A long weekend at the Hoyer's home

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stlouisdude
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A long weekend at the Hoyer's home

Post by stlouisdude » April 24th, 2016, 9:25 am

Richard and Sharon were kind enough to allow me to stay over a long weekend at their home in Oregon. I had a great time as expected. We saw a large number of snakes that mostly went unphotographed but I did take a few pics here and there. I was surprised by the amount of agriculture that exists in the area. A good deal of barns, pastures, and even the occasional abandoned home could be found.

Most interesting to me was the abundance of the snakes we did find. Here, as nearly everywhere else I've been, the snakes seemed abundant where the habitat was right for them. Unfortunately, an administrative rule change based entirely on ignorance could make searching for some of these common and abundant species unlawful this summer.

Rubber Boas:
Richard was able to show me many sites for rubber boas and a good variety of the boas. I would say the rubber boa in that area is about as common as the speckled kingsnake in the hillsides around St. Louis, that is to say you can expect to find them on any given outing in the right weather. I believe we found 14 rubber boas in a single day. If we stumbled across that many boas based on a handful of tins, the vast quantities that exist must be staggering. The boas were often found a long with others of their kind or even other species.
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Mining for Sharptails:
Sharptail snakes were fun to search for, I had not heard of mining for snakes so imagine my surprise when we arrived at the artificial cover and it looked like this.
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And the first pile we rummaged through did indeed produce a sharpie!
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We searched other rock piles and pieces of cover along the roadside and turned up more, they seemed to be all along the road except where herbicides had been sprayed. Richard had noted a decline in numbers in specific stretches of road where herbicide was recently sprayed.

Site changes over time:
One of Richard's sites had been rendered useless from what seemed to be a commercial collector. While sites hit by commercial collectors repopulate from the surrounding area over time, it limits the usefulness of a site to a person trying to conduct recapture studies over a long period of time. Some of Richard's recaptures go back 25 years. Interesting to note were this particular site had numerous ringneck snakes at it. Richard told me we saw more that day than in many years combined. Richard has also found these snakes to be predators of young rubber boas. It's always interesting to visit a spot where someone has a long running history to share with you.
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A few random photos:
Richard's hunting partner
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Oregon Lake
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Highway to the coast
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Garter:
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Western Fence Lizard:
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Coastal View:
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All in all, it was a great trip. It was also reassuring to see that there are no rare species in Oregon and so long as the habitat is preserved, no need for additional action is called for. Hopefully, it will still be legal to take your kids out and see a rubber boa this time next year.

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TravisK
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Re: A long weekend at the Hoyer's home

Post by TravisK » April 26th, 2016, 7:31 am

Mr. Hoyer is a very nice guy and a real knowledge asset for this community. I wish I knew even half of what he knows. It's a real treat to be able to hang out with him in the field. He reminds me a lot of my late grandfather who lived to be 102. May your years be just as long Richard.

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Porter
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Re: A long weekend at the Hoyer's home

Post by Porter » April 27th, 2016, 2:24 pm

stlouisdude wrote:
Mining for Sharptails:
Sharptail snakes were fun to search for, I had not heard of mining for snakes so imagine my surprise when we arrived at the artificial cover and it looked like this.
Image
And the first pile we rummaged through did indeed produce a sharpie!
Image

Interesting! that's definitely a new one on me. how did you find the snakes? how deep in the gravel, where were they exactly, in between the gravel crevices or Near the grass lines? Cool stuff :thumb:

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Ameron
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Glad That You Had Fun, Visitor

Post by Ameron » April 28th, 2016, 3:07 pm

I've had brief correspondences with Richard in the past, and he's advised me on more than one topic. I enjoyed herping with Richard Hoyer once when my other herping buddy & I drove down to Hoyer's area for a visit. We saw quite a few Rubber Boas that day.

My friend & I also saw Richard's Harrier Hawk. I was surprised to learn later that they hunt in packs; I was not aware of any hawks which did this.

Robber Boas really are an enigma in America. They are common in many regions of the West, but I've never seen one in the wild - except whill herping with Hoyer. None of my friends have seen them, either. I've herped dozens of times in the area, while not seeing any boas. Usually I go farther east in the Gorge looking for Mountain Kingsnakes and Southern Alligator Lizards.

We don't have many reptiles here in the Pacific Northwest, but we do have great scenery & cleaner air than many regions. Stay here too long, though, and your skin begins to look pasty...

;)

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beemaster
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Re: Glad That You Had Fun, Visitor

Post by beemaster » April 29th, 2016, 12:14 am

Ameron wrote:I've had brief correspondences with Richard in the past, and he's advised me on more than one topic. I enjoyed herping with Richard Hoyer once when my other herping buddy & I drove down to Hoyer's area for a visit. We saw quite a few Rubber Boas that day.

My friend & I also saw Richard's Harrier Hawk. I was surprised to learn later that they hunt in packs; I was not aware of any hawks which did this.

Robber Boas really are an enigma in America. They are common in many regions of the West, but I've never seen one in the wild - except whill herping with Hoyer. None of my friends have seen them, either. I've herped dozens of times in the area, while not seeing any boas. Usually I go farther east in the Gorge looking for Mountain Kingsnakes and Southern Alligator Lizards.

We don't have many reptiles here in the Pacific Northwest, but we do have great scenery & cleaner air than many regions. Stay here too long, though, and your skin begins to look pasty...

;)
Oh, man, that was driving me crazy. I kept looking at that picture, trying to figure it out. Why the hell was a Harris's Hawk in Oregon? Was it vagrant? I even started second guessing what the species was... extremely melanistic Red-Tailed or Swainson's Hawk? Naw, those don't fit...

The whole time the answer was in the picture description, but for some reason I didn't realize that it was literally his hunting partner until I read your post. I just figured it was a tongue-in-cheek joke. Sometimes I think along those lines when I spot, say, a broad-winged hawk out in the field... she and I are hunting the same quarry, by and large, you know? You're almost connected in that sense. Apparently, this notion is so deeply embedded in my psyche that I failed to consider what is an obvious (and fairly popular) falconer's bird even when displayed as such right before my own eyeballs. Gonna save my forehead a slap and chalk this one up as a lesson learned.

NACairns
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Re: A long weekend at the Hoyer's home

Post by NACairns » April 29th, 2016, 12:29 pm

Such a cool variety of species. I'm always amazed by the densities of rubber boas in places but 19 in a day is outstanding. What ring-neck are they in this area?

hellihooks
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Re: A long weekend at the Hoyer's home

Post by hellihooks » April 29th, 2016, 4:04 pm

Richard Hoyer is probably one of the most awesome persons I've ever met (and herped with) a true paragon of the Fieldherping community... :thumb:

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