It is currently November 15th, 2018, 11:21 pm

All times are UTC - 8 hours




Post new topic Reply to topic  [ 13 posts ] 
Author Message
 Post subject: First 3/4 of 2016- part one, winter and spring
PostPosted: September 11th, 2016, 5:47 pm 

Joined: June 7th, 2010, 5:46 am
Posts: 612
Location: Albuquerque, NM
Forays into the natural history of New Mexico (and Arizona)- first 3/4 of 2016, part one Winter and Spring

Seems like I’ve developed a pattern here of FHF of posting biennially, but I’m late this year. I’ll preface it with my standard apologies of it’s long and it’s not just herps. Herps will always be my first love, but it’s impossible to go out into the field searching for them and not develop a love for birds, mammals, landscapes, and everything else nature offers up. I’m breaking this one up into three parts.

Image

https://500px.com/photo/134404009/rio-grande-cottonwood-leaf-on-snow-by-bill-gorum

I’m a high school science teacher and in New Mexico if you are qualified to teach any science you are considered qualified to teach all the sciences. So when my school asked me to teach physics a few years ago I accepted, despite the fact that my formal education in physics consisted of only the two semesters of introductory physics I was required to take in order to get my biology degree. I think teaching physics is actually starting to have an impact on my photography! A cottonwood leaf sinking into the snow. Perfect example of energy conversion and heat transfer!


Image

https://500px.com/photo/134404011/bare-rio-grande-cottonwoods-in-winter-by-bill-gorum


Image

https://500px.com/photo/134604387/porcupine-nibbling-on-russian-olive-by-bill-gorum

The Rio Grande bosque in Albuquerque has got to have one of the highest densities of porcupines of any place. One of the really cool things about the porcupines here that I’ve observed is that they actually seem to prefer the bark of invasive Russian olives and salt cedars to native species.


Image

https://500px.com/photo/134604391/rio-grande-cottonwoods-in-winter-twilight-by-bill-gorum


Image

https://500px.com/photo/134604393/sandia-mountains-at-twilight-from-the-rio-grande-by-bill-gorum

As cities go, Albuquerque is really not a bad place to live at all!


Image

https://500px.com/photo/140615187/salinas-pueblo-missions-national-monument-new-mex-by-bill-gorum

At the end of January, I joined some other photographers for a trip to the Salinas Pueblo Missions National Monument.


Image

https://500px.com/photo/140615185/salinas-pueblo-missions-national-monument-new-mex-by-bill-gorum


Image

https://500px.com/photo/140615189/salinas-pueblo-missions-national-monument-new-mex-by-bill-gorum

The monument was pretty cool, but as we were finishing up one of the members of the group got a call from a friend saying he was going out with a falconer to take pictures of him exercising his Harris Hawks and if we could make it there within a couple hours we could join them. There was no way we could make it out from where we were, (Gran Quivara, the southernmost and most out of the way of the three units of the National Monument), back to the highway and down to where they were going to be in time. Fortunately, the ranger at the monument told us about a short cut! So ensued a knarly, high speed race down one of those dirt roads that really should not be driven at a knarly, high rate of speed!


Image

https://500px.com/photo/140503883/captive-harris-hawk-parabuteo-unicinctus-by-bill-gorum

But we made it!


Image

https://500px.com/photo/140119043/harris-hawk-parabuteo-unicinctus-captive-by-bill-gorum


Image

https://500px.com/photo/140050381/captive-harris-hawk-parabuteo-unicinctus-by-bill-gorum

Of course the tassels and bells show in most of the photographs, but still it was a pretty cool experience.


Image

https://500px.com/photo/141462797/sandhill-cranes-grus-canadensis-new-mexico-by-bill-gorum

Winter in this part of New Mexico is really not complete without Sandhill Cranes. I didn’t get out much until the middle of February, but by that time Bosque del Apache NWR, the usual go-to spot for cranes, really didn’t have many. Instead there were large numbers of cranes at the Bernardo Wildlife Management Area, some 50 miles north of BDA, which is where this picture was taken.


Image

https://500px.com/photo/141462801/rio-grande-cottonwoods-populus-deltoides-by-bill-gorum

Cottonwoods at Bernardo

Image

https://500px.com/photo/141601499/mule-deer-odocoileus-hemionus-new-mexico-by-bill-gorum

While the cranes may have been lacking at Bosque del Apache it is still my favorite spot for sheer diversity. Mule deer at BDA.


Image

https://500px.com/photo/141601501/western-painted-turtles-chrysemys-picta-belli-by-bill-gorum

Finally, herps! Painted Turtles basking at Bosque del Apache on February 20th.


Image

https://500px.com/photo/141601503/calling-male-red-winged-blackbird-new-mexico-by-bill-gorum

The sound that always calls out to me, “Spring is here!”. Calling Red-winged Blackbird.


Image

https://500px.com/photo/141614047/american-coot-fulica-americana-preening-by-bill-gorum


Image

https://500px.com/photo/141898089/western-painted-turtle-chrysemys-picta-belli-by-bill-gorum

Another Painted Turtle. (Hey it’s February, I’ll take what I can get)!


Image

https://500px.com/photo/141898093/pair-of-snow-geese-one-with-a-broken-wing-by-bill-gorum

This is kind of a touching story. The goose in the foreground obviously has a broken wing. The one in the background is its mate. As the sun was setting, a small flock of snow geese, (probably these individuals’ offspring from last year), began swimming out into the middle of one of the marshes. (They do this at night for protection from coyotes and other predators). The one with the broken wing tried to follow, but it seemed as though having its wing in the water hurt it, so it just came back to shore and honked. Its mate would honk back, as though beckoning it to join the others, but it couldn’t. Eventually its mate returned to shore and joined it on land.


Image

https://500px.com/photo/142454693/bare-rio-grande-cottonwoods-and-moon-in-winter-by-bill-gorum


Image

https://500px.com/photo/142454695/sunset-on-man-made-marsh-at-bosque-del-apache-by-bill-gorum



Image

https://500px.com/photo/142454701/great-egret-ardea-alba-roosting-at-dusk-by-bill-gorum

End of February and some of the summer residents are beginning to arrive.


Image

https://500px.com/photo/142609369/western-diamond-backed-rattlesnake-at-a-den-by-bill-gorum

On February 28th I paid a visit to a den a friend had located the previous year. Only this single snake was in evidence though.


Image

https://500px.com/photo/142609371/sunset-over-a-man-made-marsh-at-bosque-del-apache-by-bill-gorum

Seems like I have a lot of pictures of the sun setting over this particular marsh in late winter. Its situating just perfectly to catch the reflections at this time of year.


Image

https://500px.com/photo/142734963/sun-setting-behind-rio-grande-cottonwood-by-bill-gorum

One of my personal favorite cottonwood trees. Great place to park and rest in the shade at midday, often has quail hanging around it.


Image

https://500px.com/photo/143454595/immature-cooper-s-hawk-accipiter-cooperii-by-bill-gorum's Hawk, (Accipiter cooperii). by Bill Gorum on 500px.com



Image

https://500px.com/photo/143454597/mule-deer-odocoileus-hemionus-doe-by-bill-gorum



Image

https://500px.com/photo/143454599/clouds-after-sunset-through-the-trees-over-the-marsh-by-bill-gorum

There’s that marsh again!


Image

https://500px.com/photo/144501179/basking-big-bend-slider-trachemys-g-gaigea-by-bill-gorum



Image

https://500px.com/photo/144501183/young-striped-skunk-scavenging-a-dried-up-coot-by-bill-gorum

So I’ve been accused of having a certain connection with skunks! Not sure if I should take that as a compliment or an insult, but I really do like skunks. They are like the snakes of the mammal world. So many people fear or loathe them because of things they believe about them that are based on no actual experience with the animals. Late winter is a great time for skunks at BDA. It’s when they mate and it’s not uncommon to see half a dozen or more in an evening at this time of year.


Image
Western Meadowlark, (Sturnella neglecta). by Bill Gorum on 500px.com

Image
Neotropic Cormorant, (Phalacrocorax brasilianus). by Bill Gorum on 500px.com

Image
Western Painted Turtles, (Chrysemys picta bellii). by Bill Gorum on 500px.com

Image
Mexican Duck, (Anas diazi), drake. by Bill Gorum on 500px.com

Mexican ducks are a species I seem to be seeing more frequently at Bosque del Apache the last couple years.


Image
Rio Grande Wild Turkey. by Bill Gorum on 500px.com

Image
Greater Roadrunner, (Geococcyx californianus). by Bill Gorum on 500px.com

Roadrunner snapping at knats

Image
Last of the Snow Geese at Bosque del Apache. by Bill Gorum on 500px.com

Another Snow Goose with a broken wing. Just like with the previous one, this one’s mate would not leave it. Both were hanging around one of the canals long after all the other light geese had flown north.

Image
Calling male Red-winged Blackbird. by Bill Gorum on 500px.com

Image
Bosque fire at Sevilleta National Wildlife Refuge. by Bill Gorum on 500px.com

A bosque fire near Bernardo on March 27th. An introduced beetle has been devastating Salt Cedars in this area. Good news on the one hand since Salt Cedar is an invasive species that sucks up tons of water and and degrades habitats for wildlife along many water courses in the southwest, but all the dead and dying Salt Cedars have now created an even bigger fire hazard.

Image
Neotropic Cormorant, (Phalacrocorax brasilianus). by Bill Gorum on 500px.com

Image
Calling Pied-billed Grebe, (Podilymbus podiceps). by Bill Gorum on 500px.com

Image
Preening Cattle Egrets, (Bubulcus ibis). by Bill Gorum on 500px.com

Image
Big Bend Slider and Western Painted Turtle. by Bill Gorum on 500px.com

Image
Western Painted Turtle, (Chrysemys picta bellii). by Bill Gorum on 500px.com

Image
Rio Grande Cottonwoods blooming #3 by Bill Gorum on 500px.com

Image
Blooming Rio Grande Cottonwoods #4 by Bill Gorum on 500px.com

Image
Blooming Rio Grande Cottonwoods #5 by Bill Gorum on 500px.com

Image
Ruddy Duck drake resting in bullrushes. by Bill Gorum on 500px.com

Image
Snow Goose pair, one with a broken wing. by Bill Gorum on 500px.com

The faithful Snow Goose pair again!


Image
Desert Cottontail, (Sylvilagus audubonii). by Bill Gorum on 500px.com

Image
Desert Cottontail, (Sylvilagus audubonii). by Bill Gorum on 500px.com

Image
Sleeping pair of Mallards, (Anas platyrhynchos). by Bill Gorum on 500px.com


Image
Great, Snowy, and Cattle Egrets roosting together. by Bill Gorum on 500px.com

Image
Striped Skunk, (Mephitis mephitis), foraging. by Bill Gorum on 500px.com

I’ve been able to get really close to a couple of individual skunks that I kept seeing over and over in the same area. They really don’t deserve the reputation they’ve got. I’m not sure what you would need to do to actually get one to spray. Kick it maybe! Simple proximity is certainly not enough.

Image
Neotropic Cormorant with a Catfish. by Bill Gorum on 500px.com

Image
Great Blue Heron with a Crayfish by Bill Gorum on 500px.com

Image
Bare Rio Grande Cottonwoods and Storm Clouds. by Bill Gorum on 500px.com

Image
Curious Striped Skunk, (Mephitis mephitis). by Bill Gorum on 500px.com

Image
Eastern Black-tailed Rattlesnakes basking at den. by Bill Gorum on 500px.com

As near as I can tell this is one of two main entrances into a high elevation den that I’ve been checking on for a few years now. It’s really a pretty nondescript hole in the rocks, but there are always a number of black-tails piled up together at this hole in the spring.

Image
Eastern Black-tailed Rattlesnakes basking at den. by Bill Gorum on 500px.com

This appears to be the second main entrance to the den and is located several meters upslope from the first.

Image
Male Red-winged Blackbird, (Agelaius phoeniceus). by Bill Gorum on 500px.com

Image
Foraging Striped Skunk, (Mephitis mephitis) #2. by Bill Gorum on 500px.com

Image
Rocky Mountain Mule Deer, (Odocoileus h. hemionus) by Bill Gorum on 500px.com

Image
Male Red-winged Blackbird calling. by Bill Gorum on 500px.com

Image
Striped Skunk, (Mephitis mephitis). by Bill Gorum on 500px.com

This little guy/girl had its face down foraging in the wet Summer Cypress and walked straight towards me as I laid on the ground. This is the moment it realized I was there. True to form it got startled, arched its back a little, then realized I wasn’t a threat and just detoured around me.

Image
Striped Skunk, (Mephitis mephitis), drinking water by Bill Gorum on 500px.com

Image
A stormy evening at Bosque del Apache. by Bill Gorum on 500px.com

Image
Defensive Prairie Rattlesnake, (Crotalus viridis). by Bill Gorum on 500px.com

A Prairie Rattlesnake that I would have just walked past had it not rattled.


Image
Black Phoebe with a Dragonfly by Bill Gorum on 500px.com

Image
Female American Kestrel, (Falco sparverius). by Bill Gorum on 500px.com

Image
Turkey Vulture scavenging a fish. by Bill Gorum on 500px.com

Image
Loco Weeds or Milkvetch, (Astragalas sp.). by Bill Gorum on 500px.com

Image
Flooded Rio Grande Cottonwoods, Populus deltoides. by Bill Gorum on 500px.com

Image
Dry bed of the Rio Salado, New Mexico. by Bill Gorum on 500px.com

Image
Porcupine resting in a Cottonwood Tree. by Bill Gorum on 500px.com

Image
Juvenile Red-eared Sliders basking. by Bill Gorum on 500px.com

Juvenile Red-eared Sliders at the Tingley Beach Wildlife Management Ponds. Sad to see this. Red-ears are not native to the Rio Grande and at Tingley Beach they seem to have completely replaced the native Painted Turtles.


Image
Juvenile Great Horned Owls, (Bubo virginianus). by Bill Gorum on 500px.com


Image
White-crowned Sparrow eating Russian Olive flowers by Bill Gorum on 500px.com


Image
Black-chinned Hummingbird, (Archilochus alexandri) by Bill Gorum on 500px.com


Image
Great Egret with Tiger Salamander larvae. by Bill Gorum on 500px.com
At the end of April, I photographed this Great Egret feeding at Bosque del Apache. I didn’t realize, until I got home and looked at the pictures on the computer, that it was eating Tiger Salamander larvae. This is interesting to me because I’ve never seen Tiger Salamanders breeding in my area and don’t even know when they do it! I sort of assumed during the summer monsoons, but this marsh was dry during the summer and was filled in the fall before all the cranes and geese arrived. That makes me wonder if the salamanders bred here in the winter/early spring like they do in some other areas. I suppose it’s also possible that they were in the canal that was used to fill the marsh.


Image
Audubon


Image
White-faced Ibis with Crayfish by Bill Gorum on 500px.com


Image
Prairie Rattlesnake, (Crotalus viridis). by Bill Gorum on 500px.com
May 6th was Prairie Rattlesnake day for some reason. This is the first of two I cruised on the levee roads at Bosque del Apache. The paved roads on the way home after dark yielded several more.


Image
Prairie Rattlesnake, (Crotalus viridis). by Bill Gorum on 500px.com
This faded out appearance is something I frequently see in Prairie Rattlesnakes that are encountered on roads at night. It also occasionally shows up during the day. It is not permanent. Snakes that look like this on the road at night, that we have held for photos, changed to look like completely normal viridis the next day. This sort of color change is not without precedent in rattlesnakes. Arizona Black Rattlesnakes are well known for it and I’ve also observed something similar in Western Diamond-backs.


Image
Desert Kingsnake, (Lampropeltis splendida). by Bill Gorum on 500px.com
Spring in New Mexico means wind! Desert kingsnake out on the crawl in a dust storm.


Image
Western Wood-Pewee, (Contopus sordidulus). by Bill Gorum on 500px.com


Image
Sunlight on freshly plowed field. by Bill Gorum on 500px.com


Image
Mallard, (Anas platrhynchos), Hen with Ducklings by Bill Gorum on 500px.com
So we’ve all heard the saying, “If there are no pictures, it didn’t happen”, but you’ll just have to take my word for this one. Right after I took this picture I had dropped the camera away from my eye and was holding it at my side while I watched the ducks swim towards a big algae mat. All of a sudden a big female New Mexico Garter Snake that I hadn’t seen in the algae tried to grab a duckling! Mama Mallard chased the snake as the ducklings swan away and it all happened before I could even get the camera back up to my eye!


Image
Mallard, (Anas platrhynchos), Hen with Ducklings by Bill Gorum on 500px.com
Doesn’t she look like a mama that means business?


Image
American Robin foraging on insect larvae by Bill Gorum on 500px.com


Image
Canada Goose watching over its goslings by Bill Gorum on 500px.com


Image
Greater Roadrunner eating Grasshopper. by Bill Gorum on 500px.com


Image
Southwestern Fence Lizard, (Sceloporus cowlesi). by Bill Gorum on 500px.com


Image
Greater Roadrunner eating a caterpillar. by Bill Gorum on 500px.com


Image
Pair of male Mexican Ducks, (Anas diazi). by Bill Gorum on 500px.com


Image
Great Egret landing at its roost. by Bill Gorum on 500px.com


Image
Javelina, (Pecari tajacu), Bosque del Apache NWR. by Bill Gorum on 500px.com


Image
Canyon Towhee, (Melazone fusca). by Bill Gorum on 500px.com


Image
Female Yellow Warbler, (Setophaga petechia). by Bill Gorum on 500px.com


Image
Bulrushes in the wind, Bosque del Apache NWR, NM by Bill Gorum on 500px.com


Image
Turkey Vulture eating a road killed Painted Turtle by Bill Gorum on 500px.com
On May 14th this female Painted Turtle got run over on the tour loop at Bosque del Apache. You can see one of her eggs on the ground behind the Turkey Vulture.

Check out part 2 for mucho mas herps!


Top
 Profile  
Reply with quote  
 Post subject: Re: First 3/4 of 2016- part one, winter and spring
PostPosted: September 16th, 2016, 9:03 am 

Joined: January 28th, 2011, 10:51 pm
Posts: 128
Location: SW New Mexico
I love the porcupine and skunk photos here! I, too, have found it relatively easy to get near skunks without getting sprayed. I'm glad they don't have quick triggers.


Quote:
This faded out appearance is something I frequently see in Prairie Rattlesnakes that are encountered on roads at night. It also occasionally shows up during the day. It is not permanent. Snakes that look like this on the road at night, that we have held for photos, changed to look like completely normal viridis the next day. This sort of color change is not without precedent in rattlesnakes. Arizona Black Rattlesnakes are well known for it and I’ve also observed something similar in Western Diamond-backs.


This is a revelation. Color change in viridis? Really!? I rarely herp near ABQ but when I happen to be up that way for work, I usually cruise for massasaugas (and settle for viridis.) I like the way there are occasional "blonde" prairies and always hope to find one as a consolation if the saugs aren't bitin'. The faded appearance you describe also includes much lighter color than usual, right? It seems like the ratio is maybe 1 out of 3 viridis I see up that way are "blonde"...faded pattern and lighter color. Your observation brings all sorts of questions like:
- Why would they be lighter at night and darker during the day? I've seen Cerberus that were way darker at night - and that makes good sense from a crypsis perspective.
- Why would only certain members of the population appear lighter? Like I said, it seems like 2/3 of the viridis I see up there have essentially normal coloration and pattern. Why would some found in the same general area and time be dark while some of their counterparts are light?
- Why aren't there other populations of "blonde" viridis across the state? Maybe there are and I just don't get out enough. I did see one "blonde" near Nutt, NM once. But absolutely I have seen zero blondes (out of maybe 100 viridis found) in the SW corner of the state that I frequent.
- Why don't viridis in the SW corner of the state change color? Down here they look essentially the same - day or night.

Not expecting you or anyone to answer these questions necessarily. It's just intriguing. Thanks so much for sharing this observation and all of your fantastic photos.


Top
 Profile  
Reply with quote  
 Post subject: Re: First 3/4 of 2016- part one, winter and spring
PostPosted: September 23rd, 2016, 5:20 pm 

Joined: June 7th, 2010, 5:46 am
Posts: 612
Location: Albuquerque, NM
Y.Morgan wrote:
I love the porcupine and skunk photos here! I, too, have found it relatively easy to get near skunks without getting sprayed. I'm glad they don't have quick triggers.


Quote:
This faded out appearance is something I frequently see in Prairie Rattlesnakes that are encountered on roads at night. It also occasionally shows up during the day. It is not permanent. Snakes that look like this on the road at night, that we have held for photos, changed to look like completely normal viridis the next day. This sort of color change is not without precedent in rattlesnakes. Arizona Black Rattlesnakes are well known for it and I’ve also observed something similar in Western Diamond-backs.


This is a revelation. Color change in viridis? Really!? I rarely herp near ABQ but when I happen to be up that way for work, I usually cruise for massasaugas (and settle for viridis.) I like the way there are occasional "blonde" prairies and always hope to find one as a consolation if the saugs aren't bitin'. The faded appearance you describe also includes much lighter color than usual, right? It seems like the ratio is maybe 1 out of 3 viridis I see up that way are "blonde"...faded pattern and lighter color. Your observation brings all sorts of questions like:
- Why would they be lighter at night and darker during the day? I've seen Cerberus that were way darker at night - and that makes good sense from a crypsis perspective.
- Why would only certain members of the population appear lighter? Like I said, it seems like 2/3 of the viridis I see up there have essentially normal coloration and pattern. Why would some found in the same general area and time be dark while some of their counterparts are light?
- Why aren't there other populations of "blonde" viridis across the state? Maybe there are and I just don't get out enough. I did see one "blonde" near Nutt, NM once. But absolutely I have seen zero blondes (out of maybe 100 viridis found) in the SW corner of the state that I frequent.
- Why don't viridis in the SW corner of the state change color? Down here they look essentially the same - day or night.

Not expecting you or anyone to answer these questions necessarily. It's just intriguing. Thanks so much for sharing this observation and all of your fantastic photos.


Morgan,

As far as I know the color change in cerberus follows the same pattern, lighter at night and darker during the day. I really don't know why they change color. One anecdotal piece of evidence I might provide is that the few times I have seen this lighter color during the day it has been with snakes that were in relatively cool situations. I especially remember a large adult that was coiled in a stump hole from a burned out salt cedar at Bosque del Apache. The salt cedar had already begun to stump sprout and the new branches were casting dappled shade on the snake. This was in late September and the air temperatures in the sun were pleasantly cool, while the microhabitat the snake was in must surely have been even cooler still. So perhaps its related to temperature, but I really don't know.


Top
 Profile  
Reply with quote  
 Post subject: Re: First 3/4 of 2016- part one, winter and spring
PostPosted: September 24th, 2016, 11:42 am 

Joined: December 3rd, 2010, 12:06 pm
Posts: 1775
Quote:
As far as I know the color change in cerberus follows the same pattern, lighter at night and darker during the day.

Likewise, my observations of wild and captive cerbs support this version, and not the "darker at night, lighter in day" version.

Here's a wrinkle. A few years ago I salvaged an adult male "DOR" cerb for a museum, and it had been hit well after dark. Actually it squirmed around all night and into the next morning in the bucket I had stuck it in. I think it truly was dead but the body was just still moving. Anyway, what I found neat about this, was that the animal did not change back to its daytime black - it remained its nighttime charcoal. (The source population is super-dark - the main variation is how much - if any - of the lighter color is present, and if that's yellow or white; the daytime background color on adult males is always very dark, from what I have seen there.)

On the matter of color change in viridis - I have seen it too, but agree that it does not seem to occur in all populations. Perhaps not even many. Where I have seen it in its most exaggerated form is around the 4 corners, specifically in NE AZ & SE UT. And not in the bigger green "viridis" (which are mostly higher-elevation), but in the smaller reddish or tan "nuntius". Some are faded 24/7, but some lighten up in the dark, and are darker in the daytime. I have no idea what the difference is, otherwise. This is well east of the area where abyssus & concolor genes are present - there is no real question that they are all viridis, in several of its clade-guises.

It's an interesting world out there. A depressing thought in late September...the long annual wait to get back into it has just begun where I live!

cheers


Top
 Profile  
Reply with quote  
 Post subject: Re: First 3/4 of 2016- part one, winter and spring
PostPosted: September 27th, 2016, 7:57 pm 

Joined: December 30th, 2013, 7:27 am
Posts: 372
Great post, I love the more inclusive natural history report. As for colour shifts in viridis we don't see much of it up here in Saskatchewan but I'll keep a closer eye on the dens for the next couple weeks. From a couple that have been held over night they appear to be a little darker when cold (as you would expect) but the relative boldness of the pattern seems the same.
Again great post and as usual the photos are outstanding.
Best,
Nick


Top
 Profile  
Reply with quote  
 Post subject: Re: First 3/4 of 2016- part one, winter and spring
PostPosted: September 29th, 2016, 12:42 pm 

Joined: January 28th, 2011, 10:51 pm
Posts: 128
Location: SW New Mexico
Not to hijack this post full of photos that are more fantastic than this herper will ever muster, but just another note or 2 about night-time cerbs. I'm so intrigued by bgorum's and Jimi's observations. I've never kept cerbs and have seen only a dozen or 2 in the wild. So, I'm neither qualified nor inclined to argue about color change. But both times we temporarily detained an AZ black to enable daytime photos, we were surprised that the color was much lighter by day. The snakes in question were from different populations too. Maybe our flashlights/camera flashes (versus natural UV) played tricks on our eyes and the photos?

This one was from the southern end of the range - Night:
Image

Same snake during the day (7 hours later):
Image

Can't seem to find photos of the other one at the moment.


Top
 Profile  
Reply with quote  
 Post subject: Re: First 3/4 of 2016- part one, winter and spring
PostPosted: September 29th, 2016, 2:03 pm 

Joined: December 3rd, 2010, 12:06 pm
Posts: 1775
Fascinating. Nice animal BTW. Oh, and since Billy brought up color-changing in rattlesnakes, I don't think he'll mind the foray/"not a hijack", York. (And I gotta throw in an enthusiastic "damn those are some nice photos!!!" too.)

To continue the foray a little bit: I expect your animal and the one I salvaged were from within maybe 30 miles of each other, tops.
- Your daytime pic is a lot like what mine looked like when I got him (I haven't been back to look at him as a museum pickle). Yours is what most adults of both sexes look like at night, in my experience (a few dozen seen, is all - mostly adult males, then adult females, then juvies, and rarest for me, subadults).
- Your nighttime pic is what most of the adult males I've seen from that region look like, in the daytime. The background color, anyway - like I said, the light color is either white or black there, and varies quite a bit in how much there is. Yours is well on the low side, occasionally you'll even see pure black, from what I've observed.

York, do your "blonde" viridis have normal dorsolateral & dorsoventral blotches? The faded, color-changing ones up by the 4 corners have normal vertebral blotches (whatever the time of day) but the other 2 rows of blotches per side are often much reduced, especially at night when they're all faded out. It's a neat look. Utah's own son Brian Eagar has this nice image posted, that exemplifies what I mean:https://www.flickr.com/photos/utahherps/9147466485/in/album-72157634377697461/. I should point out, I don't know if all of them change colors, but I do know some of them look much more "normal" (like a normal little "nuntius") if you see them again, alive, in the daytime.

cheers


Top
 Profile  
Reply with quote  
 Post subject: Re: First 3/4 of 2016- part one, winter and spring
PostPosted: September 30th, 2016, 3:56 pm 

Joined: June 7th, 2010, 5:46 am
Posts: 612
Location: Albuquerque, NM
ImageGorum_130708_0787 by Bill Gorum, on Flickr

Here's a nighttime viridis from Socorro co. New Mexico from a few years ago. Like Jimi mentioned dorsolateral and dorsoventral blotches are all but invisible. It was an animal that looked essentially just like this one that I held over night to photograph in available light the next day, only to discover my beautiful faded snake had been replaced by a very normal looking viridis the next day!


Top
 Profile  
Reply with quote  
 Post subject: Re: First 3/4 of 2016- part one, winter and spring
PostPosted: October 1st, 2016, 7:21 pm 
User avatar

Joined: August 10th, 2010, 10:25 am
Posts: 118
Location: southwest US - NM
Excellent photo journal in all its parts!
Great discussion.
It's been a long long time since I had any thought to hold onto a prairie longer than the several minutes it takes to remove from Road (typically) and maybe take a pic. Thanks for a good reminder of the intricacies of an animal that's easy to dismiss due to commonality.

It would be a interesting to locate a resident prairie that could be observed at both at night and day with some consistency.

-N-


Top
 Profile  
Reply with quote  
 Post subject: Re: First 3/4 of 2016- part one, winter and spring
PostPosted: October 3rd, 2016, 11:52 am 

Joined: December 3rd, 2010, 12:06 pm
Posts: 1775
Quote:
It would be a interesting to locate a resident prairie that could be observed at both at night and day with some consistency.


Yeah that would. Open-country critters are tough that way; it's much easier with animals that key in on a specific rock outcrop or cactus patch or whatever. Maybe a prairie dog town would be a place to try? Or something like the edge of a lava flow or up against a busy highway, where movements might be a little more constrained? Just to up your odds of seeing the animal ever again, I mean. I guess there's always the old "watch 'em at the den" trick, eh? Ha ha. At least in the fall, when they're cleaner. Being muddy/cruddy wouldn't help much, trying to see if they're changing colors on you!

Good luck if you try it, sounds like a fun little project. I always get more out of such things than I imagined, going in. Life takes its turns, sometimes you wind up in some pretty neat spots...


Top
 Profile  
Reply with quote  
 Post subject: Re: First 3/4 of 2016- part one, winter and spring
PostPosted: October 9th, 2016, 7:38 am 

Joined: January 28th, 2011, 10:51 pm
Posts: 128
Location: SW New Mexico
Jimi wrote:
York, do your "blonde" viridis have normal dorsolateral & dorsoventral blotches?


Sorry for the delay, Jimi. Still herping season = not much time online. Unfortunately, I can find only 2 photos of "blonde" viridis at the moment...and both are juveniles, although the adults I've seen have similarly reduced blotches. I typically snap a couple of quick shots as I move them off the road and then keep moving, so the photos are not so good. It will be real tempting to keep the next blonde overnight to observe the cool color change bgorum described.


Image

Image


Top
 Profile  
Reply with quote  
 Post subject: Re: First 3/4 of 2016- part one, winter and spring
PostPosted: October 29th, 2016, 5:09 pm 

Joined: December 3rd, 2010, 12:06 pm
Posts: 1775
Thanks York, nice animals. (Been busy & away, sorry for long break in the chat.) Those are some faded patterns alright, particularly for such youngsters. I suspect as adults, their sides might just fade into dusty oblivion, leaving only the vertebral blotches (at night anyway...). The top snake is a lot more like the 4-corners ones in my memory, than the lower one (which I find to be a little unusual, and sort of interesting). Are they from close to each other, and +/- both from near "El Burque"? Or is the lower one from down nearer to I-10, or maybe out on the Llano? Just hazarding a guess here.

Even if they're just quickies, you get way better shots that I do! I just flick 'em off the road and move on. No photos whatsoever. Unless it's something I want to put in a museum, and then it's just a cellphone snap.

Good hunting with what if anything is left of 2016 where you're at. I stumbled across a couple YOY gophers last weekend, but...it's all but dead out there now, here. So depressing...I despise winter here. Only the skiing makes it tolerable.

cheers


Top
 Profile  
Reply with quote  
 Post subject: Re: First 3/4 of 2016- part one, winter and spring
PostPosted: December 5th, 2016, 4:39 pm 

Joined: December 3rd, 2010, 12:06 pm
Posts: 1775
Some mid-2016 pics of a 4 corners "blonde viridis" can be found at:
viewtopic.php?f=9&t=23963

scroll about 2/3 of the way down to see the 2 images of a 2015 baby

cheers


Top
 Profile  
Reply with quote  
Display posts from previous:  Sort by  
Post new topic Reply to topic  [ 13 posts ] 

All times are UTC - 8 hours


Who is online

Users browsing this forum: Google [Bot] and 38 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: