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CA Chapter trip to Kennedy Meadows, June 2016

Posted: June 29th, 2016, 12:26 pm
by SurfinHerp
Hey there Everyone,


Here are some photos from our recent group outing to the southern Sierra Nevada mountains in and around Kennedy Meadows…



Myself and my two sons, Trevor and Brady, left home at 11 AM on Thursday and made it to the east side of the southern Sierras around 3 PM.
We stopped at the bottom of the mountains to have a snack and take a quick look around.


The view up Nine Mile Canyon on Thurs. afternoon
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After setting up camp and getting some supplies at the Kennedy Meadows General Store, we crossed paths with Richard Hoyer on the road and made plans to cruise together later that night. Richard had already found a rubber boa under a rock earlier in the day.

On the way back to camp, we found a large San Diego alligator lizard basking Image


Richard, the boys, and I cruised around for about an hour and a half, only seeing a handful of rodents. On the last stretch of road before returning to the campground, we finally made an interesting find – a rattlesnake eating a mouse right in the middle of the pavement…

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Chris P. and his daughter Jenna arrived late on Thurs. night.
On Friday morning we herped near the campground. There were plenty of sagebrush lizards in the camp and pretty much everywhere else.
Chris noosed a big tiger whiptail right in our campsite, then we went down to the stream where Trevor spotted this small Sierra gartersnake
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Around mid-day Friday, Chris and I took a drive down 9 Mile to get into cell phone range.

We made a stop along the way where Chris caught a big yellow backed spiny lizard
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The rest of the day Friday was a disaster for me and my boys. I took them up the mountain to the west so they could coast their bikes for miles downhill back to Kennedy Meadows. Well, they were having fun coasting down the mountain, until they crashed into each other and took a terrible wipeout. Both boys hit the pavement hard and got seriously scraped up. Brady took it especially hard and had a deep cut on his chin. Thankfully their helmets protected their heads.
After getting them cleaned up and assessing their wounds, it was apparent that Brady needed treatment for his chin. I drove them down to the Ridgecrest Hospital where they received good care. Brady got his chin glued back together, and both boys got a lot of bandages. We made it back to camp around 11 PM.
Meanwhile, a number of other NAFHA guys arrived and had a pretty good night road-cruising 9 Mile.


On Saturday morning we decided to delay our Chapter Meeting until 1 PM, and instead cruise the Kennedy Meadows area to see what we could find before it got too hot. Also, we were pleasantly surprised to meet Cary and Isaiah F. from Ridgecrest. They saw the FHF post about the Meeting and decided to show up and introduce themselves.

Sat. morning between 9am-12 noon turned out to be pretty good – especially for leopard lizards. Gravid female leopard lizards were basking all along the roadsides, with a few males spotted as well. Everyone was finding them. Chris noosed one for better photos. Matt G. also found an awesome golden yellow coast horned lizard in the same area where we were photoing leopard lizards. Closer to noon, Cary and Isaiah found a desert striped whipsnake on the road as well.

Leopard lizard
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Horned lizard
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(handled under authority of a SCP)

Desert striped whipsnake
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The group met up at Fish Creek camp, where it was cooler, and had a long discussion of NAFHA issues.

In the afternoon, my boys and I tried fishing for a little while, but the fish weren’t biting,
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Then we went up in elevation to the west and searched around a bit. The only interesting herp we found was this western toad
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After dinner on Saturday, we road-cruised for a while and found a long-nosed snake plus a glossy..
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On Sunday morning we said Goodbye to Richard Hoyer and agreed to come back again next year in May when the ground is still moist.
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Leopard lizards were out in force again on Sunday morning, giving Jenna her chance to noose her first Gambelia

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Here’s a comparison of a gravid female and the nice, large male that Jenna noosed nearby
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South Fork of the Kern River at Kennedy Meadows
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Brady and I drank a couple beers at the General Store at lunch time
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After lunch on Sunday, Chris P., Jenna, Mark B., and me and my boys all went up higher in elevation to see if we could find some moisture.
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After a while of searching around, we found a dripping roadcut where Jenna spotted a Sierran treefrog in a moist crack
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Jenna also spotted this Sierra alligator lizard on the roadcut
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We searched around the small creek below the roadcut, but didn’t find any more frogs or tadpoles
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At a different spot, Chris P. found a big, fat slender salamander under a log. I didn’t get any pics of it though.
Afterwards, Chris and Jenna headed back to San Diego, while me and the boys, and Mark B., went back to camp at Kennedy Meadows. Mark road-cruised 9 Mile that night, but I stayed around camp with the boys.

On Monday morning, we found a bunch more leopard lizards. This time, Trevor was able to noose his first Gambelia
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Then we went to the General Store for a bit before driving back home to SD.

Overall, it was a decent trip for me and the boys. The bike crash, the bugs, and the hot, dry weather were the main detractions. Hopefully we’ll have better luck next May.


Jeff

Re: CA Chapter trip to Kennedy Meadows, June 2016

Posted: June 29th, 2016, 4:06 pm
by Porter
What a cool end to a long night of seeing nothing but mice crossing the road :lol: ...that's a pretty rare thing to see and ya gotta pay yer dues :thumb: That 2nd shot looks great from the side the way he's lifting up to send that guy down the hatch. Excellent capture of natural behavior

I'm definitely one who appreciates seeing unique variations in the more common species and the markings on that CA toad are remarkable :mrgreen: cool large blotching. Kinda looks like the female Yosemite Toads.

Really like the shot of the kids first beer :thumb: reminds me of mine at the old Sam's Hofbrau in downtown Sacramento. First rootbeer I think I'd ever had (out of a barrel tab) or at least the first memory I have of ever drinking one. There's something about a pop with your pop that holds timelss memories. There used to be an orange soda in a blue can, with a logo of an orange with the peel coming off, that read, "shake me." I think it might have been the first carbonated soda with orange pulp or something. Kind of an obscure soda that the bait shop near the Sac river sold. I remember fishing on what felt like one of the hottest days of summer, seeing my first whiptail (which I thought was some kind of super fast alligator) and sharing the last, "Shake Me" with my dad before leaving. Warm to the point it was almost hot...lol still one of the best sodas Ive ever had. I'll probably always remember that :beer:

..and girls noosing gambelia is just awesome, Nuff said :thumb:

Re: CA Chapter trip to Kennedy Meadows, June 2016

Posted: June 29th, 2016, 4:32 pm
by hellihooks
glad the boys are ok... next year (in May)... SAWTOOTH!! :crazyeyes: :D

Re: CA Chapter trip to Kennedy Meadows, June 2016

Posted: June 29th, 2016, 5:01 pm
by Porter
He had a beer, I had a rootbeer lol I guess I didn't necessarily specify that. That was the cool thing about seeing that pic

Re: CA Chapter trip to Kennedy Meadows, June 2016

Posted: June 29th, 2016, 6:16 pm
by Fundad
Sorry about the boys Jeff, but I am glad it wasn't anything extremely serious.

Great photos and nice finds.

The Kern Plateau Slender Salamander - Batrachoseps robustus is also a cool find, and likely a lifer.

I am glad all the NAFHA issues got worked out. :thumb: :beer:

Great Job
Fundad

Re: CA Chapter trip to Kennedy Meadows, June 2016

Posted: June 29th, 2016, 7:32 pm
by RobertH
Here is a photo of the gartersnake Mark found:

ImageP1070015 by Robert Hess, on Flickr

Again, I believe it is a Mountain Gartersnake (Thamnophis elegans elegans), but let us know if you think otherwise.

Thanks,

Robert

Re: CA Chapter trip to Kennedy Meadows, June 2016

Posted: June 29th, 2016, 11:08 pm
by Porter
Yep, I knew it had to have had some blue speckling. Not much, but from what I've seen that means mountain garter. Looks a little dark and odd tho... Im not familiar with any of the soCal herp variations, but you all know I really want to scream out, "hybrid!!" :lol:

Just read the part about the crash and trip to the doc...
red badge of courage boys... red badges of courage :thumb: :thumb:

Re: CA Chapter trip to Kennedy Meadows, June 2016

Posted: June 30th, 2016, 8:17 am
by hellihooks
Kids... noosing lifer lizards... hard to beat... ;)
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Re: CA Chapter trip to Kennedy Meadows, June 2016

Posted: June 30th, 2016, 8:33 am
by Porter
Ok, so apparently everyone has a gila monster shirt except for me... :?

Re: CA Chapter trip to Kennedy Meadows, June 2016

Posted: July 1st, 2016, 4:47 am
by Calfirecap
Great post Jeff and well done on a very successful trip. I know it takes a lot of work to put these things together :beer:

Re: CA Chapter trip to Kennedy Meadows, June 2016

Posted: July 1st, 2016, 9:16 am
by mark buck
Nice photos Jeff, also your tally on the other page looks about right.

Robert, I definitely agree that the snake in question is a Mountain Gartersnake.

Big thanks to Jeff for organizing this trip and also to everyone that attended.
Although we didn't find many Rubber Boas and failed to see a zonata,
I'd say we covered the area pretty well considering the conditions.

Here's a few of my photos from the event...

Couldn't get my hands on this Striped Whipsnake before he bolted down a hole,
but I did manage this picture from the driver's seat.
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Tiger Whiptail noosed inside the campground.
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Chris, Jenna, and I came across this Northern Pacific Rattlesnake coiled up a few inches
from the water, instead of posing for pictures, he bolted accross the stream.
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Chris and Jenna checking out the first snake of the night, a Gopher Snake.
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Matt cruised this Rosy Boa ahead of us, safe to say everyone was very excited about this find.
I was happy to have Richard riding shotgun as we came up on his first ever live Rosy Boa, aka "the wrong boa".
It should also be noted that Richard stayed out with us until 3AM roadcruising that night, and in good spirit!
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The next snake was a nice Sidewinder.
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It wasn't uncommon to come across 2 different Long Nosed Leopard Lizards in one stop.
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One more shot of that Coast Horned Lizard's bright yellow ventral side.
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Many of the female Leopard Lizards were displaying a lot of orange.
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Fish Creek
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Sierra Gartersnake
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Robert, Ben and Isaiah photographing the Mountain Gartersnake.
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I flipped this Northern Alligator Lizard soon after.
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Smoke from the Lake Isabella fire turned the moon blood orange that night.
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Jeff and Trevor with a Long Nosed Leopard Lizard.
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Chris showing off a Leopard Lizard I noosed.
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Chris and Jenna noosing another lizard.
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Nick showing off the Rubber Boa that Robert found.
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Chris flipped this Kern Plateau Slender Salamander, a cool find.
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I went down to the desert floor to get cell service and roadcruised this Sidewinder on my way back.
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Leopard Lizards had become the morning routine.
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Thanks for looking!

Mark

Re: CA Chapter trip to Kennedy Meadows, June 2016

Posted: July 1st, 2016, 11:53 pm
by Porter
Nice addition of pics :beer: Cool periscoping whipsnake capture :thumb: Always cool to see that! Can't say I've ever seen that from the middle of the road and approaching in a vehicle no less

Re: CA Chapter trip to Kennedy Meadows, June 2016

Posted: July 5th, 2016, 8:40 am
by Zach_Lim
Late to the party, but looks like an amazing time was had by all! Jeff, sorry to hear about your sons! Hope everything is ok!

Some great finds! Wish I was able to make it down.

Re: CA Chapter trip to Kennedy Meadows, June 2016

Posted: July 10th, 2016, 5:41 pm
by RobertH
I finally finished editing my photos from the meeting. My dad, Jonathon and myself started our trip night walking in the California City area. Ironically we didn't find any nocturnal species, although we did find two Tortoises and a Horned Lizard.

ImageDesert Tortoise (Gopherus agassizii) by NicholasHess, on Flickr

ImageSouthern Desert Horned Lizard (Phrynosoma platyrhinos calidiarum) by NicholasHess, on Flickr

The next morning we went back there and found a few more lizards.

ImageWestern Zebra-tailed Lizard (Callisaurus draconoides rhodostictus) by NicholasHess, on Flickr

ImageWestern Zebra-tailed Lizard (Callisaurus draconoides rhodostictus) by NicholasHess, on Flickr

ImageSouthern Desert Horned Lizard (Phrynosoma platyrhinos calidiarum) by NicholasHess, on Flickr

ImageSouthern Desert Horned Lizard (Phrynosoma platyrhinos calidiarum) by NicholasHess, on Flickr

ImageLongnose Leopard Lizard (Gambelia wislizenii) by NicholasHess, on Flickr

After the morning hours passed we headed up to Kennedy Meadows.

ImageWestern Sagebrush Lizard (Sceloporus graciosus gracilis) by NicholasHess, on Flickr

ImageSierra Gartersnake (Thamnophis couchii) by NicholasHess, on Flickr

ImageWestern Long-nosed Snake (Rhinocheilus lecontei) by NicholasHess, on Flickr

ImageWestern Long-nosed Snake (Rhinocheilus lecontei) by NicholasHess, on Flickr

ImageMojave Glossy Snake (Arizona elegans candida) by NicholasHess, on Flickr

ImageMojave Desert Sidewinder (Crotalus cerastes cerastes) by NicholasHess, on Flickr

ImageLongnose Leopard Lizard (Gambelia wislizenii) by NicholasHess, on Flickr

ImageBlainville's Horned Lizard (Phrynosoma blainvillii) by NicholasHess, on Flickr

ImageBlainville's Horned Lizard (Phrynosoma blainvillii) by NicholasHess, on Flickr

ImageLongnose Leopard Lizard (Gambelia wislizenii) by NicholasHess, on Flickr

ImageDesert Striped Whipsnake (Coluber taeniatus) by NicholasHess, on Flickr

ImageSpotted Leaf-nosed Snake (Phyllorhynchus decurtatus) by NicholasHess, on Flickr

ImageNorthern Rubber Boa (Charina bottae) by NicholasHess, on Flickr

ImageNorthern Rubber Boa (Charina bottae) by NicholasHess, on Flickr

ImageNorthern Rubber Boa (Charina bottae) by NicholasHess, on Flickr

ImageNorthern Rubber Boa (Charina bottae) by NicholasHess, on Flickr

ImageNorthern Rubber Boa (Charina bottae) by NicholasHess, on Flickr

ImageNorthern Rubber Boa (Charina bottae) by NicholasHess, on Flickr

Thank you to everybody who attended the event, and especially to Jeff Nordland. I'm excited for next years meeting :D

Nicholas

Re: CA Chapter trip to Kennedy Meadows, June 2016

Posted: July 10th, 2016, 9:43 pm
by randyweber
Wow! Great finds and fantastic shots. What kind of photography gear are you shooting with?