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Garter grand slam in just 1 hour

Posted: May 5th, 2013, 8:28 pm
by jonathan
I went bear hunting with my dad in southern Oregon last week, and we passed through Del Norte County on the way.

On the east shore of the Smith River (just a little north of where Highway 199 crosses it), I flipped an Oregon Garter Snake, T. atratus hydrophilus.

Garter #1: 19 mid-body scale rows, 8 upper labials, and 10 lower labials:

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rest of photos here: http://www.naherp.com/viewrecord.php?r_id=144594




Then I flipped another rock a couple feet away, and got one with completely different coloration. This appears to be the Coast Garter Snake (T. elegans terrestris)

Garter #2: Mid-body scale rows 18/19, upper labials 8, lower labials 10.

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rest of photos here: http://www.naherp.com/viewrecord.php?r_id=144595




I headed inland from the river a few hundred yards, when I got to an interesting habitat with rocky formations in a clearing. I flipped three garters there, all of which appear to be Northwestern Garters (T. ordinoides), though their counts and coloration are all over the place.

Garters #3 and #4

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#3: 17 scale rows, 8 upper labials, 9/10 lower labials

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#4: 17 scale rows, 8 upper labials, 8 lower labials

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rest of photos here: http://www.naherp.com/viewrecord.php?r_id=144600




Garter #5: 17 mid-body scales, 7/8 upper labials, 8/9 lower labials

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rest of photos here: http://www.naherp.com/viewrecord.php?r_id=144606




Finally, I hiked along the road a little ways further, and flipped another garter double under a rock. This time I got a Valley Garter Snake (T. sirtalis fitchi), along with another Northwestern.


Garter #6:

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Garter #7: 17 mid-body scale rows, 7 upper labials, 8 labials

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rest of photos here: http://www.naherp.com/viewrecord.php?r_id=144618




4 species, including a lifer subspecies, all within 350 yards and 1 hour. I really didn't expect that!

Re: Northwestern Garters or Western Terrestrial Garters?

Posted: May 5th, 2013, 8:48 pm
by Fieldnotes
WoW! You hit the Garter Snake Bonanza.

#1. Oregon Aquatic
2. Perhaps a Valley Garter or Terrestrial. ???
3. Northwestern
4. Northwestern
5. Northwestern
6. Valley / Northwestern Hybrid... Upper body that of Valley Garter while the latter portion is Northwestern Gater...
a very strange snake indeed :thumb:
7. Northwestern

Re: Northwestern Garters or Western Terrestrial Garters?

Posted: May 5th, 2013, 8:52 pm
by Joshua Wallace
Although I have never herped down in that area, I am very familiar with the three species of garter you are working with here although not the coast garter subspecies of elegans. Here are my ID's

Garter #1: T. atratus

Garter #2: T. elegans -

Garters #3 and 4: Both are T. ordinoides

Garter #5: T. ordinoides

Garter #6: T. sirtalis - I edited this one. The other snake in the photo confused me when looking at it.

Garter #7: T. ordinoides



How was the bear hunt?

Re: Northwestern Garters or Western Terrestrial Garters?

Posted: May 5th, 2013, 8:58 pm
by Joshua Wallace
I see that strange one got you as well Fieldnotes. :mrgreen:

Re: Northwestern Garters or Western Terrestrial Garters?

Posted: May 5th, 2013, 9:03 pm
by Fieldnotes
Josh and I hit the post at about the same time. Iā€™m bowing out from Number#2 since i have seen neither Valley nor Terrestrial Garters in Del Norte County. So, I think the only one that is arguable is the Valley X Northwestern Hybrid... that snake is awesome! :D Josh says T. sirtalis, I say an Awesome Hybrid ... If it got me Josh, I will never tell ;)

Re: Northwestern Garters or Western Terrestrial Garters?

Posted: May 5th, 2013, 9:39 pm
by El Garia
The odd looking one... #6. I'm going to say Valley Garter.

I agree with both Joshua and FN on #1. Definitely atratus. If you look at the eye, it has a more 'fish-like' appearance to it, which is probably the best indicator for atratus.

Re: Northwestern Garters or Western Terrestrial Garters?

Posted: May 5th, 2013, 10:03 pm
by jonathan
That's awesome! I didn't even think about T. atratus being a possibility. Too much time in southern California and northern Oregon! That ones a subspecies lifer for me.

So the question is now whether #2 is a T. elegans or a T. sirtalis?

If it's elegans, then I got all 4 garter species in 1 hour, with 2 five feet apart and the other 2 under a single rock just 350 yards away? Dang, that's incredible! What that says about their ecological niches is interesting.

Re: Garter ID question - grand slam in just 1 hour?

Posted: May 5th, 2013, 10:13 pm
by jonathan
Weather was quite hot, so bear hunting didn't go well. It was the 3rd time my dad has taken someone to that locale in the last 5 months, and the first time that neither person got a bear.

But I saw 20 herp species, with several lifers, so that went great!

Re: Garter ID question - grand slam in just 1 hour?

Posted: May 5th, 2013, 10:18 pm
by jonathan
Here is a top view of the head of #2

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Re: Garter ID question - grand slam in just 1 hour?

Posted: May 7th, 2013, 5:16 am
by Jeff
As the others noted regarding the ordinoides and atratus.

#6 is two snakes (ordinoides and sirtalis), not a hybrid.

#2 is a terrestris, though very strange in that it lacks a vertebral scale row (18 rows)

Jeff

Re: Garter ID question - grand slam in just 1 hour?

Posted: May 7th, 2013, 5:52 am
by El Garia
Jeff wrote: #6 is two snakes (ordinoides and sirtalis), not a hybrid.
:thumb:


Thank You, Jeff

Re: Garter ID question - grand slam in just 1 hour?

Posted: May 7th, 2013, 8:54 am
by jonathan
Thank you Jeff! Are you familiar with any other localities that could produce ordinoides, sirtalis, atratus, and terrestris within yards of each other?


p.s. - I was coming up with several ordinoides in that locality that only seemed to have 16 scale rows. This confused me greatly and made me wonder whether I could count. Do you think there's any possibility that hybridization events in the past could lead to that, or is it just a tame genetic fluke?

Re: Garter ID question - grand slam in just 1 hour?

Posted: May 7th, 2013, 10:14 am
by Jeff
Regarding sympatry: My only field work in the Del Norte area has been winter salamander hunts, so I can't answer whether or not 4 species together is rare or not. In the Bay Area there were places that one could find three together, but that was uncommon.

Garter snakes tend to have a scale row reduction between the neck and the tail, usually from one of the lateral rows dropping out on each side. If one drops out more anteriorly than the other, you would end up with an even scale row count, and that would occur with some regularity. The lack of a vertebral row, though, is a rare defect.

Jeff

Re: Garter ID question - grand slam in just 1 hour?

Posted: May 7th, 2013, 10:38 am
by jonathan
Thank you for that explanation. Yes, the in the Northwesterns it was a lateral row that was missing on one side, not a vertebral row.

Re: Garter ID question - grand slam in just 1 hour?

Posted: May 7th, 2013, 4:52 pm
by Jimi
In summer 1991 I worked all over the USFS-administered parts of the Smith River watershed in Del Norte County. It was routine to find all those 4 taxa in a work week, but I don't recall finding all right together at once. Usually I'd get a couple taxa in the creek and the others up on the ridge-roads. Sirtalis (the second-least common) would do both, the elegans (the rarest, but not at all rare) were the most likely to be far from water. From memory, the biggest streams (ones with a wide hot cobble zone with backwater pools, side channels etc) had the highest garter diversity. And numbers.

FWIW the elegans I found, while genetically probably intergrades, were phenotypic mtns not coasties. Even pretty close to the coast, mileage-wise. The ecological gradient there is pretty steep, you get out of the redwood/fog zone and into the heat right quick.

Nice country, good for you for getting into it. Go back and get some more!

Did you guys use hounds, or what?

Cheers,
Jimi

Re: Garter ID question - grand slam in just 1 hour?

Posted: May 7th, 2013, 6:02 pm
by jonathan
No hounds, just still-hunting and watching likely travel routes and feeding areas.

My dad will be getting back out this weekend, but I won't be going. Hopefully he scores - more bear meat is always a good thing.

Re: Garter ID question - grand slam in just 1 hour?

Posted: May 7th, 2013, 7:01 pm
by Owen
I've seen a few T. e. terrestris that look like your number 2 out in my neck of the woods.

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I don't have 4 species by me, but I have attratus, sirtalis and elegans that can easily be found within a mile of each other, though I've never seen more than 2 species within yards of each other... sirtalis/attratus and elegans/attratus combos have been at the same pond or creek. I do know of a couple spots where all three could happen...

Re: Garter ID question - grand slam in just 1 hour?

Posted: June 6th, 2013, 5:30 pm
by Owen
Got my mini-slam today. All three county species (Santa Clara) in about a half hour. My first was an adult red-sided that I missed photo'n'.

Thamnophis atratus zaxanthus
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Thamnophis elegans terrestris
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Thamnophis sirtalis infernalis and YOY :shock: all 7" of it!
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Re: Garter ID question - grand slam in just 1 hour?

Posted: June 6th, 2013, 5:34 pm
by jonathan
Nice Owen! Do you think that all three of them utilize the same body of water?

Re: Garter grand slam in just 1 hour

Posted: June 6th, 2013, 5:44 pm
by jonathan
p.s. - I edited all the text from ID questions to ID answers, now that we seem to have come to consensus on everything!

Re: Garter ID question - grand slam in just 1 hour?

Posted: June 6th, 2013, 5:46 pm
by Owen
jonathan wrote:Nice Owen! Do you think that all three of them utilize the same body of water?
Oh yeah, same shallow pond.

Re: Garter grand slam in just 1 hour

Posted: June 7th, 2013, 9:52 am
by Fundad
It's not Bear Season?

Fundad

Re: Garter grand slam in just 1 hour

Posted: June 7th, 2013, 11:27 am
by jonathan
Fundad wrote:It's not Bear Season?
Oregon has two bear seasons - one general one in the fall, and a number of special hunts in the spring. The Fall season runs August to December, and the Spring season runs April to May. My dad got a bear last December in the Fall season, and my brother-in-law got one in April in the Spring season, and we hunted April/May in the Spring season.

Re: Garter grand slam in just 1 hour

Posted: June 7th, 2013, 2:17 pm
by Fundad
Oregon has two bear seasons - one general one in the fall, and a number of special hunts in the spring. The Fall season runs August to December, and the Spring season runs April to May. My dad got a bear last December in the Fall season, and my brother-in-law got one in April in the Spring season, and we hunted April/May in the Spring season.
:thumb:
I hadn't seen anything on spring bear hunts in Oregon before..

Fundad

Re: Garter grand slam in just 1 hour

Posted: June 9th, 2013, 11:12 am
by Jimi
Quote:
Oregon has two bear seasons - one general one in the fall, and a number of special hunts in the spring. The Fall season runs August to December, and the Spring season runs April to May. My dad got a bear last December in the Fall season, and my brother-in-law got one in April in the Spring season, and we hunted April/May in the Spring season.

:thumb:
I hadn't seen anything on spring bear hunts in Oregon before..

Fundad
For whoever may be interested but not know much about bear seasons - spring bear hunts can be controversial with many groups enthusiastic about bear conservation (including bear hunters; and by no means just among the animal-rights type groups) so agencies are often loath to create one. Mainly it's about accidentally orphaning dependent cubs, and/or having adverse impacts on population abundance. Anyway, black bears can be pretty high-conflict (with people), especially when their numbers are high, so sometimes it's necessary to knock them down a bit to moderate the conflicts among different people & between people and wildlife. To get the level of damage they're causing back down into "tolerable" range, and out of "intolerable". I suspect in Oregon the bears are hammering young timber stands, and perhaps also orchards/vineyards and bee hives. Just a guess, all are things bears (and Oregon) are known for. Oregon is like bear Nirvana, especially with what humans have done to the landscape.

Nice garter snakes!

Cheers,
Jimi

Re: Garter grand slam in just 1 hour

Posted: May 18th, 2019, 6:25 am
by jonathan
Breaking with the strong consensus, I have someone who thinks that Garter #6 is a Coast Garter Snake Thamnophis elegans terrestris, rather than a Valley Garter Snake (T. sirtalis fitchi).
The red is on the scales and irregular on the sides of the body, rather between the scales or bleeding out of the interscalars. 8 supralabials.

What do y'all think? I had considered it a Valley Garter on general gestalt, but he seems convinced and a couple of other people I've shown it to now are on the fence or leaning in his direction.

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Re: Garter grand slam in just 1 hour

Posted: May 20th, 2019, 11:09 am
by Kookamongus
Garter 6 looks like a valley to me, but has 8 labials rather than 7. Patterning is very off for the coast subspecies though, so i'll stick to just an abnormal valley

Re: Garter grand slam in just 1 hour

Posted: May 23rd, 2019, 12:44 pm
by El Garia
Valley Garter... 100%

Re: Garter grand slam in just 1 hour

Posted: May 23rd, 2019, 2:32 pm
by El Garia
Here's a head comparison chart from Gary's site http://www.californiaherps.com/snakes/i ... scales.jpg .

Re: Garter grand slam in just 1 hour

Posted: May 28th, 2019, 8:11 pm
by Porter
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Re: Garter grand slam in just 1 hour

Posted: May 29th, 2019, 12:16 am
by Porter
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Re: Garter grand slam in just 1 hour

Posted: June 1st, 2019, 6:57 am
by Owen
Just because... the one second mini-slam exists (3 species). :mrgreen:

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Re: Garter grand slam in just 1 hour

Posted: June 1st, 2019, 7:06 pm
by jonathan
Owen wrote: ā†‘
June 1st, 2019, 6:57 am
Just because... the one second mini-slam exists (3 species). :mrgreen:

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Nice!

I got the mini-slam on a Canadian island last summer. T. ordinoides and T. sirtalis pickeringii together and then T. elegans vagrans 40 minutes later.

I think I could get the mini-slam in NW Oregon but haven't even managed all three at the same locale yet, much less same day. There's one spot I'm sure all three are around though, just have to get there more.

But I'm pretty sure that little corner of NW Cali/SW Oregon is the only spot where a 4-species slam is even possible, at least for the coastal states. Looking at the range maps there might be a spot where cryptosis, elegans, eques and rufipunctatus all coincide. Don't know about habitat though.

Re: Garter grand slam in just 1 hour

Posted: June 2nd, 2019, 8:34 am
by Owen
If you counted subspecies, I could do a half day, SF Bay Area 5 snake slam:

1. Thamnophis elegans terrestris
2. Thamnophis atratus atratus
3. Thamnophis atratus zaxanthus
4. Thamnophis sirtalis infernalis
5. Thamnophis sirtalis tetrataenia


If you took a full day, you could do 4 species, 9 sub slam by doing Bay Area and north a few counties:

1. Thamnophis elegans terrestris
2. Thamnophis elegans elegans
3. Thamnophis atratus atratus
4. Thamnophis atratus hydrophilus
5. Thamnophis atratus zaxanthus
6. Thamnophis sirtalis infernalis
7. Thamnophis sirtalis tetrataenia
8. Thamnophis sirtalis fitchi
9. Thamnophis gigas


It would also be possible to do a 5 species 1 day slam:

1. Thamnophis elegans
2. Thamnophis atratus
3. Thamnophis sirtalis
4. Thamnophis gigas
5. Thamnophis hammondii


Not that I would ever try it with $4/gallon CA fuel prices and Bay Area traffic.

Re: Garter grand slam in just 1 hour

Posted: June 2nd, 2019, 9:15 am
by jonathan
Owen wrote: ā†‘
June 2nd, 2019, 8:34 am
If you counted subspecies, I could do a half day, SF Bay Area 5 snake slam:

1. Thamnophis elegans terrestris
2. Thamnophis atratus atratus
3. Thamnophis atratus zaxanthus
4. Thamnophis sirtalis infernalis
5. Thamnophis sirtalis tetrataenia


If you took a full day, you could do 4 species, 9 sub slam by doing Bay Area and north a few counties:

1. Thamnophis elegans terrestris
2. Thamnophis elegans elegans
3. Thamnophis atratus atratus
4. Thamnophis atratus hydrophilus
5. Thamnophis atratus zaxanthus
6. Thamnophis sirtalis infernalis
7. Thamnophis sirtalis tetrataenia
8. Thamnophis sirtalis fitchi
9. Thamnophis gigas


It would also be possible to do a 5 species 1 day slam:

1. Thamnophis elegans
2. Thamnophis atratus
3. Thamnophis sirtalis
4. Thamnophis gigas
5. Thamnophis hammondii


Not that I would ever try it with $4/gallon CA fuel prices and Bay Area traffic.
I'm kinda meh on day counts that involve driving. Walking slams only for me.

If you were trying to pick off five species in a day though, wouldn't gigas/couchi be easier to combine than gigas/hammondii?

If you really wanted to be crazy with it, get a gigas from the northernmost point of their range in the early morning, drive east to the SN foothills to pick off a couchi in late morning, and then you could be over to the coast by early evening and pull off my slam for a 6-garter day.