California Herping Trip Link

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Gary N
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California Herping Trip Link

Post by Gary N » August 19th, 2014, 4:32 pm

Check out this Dutch herper's recent California trip report. (And his European trips, too.)
When he asked me where to go back in June, I tried to pursuade him not to expect to see many salamanders in late July, even on the North Coast, but he proved me wrong.

http://www.herpsafari.nl/tripreports-ou ... westcoast/

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gbeck
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Re: California Herping Trip Link

Post by gbeck » August 19th, 2014, 4:42 pm

Looks like an awesome trip. I wish my wife would agree to a three week herp vacation!

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Re: California Herping Trip Link

Post by RobertH » August 19th, 2014, 7:38 pm

Bobby Bok is one of Europe's most experienced herpers and has done many trips together with Jeroen Speybroeck, another amazing European herper (from Belgium) whom I had the pleasure of hosting at our house back in August of 2012.

One reason, I realized just now, why these guys do so well is that they manage to put together several multi-day, often multi-week, herp trips each year to very varied destinations in Europe and around the world, each time assembling an international team comprising some the most experienced herpers from different European countries. It's as if the most experienced herpers here in California got together with the most experienced herpers from AZ, TX, UT, etc., several times each year traveling to different - but for each team member new - destinations around the country and abroad. As they do this, they would not only get to know an amazingly broad range of different habitats and animals, but they would also learn from each other all the time. After a few years, they would, both individually and collectively, be way more effective in the field than they were before.

So, now all we need is 3-week vacations like the Europeans ... :cry: and beautiful wives/girlfriends who also love to herp all day, rain or shine :)

Robert

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Fundad
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Re: California Herping Trip Link

Post by Fundad » August 19th, 2014, 9:18 pm

While a good trip for sure, I would hardly qualify that as a typical spring or fall Cali experience.


Great for the time of year, but I wouldn't drive (fly) all that way for that kind of limited result. :lol:

Fundad

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Re: California Herping Trip Link

Post by MarcLinsalata » August 20th, 2014, 9:46 am

That's a great story. They stay at my motel in Palm Springs, too - I wish I could meet other herpers poolside by chance. Europeans are so friendly that they crack me up, just go knock on the door of some Palm Springs local to see if you can look for lizards by their house. I can already hear the pumping of a shotgun in the background if I were to do the same thing.............. :lol: :lol: :lol:

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Re: California Herping Trip Link

Post by Brian Hubbs » August 20th, 2014, 11:34 am

I ask people all the time if I can herp in their field or yard...never seen a shotgun. I'm surprised he didn't see any pond turtles. Must have forgotten the binoculars... :lol:

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Re: California Herping Trip Link

Post by hellihooks » August 20th, 2014, 1:50 pm

Uniformis can be found in Coachella? always a pleasure to host these European Herpers... they are so friendly and professional... :thumb:

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Re: California Herping Trip Link

Post by RobertH » August 20th, 2014, 4:49 pm

hellihooks wrote:Uniformis can be found in Coachella?:
He made a mistake because uniformis barely comes into Riverside County. He saw Sceloporus Magister.

Nicholas

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Re: California Herping Trip Link

Post by hellihooks » August 20th, 2014, 5:10 pm

RobertH wrote:
hellihooks wrote:Uniformis can be found in Coachella?:
He made a mistake because uniformis barely comes into Riverside County. He saw Sceloporus Magister.

Nicholas
Yeah... I know Nicholas...lol I was trying to be nice... :lol: :lol: bummer though... when you gotta scratch a lifer... but it is what it is.. :crazyeyes: jim

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Re: California Herping Trip Link

Post by RobertH » August 20th, 2014, 5:41 pm

hellihooks wrote:
RobertH wrote:
hellihooks wrote:Uniformis can be found in Coachella?:
He made a mistake because uniformis barely comes into Riverside County. He saw Sceloporus Magister.

Nicholas
Yeah... I know Nicholas...lol I was trying to be nice... :lol: :lol: bummer though... when you gotta scratch a lifer... but it is what it is.. :crazyeyes: jim
Yeah I had a feeling you knew. I realized that after I posted.

Nicholas

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Re: California Herping Trip Link

Post by Phillodactylus » August 20th, 2014, 9:57 pm

As incredibly random as this sounds, my friends and I met Bobby and Laura over a Mojave Shovelnose during the latter half of their trip. One of those super random once in a lifetime experiences. :) We tried hard to get a Boa, a Speck, or a Lyre, but it didn't come to pass. Rotten time of year. But what fun! World peace through field herping. That's the stuff!

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Re: California Herping Trip Link

Post by Jeroen Speybroeck » August 21st, 2014, 12:50 am

Thanks for the kind words, RobertH. Bobby and Laura are indeed dear friends of mine so I'm surely biased in enjoying their report.
Fundad wrote:I would hardly qualify that as a typical spring or fall Cali experience.
Of course, you're right, although I would fly or drive anywhere in the world to get 55+ lifers in 3 weeks, but maybe that's because I am used to that being practically impossible in Europe ;) .

Why don't you come over to Europe in any season of your choice, Brian, and we'll see how you do, e.g. in comparison to our typical spring or fall results :twisted: . Just being silly, of course, taking among other things the unattractive nature of European herping for you spoiled US herpers into account ;) .

That being said, I can't remember any recent report on here producing that number of Dicamptodon. Of course, herping for snakes in the deserts is hard in summer, as I can tell from personal experience (https://plus.google.com/photos/10956940 ... banner=pwa) and I even had a number of great local herper helpers.

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Re: California Herping Trip Link

Post by Fundad » August 21st, 2014, 5:10 am

Why don't you come over to Europe in any season of your choice, Brian, and we'll see how you do, e.g. in comparison to our typical spring or fall results :twisted: . Just being silly, of course, taking among other things the unattractive nature of European herping for you spoiled US herpers into account ;) .
I meant no offense what so ever, in fact, I said what I said so that it would draw attention to timing and time of year being important for others to take note of....

Timing is everything in most places, it's the difference between EPIC and Good.

I have been to Europe and the timing was BAD, yeap found all the lifers possible (but I am not a life lister guy). I wanted to see Numbers, and missed it by a month..


Image

Image

My European trip was good, but far from EPIC. Nor did I take offense when told I should come when its "good". :D

My trip was Epic in regards to the friends I made, food I ate, and sights I saw..

They Did Great for that time of year for not being locals. :thumb:

Fundad

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Re: California Herping Trip Link

Post by hellihooks » August 21st, 2014, 5:53 am

I had a great time herping with Jeroen & Stephanie, and look forward to herping with Matthias this weekend.
I was very happy that Jeroen & Stephanie got to see a rosy AND a big gravid Lyre (which I still say was the most remarkable find of his trip)
Lifer Grins!!!
Image
Image
And BTW Jeroen... we WERE in the right spot for a Spade... me and Phil got our lifers there several months later... ;)
I trust you'll let your buddy know his uniformis is magister... :beer:

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Re: California Herping Trip Link

Post by Jeroen Speybroeck » August 21st, 2014, 6:30 am

Fundad wrote:I meant no offense what so ever
I know, I know, I was just acting a little bit Hubbsy for a minute - hence my use of smilies ;) . I would have chosen a different time to visit CA myself, but we have to adapt to what's available in terms of free time. After all, I was dragged to CA for my girl's love of giant trees so the herps were merely a more than happy side effect. :crazyeyes:

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Re: California Herping Trip Link

Post by RobertH » August 21st, 2014, 7:42 am

... and look forward to herping with Matthias this weekend.
So are we, Jim :thumb:

Now, just be sure to roll out the Lyre Snakes and Rosy Boas. We don't want to disappoint Matthias. No pressure, though, buddy :crazyeyes: :lol:

See you Saturday,

Robert

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Re: California Herping Trip Link

Post by Jeroen Speybroeck » August 21st, 2014, 10:08 am

Fundad wrote:I wanted to see Numbers
As a totally uninteresting side note, this has always puzzled me somehow (although every herper is entitled to his own likes and dislikes of course) - rather 2000 Sceloporus occidentalis than one of each CA species (to phrase it in extremes)? I can imagine that's what you get after living in a region or travelling to it multiple times. Hey, I'm after all monitoring a single species (fire salamander) for years on end, going for numbers every time. But if it's a new country or even new continent, I'd imagine many would go for diversity over sheer numbers, no? Oh well, whatever, it's all a silly hobby in which I'm more than OK with differences in personal approach.

Now let's wait until my son is old enough to appreciate humpback whales and crotes, and I'm back in Cali to get me that Dicamptodon...!

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Re: California Herping Trip Link

Post by hellihooks » August 21st, 2014, 12:51 pm

A Dicamp is well worth the wait...

Dicamptodon

Deep in a log, a cool contradiction
The biggest of what should be small
Soft and dappled with tearing dentition.
Weak and harmless? No…Not at all!

A ‘Lumbering’ Sally? Who would believe?
But only ‘lumber’ will suffice.
With gila-quick snap, your fingers he’ll cleave
Mistaking his ‘cuteness’ for ‘nice’!

How is a Sally, such a Bad Creature?
You think… while blinking, with slack-jaw.
You stand, taking in each fleshy feature,
Realizing now… you stood in awe!

Image

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Re: California Herping Trip Link

Post by Jimi » August 21st, 2014, 3:40 pm

From Jeroen:
That being said, I can't remember any recent report on here producing that number of Dicamptodon.
Me either, Dicamp-seeking herpers are usually just visually-searching creeks, or flipping in the channel or near the banks.

I can tell you though, Dicamps can occur in outrageous densities. Backpack electroshocking small streams for fish often results in huge captures of larval, and some adult, Dicamps. At a place I used to work in coastal redwood country, we did many 100-m reaches, in 3 passes, all during the summers. Two or 3 of these reaches a day, Monday-Friday, for about 4 months. We did each reach once a year. These streams were ~2-4 m wide, with runs ~ 10-15 cm deep and the very deepest pools up to maybe 60 cm. Small, small waters, sometimes tributary to larger "rivers" (still just big creeks) and sometimes flowing right into the ocean themselves.

In such situations we'd often capture 60-80 juvenile coho or steelhead, 30-40 sculpins, and a dozen or so lampreys (all are fishes). Dicamps ALWAYS outnumbered the fish, and (while I wasn't crunching those numbers, which were recorded) I suspect they also outweighed them, taken as a whole. In the few creeks with much fewer fish (usually very, very small creeks) there were still tons of Dicamps. Pretty much any little creek had them "up the wazoo". So unlike some of the other local amphibians like tailed frogs and torrent sallies, Dicamps seem to have no issues with resident predatory fish. (Actually, as we accumulated a reach's catch over the 3 passes, and while then measuring & weighing everything before release, we had to keep the big ones in their own separate bucket from the fish, because they'd eat some of the fish.)

The larval Dicamps were usually in many size or age classes, from ~25 mm total length, to > 300 mm. Big fatties (I always assumed neotenics) were mainly in the bigger waters, in the deepest pools, the gnarliest logjams and deepest undercut banks. Interestingly, most of the adult-phase we caught electro-fishing were roughly the same size, about 130 mm total length. To get larger adults, you had to go on land and flip, or come back after the dark and spotlight the creek margins and shallows, or up on the hillsides.

Anyway, I thought the population information might interest you (and possibly perk your interest in "exotic" sampling methods). I don't mean to divert merited attention away from your friends' great trip and report. I hope they and you come back soon.

cheers,
Jimi

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Re: California Herping Trip Link

Post by Fundad » August 21st, 2014, 4:43 pm

t's all a silly hobby in which I'm more than OK with differences in personal approach.
:thumb: :D Here here..True True.. :beer:

After many years in the hobby one thing I a have learned there are many many different reasons people enjoy herping, some of them do not include life listing or species diversity searching.

Often time the reasons people herp often changes over time as well.

Fundad

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Re: California Herping Trip Link

Post by PNWHerper » August 21st, 2014, 7:05 pm

Awesome blog. The "spiny softshell" actually has the features of a Florida softshell, including the carapace spotting. Anyone else notice that?

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Re: California Herping Trip Link

Post by Jeroen Speybroeck » August 21st, 2014, 10:18 pm

Jimi wrote:I thought the population information might interest you (and possibly perk your interest in "exotic" sampling methods).
Absolutely, thanks! That specific creek where Bobby and Laura went and found Dicamptodon and tailed frogs is a spot I gave them. I remember finding numerous larval Dicamptodon, yet my girlfriend is of the type that she was waiting in the car to get out of that dark and spooky place ;) :( .

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Re: California Herping Trip Link

Post by Jeroen Speybroeck » August 21st, 2014, 10:20 pm

Fundad wrote:Often time the reasons people herp often changes over time as well.
I find that to be indeed particularly true for 'local' (European, in my case) herping. Once my hunger for species has been satisfied, it becomes a more fun & relaxed hunt for new spots, interesting variations and crazy high numbers.

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Re: California Herping Trip Link

Post by hellihooks » August 22nd, 2014, 4:31 am

I will admit to having no interest in seeing anything but lifers... haven't even tried for local Zonata this year, cause I saw two last year. My one exception is rosys... I will look for rosys, where they haven't been seen before... haven't found any yet... :roll: but the fun is in trying. :crazyeyes:

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Re: California Herping Trip Link

Post by PNWHerper » August 22nd, 2014, 10:29 am

Jim,

If you want to voucher some new species follow up on the comment I made about the blog and the Apalone ferox in my comments above. That might be a first for L.A. or even for CA. Go find it!

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Re: California Herping Trip Link

Post by klawnskale » August 22nd, 2014, 11:09 am

When you travel thousands of miles to search and view wildlife that is not indigenous to your own region, any species you find would be considered novel and exotic. Quantities and being ubiquitous to resident herpers would be considered moot points in the case to herpers from other countries visiting the U.S. Sure, as SoCal residents we may think that Baja Chorus Frogs and Southern Pacific Rattlesnakes are not necessarily species we would go out of our way to specifically look for, however, they have their foreign audience appeal none the less. I just hosted a dedicated herper from Italy who is a fabulous photographer who was so driven to find an active helleri over the past three days, that at one point I asked to take a nap while he continued herping for a couple of hours around a creek bed. Dude's energy drove me to the point of exhaustion, and ofcourse I didn't share his enthusiasm about spotting one, but I took him to appropriate habitat. Unfortunately our intensive search did not produce a helleri, but we did manage to find a nice Great Basin Gopher Snake and two Striped Whipsnakes, though. ;) :thumb:

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Re: California Herping Trip Link

Post by Gary N » August 22nd, 2014, 11:09 am

PNWHerper wrote:Awesome blog. The "spiny softshell" actually has the features of a Florida softshell, including the carapace spotting. Anyone else notice that?
After looking at the A. ferox pictures you sent me, I think you're right. (But I'm bad at turtle ID.) The location is described as a little park on the outskirts of Hollywood, so it's in a heavily populated area where the abandonment of any species of turtle pet is possible. Fundad has a database record from LA County, which is the only record I can find for the state. Maybe it's the same pond.
http://www.naherp.com/viewrecord.php?r_id=26597

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Re: California Herping Trip Link

Post by Jeroen Speybroeck » August 22nd, 2014, 5:32 pm

klawnskale wrote:they have their foreign audience appeal none the less.
Absolutely! Nothing like your first sidewinder, imho.

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Re: California Herping Trip Link

Post by Fieldnotes » August 22nd, 2014, 7:38 pm

Could that Northwestern Salamander possibly be a dark, ugly, recently transformed Long-toed Salamander, like this one i just recently found. Also something to consider is the lack of parotoid glands behind the eyes and on the tail ridge; or are there?

Image

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Re: California Herping Trip Link

Post by PNWHerper » August 23rd, 2014, 7:40 am

FieldNotes,

As wildlife tracker I spend a lot of time looking at feet. That salamander has the extra toe bone in toe 4 of the hind feet typical of long-toed salamanders. There is a population in B.C. of northwestern salamanders that also have that, but outside of that area (and baring bizarre genetic/physical anamolies) they typically don't show this feature, with toe 3 being the longest like this one:

Image

As you mention, lack of parotiod glands and glandular tail ridge also makes it seem unlikely to be A. gracile.

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Re: California Herping Trip Link

Post by Zampirone » August 23rd, 2014, 11:18 am

Hello guys,

this is Laura typing her first comment on this forum. Thank you for your comments and advice so far!
hellihooks wrote:I trust you'll let your buddy know his uniformis is magister..
No need - we have been following this thread with great interest already :lol:
Thanks for the correction, the ID has been edited accordingly.

Regarding the salamander: On the picture below you might be able to recognize the features better. There you can also see the prominent parotoid glands. We are still rather convinced it is Ambystoma gracile:

Image

Cheers,
Bobby and Laura

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Re: California Herping Trip Link

Post by hellihooks » August 23rd, 2014, 11:51 am

welcome to these forums... I'm taking Matthias (if you know him) to try for Arroyo Toads tonight, and anything else we might see. If ever back this way... don't hesitate to drop me a line... :thumb: jim

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Re: California Herping Trip Link

Post by PNWHerper » August 23rd, 2014, 1:07 pm

Laura,

I totally agree that is Ambystoma gracile 100%. I was referring to FieldNotes photo above. Your pic shows the rounded head, large parotoid glands and glandular ridge on tail. Even the feet have the features I described. Nice looking animal...

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Re: California Herping Trip Link

Post by Fieldnotes » August 23rd, 2014, 10:44 pm

No mistaking that pic, its a gracile in much need of some beauty sleep :thumb:

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Re: California Herping Trip Link

Post by Matthias » August 26th, 2014, 11:52 pm

hellihooks wrote:welcome to these forums... I'm taking Matthias (if you know him) to try for Arroyo Toads tonight, and anything else we might see. If ever back this way... don't hesitate to drop me a line... :thumb: jim
Hi Jim,
Unfortunately we don't know eachother. But I know their reports and always enjoy them a lot.

To Bobby and Laura: Such a nice trip report, I love the pictures, both the animals and the landscape shots! Some of the spots look familiar to me, I just came back from the American Southwest and good memories are associated with these places :)

Best,
Matthias

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