The Mojave Desert

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DevinBergquist
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The Mojave Desert

Post by DevinBergquist » June 6th, 2014, 10:53 pm

My name is Devin and I am a new member to the forum, but not so new to herping. I have been what you call a "lurker" for a few years now and decided it was time for my first post. I grew up living and herping in Southern California. After high school I moved away and bounced around living and herping along the way in Argentina, Idaho, Washington, Arizona, New Mexico and then back to Utah where I graduated from college. I then moved back to Southern California and have been here since then. I figure my first post will be my most recent trip. A few weeks ago I went on a herping trip with a buddy of mine, Seth Cohen, for 4 days in the beginning of May. I have seen plenty of Gila Monsters in Arizona, but never outside of Arizona. My goal was to find a Utah Gila Monster and a Nevada Gila Monster on the same trip. We had 4 days to complete this goal and knew it wouldn't be easy in such a short trip. I will try and keep my comments to a minimum.
On Thursday after work I drove straight up to Southern Utah and got there pretty late. Friday morning would be the start of the trip.
Here is what the habitat looked likeImage
Starting first thing in the morning we set out in Search of a Utah Gila Monster. we hiked for miles all morning with not much luck. We saw the common lizards such as Desert Spiny Lizards, Zebra Tailed Lizards and so on. I was happy to see quite a few Leopard Lizards running around. Image
We decided we would take a break for a few hours during the heat of mid day and head into town to grab lunch. It was about 2pm and over 90 degrees as we got into the car to go grab lunch. I decided I really wanted to check one more spot before calling it quits for the morning. We got out of the car and started over some sand dunes and through some sandy washes looking for Gila tracks. No tracks were spotted, but as we headed back towards the car we were rewarded with a beautiful Banded Gila Monster. I was happy we found the Utah monster on the first day of the trip especially since we were only planning on staying one day in Utah and then moving on to Nevada. Goal number one of the trip complete.
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Our lunch tasted much better after that. After hanging out in some air conditioning for an hour or so we decided to head back out and see if we could find anything else before night fall. We hiked up on this nice adult California Kingsnake that was pushing 4ft. We took a few picture and then noticed that less than a foot away from the first Kingsnake a female kingsnake crept out from underneath a rock, it was about the same size as the first.
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It was time to move on from Utah to Nevada. We drove down to Nevada for the second leg of our trip. We cruised a Leaf-nosed snake and a few sidewinders before we headed to bed.
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We headed out the next morning in Search of a Nevada Gila monster. We were welcomed by a group of Bighorn Sheep.
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Once again we didn't have much luck in the morning despite great conditions. We saw tons of Desert Iguanas scurrying across the sand dunes and became surrounded by Chuckwallas, at one point we could see more than 30 Chuckwallas surrounding us without even having to take a step. Here is one of the many Chuckwallas seen.
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Hiking the whole morning we jumped in our car and started to drive, it wasn't long until we saw some Desert Tortoise tracks crossing a sand dune. We of course pulled the car over and began to follow. After following for a couple hundred yards and across a paved road we found this big male Desert Tortoise.
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We then went out and got some lunch. We headed back out after lunch to test our luck before it got dark. While walking up a wash we were pumped to see... a beautiful Banded Gila Monster. In the first 2 days of our trip we were able to meet our goal and find a Banded Gila Monster in Utah and Nevada.
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On day 3 we found a Desert Horned Lizard, Speckled Rattlesnake and a Coachwhip.
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We road cruised 6 Sidewinders, a Leaf-nosed Snake, and a few other DORs. On our last day we only hiked for a few hours before we had to head home. We found one more Desert Tortoise.
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That sums up the trip. We didn't have long, but the trip was a success. I'll leave you with one parting habitat shot seen along the way. Image
Thanks for looking.

Devin

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regalringneck
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Re: The Mojave Desert

Post by regalringneck » June 7th, 2014, 4:50 am

... wowser x 2; thats a pretty incredible achievement/1st post there Devin, one that im comfortable to predict will never be repeated in the history of earth, never mind on this foro! Nice camera work too. Now set your sites on a cali-monster & you'll have the grand slam :beer:

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Re: The Mojave Desert

Post by hellihooks » June 7th, 2014, 5:41 am

I haven't herped Nev. much, and maybe there's lots more red sandstone than I know, but your Nev. locale looks remarkably similar to the place where the RM chapter just held an outing, to work on southwestern/panamint ranges.
If so, B. McKeever could use your data on the speck and (either way) Jason Jones could use any data on the Gila. You can contact these folks through pm/Rm chapter.
Welcome to the forum(s) and remarkable introductory post... :thumb: jim

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Ribbit
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Re: The Mojave Desert

Post by Ribbit » June 7th, 2014, 8:19 am

Congratulations on finding what you were looking for, and also for your really beautiful photographs!

John

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Christopher
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Re: The Mojave Desert

Post by Christopher » June 7th, 2014, 8:27 am

Awesome! Great job, and great photos

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DevinBergquist
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Re: The Mojave Desert

Post by DevinBergquist » June 7th, 2014, 4:42 pm

Thank you very much Regalringneck. It was nice to turn up our target in two states on back to back days.

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DevinBergquist
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Re: The Mojave Desert

Post by DevinBergquist » June 7th, 2014, 4:56 pm

jim,
Thanks for your comments. There are a few different areas with red sandstone in Southern Nevada, I am not sure where the RM chapter had their outing, but I wouldn't doubt that it could have been the same area. I will definitely look into that and see if any of my data can help with their research. Thanks again for the info.

Devin

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DevinBergquist
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Re: The Mojave Desert

Post by DevinBergquist » June 7th, 2014, 4:59 pm

John,

Thank you for the kind words

Devin

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DevinBergquist
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Re: The Mojave Desert

Post by DevinBergquist » June 7th, 2014, 5:05 pm

Christopher wrote:Awesome! Great job, and great photos
Thanks Chris. I have always enjoyed your posts and great photos. You tear up Florida, I still have a few species to find out there, maybe next year.

Devin

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Fieldherper
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Re: The Mojave Desert

Post by Fieldherper » June 7th, 2014, 5:29 pm

Awesome. Beautiful animals/pics!

This makes me wonder if there is anyone who has found Gilas in every state that they occur?

FH

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DevinBergquist
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Re: The Mojave Desert

Post by DevinBergquist » June 7th, 2014, 6:22 pm

Thank you FH.
Fieldherper wrote: This makes me wonder if there is anyone who has found Gilas in every state that they occur? FH
That is one of my goals. I have California and new mexico left.

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AndyO'Connor
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Re: The Mojave Desert

Post by AndyO'Connor » June 7th, 2014, 10:32 pm

Dang, excellent job! I've tried to find a Nevada gila on 3 separate trips now without success, although I did finally find a good canyon with tracks one morning. thanks for sharing, and excellent photography.

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DevinBergquist
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Re: The Mojave Desert

Post by DevinBergquist » June 8th, 2014, 3:33 pm

Andy,

Thank you. Nevada is not the easiest state to find a Gila Monster in, thats for sure. I was happy to have a little luck on my side. Awesome to find tracks, its good to know you are in the right area . On this trip we actually hiked one area and when we came back through there was a very fresh set of Gila tracks that weren't there the first time we came through. We followed them for a coupe hundred yards and they disappeared down a mammal burrow. The burrow was pretty deep. We missed it by only minutes. Luckily we had already found a Nevada Gila the day before or I would have been super disappointed to be so close and yet so far. We had to move to a different area, but I am sure it was on the move again the next morning. Thanks again.

Devin

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Bostaff of Asclepius
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Re: The Mojave Desert

Post by Bostaff of Asclepius » June 8th, 2014, 5:29 pm

Great photos!

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DevinBergquist
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Re: The Mojave Desert

Post by DevinBergquist » June 9th, 2014, 7:45 am

Thank you, Bostaff.

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Mike VanValen
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Re: The Mojave Desert

Post by Mike VanValen » June 10th, 2014, 8:49 am

Welcome to the forum and thanks for sharing that experience. :beer:

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Re: The Mojave Desert

Post by cameron.rognan » June 10th, 2014, 1:50 pm

Thanks for sharing your photos and reporting about your trip. I love that NV speck and Gila. I spend a lot of time herping in Utah and rarely see Cal kings, let a lone two of them together - great job.

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DevinBergquist
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Re: The Mojave Desert

Post by DevinBergquist » June 10th, 2014, 5:50 pm

Thanks Mike.

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DevinBergquist
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Re: The Mojave Desert

Post by DevinBergquist » June 10th, 2014, 6:10 pm

Cameron,

Thanks for your comments. The Kings were definitely an unexpected find. I obviously see a lot of Cal Kings here in So Cal, but I was pumped to see them in Utah. They were the first live ones I have seen in Utah. They were also two of the biggest Cal Kings I have ever seen. I have herped quite a bit in Utah as well, but mostly further north when I was going to college up there. I have always loved making trips to Southern Utah and Southern Nevada. The St George area is beautiful and one of my favorite places to hike and herp. I have always enjoyed your posts from Southern Utah, they are some of my favorites on this forum. Thanks again for your comments.

Devin

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Rothdigga
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Re: The Mojave Desert

Post by Rothdigga » June 10th, 2014, 10:35 pm

I wish I would have been able to join you guys on that trip. You killed it so hard! Man, work in May/June has been nuts and I've barely been able to get out at all. Welcome to the forum! See you soon.
Those bighorn photos with the red rocks in the background are so insane by the way, really spectacular.

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Re: The Mojave Desert

Post by Hans Breuer (twoton) » June 11th, 2014, 5:17 am

Wonderful photography! Welcome to the live side of the forum! :-)

reako45
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Re: The Mojave Desert

Post by reako45 » June 11th, 2014, 3:21 pm

Great job, man. Finding Gilas in 2 different states, outstanding. That pair Utah desert phase CalKings is cool too. I like the thin white bands and the high blacks. For some reason the kings in Utah and Nevada all look like they have moustaches.

reako45

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DevinBergquist
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Re: The Mojave Desert

Post by DevinBergquist » June 12th, 2014, 10:05 am

Rothdigga wrote:I wish I would have been able to join you guys on that trip. You killed it so hard! Man, work in May/June has been nuts and I've barely been able to get out at all. Welcome to the forum! See you soon.
Those bighorn photos with the red rocks in the background are so insane by the way, really spectacular.
Jason,

I wish you could have made it man, it was a fun trip with some awesome finds, next time for sure. Besides this trip I have had a hard time getting out as well with the birth of my daughter, work, brothers wedding, and other random stuff. I am really getting the itch to get out herping soon. We'll have to set something up later this summer. The bighorns on the red sandstone were awesome, we saw them three separate times. I didn't have a very big zoom lens on me and those Bighorn shots were taken with a 18-135mm so we actually were able to get pretty close to the group as well. Thanks again.

Devin

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DevinBergquist
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Re: The Mojave Desert

Post by DevinBergquist » June 12th, 2014, 10:07 am

Hans Breuer (twoton) wrote:Wonderful photography! Welcome to the live side of the forum! :-)
Thanks a lot Hans.

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DevinBergquist
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Re: The Mojave Desert

Post by DevinBergquist » June 12th, 2014, 10:13 am

reako45 wrote:Great job, man. Finding Gilas in 2 different states, outstanding. That pair Utah desert phase CalKings is cool too. I like the thin white bands and the high blacks. For some reason the kings in Utah and Nevada all look like they have moustaches.
Reako45,

Thanks for your comments. It was awesome to find 2 Gilas in two state in two days, definitely had some luck on my side, especially since neither of those states was AZ. Don't get me wrong I love herping in AZ, I make multiple trips there every year and have seen quite a few Gila Monsters there, but it was nice to find a few outside of the state as well. Yeah those Utah phase Cal Kings were some of the prettiest ones I have ever seen, I was happy to run into them.

Devin

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Re: The Mojave Desert

Post by Marcuslucassen » June 12th, 2014, 1:13 pm

Beautiful animals and pictures :)

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DevinBergquist
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Re: The Mojave Desert

Post by DevinBergquist » June 13th, 2014, 7:58 am

Marcuslucassen wrote:Beautiful animals and pictures :)
Thank you.

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Will Wells
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Re: The Mojave Desert

Post by Will Wells » June 14th, 2014, 5:58 am

Very nice photos! Especially of the gilas.

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DevinBergquist
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Re: The Mojave Desert

Post by DevinBergquist » June 17th, 2014, 6:42 pm

Will Wells wrote:Very nice photos! Especially of the gilas.
Thank you very much, Will

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CamStatic
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Re: The Mojave Desert

Post by CamStatic » July 10th, 2014, 1:49 am

Looks like an awesome trip - awesome pictures!

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