Late season finds- Bosque del Apache and points nearby

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bgorum
Posts: 618
Joined: June 7th, 2010, 5:46 am
Location: Albuquerque, NM
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Late season finds- Bosque del Apache and points nearby

Post by bgorum » November 19th, 2012, 8:50 pm

I guess it’s that time of year when we all do our year-end post. I’ve already posted finds from earlier in the season here- http://www.fieldherpforum.com/forum/vie ... =2&t=12878 and here- http://www.fieldherpforum.com/forum/vie ... =2&t=12111. So this post will sum up August through early November.

I had a great summer, and in many ways the season since school started has been anti-climatic, but I’ve had a few interesting encounters nonetheless. Lets start with August 4th and a striped skunk foraging along a levy road at Bosque del Apache.
Image
Gorum_120804_3859 by bgorum, on Flickr
My favorite thing about this photo are the mosquitos buzzing around the poor skunk. I guess misery loves company! If any of you have visited BDA during the summer you know exactly what I’m talking about.

On August 18th I cruised this large male diamondback on a levee road at Bosque del Apache.
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Gorum_120818_0022 by bgorum, on Flickr
The snake had apparently just swam across an adjacent canal, because its rattle was still wet and muffled when it would buzz. That same evening I hiked a smaller male on the refuge, (but didn’t bother to photograph it), and found more tracks as well. My guess is that it was that time of year when the males are out cruising for females.

When I originally set up to take this picture there was a massive female softshell turtle on the log in front of the cormorant that has its head tucked. It however dove into the water before I could take the picture. Its unbelievable how wary softshells at BDA are. They must see lots of people every day, yet they still dive into the water at a moment’s notice!
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Gorum_120818_0026 by bgorum, on Flickr

That evening after leaving BDA I headed south for some road cruising. I actually found a lot of snakes, but they were all the usual suspects and I didn’t bother photographing any of them! As I was heading home I encountered a number of pretty good thunderstorms. This of course brought out the toads like this Couch Spadefoot.
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Gorum_120818_0043 by bgorum, on Flickr

I had an idea for a photograph of a spadefoot with lightning in the sky, (there was a lot of lightning this particular evening!), but the topography and spotty nature of the thunderstorms conspired against me in such a way that the best I could get was this shot, which has far less lightning than I really wanted.
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Gorum_120819_0006 by bgorum, on Flickr
Oh well! It gives me something to work on next summer.

On the 25th Chris Anderson and I headed south for a little herping. We arrived at our destination several hours before sunset and did a little hiking along a canyon that has intermittent water, which is more or less permanent. We found a young Black-necked Garter Snake.
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Gorum_120825_0005 by bgorum, on Flickr

and a Plains Leopard Frog that was doing its best to hide from us.
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Gorum_120825_0014 by bgorum, on Flickr

Once the sun set we began road cruising and the first snake of the night was this young Trans-pecos Ratsnake
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Gorum_120825_0022 by bgorum, on Flickr

From there we cruised west up into a nearby mountain range finding several YOY diamondbacks and this large, well fed Prairie Rattlesnake
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Gorum_120825_0032 by bgorum, on Flickr

September 1st and back at BDA. A number of painted turtles sunning in a log.
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Gorum_120901_0043 by bgorum, on Flickr

Later I saw this skunk’s tail moving through the tall rushes in a dry marsh. For whatever reason I have a real fondness for skunks.
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Gorum_120901_0047 by bgorum, on Flickr
So I put the 300mm lens on the camera, mounted the camera on the tripod, and went after it. The vegetation was so thick I couldn’t really get a good view of it. At one point I got close enough to it that it began to charge me.
Image
Gorum_120901_0057 by bgorum, on Flickr
I was really wishing my 300mm lens was a zoom at this pint because the skunk was really too close for that focal length. Despite their bad reputation the skunk never made any attempt to spray me, despite coming to within a couple meters of me. I’m convinced that they are a lot like rattlesnakes in that you really need to do something extreme to get them to use there defenses.

On the 9th I went for a hike around the base of a volcanic hill where a friend had told me about seeing mating pairs of diamondbacks in September. I found some snake tracks and later found this lone male moving through some sandy grassland/desert scrub towards the hill, but no mating pairs unfortunately.
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Gorum_120909_0073 by bgorum, on Flickr

On the 16th I found this YOY Short-horned Lizard that was temporarily blinded by its shedding skin.
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Gorum_120916_0106 by bgorum, on Flickr

Flipped this neonate coachwhip on the 22nd
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Gorum_120922_0094 by bgorum, on Flickr

A male Prairie Walkingstick, (thank god for bugguide.net) at Bosque del Apache on October 6th
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Gorum_121006_0118 by bgorum, on Flickr

After the hike on which I found the walkingstick I was driving along the tour loop when I looked off to my right at one point and saw two young mountain lions! I only saw them for a few seconds before they disappeared into the coyote willows, no pictures, not even enough time to really contemplate my find. It was actually kind of a letdown ☹, I always figured my first mountain lion sighting would be while I was hiking, maybe even the cat would be stalking me. Now that would be cool!

Juvenile Collared Lizard at the volcanoes on the 7th
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Gorum_121007_0139 by bgorum, on Flickr

Sleepy Orange Butterflies (another thanks to bugguide) at a nearly dry stock pond on the 13th
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Gorum_121013_0157 by bgorum, on Flickr

A really scrawny looking coachwhip flipped that same evening
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Gorum_121013_0180_1_2_tonemapped by bgorum, on Flickr

Rio Grande Cottonwoods beginning to change colors at BDA on the 20th.
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Gorum_121020_0192_3_4_tonemapped by bgorum, on Flickr

On the 28th I went to visit a den in the Manzanos and found this Blacktail sharing a crack with at least two diamondbacks
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Gorum_121028_0203 by bgorum, on Flickr

I watched them for a while and at one point the larger of the two diamondbacks came over to the blacktail and kind of gave it a “smell”.
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Gorum_121028_0223 by bgorum, on Flickr

The diamondback then turned around and crawled back into the crack and the blacktail kind of changed position as if to follow it.
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Gorum_121028_0226 by bgorum, on Flickr

The blacktail then crawled over to the smaller diamondback, gave it a “sniff”, then crawled back into the crack where the large diamondback had crawled
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Gorum_121028_0228 by bgorum, on Flickr
Who the hell knows what’s going on with these snakes?

I’ll close with a sunset from Bosque del Apache, one of my favorite places on the Earth!
Image
Gorum_121103_0230_1_2_tonemapped by bgorum, on Flickr

Thanks for looking. Tomorrow is my last day of work before the Thanksgiving break and temperatures are predicted to be in the 60s, so maybe my year isn’t done yet!

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Norman D
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Joined: November 4th, 2010, 7:10 am
Location: Sonoran Desert

Re: Winter stinks!

Post by Norman D » November 19th, 2012, 9:44 pm

I always enjoy a bgorum post! Great photography, narratives, and in-situ rattlesnakes!

rsmith
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Joined: December 3rd, 2011, 10:07 pm

Re: Winter stinks!

Post by rsmith » November 19th, 2012, 10:25 pm

Wow, those are some of the best pictures I've seen.

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AndyO'Connor
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Joined: June 7th, 2010, 6:14 pm
Location: Pacific Northwest

Re: Winter stinks!

Post by AndyO'Connor » November 20th, 2012, 6:34 am

Some great shots of a beautiful area, thanks for sharing.

ugh
Posts: 457
Joined: June 8th, 2010, 5:46 am

Re: Winter stinks!

Post by ugh » November 20th, 2012, 7:20 am

Fantastic in situ shots and very intriguing social crote observations, those are among the best in my opinion....guess I'd call them 'intangibles' for lack of a better word :beer:

TimCO
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Location: Colorado

Re: Winter stinks!

Post by TimCO » November 21st, 2012, 8:12 am

Amazing shots as always.

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herpseeker1978
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Re: Winter stinks!

Post by herpseeker1978 » November 21st, 2012, 5:40 pm

Did you buy a season pass to BDA? If not, you should... Great shots!

Josh

bgorum
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Re: Winter stinks!

Post by bgorum » November 25th, 2012, 7:52 pm

Thanks for the responses everybody. I wonder if I should edit this and choose a different title? Doesn’t seem to be getting many views or responses. And yes Josh, I did buy an annual pass to Bosque del Apache, though I didn’t get it until last month. I could have paid for several annual passes with all the five dollar bills I put in envelopes going in this summer, but I never seemed to get there while the visitor center was still open. Thats ok though, I certainly don’t mind supporting the refuge financially!

OK, I went ahead and did it, I changed the title. Lets see if that gets me any more views or responses.

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gbin
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Re: Late season finds- Bosque del Apache and points nearby

Post by gbin » November 25th, 2012, 9:30 pm

There are some awesome shots in your post, bgorum! Thanks a lot for sharing them! I especially like your opening photo of the striped skunk.

Probably you just haven't gotten much traffic yet because of the holiday weekend. I bet you start hearing from more fans of your post now that the holiday's ending.

Gerry

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moloch
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Joined: June 16th, 2010, 12:26 pm

Re: Late season finds- Bosque del Apache and points nearby

Post by moloch » November 26th, 2012, 12:22 am

Beautiful photos, bgorum. I can see why that is your favourite place. The habitat looks excellent as did the herps. Loved the shot of the puddling pierids. For me that is always an enticing sight and worth a few photos.

Strange stuff with the rattlesnake interaction. Your photos of this were most interesting.


Regards,
David

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MHollanders
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Joined: June 7th, 2010, 1:32 pm
Location: Houston, TX

Re: Late season finds- Bosque del Apache and points nearby

Post by MHollanders » November 26th, 2012, 3:05 am

Nice! Cool shots, nice molossus/atrox interaction photos, and I'm super of the lion sighting...

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reptilist
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Re: Late season finds- Bosque del Apache and points nearby

Post by reptilist » November 26th, 2012, 7:36 am

I enjoyed your posting very much!

:beer:

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Andrew G
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Location: South-Central Kansas

Re: Late season finds- Bosque del Apache and points nearby

Post by Andrew G » November 26th, 2012, 8:02 am

Great post! A nice array of species plus some fantastic scenery shots. :D

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nhherp
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Joined: August 10th, 2010, 10:25 am
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Re: Late season finds- Bosque del Apache and points nearby

Post by nhherp » November 26th, 2012, 8:43 am

Excellent photo summary! I looked at this under the old title.
I went out to check several other spots on various days during Thanksgiving break, but struck out despite what I thought would be good conditions for a random sunbather.
-N-

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