Southern California Herping Part 2

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mothman
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Joined: June 25th, 2014, 10:34 am
Location: Huntington, West Virginia

Southern California Herping Part 2

Post by mothman » July 30th, 2016, 4:43 pm

The second installment of my trip to southern California will cover Joshua Tree National Park. I have not been back to southern California since 1989 so this trip brings back old memories for me. Joshua Tree NP is one of my most favorite national parks since it is spectacular from both a scenic and a herpetological perspective. Joshua Tree National Park is composed of a northern Mojave Desert component and a southern Colorado Desert component. Naturally my first picture is of a Joshua Tree in the Mojave Desert part. Image
The northwestern part near Yucca Valley, California is a delight to hike even in the warm temperatures in early June.Image
I have longed to see a Northern Three-lined (or Rosy) Boa (Lichanura trivirgata) in its habitat and I was rewarded with this one along the trail on the second day. Image
Speckled Rattlesnakes (Crotalus mitchellii) are common in the park. This one sequestered in the rocks buzzed me as I was photographing chuckwallas.Image
I was photographing the setting sun at my campsite when the I noticed the jays were making quit a racket. I saw one bouncing up and down on the campground road. Then my eyes honed in on the object of his displeasure. A speckled rattlesnake at my campsite. Image
Sunset at Joshua Tree National Park
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My first night cruise for snakes only yielded this recently run over Gopher Snake (Pituophis catenifer). Image
A second night cruise was much more successful. Northern Desert Night Snake (Hypsiglena chlorophaea deserticola)
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California King Snake (Lampropeltis californiae)Image
Desert Banded Gecko (Coleonyx variegatus variegatus).
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Mojave Shovel-nosed Snake (Chionactis occipitalis occipitalis)
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Western Long-nosed Snake (Rhinocheilus lecontei)
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Unfortunately many tourists were photographing the sunset and as soon as darkness ensued they headed back into their cars and zipped along the park roads resulting in a number of road kills. Desert Patch-nosed Snake (Salvadora hexalepis hexalepis)Image
A rather sad looking San Diego Banded Gecko (Coleonyx variegatus abbotti) met a dismal end on the road. It does not appear to have been in the best of condition as shown by the shriveled appearance of the skin on its head.
ImageJoshua Tree National Park is renown for its rock formations. The first one below should be named the "Hershey Kiss".Image
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What would a late spring day be without a little love making amongst our saurian friends. Western Side-blotched Lizards (Uta stansburiana elegans) engaged in carnal pursuits. Image
Great Basin Whiptails (Aspidoscelis tigris tigris) occupied with other drives than fleeing my presence.
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Yellow-backed Spiny Lizard (Sceloporus uniformis)
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Yellow-backed Spiny Lizard (Sceloporus uniforms)
ImageWestern Side-blotched Lizard (Uta stansburiana elegans), male
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Desert Spiny Lizard (Sceloporus magister magister)
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Great Basin Whiptail (Aspidoscelis tigris tigris)
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Boulders and rocks are prime Chuckwalla and Collared Lizard habitat.
ImageChuckwalla (Sauromalus ater), male
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Chuckwalla (Sauromalus ater), male
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Chuckwalla (Sauromalus ater), male
ImageChuckwalla (Sauromalus ater), female
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Great Basin Collared Lizard (Crotaphytus bicinctores)
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Great Basin Collared Lizard (Crotaphytus bicinctores)Image
Great Basin Collared Lizard (Crotaphytus bicinctores)Image
Great Basin Collared Lizard (Crotaphytus bicinctores)Image
While hiking on a trail my eye caught a Side-blotched Lizard sunning on a rock. Oh just another Western Side-blotched Lizard I thought to myself. But wait! There 's more! On an adjacent rock was one of my target species, Blainville’s Horned Lizard (Phrynosomta blainvillii).
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Blainville’s Horned Lizard (Phrynosoma blainvillii)Image
Blainville’s Horned Lizard (Phrynosomta blainvillii). The lizard was nervous at first to my presence but became accustomed to me and fed on ants while I was filming.
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Red racer (Coluber flagellum piceus)
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Cactus flower
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Can anyone identify this plant? I found it to be very unusual.
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There are dunes at the southern extent of the Mojave Desert where Mojave Fringe-toed Lizards (Uma scoparia) were found.Image
Mojave Fringe-toed Lizard (Uma scoparia)
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Heading further south into the Colorado desert I came across a Southern Desert Horned Lizard (Phrynosomta platyrhinos calidiarum)
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Southern Desert Horned Lizard (Phrynosomta platy rhinos calidiarum)Image

Western Zebra-tailed Lizard (Callisaurus draconoides rhodostictus)ImageColorado Desert scrub habitat at campsite. Many species of lizards graced my "estate".
ImageDesert Spiny Lizard (Sceloporus magister magister), male at campground.
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I shared the shade provided by a yucca plant at my campsite with a juvenile Yellow-backed Spiny Lizard (Sceloporus uniforms)
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Sunsets always deserve another photograph as I began a night cruise for herps.
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Desert Night Lizard (Xantusia vigils vigilis) crossing the road.
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I tried to grab the lizard to get it off the road but it ran up my arm to pose with me for a selfie.Image
Western Diamond-backed Rattlesnake (Crotalus atrox)
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Last stop on my itinerary was the Algodones Dunes in Imperial County to search for Flat-tailed Horned Lizards (Phrynosomta mcallii) and Colorado Desert Fringe-toed Lizards (Uma notata). I struck out on the Flat-tails but I did see Fringe-toed Lizards but none that I could capture on camera.
Sunrise at Algodones DunesImage
Early morning at Algodones DunesImage
Finally there are other animals besides reptiles and amphibians. This is a burrowing owl in a field in Imperial County.
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I hope you enjoyed the show.

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Fieldnotes
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Re: Southern California Herping Part 2

Post by Fieldnotes » July 30th, 2016, 8:52 pm

Another amazing post and now im hoping there's more. That campsite in the lower section of the park looks familiar, as if i once camped there. A person must have amazing eyes to roadcruise a Night Lizard—pretty cool. :beer: One of those Desert Spiny Lizard, more precisely the 3rd one down is S. occidentalis.

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Porter
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Re: Southern California Herping Part 2

Post by Porter » July 31st, 2016, 9:06 am

The first chain-link necked basin I found was also DOR... next one will be better ;)

Nice variety of chucks :thumb: Really dggin those rocks and those shots of the lizard love are outstanding! Gary Nafis may like to see those... Burrowing owls rock! I just saw last night, that my little guy is back to tending his hole. Going out to photo him tonight. Coolest birds, my fav without a doubt :beer:

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LouB747
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Re: Southern California Herping Part 2

Post by LouB747 » August 9th, 2016, 9:52 pm

Nice post. Love specks.

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Chad M. Lane
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Re: Southern California Herping Part 2

Post by Chad M. Lane » August 13th, 2016, 5:16 pm

Fieldnotes wrote:Another amazing post and now im hoping there's more. That campsite in the lower section of the park looks familiar, as if i once camped there. A person, most have amazing eyes to roadcruise a Night Lizard—pretty cool. :beer: One of those Desert Spiny Lizard, more precisely the 3rd one down, is S. occidentalis.
I second that ID.

Nice post!



Cheers,
Chad

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