was a fence lizard running in the opposite direction, but driving home I remember thinking to myself that after observing you in the field for a few years now, "it just may be the guy has hyperactive MTTEWC (Masticophis Telekinetic and Telepathic Energy-Wavelength Capabilities)."
Right after releasing those coachwhips, the group of us had this 3rd coachwhip leap off of a wall next to us and nearly land on top of us! I think it was because I had focused all my telekinetic and telepathic energies to harmonize at the same wavelength of Masticophis brain waves and direct the snakes into our path , but Jackson claims it was just overshooting a fence lizard...

cherper
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Re: Herping the West Coast 2010 (bit of a DUW)

Post by cherper »

I love to see the variability of the West Coast Garters. What stunners!! I still think those red-sided garters rank as the most beautiful in North America.

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Carl Koch
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Re: Herping the West Coast 2010 (bit of a DUW)

Post by Carl Koch »

Gorgeous photography, and a slew of great finds!!!

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