RFI: Visiting Albuquerque For Three Weeks

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mtratcliffe
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RFI: Visiting Albuquerque For Three Weeks

Post by mtratcliffe » July 10th, 2014, 2:28 pm

Greetings All,

My name is Matt, and I'm a current resident of FL and a member of the NAFHA Southeast Chapter. I will be in Albuquerque, NM for work from approximately August 4th through the 22nd. I have never herped in a desert before, so I'm very interested in seeing new species and learning the ropes of herping out here. I will be working during the day Mon thru Fri, so my herping will most likely consist of nighttime road cruising with some day time activities on the weekend, but I know this time of year it can get hot. I will have a rental car, and prefer to keep within a 2-hour drive of ABQ for any herping, with weekday road cruising even closer since I have to work.

Any advice on how or where to herp in the ABQ area would be appreciated. I imagine that road cruising at night will be the most productive, but I hear it is monsoon season and I'm interested in finding out how that affects herps. Species I would really like to see are any of the rattlesnakes (including massasaugas) and spadefoot toads, if they can reliably be found this time of year. Of course, any herp will do, as they would all be lifers for me. As far as herping during the day, what can I expect to find besides lizards (which I am also interested in, but they can be harder to photograph)? Is it too hot this time of year for snakes to be out?

I'm generally a "hands-off" herper, but I'm curious if there are any laws governing handling of herps in NM. As for where to cruise, which habitats are the most productive? If I had to guess, roads alongside rocky slopes might be a good start.

Finally, if anyone has any recommendations for hiking (nothing extreme) and stargazing spots, that would be great, as I'm interested in both of those activities as well. Some places I'm thinking of checking out are Gutierrez Canyon Open Space, Rio Grande Nature Center State Park, Petroglyph National Monument, and Valles Caldera National Preserve, but I'm still early in my research. I really don't want to be sitting around in my hotel room on the weekends, so I plan on packing this trip full of outdoor activities (with lots of sunscreen!).

Thanks for any help - I know you all must get a lot of requests. Can't wait to do some herping out there!

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Bryan Hamilton
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Re: RFI: Visiting Albuquerque For Three Weeks

Post by Bryan Hamilton » July 10th, 2014, 3:30 pm

You can't go wrong in the Albuquerque area. This is a great time of year. I recommend getting Amphibians and Reptiles of New Mexico. It has dot localities to help you focus your search. A state gazetteer is also really important.

This time of year you can definitely herp during the day depending on the conditions. Cloud cover helps a lot for snakes, sunny is usually better for lizards and rain is key for amphibians. Road cruising is really productive down there. Its addictive.

Degenhardt, W. G., C. W. Painter, and A. H. Price. 1996. Amphibians and Reptiles of New Mexico. Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press. 431 p.

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Re: RFI: Visiting Albuquerque For Three Weeks

Post by Jimi » July 10th, 2014, 5:11 pm

A nice guide book - hiking access, with a bit of fun history and geology - is Robert Julyan's "Mountains of NM". The Magdalenas aren't too far from ABQ - not outside your specs. (A bonus of your specs - if you stay north of I-10 you probably won't have to deal with Border Patrol.) The Mags are pretty much the northern tip of Madrean stuff's range - blacktails, klauberi, etc. If you get there, don't mess around in the deep shade, you need some openings in the canopy. And you don't need to go to the top of the mountain - lower south- and west-facing slopes can be good. As can dry stream beds and of course talus and rimrock. Use your ears as well as eyes.

Heavy rain right where you are, right when you're there, cools things off a whole lot, brings out the amphibs (in spades, pun intended) but usually shuts the reptiles down until the sun heats things back up later the same day, or the next morning. But the rainy season is the best season overall. So your timing is excellent.

That said...the monsoon can be a little fierce. being a Floridian you're probably already quite hip to lightning and blinding rain. (I met 2 people who'd actually been struck when I lived there.) But still, watch the lightning! If your hair stands up, take countermeasures pronto (look it up if you don't know). And, never try to cross moderate-or-worse floodwater in your car. Just wait for it to go down. Seriously. It won't take long, just chill out, take a little walk. In a little rent-a-car anything over maybe 5-6" deep is pushing it. Fast water has power, respect it.

Have fun, be careful, good hunting. You'll likely find the field hunting exciting, and the cruising productive. And there are some ABQ herpers...maybe they'll say hi.

cheers,
Jimi

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herpseeker1978
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Re: RFI: Visiting Albuquerque For Three Weeks

Post by herpseeker1978 » July 10th, 2014, 9:06 pm

Jimi wrote:A nice guide book - hiking access, with a bit of fun history and geology - is Robert Julyan's "Mountains of NM". The Magdalenas aren't too far from ABQ - not outside your specs. (A bonus of your specs - if you stay north of I-10 you probably won't have to deal with Border Patrol.) The Mags are pretty much the northern tip of Madrean stuff's range - blacktails, klauberi, etc. If you get there, don't mess around in the deep shade, you need some openings in the canopy. And you don't need to go to the top of the mountain - lower south- and west-facing slopes can be good. As can dry stream beds and of course talus and rimrock. Use your ears as well as eyes.

Heavy rain right where you are, right when you're there, cools things off a whole lot, brings out the amphibs (in spades, pun intended) but usually shuts the reptiles down until the sun heats things back up later the same day, or the next morning. But the rainy season is the best season overall. So your timing is excellent.

That said...the monsoon can be a little fierce. being a Floridian you're probably already quite hip to lightning and blinding rain. (I met 2 people who'd actually been struck when I lived there.) But still, watch the lightning! If your hair stands up, take countermeasures pronto (look it up if you don't know). And, never try to cross moderate-or-worse floodwater in your car. Just wait for it to go down. Seriously. It won't take long, just chill out, take a little walk. In a little rent-a-car anything over maybe 5-6" deep is pushing it. Fast water has power, respect it.

Have fun, be careful, good hunting. You'll likely find the field hunting exciting, and the cruising productive. And there are some ABQ herpers...maybe they'll say hi.

cheers,
Jimi
Hi

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mtratcliffe
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Re: RFI: Visiting Albuquerque For Three Weeks

Post by mtratcliffe » July 11th, 2014, 2:27 am

Thanks for the great information so far, everyone! Bryan - thanks to you, I've got that book on order already. Found a fairly cheap used copy on Amazon. Do you have any specific recommendations for a gazetteer? I'm sure one will come in handy when I get to remote areas with little to no cell phone coverage.

I am definitely pumped about this trip after hearing that this time of year is the best time for herping. I can't wait to find some new species!

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Re: RFI: Visiting Albuquerque For Three Weeks

Post by Bryan Hamilton » July 11th, 2014, 1:42 pm

I have the Delorme atlas. It seems really good.

Give Josh a shout. He knows that area. I mean he lives there but he also really, really knows it.

I'm jealous. I wish I could make it down this year. Last year I cruised a hooknose snake which I really wanted to see. It even did the cloacal popping for me. Highlight of my year!

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Brian Hubbs
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Re: RFI: Visiting Albuquerque For Three Weeks

Post by Brian Hubbs » July 11th, 2014, 8:50 pm

Jimi: He said Albuquerque...were you thinking of Las Cruces when you mentioned I-10? :o

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herpseeker1978
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Re: RFI: Visiting Albuquerque For Three Weeks

Post by herpseeker1978 » July 11th, 2014, 9:42 pm

Brian Hubbs wrote:Jimi: He said Albuquerque...were you thinking of Las Cruces when you mentioned I-10? :o
I think Jimi is saying that because of his specifications, he won't have to deal with border patrol. I only know of one border patrol check point north of I-10 and it is between Las Cruces and Truth or Consequences, closer to Cruces. But I think Jimi was saying that he wouldn't have to deal with BP unless he is south of I-10 which is out of the range he mentioned. It is a four hour drive to I-10 from Albuquerque, unless Tim is driving, then like half an hour :o

Josh

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mtratcliffe
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Re: RFI: Visiting Albuquerque For Three Weeks

Post by mtratcliffe » July 20th, 2014, 5:12 pm

Bryan Hamilton wrote:I have the Delorme atlas. It seems really good.

Give Josh a shout. He knows that area. I mean he lives there but he also really, really knows it.

I'm jealous. I wish I could make it down this year. Last year I cruised a hooknose snake which I really wanted to see. It even did the cloacal popping for me. Highlight of my year!
Bryan,

I received the book you recommended and have been poring through it, marking the species I can expect to see in the region I'll be in. It's been a great and informative read, and will surely help me with identifying all these herps I'll be unfamiliar with.

I noticed that several species names (both common and scientific) have changed since the book was published. I have been able to find out the newer names for most species, but one that's puzzled me is from the fence lizard family. I'm hoping someone can help me out here.

All of the Sceloporus records for Bernalillo County are for S. cowlesi, or Southwestern fence lizard. However, the guide book does not list this species, but does list S. undulatus (Eastern fence/Prairie lizard). Does S. cowlesi replace S. undulatus in New Mexico? What makes it really puzzling is that it's a separate species and not a subspecies. Any insight into this is appreciated!

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Re: RFI: Visiting Albuquerque For Three Weeks

Post by Bryan Hamilton » July 21st, 2014, 8:09 am

mtratcliffe wrote:All of the Sceloporus records for Bernalillo County are for S. cowlesi, or Southwestern fence lizard. However, the guide book does not list this species, but does list S. undulatus (Eastern fence/Prairie lizard). Does S. cowlesi replace S. undulatus in New Mexico? What makes it really puzzling is that it's a separate species and not a subspecies. Any insight into this is appreciated!
The taxonomy is outdated in that book. Unfortunately no one bothered to let the lizards know....

So yes, so those undulatus from Bernalillo county, are now cowlesi, the SW clade of Leache and Reeder 2002. They are now recognized as a full species. PM me your e-mail address and I can send you the paper. If you see a look of arrogance in those lizards, its because they are a full species not just a subspecies.

Leaché, A. D., and T. W. Reeder. 2002. Molecular Systematics of the Eastern Fence Lizard (Sceloporus undulatus): A Comparison of Parsimony, Likelihood, and Bayesian Approaches. Systematic Biology 51:44-68.

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Re: RFI: Visiting Albuquerque For Three Weeks

Post by Rancorrye » July 21st, 2014, 8:30 am

Bryan Hamilton wrote: If you see a look of arrogance in those lizards, its because they are a full species not just a subspecies.
:lol: :lol: :lol:

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mtratcliffe
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Re: RFI: Visiting Albuquerque For Three Weeks

Post by mtratcliffe » July 21st, 2014, 2:02 pm

Bryan Hamilton wrote:
mtratcliffe wrote:All of the Sceloporus records for Bernalillo County are for S. cowlesi, or Southwestern fence lizard. However, the guide book does not list this species, but does list S. undulatus (Eastern fence/Prairie lizard). Does S. cowlesi replace S. undulatus in New Mexico? What makes it really puzzling is that it's a separate species and not a subspecies. Any insight into this is appreciated!
The taxonomy is outdated in that book. Unfortunately no one bothered to let the lizards know....

So yes, so those undulatus from Bernalillo county, are now cowlesi, the SW clade of Leache and Reeder 2002. They are now recognized as a full species. PM me your e-mail address and I can send you the paper. If you see a look of arrogance in those lizards, its because they are a full species not just a subspecies.

Leaché, A. D., and T. W. Reeder. 2002. Molecular Systematics of the Eastern Fence Lizard (Sceloporus undulatus): A Comparison of Parsimony, Likelihood, and Bayesian Approaches. Systematic Biology 51:44-68.
Great, the last thing I wanted on my trip was a bunch of smug lizards gazing at me!

Thanks for clearing up the taxonomy issue for me.

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Re: RFI: Visiting Albuquerque For Three Weeks

Post by herpseeker1978 » July 21st, 2014, 7:01 pm

This book has the updated taxonomy on fence lizards in New Mexico:
Lizards of the American Southwest
http://www.amazon.com/Lizards-American- ... +southwest

There is also a newer book on New Mexico herps:
New Mexico's Reptiles and Amphibians: A Field Guide
http://www.amazon.com/New-Mexicos-Repti ... +southwest

Bummer the biggest picture on the cover is of a nonnative herp, but that's my only real beef with it. That and it makes it seem like cal kings are found regularly in the NW corner of the state, when only one has been found :crazyeyes:

Josh

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Re: RFI: Visiting Albuquerque For Three Weeks

Post by ebit123 » August 21st, 2017, 1:51 pm

Just going to piggy back on this post. Is July ok for herping as far as monsoon season goes? Is August preferable, if you have a choice?
Also, in terms of Albuquerque , is there enough public, accessible land/trails close to the city?

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Re: RFI: Visiting Albuquerque For Three Weeks

Post by herpseeker1978 » August 21st, 2017, 6:06 pm

Depends on the year, if the rains come in July it is great! August is usually better.

There are plenty of areas to herp around the metro area. PM me if and when you decide to come and we'll get you some things.

Josh

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Re: RFI: Visiting Albuquerque For Three Weeks

Post by mtratcliffe » August 22nd, 2017, 6:40 am

ebit123 wrote:Just going to piggy back on this post. Is July ok for herping as far as monsoon season goes? Is August preferable, if you have a choice?
Also, in terms of Albuquerque , is there enough public, accessible land/trails close to the city?
Forum necromancy! Talk about a blast from the past. I was just finishing up my trip in ABQ this time three years ago. It was a great trip - I found approximately 25 lifers over the course of three weeks. I probably would have found more, but I was out there for work so most herping was during the weekends. It did not rain as much during the time as I was there as it typically does, so I did not get the amphibian activity I expected, but overall I can't complain. The weather there in August isn't bod - hot, but dry, with temps usually in the low to mid 90s, which feels better than high 80s back east where we have humidity. As Josh said, there are plenty of spots to herp within an hour's drive of ABQ. He showed me around and taught me a lot about the species out there - definitely reach out to him!

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Re: RFI: Visiting Albuquerque For Three Weeks

Post by ebit123 » August 22nd, 2017, 12:30 pm

Thanks Josh, I'll be in touch over the winter as I plan the trip - planning these trips gives me something to do when everything is sleeping. I plan to start out in Albuquerque and Santa Fe, but then travel to the southern part.

Mratcliff, glad your trip went well! I don't mind 90s when it's dry. We did a summer trip to Alabama - saw some lifers in spite of the heat, but that muggy heat was wretched.

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