Airport Herping

Dedicated exclusively to field herping.

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LouB747
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Airport Herping

Post by LouB747 » January 17th, 2015, 9:00 pm

I did a bit of "airport herping" today. Flew out to Catalina Island and stopped for lunch. Found a couple boards nearby. Had to flip em. Only 1 Alli. Still felt good. Will try again in the spring. Maybe a group of us (limited to 6 as I can only get a 6 seater) could fly out this spring and try and turn up another Zonata. One was found within walking distance of the airport. Of course that was 20 or more years ago.

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Brian Hubbs
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Re: Airport Herping

Post by Brian Hubbs » January 18th, 2015, 8:59 am

What's the backstory on that zonata supposedly found 20 years ago? Do you have any info other than the picture?

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LouB747
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Re: Airport Herping

Post by LouB747 » January 18th, 2015, 10:09 am

I have a friend who has a friend....

Actually, I'm sure you have more info than I do Brian. What do you think? Escaped pet? As Avalon is so far from where it was found, it seems strange. Unless of course it was released there. And that's a long way to take a snake to release it. Would finding just one more prove anything? Or would there need to be a few? Anyways, planning on going out there this spring. Six guys doing some serious looking for a day or two might turn something up if there is indeed something to find. Either way it sounds like fun.

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Brian Hubbs
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Re: Airport Herping

Post by Brian Hubbs » January 18th, 2015, 11:18 am

I have some info somewhere, and a name of the guy who supposedly found it. I tried calling him, but never got a call back. If you find any let us me know... :o

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LouB747
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Re: Airport Herping

Post by LouB747 » January 18th, 2015, 11:38 am

A couple of reports, some very old. I believe it was a guy named Scott Panzer who found the last one in 1999. Anyways, most of the island is uninhabited. I plan to have a look.

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Re: Airport Herping

Post by mattg » January 18th, 2015, 3:50 pm

That sounds like a good time to me !

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Re: Airport Herping

Post by RobertH » January 18th, 2015, 5:52 pm

We would love to fly to Catalina with you, to look for just about anything :thumb:

Even if we don't find zonata, kind of a long shot for sure, we might find other snakes. For example, I have heard or read, I can't recall which, that helleri on the island are quite different from those here on the mainland. They are supposedly smaller, almost impossible to provoke into striking, BUT - extremely venomous. Whatever the truth of those claims, it would be fun to find one and see for ourselves.

So, if you are serious, we are in. And we'd share gas money, of course.

Robert

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LouB747
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Re: Airport Herping

Post by LouB747 » January 18th, 2015, 6:24 pm

Yeah, serious. I believe Black Jack campground is about a 30 min hike from the airport. Maybe a little more. So we could fly in, herp the day, spend the night, then herp early and fly home. Or just make a day trip of it. Go early, come back the same day. If we have enough interest and guys want to pitch in (maybe $30 - $40 roundtrip), I'll drop off 5 and go back and pick up another 5. I'd really only do this if we were planning on spending the night.

Yeah, doesn't have to be a Zonata, but that would sure make the trip. Would love to see anything over there. A different Helleri would be cool.

Not sure what permits are needed to hike and camp over there. I'm a member of the Conservancy, so that gives us free use of the airport and possible discounts on whatever else we need.

So possibles:

Matt
Robert + Nicolas

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Re: Airport Herping

Post by yoloherper » January 18th, 2015, 10:25 pm

almost impossible to provoke into striking
Haha don't underestimate them, because they'll definitely still strike. Both of the live ones I've encountered were heard well before they were seen and never let up on the defensive strike pose.
-Elliot

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Re: Airport Herping

Post by daniel » January 18th, 2015, 11:12 pm

I would love to join you guys, just let me know.

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Re: Airport Herping

Post by Calfirecap » January 19th, 2015, 6:33 am

I'd be very interested in coming along as well for either a day trip or overnighter.

Lawrence

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Re: Airport Herping

Post by RobertH » January 19th, 2015, 7:13 am

Haha don't underestimate them, because they'll definitely still strike. Both of the live ones I've encountered were heard well before they were seen and never let up on the defensive strike pose.
Thanks for sharing that. So much for myth #1.

Robert

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LouB747
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Re: Airport Herping

Post by LouB747 » January 19th, 2015, 10:40 am

So possibles:

Matt
Robert + Nicolas
Daniel
Lawrence

A six-seater is about as big a plane as you can rent. So that's 1 flight over. I'll definitely make 2 trips as my son will want to go. May end up doing 3. Anyways, just putting feelers out now. Assuming weekend is the way to go for most of you.

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Nature Nate
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Re: Airport Herping

Post by Nature Nate » January 19th, 2015, 2:55 pm

Need a guide? I've spent over a year of my life on that island over the past decade and found multiple individuals of all but one of the recorded native snakes. I've done a couple overnight hiking trips across the island, talked to the natives (local residents and rangers), and have a pretty good idea where to find all the herps, mythical and recorded. There are two unconfirmed species on the island, rosys and zonota. Both of which could easily go unnoticed due to the remote area where they are purported to be found. AC and NC is hard to find, but I have GPS corrds on a few spots ;)
I'd love to help with this expedition. Could you count me in?
I know that Surfinherp has been wanting to go herping out there for a while too. He might not have seen this thread yet.

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Re: Airport Herping

Post by repaphin » January 19th, 2015, 4:05 pm

That sounds like fun

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LouB747
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Re: Airport Herping

Post by LouB747 » January 19th, 2015, 5:39 pm

As long as guys are willing to pay (around $40 = $50 roundtrip), I'll take as many as I can. A guide would be great. I've seen what look like rockpile areas on GE. They seem isolated, which could be a good thing.

The plane rents for about $195/hr. Roundtrip is about an hour. We don't pay for the time the plane sits in Catalina. But the returns to pick up more people adds up. If there are 10 and myself, that's 6 one ways, or about 3 hrs flight time. $600/11 is $55 apiece. If I go back for 5 more, it becomes 10 one ways or 5 hrs flight time. $975/16 is $60 apiece. Anyways, just to let you know I'm definitely not making any money on this and we would be splitting the expense. Still, 40 - 50 is more than you'd probably spend on a boat ride and it's an interesting airport to fly into. Sorta like an aircraft carrier. Dropoffs on both ends of the runway.

So we may have to limit this to a max of 3 trips or 15 people. Maybe 2 trips with 10, otherwise I become a taxi driver while you guys are out finding everything.

There's also a good chance the weekend I have free may not work for everyone.

Anyways, we will keep the list going of those interested and see where it takes us.

Matt
Robert + Nicolas
Daniel
Lawrence
Nate
Cody

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LouB747
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Re: Airport Herping

Post by LouB747 » January 19th, 2015, 5:42 pm

I should also mention that Catalina is a VFR airport. Weather's gotta be good for us to go. There is also the possibility of getting stuck out there an extra day if we can't fly out. But we will check that before we go. Shouldn't be a problem, just letting you know.

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Re: Airport Herping

Post by Calfirecap » January 19th, 2015, 6:54 pm

Lou,
The prices you are talking about are extremely cheap for this kind of experience and I know that I for one greatly appreciate the offer. I'm also quite certain that the others would feel the same way. Thank you very much.

Lawrence

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Re: Airport Herping

Post by RobertH » January 19th, 2015, 7:00 pm

Thanks for adding the details. This is really beginning to look like a solid plan. The costs are absolutely fine and actually less than a boat ride over and back (around $60). Not to mention that the boat docks not anywhere near where we need to be to look for zonata (the upper reaches of the island).

I agree that you shouldn't have to play taxi driver all day or even a major part of the day. You should probably limit it to 2 trips, if that. But as you said, the weekend you are free won't work for everyone and that should reduce the number of the people who can and will actually go.

Robert

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LouB747
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Re: Airport Herping

Post by LouB747 » January 19th, 2015, 7:32 pm

Yeah, it may be a little less. Anyways, plan on around $60. For those that want to take the boat over, that would be cool too. I believe Twin Harbours is closest to Black Jack, although I'm guessing it would be quite a hike!

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Re: Airport Herping

Post by barryv » January 19th, 2015, 8:03 pm

Lou, this is such a great idea! If there is still room, I'd love to join the adventure! If there is more room, I'd love to bring Max and Jack! Thanks Lou! ( Hopefully you can bring your brother with too. You know if there's anything there, Rich will find it!)

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Re: Airport Herping

Post by LouB747 » January 19th, 2015, 8:16 pm

Of course there's room for you 3. Yeah, Rich will end up finding a Z while I'm still at the airport!

Matt
Robert + Nicolas
Daniel
Lawrence
Nate
Cody
Barry
Max
Jack
Rich
Chance

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Re: Airport Herping

Post by Zach_Lim » January 20th, 2015, 8:22 am

With enough time to request time off, I'd love to join

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Re: Airport Herping

Post by Chrispherp » January 20th, 2015, 8:49 am

Lou, I'm in depending on what weekend you pick, looks like there may be too many for 2 trips so let me know if you decide to add a 3rd trip or if others drop off. Thanks, should be a fun time!

Chris

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Re: Airport Herping

Post by RobertH » January 20th, 2015, 6:29 pm

Looks like you may have to bring your 747, Lou :lol:

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Re: Airport Herping

Post by Fundad » January 21st, 2015, 6:03 am

Sounds like fun :D , though I think you may set your goals to something not quite as hard Zonata, LOL.

If you are going to look for them, looking under rocks is likely not your best option. (though you should see small Helleri, a king or two, and maybe a gopher snake.)


We don't have many Cat Island records in the DB that would be great to have some more


And another NOTE, this is NOT a NAFHA event.

Fundad

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LouB747
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Re: Airport Herping

Post by LouB747 » January 21st, 2015, 4:24 pm

Looks like we might need a bigger plane although that's not really a possibility.

I should have mentioned that this isn't a NAFHA event.

While a Zonata would be awesome, I think just getting out and looking will make for a fun outing. I'm guessing it'll be the largest group of herpers on the island at once. We should turn something up.


I'm not sure what permits (if any) will be needed.

Flight(s) will depart out of Long Beach. I'm working on parking, although I'm not sure everyone will be able to get it for free. Flights probably leave at 8:00. 9:30, and 11am.

Zack and Chris, that's 14 plus me right now. Remember, beers heavy, so pack accordingly! Light beer?

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Re: Airport Herping

Post by kingsnakeadam » January 22nd, 2015, 1:31 pm

Count me in for now. Like other have said will depend when all the details are worked out UT sounds do like a great time. And would be just me. If no room on plane I might do the boat and hike if the hike isn't to bad. I can do a couple hour hike though that would fun!

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Re: Airport Herping

Post by yoloherper » January 23rd, 2015, 12:37 am

The hike would be pretty tough and isn't really doable in a day because of the ferry schedules, especially adding on extra herping/hiking at the airport. I'm not sure about the exact mileage but depending on the route, I think its at least 10 or 12 miles both ways and a lot of gained elevation from Two harbors. Bringing a bike across on the ferry is a possibility though and might be a little more realistic than hiking especially if you're willing to spend the night so you don't have to be back early enough to catch the last boat of the day.
-Elliot

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Re: Airport Herping

Post by Hans Breuer (twoton) » January 23rd, 2015, 4:27 am

LOVE that movie! You must be a real aviation nut, if you even fly in your spare time. What sort of plane is that? Aerobatics Special?

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LouB747
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Re: Airport Herping

Post by LouB747 » January 23rd, 2015, 11:06 am

Adam, got you down.

Thanks Hans. If you get out to CA, we will take it for a spin (or 2). It's a Christen Eagle II. A very capable aerobatic plane. Mostly made of wood and fabic. I think it'll pull 6 G's, but I haven't been past 4.
Image

Here's a size comparison to what I normally fly. These airplanes don't typically sit next to each other. The airline I work for is parking a few of the older 747-400s. My schedule had me taking this one from LAX to Victorville. So the day before I flew the Eagle up and left it for the night in hopes of getting the 2 planes together. Sure enough, I was able to get a few shots. A bit of a comparison, the 747 max takeoff weight is 875,000 lbs vs 1500 for the Eagle. The flight from LAX to Victorville in the 747 took 21 mins and burnt 1500 gals of fuel. The flight in the Eagle took 35 mins and burnt 7 gals of fuel.
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LouB747
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Re: Airport Herping

Post by LouB747 » January 23rd, 2015, 11:17 am

Matt
Robert + Nicolas
Daniel
Lawrence
Nate
Cody
Barry
Max
Jack
Rich
Chance
Zack
Chris
Adam

That's 15 now, 3 full trips. But again, I'm sure not everyone will be able to go on the weekend planned (still unknown).

I'll try and get some pics of the plane this weekend.

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LouB747
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Re: Airport Herping

Post by LouB747 » January 23rd, 2015, 11:27 am

Animals of the CA islands. Didn't realize there was a Santa Cruz Is Gophersnake.

http://www.californiaherps.com/islands/ ... herps.html

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LouB747
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Re: Airport Herping

Post by LouB747 » January 23rd, 2015, 11:37 am

Looks like about 3.5 miles from the airport to Black Jack Campground.

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RobertH
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Re: Airport Herping

Post by RobertH » January 23rd, 2015, 12:02 pm

I have been doing some thinking about alternatives to flying in to Catalina, but options are very limited to non-existent.

First of all, Avalon, not Two Harbors is closest to the Airport.

The trip from Avalon to the Airport along a dirt road is about 10 miles and takes one hour or so by bus. The problem is that bus service is extremely limited: the only bus from Avalon to the Airport departs at 11:00 am arriving at 12:00pm, and the only bus from the airport to Avalon departs at 1:00 pm arriving around 2:00 pm.

In other words, if you took the ferry to Avalon, you wouldn't arrive at the airport until noon or so. And you'd have to spend the night and take the 1:00 pm bus back to Avalon the next day - and hike with your guy to Black Jack campground and back, 3.5 miles one way and uphill/downhill. Certainly doable, but you need to be in very good shape and own the right gear (light tent, light sleeping bag, etc.).

One thing that I haven't checked out yet and that might work would be to charter a van or whatever to take some of us from Avalon to the Airport and back. That way, everyone might be able to meet at the airport at, say, 10:00 am. As with everything in Catalina, it would be expensive, though, easily adding $20 per person, probably more, to the $60 ferry ticket. If anyone here would consider this option nonetheless, please let me know and I will check into it and get the details. Or maybe Nate knows the answer.

Robert

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Re: Airport Herping

Post by RobertH » January 23rd, 2015, 12:18 pm

About permits:

It looks to me like we will need permission from the Catalina Conservancy:

This from the conservancy rules:

"6. Collecting, harvesting, hunting, trapping or otherwise exploiting plants, animals, rocks or minerals on Conservancy lands is prohibited unless specifically authorized by the Conservancy and in conformance with local, state and federal laws.

13. Stay on roads and trails that are open for public use. Do not enter non-Conservancy lands or lands of tenants of the Conservancy without permission."

and also this

"SUSTAINABLE BACKCOUNTRY USE

Stay on the trails and roads that are open for public use.
Don't create shortcuts or create new trails or access areas not open to the public."

While flipping rocks and taking photographs and even handling herps in compliance with federal and state law (i.e. with a valid fishing license) should be OK under # 6, going off trail clearly is not. Nor will the Conservancy be too thrilled about systematic rock flipping, etc.

So, it seems to me that we would need to apply for special permission, explaining who we are and what we are trying to do and why. Since this is not even an NAFHA event, we just might not get permission, I am not sure what to expect. A scientific survey lead by experts in the field is different from a bunch of guys flipping rocks for a few hours.

Sorry for the reality check, but I suggest that before we go any further with this, we look into the permit issue first. I can do that, but maybe Nate, who has lived and worked on the island and may have contacts, would be the better person to do it. What do you think, Nate?

Robert

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Re: Airport Herping

Post by LouB747 » January 23rd, 2015, 12:48 pm

It looks like flying in is the only real efficient way to access Black Jack. Cheapest too. Too much hassle to catch a ferry, then find a ride out to Black Jack. Believe me, the walk from Avalon to Black Jack is a serious all day hike. I haven't done it, but I know others that have.

Yeah, looks like it may not be as easy as just roaming wherever we want. I figured that might be the case, as it always seems to be.

Anyways, plenty of time to at least see if it's doable.

I may fly over there soon and do a little recon.

Thanks for the info Robert.

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Re: Airport Herping

Post by LouB747 » January 23rd, 2015, 2:09 pm

I should mention I am planning this as a Sat to Sun trip, spending the night. Otherwise we won't get any herping in. Apparently you can have firewood setup to be there for you.

Catalina airport is daytime only. So last flight has to be gone by sundown

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Nature Nate
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Re: Airport Herping

Post by Nature Nate » January 24th, 2015, 10:34 pm

Robert,
During my time there I only applied for a hiking permit before exploring the interior. This is a free process and lets the concervancy keep tabs on everyone who is taking advantage of the opportunities provided to hikers. In order to take a Bicycle into the interior you have to be a member of the concervancy which does incur a reasonable cost. During my treks into the interior I was never harassed or questioned by any concervancy officers or rangers, even whn I didn't adhere to he trails (such as my hikes doen cottonwod canyon in search of te garters). A large group might draw a little more attention than I did on my own. It shouldn't be a problem gaining permission to go hiking off the trails in serch of herps. From my experience they are very reasonable and I think they will be on board with what we want to do.

It wouldn't hurt to say that we are under the umbrell of NAFHA. Which makes me ask why this isn't an official NAFHA event? I would like to start doing this annually. I can even be the spokesperson and go between if necessary. I do have a few contacts and should be able to make more relatively easily.

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Re: Airport Herping

Post by Joseph S. » February 14th, 2015, 1:21 pm

I think you all should be fine. Folk hunt out there as well which requires a lot of off trailing. The terrain off trail can be pretty steep. Blackjack is a neat place.


I knowa few people of the cic as well including the senior wildlife biologist. I have only seen 1 rattler on the island which was a neonate at usccampus....

OT butanyone herp santacruz before? I willbe there fairly regularlythis season

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Re: Airport Herping

Post by LouB747 » March 13th, 2015, 9:35 pm

Sorry I haven't gotten back to everyone sooner, the airplane I was planning on using (a good friends) is currently on the east coast. He won't be back until the 21st, at which time I'll be at work in Tokyo. Maybe April, if it's not too hot and dry by then. Feels like summer in SoCal!

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Re: Airport Herping

Post by RobertH » March 14th, 2015, 4:39 am

Maybe April, if it's not too hot and dry by then
Heck, it's too hot and dry right now. It doesn't look to me like this is going to be a good flipping season. Possibly, we have already seen the best of it.

Also, bear in mind that in April there will be the National Meeting (April 10-12) and the second Tejon Ranch Survey (April 19). In general, April, because it is such a good month, will be very busy for everyone.

So, maybe, we just shelve the idea until next year or possibly late fall of this year if it turns out to be a wet one (?).

Robert

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Re: Airport Herping

Post by LouB747 » March 14th, 2015, 8:45 pm

The coast where I live hasn't even really started yet as far as flipping goes. Yeah, looks like April will be full month for most. Maybe I'll try a day trip and see if I can't turn something up. I'll post any finds if I/some of us go.

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Re: Airport Herping

Post by Fundad » March 16th, 2015, 7:24 am

Nate Wrote:
"It wouldn't hurt to say that we are under the umbrell of NAFHA. Which makes me ask why this isn't an official NAFHA event?"


It could be, but the details, rules, regulations, waivers, Comunication with Conservancy folks etc needs to be run through Lawrence (Conservation Officer) or Myself to assign the survey to a board member or appointed member to be "in charge and responsible" for the said details, rules and communications.

Brian Hinds
California Chapter President

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LouB747
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Re: Airport Herping

Post by LouB747 » March 29th, 2015, 8:42 pm

So I hear from a respected herper that a DOR Zonata was found on the island about 3 years ago. Found by his friends sister. She took a photo. I'm trying to get that now. Yeah, I know, without a picture it doesn't mean much. Anyways, it's the most recent sighting I've heard of.

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Nature Nate
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Re: Airport Herping

Post by Nature Nate » March 30th, 2015, 10:48 am

I'm calling it a cal king. They are dwarf clad out there and if it was roadkill then it had some red blood on it likely. I don't think that there are any Z's out there. I hope I'm wrong, but I don't know how NONE of the USGS pitfall arrays wouldn't have caught any if there were there. Hope you get the picture.

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Re: Airport Herping

Post by Steve Bledsoe » March 30th, 2015, 6:56 pm

I think all you guys are being duped!
This looks like an attempt for Lou to kick off one of his life dreams ...... the launching of Blue Coral Airlines! :lol:

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LouB747
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Re: Airport Herping

Post by LouB747 » March 31st, 2015, 7:40 pm

Image

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LouB747
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Re: Airport Herping

Post by LouB747 » March 31st, 2015, 8:43 pm

That pics obviously a joke. Cool snake though. Too bad it was a DOR.

Heres what i got....

It's a developed disposable camera photo sitting in a photo album in some elementary school someone goes to. My friend who is a herper saw it and swears by it. One of my best friends.

Is that info enough, not really. But it fuels the fire.

The one pitfall array result I read about didn't yield many snakes. I believe only 4 gophers and 5 kings (getula). No 2 striped which are also reported there.

Yeah Steve, BCA, Blue Coral Airlines. I like it. The paint job would look cool!

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LouB747
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Re: Airport Herping

Post by LouB747 » April 27th, 2015, 10:43 am

So.......

It looks like a Z was found on Catalina yesterday.

Locked