2016 (TX, NM, AZ, and Croatia)

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achillesbeast
Posts: 46
Joined: July 15th, 2012, 8:52 am

2016 (TX, NM, AZ, and Croatia)

Post by achillesbeast »

Herping for me has all but ended this year (with the exception of potentially finding herps in their hibernacula during winter hikes).

It was a fantastic year of herping for me. I spent the majority of my time herping west TX, with occasional trips to Arizona and New Mexico. I'll do my best to concisely summarize most of the trips below.

I spent a large portion of January through February hiking several mountains and looking for new hibernacula that I have yet to discover. I often go alone or with my brother accompanied by my dogs. I like to photograph birds, when I can, on my hikes.

ImageAnubis in the Mountains by Frank Portillo, on Flickr

ImageAmerican Coot by Frank Portillo, on Flickr

ImageAnubis in the Hatchets by Frank Portillo, on Flickr

ImageCactus Wren by Frank Portillo, on Flickr

ImageMockingbird by Frank Portillo, on Flickr

ImageLittle Hatchet Mountains by Frank Portillo, on Flickr



I found several lizards throughout the winter months, but my first snake came in the beginning of March. I went to a spot in NM where I have found several Crotalus atrox hibernacula. On this particular day, I didn't find any C. atrox but I did find a large striped whip snake basking outside of a known C. atrox/C. ornatus den.

ImageStriped Whipsnake (in situ) by Frank Portillo, on Flickr

ImageStriped Whipsnake by Frank Portillo, on Flickr

ImageLake Valley by Frank Portillo, on Flickr

This same weekend, I departed to Germany and Belgium to do research for my dissertation. While in Belgium, I got out a few times with my then fiance, and photographed some birds.

ImageFull House by Frank Portillo, on Flickr

ImageEuropean Pond by Frank Portillo, on Flickr

ImageMute Swan by Frank Portillo, on Flickr

After the Europe trip, I did my usual herping and hiking around NM and west TX. By now, herps were moving a little more.

ImageSonoran Gopher Snake by Frank Portillo, on Flickr

ImageMountain Patch-nosed Snake in Habitat by Frank Portillo, on Flickr

ImageStriped Whip Snake by Frank Portillo, on Flickr

ImageSonoran Gopher Snake by Frank Portillo, on Flickr

ImageSonoran Gopher Snake by Frank Portillo, on Flickr

ImageRound-tailed Horned Lizard by Frank Portillo, on Flickr

ImageGreater Short-horned Lizard by Frank Portillo, on Flickr

Around mid April, I made a short trip to Arizona with my brother and a friend visiting from NY. We didn't see much movement but the finds were good.

ImageGreen Ratsnake by Frank Portillo, on Flickr

ImageArizona Ridge-Nosed Rattlesnake by Frank Portillo, on Flickr

ImageArizona Ridge-Nosed Rattlesnake by Frank Portillo, on Flickr

I spent the month of May exploring west TX as I usually do. My expeditions took place from El Paso County to Val Verde County. I would mostly herp alone or was joined by my brother and/or good friend Tom. No matter how many times I have seen certain species, I will never tire of finding them or photographing them.

ImageWestern Diamondback Rattlesnake by Frank Portillo, on Flickr

ImageWestern Diamondback Rattlesnake by Frank Portillo, on Flickr

ImageWestern Diamondback Rattlesnake by Frank Portillo, on Flickr

ImageTexas Night Snake by Frank Portillo, on Flickr

ImageTrans-Pecos Rat Snake by Frank Portillo, on Flickr

ImageOrnate Black Tailed Rattlesnake by Frank Portillo, on Flickr

ImageNew Mexico Blind Snake by Frank Portillo, on Flickr

ImageWestern Diamondback Rattlesnake by Frank Portillo, on Flickr

ImageRed Spotted Toad by Frank Portillo, on Flickr

ImageCouch's Spadefoot Toad by Frank Portillo, on Flickr

ImageTexas Blind Snake by Frank Portillo, on Flickr

ImageTexas Night Snake by Frank Portillo, on Flickr

ImageWestern Coachwhip by Frank Portillo, on Flickr

ImageTrans-Pecos Rat Snake by Frank Portillo, on Flickr

ImageTrans-Pecos Rat Snake in habitat by Frank Portillo, on Flickr

ImageGreat Plains Rat Snake by Frank Portillo, on Flickr

I probably enjoyed the most luck/success of the year during the month of June. I had several epic nights where the highs would last until 4-5am. There was a night with 4 Trans-Pecos copperheads (1 DOR), the morning I found a regal ringneck crawling along my friend Tom's porch, etc. Most of these trips I was accompanied by my good friend Tom, and of course my dogs. We had some really fun nights.

ImageTexas Horned Lizard by Frank Portillo, on Flickr

ImageDesert Box Turtle by Frank Portillo, on Flickr

ImageTexas Night Snake by Frank Portillo, on Flickr

ImageTexas Horned Lizard by Frank Portillo, on Flickr

ImageTrans-Pecos Copperhead by Frank Portillo, on Flickr

ImageTrans-Pecos Copperhead by Frank Portillo, on Flickr

ImageMottled Rock Rattlesnake in Habitat by Frank Portillo, on Flickr

ImageMottled Rock Rattlesnake by Frank Portillo, on Flickr

ImageRegal Ringneck Snake by Frank Portillo, on Flickr

ImageRegal Ringneck Snake in Habitat by Frank Portillo, on Flickr

ImageBig Bend Black-Headed Snake by Frank Portillo, on Flickr

ImageBig Bend Black-Headed Snake by Frank Portillo, on Flickr

ImageMottled Rock Rattlesnake by Frank Portillo, on Flickr

ImageOrnate Black-Tailed Rattlesnake by Frank Portillo, on Flickr

ImageSonoran Gopher Snake by Frank Portillo, on Flickr

ImageSonoran Gopher Snake by Frank Portillo, on Flickr

ImageMojave Rattlesnake by Frank Portillo, on Flickr

ImageLong-nosed Snake by Frank Portillo, on Flickr

ImageTrans-Pecos Rat Snake by Frank Portillo, on Flickr

ImageTrans-Pecos Rat Snake by Frank Portillo, on Flickr

ImageCheckered Garter Snake by Frank Portillo, on Flickr

ImageLong-nosed Snake by Frank Portillo, on Flickr

ImageTrans-Pecos Copperhead by Frank Portillo, on Flickr

ImageDesert Kingsnake by Frank Portillo, on Flickr

There was one week at the end of June/beginning of July that was especially epic. During a Monday morning, after several nights of good rain, I decided to go out hiking. My cousin and dog Anubis came along. It was an unusually humid morning in west TX. For the first two hours we didn't see anything and took a break towards the top of the peak. On the descent, my dog was sniffing out a pile of rocks beneath a shrub. I looked down and saw a female banded rock rattlesnake. I was thrilled. She was quite a good looking snake. On Wednesday, I departed to the Davis Mts, one of my favorite and most targeted herping locations. There was a ton of night snake movement for some reason, I saw seven night snakes and six C. atrox. At 11pm, as I arrived to a popular herping road, I noticed a small grey figure on the road. I got out and immediately saw it was an alterna. I was thrilled. My heart beat immediately shot through the roof. Then I noticed something was wrong, the snake was alive but dying. I was crushed. This was my third Lampropletis alterna. I had yet to see a live representative of the species. The next night, my friend Tom joined me on another excursion to the Davis Mts. This was a particularly good night, species diversity and abundance was quite high. We concluded the night at around 6am. The following night, snake numbers were not particularly high, but it was to be a special night. My friend Tom and I headed to a series of rock cuts in Val Verde County. We checked a couple of cuts on our way there. I have been walking rock cuts for several years now and I honestly didn't expect much. We arrived at our targeted rock cuts at around 10:30 pm. It was very warm at around 90 degrees. I checked one side of the cut and didn't see anything so I crossed the highway and shined my light. I immediately caught glimpse of a grey and orange snake 25 feet or so up the cut. I have found five fake/toy alterna so I have been fooled plenty. I saw the snake moving and realized that I was not fooled nor delusional. After nearly a decade of searching, I had finally found the snake I have wanted to find most. All those years of not being successful made this moment that much sweeter. Needless to say, I scaled those 25 feet in an eye-blink. I grabbed the snake and began to sprint towards the other side of the cut where Tom was. We celebrated and continued our night. We found four other snakes that night. How sweet it was. The following night, I departed to the Davis Mts with my dogs, and had another pretty successful night.

ImageBanded Rock Rattlesnake in Habitat by Frank Portillo, on Flickr

ImageBanded Rock Rattlesnake by Frank Portillo, on Flickr

ImageTexas Night Snake by Frank Portillo, on Flickr

ImageSmith's Black-headed Snake by Frank Portillo, on Flickr

ImageLong-nosed Snake by Frank Portillo, on Flickr

ImageOrnate Black-tailed Rattlesnake by Frank Portillo, on Flickr

ImageBaird's Rat Snake by Frank Portillo, on Flickr

ImageGray-Banded Kingsnake in Habitat by Frank Portillo, on Flickr

ImageGrey-Banded Kingsnake by Frank Portillo, on Flickr

ImageGrey-Banded Kingsnake by Frank Portillo, on Flickr

ImageWestern Hooknose Snake by Frank Portillo, on Flickr

ImageMottled Rock Rattlesnake by Frank Portillo, on Flickr

ImageMottled Rock Rattlesnake by Frank Portillo, on Flickr

As soon as I arrived in El Paso after my epic trip, I departed to Croatia to get married to my wonderful lady. The first week was mostly about the wedding. Getting documents and exact dates arranged. During that week, I had a few short outings with my wife. Of course, I did a little herping whenever it was possible. On a short trip to a local river, I found a European smooth snake crossing a dirt road. That was particularly exciting for me because it was one of the European snakes I really wanted to find and photograph. On a different occasion, my wife and I found many European Yellow Bellied Toads in small puddles within a mountain. These were neat little frogs that I had never seen in the wild. After the wedding, my wife and I departed to Krk, an island with Mediterranean-like habitats. We had a lot of fun together hiking, exploring, and relaxing at the beach. We would usually hike in the mornings. We found two species of whip snakes, which at the time I thought was one species (I was later corrected by a German aquaintence who is more familiar with European herpetofauna). My wife flipped the juvenile Balkan whip snake and I found the quite large and aggressive, but beautiful Green whip snake. I also lost two snakes. One of them was a green whip snake. The second, I wasn't able to get a good enough view of. My wife also found an adult Eastern Hermann's tortoise, which was quite exciting.

ImageEuropean Smooth Snake by Frank Portillo, on Flickr

ImageHabitat in Northern Croatia by Frank Portillo, on Flickr

ImageDrava River by Frank Portillo, on Flickr

ImageYellow-Bellied Toads by Frank Portillo, on Flickr

ImageYellow-Bellied Toads by Frank Portillo, on Flickr

ImageTrakošćan Castle by Frank Portillo, on Flickr

ImageEastern Hermann's tortoise by Frank Portillo, on Flickr

ImageBalkan Whip Snake by Frank Portillo, on Flickr

ImageGreen Whip Snake by Frank Portillo, on Flickr

ImageGreen Whip Snake in Habitat by Frank Portillo, on Flickr

ImageČižići by Frank Portillo, on Flickr

ImageKalnik by Frank Portillo, on Flickr

Once I returned to El Paso, my brother and I made a few trips to NM and West TX. One of the trips to NM was quite frustrating. We found a freshly hit L. pyromelana in the black range. It was a beautiful snake and a shame to find it in such condition. The week after the Black Range, my brother and I went to the Davis Mts and some other west TX regions. One of the nights was particularly fun as we found three live Lampropletis splendida. I also was also fortunate enough to photograph an unusually tolerant bat.

ImageWestern Diamondback Rattlesnake by Frank Portillo, on Flickr

ImageCommon Buckeye by Frank Portillo, on Flickr

ImageCanyon Treefrog (In Situ) by Frank Portillo, on Flickr

ImageSonoran Gopher Snake by Frank Portillo, on Flickr

ImageChihuahuan Hook-nosed Snake by Frank Portillo, on Flickr

ImageWestern Diamondback Rattlesnake by Frank Portillo, on Flickr

ImageMyotis by Frank Portillo, on Flickr

ImageDesert Kingsnake by Frank Portillo, on Flickr

ImageDesert Kingsnake Portrait by Frank Portillo, on Flickr

ImageChekhov's Beam by Frank Portillo, on Flickr

I spent the latter part of august and September checking out various places in NM, TX and one short trip to AZ. Most of the species I saw were commonly encountered throughout the year but beautiful examples of those species. One of the highlights for me during this time period, was finding two little neonate C. l. klauberi basking after a rainy night. Another highlight was flipping a baird's rat snake on a weather-wise, miserable morning.

ImageDesert Box Turtle in Habitat by Frank Portillo, on Flickr

ImageMojave Rattlesnake by Frank Portillo, on Flickr

ImageWestern Diamondback Rattlesnake by Frank Portillo, on Flickr

ImageMojave Rattlesnake by Frank Portillo, on Flickr

ImageSonoran Lyre Snake by Frank Portillo, on Flickr

ImageSonoran Lyre Snake by Frank Portillo, on Flickr

ImageBlack-necked Garter Snake by Frank Portillo, on Flickr

ImageSanta Rita Mountains by Frank Portillo, on Flickr

ImageBanded Rock Rattlesnake by Frank Portillo, on Flickr

ImageGreat Plains Rat Snake by Frank Portillo, on Flickr

ImageGlossy Snake by Frank Portillo, on Flickr

ImageSonoran Gopher Snake by Frank Portillo, on Flickr

ImageOrnate Black-Tailed Rattlesnake by Frank Portillo, on Flickr

ImageOrnate Black-Tailed Rattlesnake by Frank Portillo, on Flickr

ImageTrans-Pecos Rat Snake by Frank Portillo, on Flickr

ImageRed-tailed Hawk by Frank Portillo, on Flickr

ImageTexas Banded Gecko by Frank Portillo, on Flickr

ImageBaird's Rat Snake by Frank Portillo, on Flickr

ImageDesert Kingsnake by Frank Portillo, on Flickr

Beautiful Mojave Rattlesnake

ImageMojave Rattlesnake by Frank Portillo, on Flickr

Another very memorable trip occurred at the end of September. This was to be my last west TX trip. I would still continue to herp El Paso and Hudspeth counties during October, but would not venture East of those counties after this particular trip. My lab colleague joined me on this excursion. We began our first night in the Davis Mts. We found a large female Mexican hognose, but unfortunately, she was dying. She was alive at the time the photos were taken but she would not survive the night. The second night was our most successful, and for me, the most successful of the year, in terms of sheer abundance. It was also a night that included five rattlesnake species, which is always neat. Perhaps the most exciting moment of the night came at 4am when we found a colossal C. atrox crossing a road. This was the largest rattlesnake I had ever found. On this particular stretch of road, I have seen several very large black-tailed rattlesnakes and diamondbacks. I'm not sure what it is about this particular region. It may simply be coincidence, but I have seen several beasts on this road. This C. atrox was absolutely massive. I measured the snake several times, it was approaching six feet in length. This animal was practically impossible to hook and to grab by the tongs; it was simply too heavy and too thick. I realize that C. atrox of this size may be found regularly in south TX, but in west TX it is truly a rare sight to see a diamondback over five feet in length. The last night was the least successful of the trip. It was a cold and wet night. Only three snakes were found, but one of them was a Tantilla culculata found by my lab mate.


ImageEmory Rat Snake by Frank Portillo, on Flickr

ImageLong-nosed Snake by Frank Portillo, on Flickr

ImageLong-nosed Snake by Frank Portillo, on Flickr

ImageSmith's Black-headed Snake by Frank Portillo, on Flickr

ImageFour-lined Skink by Frank Portillo, on Flickr

ImageFour-lined Skink by Frank Portillo, on Flickr

ImageMohave Rattlesnake by Frank Portillo, on Flickr

ImageOrnate Black-tailed Rattlesnake by Frank Portillo, on Flickr

ImagePrairie Rattlesnake by Frank Portillo, on Flickr

ImageMottled Rock Rattlesnake by Frank Portillo, on Flickr

ImageThe King by Frank Portillo, on Flickr

ImageCrevice Spiny Lizard by Frank Portillo, on Flickr

ImageBig Bend Black-headed Snake by Frank Portillo, on Flickr

ImageBig Bend Black-headed Snake by Frank Portillo, on Flickr

I spent a lot of time working on my dissertation during October, but I still made the time to go out a few times a week, mostly to locations near my city. Highlights for me were the three little western hognose I found. I really enjoy finding Heterodon. I found quite a few Mexican hognose this month, all DOR, which was consistent with the theme all year. I found 9 DOR Mexican hognose throughout the season.

ImageWestern Diamondback Rattlesnake by Frank Portillo, on Flickr

ImageDesert Kingsnake by Frank Portillo, on Flickr

ImageWestern Diamondback Rattlesnake by Frank Portillo, on Flickr

ImageWestern Diamondback Rattlesnake by Frank Portillo, on Flickr

ImageSonoran Gopher Snake by Frank Portillo, on Flickr

ImageWestern Massasauga by Frank Portillo, on Flickr

ImageMohave Rattlesnake by Frank Portillo, on Flickr

ImageOrnate Black-tailed Rattlesnake (in situ) by Frank Portillo, on Flickr

Same animal as the previous photo

ImageOrnate Black-tailed Rattlesnake by Frank Portillo, on Flickr

ImageOrnate Black-tailed Rattlesnake by Frank Portillo, on Flickr

ImageOrnate Black-tailed Rattlesnake in Habitat by Frank Portillo, on Flickr

ImageOrnate Black-tailed Rattlesnake by Frank Portillo, on Flickr

ImageOrnate Black-tailed Rattlesnake by Frank Portillo, on Flickr

Hognose #1

ImageWestern Hognose Snake by Frank Portillo, on Flickr

Hognose #3

ImageWestern Hognose Snake by Frank Portillo, on Flickr

Hognose #2

ImageWestern Hognose Snake by Frank Portillo, on Flickr

I found my last two snakes of the season during early to mid November. I have continued to hike but haven't seen much since.

ImageWestern Coachwhip Snake by Frank Portillo, on Flickr

ImageWestern Diamondback Rattlesnake by Frank Portillo, on Flickr

I will conclude this post with photos of different landscapes I explored this season, shots of other critters and birds, and a few photos of my ever present herping/explorer buddies, my dogs.
I am sure that 2017 holds new and exciting adventures. Upward and onward.


ImageYellow Mud Turtle by Frank Portillo, on Flickr

ImageGiant Desert Centipede by Frank Portillo, on Flickr

ImageDiplocentrus lindo by Frank Portillo, on Flickr

ImageFlight of the Crows by Frank Portillo, on Flickr

ImageAmerican Coot by Frank Portillo, on Flickr

ImagePronghorn Family by Frank Portillo, on Flickr

ImageGolden Eagle by Frank Portillo, on Flickr

ImageSwans and Cormorant by Frank Portillo, on Flickr

ImageMute Swan by Frank Portillo, on Flickr

ImageEuropean Yellowjacket by Frank Portillo, on Flickr

ImageSouthern Arizona by Frank Portillo, on Flickr

ImageWest Texas by Frank Portillo, on Flickr

ImageSupermoon by Frank Portillo, on Flickr

ImageDavis Mountains by Frank Portillo, on Flickr

ImageWild West Morning by Frank Portillo, on Flickr

ImageOasis by Frank Portillo, on Flickr

ImageChiricahua Mountains by Frank Portillo, on Flickr

ImageMountain Road by Frank Portillo, on Flickr

ImageAnubis and Daisy by Frank Portillo, on Flickr

ImageBrady by Frank Portillo, on Flickr

ImageAnubis: King of the Mountain by Frank Portillo, on Flickr

ImageDaisy Hiking by Frank Portillo, on Flickr

ImageSummit by Frank Portillo, on Flickr

Cheers.

Jimi
Posts: 1929
Joined: December 3rd, 2010, 12:06 pm

Re: 2016 (TX, NM, AZ, and Croatia)

Post by Jimi »

Nice images and stories, thanks for sharing. Lovely assortment of SW snakes, even when "mundane" species like atrox. Those Tantilla, we sure don't see many pics of them here.

Did you like Croatia a lot? I've dreamed of herping up some nose-horned vipers there, they have some gorgeous localities.

What breed is Anubis? Standard boxer, or...?

cheers

User avatar
achillesbeast
Posts: 46
Joined: July 15th, 2012, 8:52 am

Re: 2016 (TX, NM, AZ, and Croatia)

Post by achillesbeast »

Jimi wrote:Nice images and stories, thanks for sharing. Lovely assortment of SW snakes, even when "mundane" species like atrox. Those Tantilla, we sure don't see many pics of them here.

Did you like Croatia a lot? I've dreamed of herping up some nose-horned vipers there, they have some gorgeous localities.

What breed is Anubis? Standard boxer, or...?

cheers
Jimi,

Thanks! I love the southwest. I'm glad you enjoyed my photos.

I quite like Croatia. It's very beautiful country and very different from the deserts I normally roam. Vipera ammodytes were actually my top target but I wasn't able to find any. I agree that they are beautiful snakes. I didn't get to herp a lot the way I normally do, but I did try for Vipera a few times. Hopefully, I can find some ammodytes this coming summer when I head back over to Croatia.

Anubis is a boxer/American bulldog mix.

Cheers,

Frank.

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Will Wells
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Joined: June 18th, 2010, 4:32 am
Location: Arizona
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Re: 2016 (TX, NM, AZ, and Croatia)

Post by Will Wells »

Very nice shots Frank!!!

User avatar
achillesbeast
Posts: 46
Joined: July 15th, 2012, 8:52 am

Re: 2016 (TX, NM, AZ, and Croatia)

Post by achillesbeast »

Will Wells wrote:Very nice shots Frank!!!
Thanks, Will!

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Jeroen Speybroeck
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Joined: June 29th, 2011, 12:56 am
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Re: 2016 (TX, NM, AZ, and Croatia)

Post by Jeroen Speybroeck »

Another year to be jealous of!
achillesbeast wrote:Hopefully, I can find some ammodytes this coming summer when I head back over to Croatia.
Summer can be tough, especially in the warmer areas. You may want to try clearings in woodland at medium elevation. It's a fairly common/abundant species.

User avatar
achillesbeast
Posts: 46
Joined: July 15th, 2012, 8:52 am

Re: 2016 (TX, NM, AZ, and Croatia)

Post by achillesbeast »

Jeroen Speybroeck wrote:Another year to be jealous of!
achillesbeast wrote:Hopefully, I can find some ammodytes this coming summer when I head back over to Croatia.
Summer can be tough, especially in the warmer areas. You may want to try clearings in woodland at medium elevation. It's a fairly common/abundant species.
Thanks for the helpful tips.

Jimi
Posts: 1929
Joined: December 3rd, 2010, 12:06 pm

Re: 2016 (TX, NM, AZ, and Croatia)

Post by Jimi »

medium elevation
Jeroen, just to get my bearings and store the datum away for future reference - what numbers would you put on this? Say, 800-1500m? A tad higher? In that part of the world, what is "stupidly high to look for snakes?" Where I live, about 8000' is a useful cutoff for all but a few squamate taxa. 7000' is a useful practical cutoff if you want decent abundances. But, valley bottoms are all over 4000' here, and peaks are over 11,000' so...low and high are relative. The sweet spot here for max diversity and abundance is something like 5500-6200'. What are the corresponding elevations in the Balkans? The full range is sea level to about 3000m right? That's, uh, a lot of ground to cover! Do you mostly stop looking for "non-alpines" at maybe 2300m???

If you judge this conversation too detailed for public viewing, no worries. I can do my own research, or just PM with you. But I'm curious and can't be alone.

Aside - still think you're done w/ North America for a long while?

Sorry OP, for the slight hijack. If you go back to Croat-land, might do you some good.

cheers

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Jeroen Speybroeck
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Joined: June 29th, 2011, 12:56 am
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Re: 2016 (TX, NM, AZ, and Croatia)

Post by Jeroen Speybroeck »

Jimi wrote:
medium elevation
Jeroen, just to get my bearings and store the datum away for future reference - what numbers would you put on this? Say, 800-1500m? A tad higher? In that part of the world, what is "stupidly high to look for snakes?" Where I live, about 8000' is a useful cutoff for all but a few squamate taxa. 7000' is a useful practical cutoff if you want decent abundances. But, valley bottoms are all over 4000' here, and peaks are over 11,000' so...low and high are relative. The sweet spot here for max diversity and abundance is something like 5500-6200'. What are the corresponding elevations in the Balkans? The full range is sea level to about 3000m right? That's, uh, a lot of ground to cover! Do you mostly stop looking for "non-alpines" at maybe 2300m???

If you judge this conversation too detailed for public viewing, no worries. I can do my own research, or just PM with you. But I'm curious and can't be alone.

Aside - still think you're done w/ North America for a long while?

Sorry OP, for the slight hijack. If you go back to Croat-land, might do you some good.

cheers
Well, yes, that was pretty vague of me, wasn't it? ;-)

While the ultimate record is 2500m (according to these guys ;), I remember 3 ammodytes sightings at 1600m, in the Greek Pindos mnts. as well as eastern Montenegro, but I would label those as rather high up records.. The former was actual in a spot where we were looking for Vipera graeca (and failed, in contrast to some years earlier). My very first ammodytes was in Croatia in July 2002. We got away from a coastal Podarcis melisellensis spot towards inland, hoping to find rocky outcrops in woodland for Iberolacerta horvathi. At 800-1000m, we stopped at textbook example of a spot for horvathi and succeeded. While I was leaning against the rocky roadbank slope (would you guys would call a cut, I guess), my girlfriend pointed out that shouldn't step on the snake that was stealthly making its way up the slope, trying to grab a lizard breakfast. There he was, a beautiful male ammodytes. The Croatian ammodytes belong to the imho better looking nominal subspecies, whereas in Greece (except NE) you het the duller ssp. meridionalis (while nothing beats the eastern montandoni).

It was this particular little anecdote of my first summer that made me make the above suggestion. A similar tale comes from July 2010, when we found 2 or 3 in a small stone quarry in the woods of Slovenia at 630m. A week before we had already found one or two at a similar yet larger site in S Austria at the northern range limit of the species. That's about all the ammodytes searching and finding I remember from summer months. Spring is definitely better - in my report from Montenegro there's a graph that shows ammodytes to be the 2nd most often encountered snake species (excluding the two Natrix water snake species of SE Europe).

Let me add a few pics.

This is what a twitcher's dull brown lizard target looks like in Europe, Iberolacerta horvathi.
Image

A bit less dull, but often overrun by Podarcis siculus - P. melisellensis
Image

Here's the Montenegro 1600m girl.
Image

Here's the Greek high-up place, where we searched for Vipera graeca, but found ammodytes.
Image

Found up there =>
Image

Also this aberrant one with an aspis-like snout.
Image

Unfortunately, I have done most of my (limited) Croatian travelling in days without decent photo gear, so no pics of Croatian ammodytes. Last time I herped in Croatia did deliver this Vipera ursinii, though, at a site that burned down a few years later.
Image

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Jeroen Speybroeck
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Re: 2016 (TX, NM, AZ, and Croatia)

Post by Jeroen Speybroeck »

Jimi wrote:Aside - still think you're done w/ North America for a long while?
Never really done, of course. ;)
I have to wait for any trips for a bit until the kids get a bit older/manageable, I'm afraid. Depends a bit on what my girlfriend can cope with. But I'll be back. First desired destination are however rather Madagascar, NE Australia, Taiwan, Borneo, ...

Rman
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Joined: April 22nd, 2012, 2:32 pm
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Re: 2016 (TX, NM, AZ, and Croatia)

Post by Rman »

Very nice! Love the alterna.

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achillesbeast
Posts: 46
Joined: July 15th, 2012, 8:52 am

Re: 2016 (TX, NM, AZ, and Croatia)

Post by achillesbeast »

Jeroen Speybroeck wrote:
Jimi wrote:
medium elevation
Jeroen, just to get my bearings and store the datum away for future reference - what numbers would you put on this? Say, 800-1500m? A tad higher? In that part of the world, what is "stupidly high to look for snakes?" Where I live, about 8000' is a useful cutoff for all but a few squamate taxa. 7000' is a useful practical cutoff if you want decent abundances. But, valley bottoms are all over 4000' here, and peaks are over 11,000' so...low and high are relative. The sweet spot here for max diversity and abundance is something like 5500-6200'. What are the corresponding elevations in the Balkans? The full range is sea level to about 3000m right? That's, uh, a lot of ground to cover! Do you mostly stop looking for "non-alpines" at maybe 2300m???

If you judge this conversation too detailed for public viewing, no worries. I can do my own research, or just PM with you. But I'm curious and can't be alone.

Aside - still think you're done w/ North America for a long while?

Sorry OP, for the slight hijack. If you go back to Croat-land, might do you some good.

cheers
Well, yes, that was pretty vague of me, wasn't it? ;-)

While the ultimate record is 2500m (according to these guys ;), I remember 3 ammodytes sightings at 1600m, in the Greek Pindos mnts. as well as eastern Montenegro, but I would label those as rather high up records.. The former was actual in a spot where we were looking for Vipera graeca (and failed, in contrast to some years earlier). My very first ammodytes was in Croatia in July 2002. We got away from a coastal Podarcis melisellensis spot towards inland, hoping to find rocky outcrops in woodland for Iberolacerta horvathi. At 800-1000m, we stopped at textbook example of a spot for horvathi and succeeded. While I was leaning against the rocky roadbank slope (would you guys would call a cut, I guess), my girlfriend pointed out that shouldn't step on the snake that was stealthly making its way up the slope, trying to grab a lizard breakfast. There he was, a beautiful male ammodytes. The Croatian ammodytes belong to the imho better looking nominal subspecies, whereas in Greece (except NE) you het the duller ssp. meridionalis (while nothing beats the eastern montandoni).

It was this particular little anecdote of my first summer that made me make the above suggestion. A similar tale comes from July 2010, when we found 2 or 3 in a small stone quarry in the woods of Slovenia at 630m. A week before we had already found one or two at a similar yet larger site in S Austria at the northern range limit of the species. That's about all the ammodytes searching and finding I remember from summer months. Spring is definitely better - in my report from Montenegro there's a graph that shows ammodytes to be the 2nd most often encountered snake species (excluding the two Natrix water snake species of SE Europe).

Let me add a few pics.

This is what a twitcher's dull brown lizard target looks like in Europe, Iberolacerta horvathi.
Image

A bit less dull, but often overrun by Podarcis siculus - P. melisellensis
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Here's the Montenegro 1600m girl.
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Here's the Greek high-up place, where we searched for Vipera graeca, but found ammodytes.
Image

Found up there =>
Image

Also this aberrant one with an aspis-like snout.
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Unfortunately, I have done most of my (limited) Croatian travelling in days without decent photo gear, so no pics of Croatian ammodytes. Last time I herped in Croatia did deliver this Vipera ursinii, though, at a site that burned down a few years later.
Image
That was very enjoyable to read. The aberrant ammodytes looked very interesting. I actually thought it was a different Vipera species upon first looking at the photo. Thanks for sharing. I will try to go during May instead, and hope to find at least one ammodytes.

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achillesbeast
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Re: 2016 (TX, NM, AZ, and Croatia)

Post by achillesbeast »

Rman wrote:Very nice! Love the alterna.
Thank you.

RoadCruiser
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Re: 2016 (TX, NM, AZ, and Croatia)

Post by RoadCruiser »

Thanks for posting such incredible images! What type of camera, flash, and lenses are you using? Again, amazing photos.

Rick

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achillesbeast
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Re: 2016 (TX, NM, AZ, and Croatia)

Post by achillesbeast »

RoadCruiser wrote:Thanks for posting such incredible images! What type of camera, flash, and lenses are you using? Again, amazing photos.

Rick

Thank you, Rick. I use a canon 6D, Altura flashes with diffusers, and a Sigma 105mm F2.8 macro lens. I only started using that sigma lens towards the latter part of the season and absolutely love it. For wider angle shots I use a Canon EF 17-40mm lens.

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