It is currently September 21st, 2018, 7:45 pm

All times are UTC - 8 hours




Post new topic Reply to topic  [ 10 posts ] 
Author Message
 Post subject: Catching up after 3 years: USA (SW/SE), Ecuador, Belize
PostPosted: August 20th, 2015, 6:59 pm 
User avatar

Joined: June 7th, 2010, 9:27 am
Posts: 165
Location: Tucson, AZ
Hi everyone,

I logged in to make a new post and noticed it's been three years since I last created original content here. I thought I hadn't really done much since then but looking through photos I noticed I've herped in Hawaii, California, Colorado, Utah, Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, Kansas, Florida, Ecuador (Amazon, Quito, and Galapagos), and Belize, twice. Not to mention very brief stops in other states. And I got married and had a kid. Times have certainly changed!

So I'm just going to dump a few photos here and maybe tell some stories.

Going in chronological order we first visit Hawaii. My mom lived out there for a short time so I took my girlfriend, at the time, to visit. We saw plenty of Gold-dust Day Geckos (Phelsuma laticauda) in the yard and elsewhere in the islands. I'm going to go light on photos so I'll simply mention that we also saw Mourning Geckos (Lepidodactylus lugubris) and Stump-tailed Geckos (Gehyra mutilata) in abundance.
Image

Green Turtles (Chelonia mydas) were quite common:
Image

Three of them rest on the bank here. We must have seen 50 on this easy snorkel trip alone.
Image

We did some diving and saw about a dozen Manta Rays up close and personal.
Image

And we got to swim with Spinner Dolphins while free diving from our paddleboards.
Image

We saw several Green and Black Poison Dart Frogs (Dendrobates auratus) in a local garden.
Image

And we spotted a much more uncommon species of day gecko, Phelsuma guimbeaui, the Orange-spotted Day Gecko.
Image

I had planned to propose by spotting a Jackson's Chameleon (Trioceros jacksonii), putting a ring on one of its horns, and letting my girlfriend find it. However, mid-search, tsunami sirens began sounding and we had to abandon our hunting for the evening. I wasn't sure we'd get another chance so I proposed on the beach the next night instead. Immediately after she said yes, we went back to look for chameleons. :)
Image

That pretty much ends the Hawaii chapter of this story. At the time we were living in northern California but I was about to rejoin my old lab at the University of Florida to work on invasive species again. But I had a couple weeks before I had to get back to work so I slowly worked my way across the country. First stop was for a lizard I had sought several times but never found. Fortunately, I got one on what would be my last chance for quite some time... a Panamint Alligator Lizards (Elgaria panamintina).
Image

Then to Arizona for a couple days to collect some snakes for a museum exhibit and find some other things along the way. I saw some common stuff before seeing this Southwestern Speckled Rattlesnake (Crotalus pyrrhus).
Image

And despite spending many hours on the same roads in previous trips without seeing a Green Ratsnake (Senticolis triaspis) I finally found a couple on this short trip during a different season than when I normally visit.
Image

Despite being a relatively common snake, I can't stop loving Crotalus molossus, the Northern Blacktail Rattlesnake.
Image

I found a couple small Banded Rock Rattlesnakes (Crotalus lepidus klauberi) in a range where they are very common.
Image

And in another popular range I camped in the car and woke up with the sunrise to scramble up the mountain where I found this adult Arizona Ridgenose Rattlesnake (Crotalus willardi willardi) stretched out across some shallow talus. It was the kind of scene every herper dreams of photographing and I got my camera out too late. But I was still happy to see the snake. One of two that morning.
Image

Another target that day was the Twin-spotted Rattlesnake (Crotalus pricei). I heard a buzz in some talus but the snake dove before I caught a glimpse. I hunted nearby areas for about 20 minutes and came back to find this snake back out on the crawl, just as everyone says they do. Another reason NOT to dig holes in talus.
Image

I made my way east into New Mexico and hit three mountain ranges where I found one "klaub" in each range.
Image

Image

Image

I was a pretty happy camper (literally) after that so I made my way to eastern Texas. Best find there was this Texas Coral Snake (Micrurus tener).
Image

And I made the trip to Galveston Island to see this rarely posted exotic gecko, the Rough-tailed Gecko (Cyrtopodion scabrum).
Image

Picked up a couple more lifers along the way, mostly map turtle species I spotted while peeking over bridges. Back in Florida things have been as weird as ever. Someone nabbed this Northern African Python (Python sebae) which I took the opportunity to photograph since they are seen infrequently lately.
Image

Image

And I tried to lifelist a few remaining things with some ok results. Here's my first Southern Hognose Snake (Heterodon simus).
Image

Image

And a Short-tailed Kingsnake (Lampropeltis extenuata) that I just barely missed finding alive. Still twitching.
Image

A Panther Chameleon (Furcifer pardalis) was reported in northern Broward County, FL so we went to check out the site and quickly found a young, ugly one, followed by a slightly less ugly female a couple nights later, and a few reports from locals who had seen them recently. We think we got them all out of there before they began breeding. Here's the first one reported since it was the best looking one of the bunch.
Image

A young Greater Siren (Siren lacertina) for good measure.
Image

We've caught nearly 100 Spectacled Caiman (Caiman crocodilus) since I've been back. Here's a large example.
Image

And a small American Crocodile (Crocodylus acutus) captured as part of our research efforts. This hatched from a nest in a new location so it was an exciting find.
Image

And to round out Florida's crocodylians, here's a female American Alligator (Alligator mississippiensis) guarding her nest.
Image

Oh wait... that doesn't round out Florida's crocodylians because we also capture a 5.5 ft. Nile Crocodile (Crocodylus niloticus) in Everglades National Park. It was a complicated process because the animal had been chased for years by others and had become shy. It took about a dozen people from several agencies, nets, snorkels, snares, guns, and a harpoon. Long-time FHF member Chris Gillette finally came up with the animal.
Image

Hopefully he doesn't mind me posting one of his excellent photos. :)
Image

After poking around for a while I caught this Boa constrictor (Boa constrictor) in a residential yard. He was spotted about an hour earlier and I found him completely buried in leaf litter by poking around with a stick at the base of a tree.
Image

While looking for chameleons we found this arboreal Eastern Coral Snake (Micrurus fulvius) in the same tree as a Corn Snake (Pantherophis guttatus). We watched for a while but an ophidian showdown did not occur.
Image

I joined several FHF members on a one-night trip to find the rare Atlantic Salt Marsh Snake (Nerodia clarkii taeniata).
Image

Rainbow Whiptail (Cnemidophorus lemniscatus) from Miami.
Image

In situ Eastern Diamondback Rattlesnake (Crotalus adamanteus) spotted while searching for pythons and the newest headache in southern Florida.
Image

And by headache I mean the Argentine Black and White Tegu (Tupinambis merianae).
Image

Here's one we captured on a trail camera raiding an American Alligator (Alligator mississippiensis) nest. Several tegus eventually cleaned out all the eggs.
Image

We removed this large Nile Monitor (Varanus niloticus) from Broward County, Florida.
Image

A lot of that Florida stuff is not in any particular order but I'll try to get back to a semi-chronological post from here on out. It wasn't long after we moved back to Florida that we got married...
Image

...and headed to Ecuador for our honeymoon. First stop was in Quito to visit long-time friend and former co-worker Ryan Lynch and his wife Pam. We found this cool lizard, Riama unicolor, in his front yard. Quito is at very high elevation so finding anything there is almost a surprise!
Image

Here is Pristimantis eriphus from the cloud forests of the eastern Andes.
Image

We drove across the Andes and descended into the Amazon where we were taken several hours by motorized canoe to Shiripuno Lodge. We saw more species of frog than I can begin to describe. Among the best were this Hemiphractus scutatus..
Image

Phyllomedusa vaillantii...
Image

...and Ryan's #1 frog target which Sarah, now my wife, found on our last night in the forest during a heavy downpour... Cruziohyla craspedopus.
Image

Image

This caecilian, Siphonops annulatus, was a pretty cool find.
Image

I managed to snag a Smooth-fronted Caiman (Paleosuchus trigonatus) which Sarah bravely posed with.
Image

Snakes were somewhat few and far between, I suspect because we were mostly walking at a really good frog hunting speed, but we did manage a few cool species such as this Aquatic Coral Snake (Micrurus surinamensis) which was found cruising through a stream.
Image

Snake and crew in habitat (but not in situ).
Image

We found this nonvenomous Atractus elaps near the lodge and it wasn't until after we released it that we realized it was not a species of coral snake. You never know down there and I was happy to play it safe in such a remote location, even though the snake escaped a few times before we were able to catch it outside the hole it went down. Would have been an easy grab/photo sesh if we had only known!
Image

No trip to the tropics is complete without a fer-de-lance. I've seen a few Bothrops in Belize but this was my first Bothrops atrox.
Image

After the Amazon it was off to the Galapagos. We saw many of these incredible Galapagos Tortoises.
Image

Marine Iguanas (Amblyrhyncus cristatus) were in densities greater than Green Iguanas (Iguana iguana) in Florida, which is really saying something. This large male seems to have quite the harem of females (at least that's how I interpret this scene).
Image

Image

I was hoping to get lucky and see a Land Iguana (Conolophus subcritatus) on Isla Baltra on our way to or from the airport but it didn't happen. We didn't have time to get to one of the better islands to see them so I'm settling for this photo of a captive from the Darwin Research Station.
Image

We were fortunate to do some diving in the islands. We saw four species of shark, the best of which were hammerheads which I only have video of, but also including these White-tipped Reef Sharks which were photographed from dry land.
Image

We swam with a number of Sea Lions which was a real treat. They are pretty playful and I got some good video of them swimming up and somersaulting. Here's a not so great still photo.
Image

I'm skipping over quite a bit of what we saw in Ecuador since this post will be pretty long. All in all we had a great time there and saw tremendous diversity. The next stop on the journey of life was Belize. I'll combine two trips into one summary. Most of our work there revolves around Morelet's Crocodiles (Crocodylus moreletii) and Central American River Turtles (Dermatemys mawii). Here are a couple of each.
Image

Image

Image

We lost two great people from this photo since it was taken. Rafael Crespo (second from right) worked here at UF since 2007 and was a great friend for many years. And Steve Gott (far left) worked in the herp department at the Jacksonville Zoo and although I didn't know him well, the week he spent with us in Belize was enough to convince me he was a great guy passionate about herps. And I know people miss him. We have established a memorial fund for our good friend and outstanding crocodile biologist Rafael Crespo with the hope of establishing an endowment to fund students to research crocodiles. The first will hopefully be starting within the next year. For additional info on Rafael and the fund we have set up in his name, please check out this link: http://crocdoc.ifas.ufl.edu/rafael-crespo-conservation-fund/
Image

We saw plenty of herps in Belize but also some other interesting critters such as these Mexican Porcupines.
Image

Vampire Bat
Image

Kinkajou
Image

And the herps, starting with a Yucatan Banded Gecko (Coleonyx elegans)
Image

Plalacohyla picta
Image

Tantillita canula
Image

Trachycephalus venulosus
Image

And a dark Boa constrictor (Boa constrictor)
Image

More was found but in the interest of brevity we'll move on. My personal vacation in 2014 was a week spent in western Texas. My first real trip to this herp mecca. I had the good fortune of traveling with good buddy and forum all-star Chad Whitney and his lady friend Michal. Since it was my first real trip to the bend all the big targets that people desire were my top priority. We did not fail.
The first few nights were relatively slow with about one big find per night. First was this Black-tailed Rattlesnake (Crotalus ornatus).
Image

The next night was this Trans-Pecos Copperhead (Agkistrodon contortrix pictigaster).
Image

And the third night, despite having a flat tire and nervously hunting on our spare, we scored this dark Blair's phase Gray-banded Kingsnake (Lampropeltis alterna) which quickly lifted our spirits.
Image

Any time I can lifelist a rattlesnake I'm pretty happy. Especially a lepidus ssp! Here we have a nice Mottled Rock Rattlesnake (Crotalus lepidus lepidus) from the Davis Mountains.
Image

Another different looking ornatus.
Image

An obligatory Trans-Pecos Ratsnake (Bogertophis subocularis), one of many.
Image

People were kind of giving me a hard time about lifelisting stupid lizards but while knocking this Presidio Canyon Lizard (Sceloporus merriami longipunctatus) off the list...
Image

...we also found this awesome alterna!
Image

Needless to say I was happy we looked for that lizard! Here's another look.
Image

And a habitat shot where the last two critters were found.
Image

So those are the highlights from Texas. The next big trip was to Utah with the wife to get in some time together just before the baby was born. Herp highlights were this gorgeous pinkish Mojave Desert Sidewinder (Crotalus cerastes cerastes) which had unfortunately been hit on the road.
Image

And my most sought after lifer was the Utah Banded Gecko (Coleonyx variegatus utahensis).
Image

That about does it for cool herps but the scenery was pretty awesome. We visited Zion National Park and Bryce Canyon National Park (which we more or less named our son after).
Zion NP
Image

Bryce Canyon NP
Image

So shortly after that Bryce Collin Rochford was born and a few months after that we were off to Kansas to catch up with friends and family. We joined the Kansas Herpetological Society for their spring field trip in Russell County which was the first time Sarah has had a chance to herp Kansas which is where I pretty much grew up and learned how to herp. So I thought it was important for her to experience. It's such a fun place in the spring and I hadn't even been there during that time of year in a decade. So I was happy to be back and especially to see folks. Here's a habitat shot from Russell County.
Image

Of course, Chad had us on a Central Plains Milksnake (Lampropeltis triangulum gentilis) in no time.
Image

Sarah flipped one rock with four Lined Snakes (Tropidoclonion lineatum)
Image

This Slender Glass Lizard (Ophisaurus attenuatus) was one of our first finds
Image

We headed to eastern Kansas to visit family and found some different critters out that way. Here are a couple Red Milksnakes (Lampropeltis triangulum syspila).
Image

Image

Image

And a couple Speckled Kingsnakes (Lampropeltis getula holbrooki)
Image

Image

It was a very short trip but we had plenty of fun in that time. Memorial Day Weekend of this year I made a rocket run to North Carolina with some co-workers and we cleaned house on salamanders. We didn't sleep much but it was worth it. Here are some highlights.

First some habitat for at least one of the salamanders below.
Image

One of the first finds was this Green Salamander (Aneides aeneus) directly above our heads.
Image

Bat Cave Salamander (Plethodon yonahlossee "longricus")
Image

Weller's Salamander (Plethodon welleri). As you might be able to guess, I didn't have a lot of time to "waste" on photography given the short time frame, long drive from southern Florida, and high number of targets/locales.
Image

Yonahlossee Salamander (Plethodon yonahlossee)
Image

Blue Ridge Spring Salamander (Gyrinophilus porphyriticus danielsi)
Image

Red-cheeked Salamander (Plethodon jordani)
Image

Tellico Salamander (Plethodon aureolus)
Image

Junaluska Salamander (Eurycea junaluska)
Image

Eastern Milksnakes (Lampropeltis triangulum triangulum)
Image

Image

South Mountain Gray-cheeked Salamander (Plethodon meridianus)
Image

And what trip to that area would be complete without a Black Bear (Ursus americanus) or three.
Image

Plenty more species were found but those were the highlights. Last but not least is the trip I just returned from. We went to Colorado and Utah to visit some friends. I didn't have many herp targets but there was one important one... the Midget Faded Rattlesnake (Crotalus concolor).
Image

Well, I could post many more pictures but I feel like this was the cream of the crop in terms of cool animals. I hope everyone enjoyed. I hope I don't wait three years to make another post.

Cheers!

Mike


Top
 Profile WWW 
Reply with quote  
 Post subject: Re: Catching up after 3 years: USA (SW/SE), Ecuador, Belize
PostPosted: August 20th, 2015, 7:56 pm 
User avatar

Joined: June 7th, 2010, 8:56 pm
Posts: 318
Location: SW USA
Hey Mike!
Nice pics man, looks like you have covered some ground since we last saw each other, and I was just in Homestead yesterday lol! I'll shoot you an email...

Cheers
B


Top
 Profile  
Reply with quote  
 Post subject: Re: Catching up after 3 years: USA (SW/SE), Ecuador, Belize
PostPosted: August 20th, 2015, 10:43 pm 
User avatar

Joined: June 29th, 2011, 12:56 am
Posts: 793
Location: Belgium
Don't you just love never-ending posts? :thumb:

What a great all-over-the-place array of species! I'm particularly jealous of the Cruziohyla. Those alterna are also very sweet...

Thanks for posting!


Top
 Profile WWW 
Reply with quote  
 Post subject: Re: Catching up after 3 years: USA (SW/SE), Ecuador, Belize
PostPosted: August 21st, 2015, 10:33 am 
User avatar

Joined: November 3rd, 2012, 6:00 pm
Posts: 2282
Location: Gainesville, FL
This was fun to view. Mind if I ask what counties the short-tail and southern hognose were found?


Top
 Profile WWW 
Reply with quote  
 Post subject: Re: Catching up after 3 years: USA (SW/SE), Ecuador, Belize
PostPosted: August 21st, 2015, 3:46 pm 
Site Admin
User avatar

Joined: June 7th, 2010, 3:08 am
Posts: 674
Great to see a post from you Mike!

I am posting the Rafael Crespo Conservation Fund link on the Herp Nation FB page at 530 pm today.

Scott


Top
 Profile WWW 
Reply with quote  
 Post subject: Re: Catching up after 3 years: USA (SW/SE), Ecuador, Belize
PostPosted: August 21st, 2015, 4:16 pm 
User avatar

Joined: June 8th, 2010, 11:13 pm
Posts: 2416
Location: Greater Houston TX Area
Awesome.

:thumb:


Top
 Profile WWW 
Reply with quote  
 Post subject: Re: Catching up after 3 years: USA (SW/SE), Ecuador, Belize
PostPosted: August 21st, 2015, 4:43 pm 
User avatar

Joined: June 7th, 2010, 4:26 pm
Posts: 689
Location: Gainesville, FL
Epicity!! That was fun to go through, Mike. Of all, my favorite has to be the utahensis. I love Coleonyx!

-Jake


Top
 Profile WWW 
Reply with quote  
 Post subject: Re: Catching up after 3 years: USA (SW/SE), Ecuador, Belize
PostPosted: August 22nd, 2015, 10:51 am 
User avatar

Joined: September 1st, 2010, 10:16 pm
Posts: 23
Location: Miami, FL
That was awesome, Mike. The manta ray photo was insane!


Top
 Profile WWW 
Reply with quote  
 Post subject: Re: Catching up after 3 years: USA (SW/SE), Ecuador, Belize
PostPosted: August 23rd, 2015, 7:15 am 
User avatar

Joined: July 7th, 2012, 5:15 am
Posts: 52
Location: Oz
You've taken some great photos. The arrangement of some of the snake shots is very good and many of the frog pics are excellent as well. What photographic equipment are you using in these shots?


Top
 Profile  
Reply with quote  
 Post subject: Re: Catching up after 3 years: USA (SW/SE), Ecuador, Belize
PostPosted: August 23rd, 2015, 10:49 am 
User avatar

Joined: January 19th, 2014, 4:34 pm
Posts: 532
Location: Springfield, VA
What a great variety of finds, Mike! How did you get involved in the invasive removal down in the Miami area? Is that part of your profession?

Sorry to see the DOR Short-tailed Snake you came across.


Top
 Profile  
Reply with quote  
Display posts from previous:  Sort by  
Post new topic Reply to topic  [ 10 posts ] 

All times are UTC - 8 hours


Who is online

Users browsing this forum: Baidu [Spider] and 27 guests


You cannot post new topics in this forum
You cannot reply to topics in this forum
You cannot edit your posts in this forum
You cannot delete your posts in this forum
You cannot post attachments in this forum

Search for:
Jump to: