NW Oregon in November

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Richard F. Hoyer
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Joined: June 7th, 2010, 12:14 pm

NW Oregon in November

Post by Richard F. Hoyer » November 12th, 2019, 11:02 am

Here in NW Oregon, November is usually gloomy, cold, and wet so seldom are there opportunities to search for reptiles at this time of year. But yesterday was an exception. On my way to an 11 AM doctor’s appointment, I noted is was balmy outside, 60 degrees, and with clear, sunny skies. So around 2 PM, I headed out and made quick searches at 5 sites giving my two beagle hunting partners a chance to do so sniffing as well.

Encountered the following species (all under artificial cover objects):
Near Airlie: One adult male Sharp-tailed Snake
Near Kings Valley: One adult Gopher Snake
Site along Kings Valley Hwy.: One juv. NW Garter Snake, one adult male Red Spotted Garter Snake, one juv. S. All. Lizard
Priest Road: One adult and two sub adult S. All. Lizards
Near Philomath: One adult male Rubber Boa, a pair of NW Garter Snakes in courtship

Note that this area of Oregon is at the same latitude as parts of southern Minn., Maine, and Toronto, Canada.

Richard F. Hoyer (Corvallis, Oregon)

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Fieldherper
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Re: NW Oregon in November

Post by Fieldherper » November 12th, 2019, 8:29 pm

Great stuff!!

mark buck
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Location: Bakersfield, CA

Re: NW Oregon in November

Post by mark buck » December 19th, 2019, 3:54 am

Fantastic report Richard. Thanks for sharing.

Happy holidays, hope to do some hunting with you next year

Richard F. Hoyer
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Joined: June 7th, 2010, 12:14 pm

Re: NW Oregon in November

Post by Richard F. Hoyer » December 20th, 2019, 1:49 pm

Mark,
As of the end of May, 2018, my samples of the Rubber Boa from Mt. Pinos, the Tehachapi Mts., Breckenridge Mt. and Southern Kern Plateau were large enough to organize the data and prepare a manuscript. Thus my effort towards making searches in those regions of Calif. has now ended.

In preparing the manuscript and researching the literature, I realized that very little is known about the species as it occurs along the central Calif. coastal region of Monterey County. There are only four vouchered specimens of the species from Monterey Co. At one time, I assumed that either in 1827 or 1828, Paolo E. Botta had found the first specimen of the species in Monterey Co. But as of now, it is not known exactly where Botta found that boa which is the holotype specimen on deposit at the National Museum in Paris.

So starting in May of this year, I began collecting information about the species from Monterey and San Luis Obispo Counties. I made four trips to that part of Calif. this year and came away with some pretty good anecdotal accounts of the species having been observed by residents in both counties. So should my health and body permit (now 86), this coming mid to late March I plan on making another trip to that region of Calif.

If you are free, help is welcome. But there are three major handicaps with making searches in that region of Calif. 1) Much of the land is privately owned. 2) There is very little in the way of road access into the Santa Lucia Range along the Monterey Co. coast. 3) Much of the habitat away from riparian areas is coastal scrub and some grassland with little in the way of natural cover objects under which to make searches.

As of the present time, there only are two photo vouchers from Montana de Oro St. Park in San Luis Obispo County. Besides the 4 preserved specimens from Monterey Co., there are 4 photo vouchers also from that county. A note will appear in the next issue of Herpetological Review describing the range extension of the species in Monterey Co.

That entire region basically is ‘virgin’ territory for the herping community. I would hope that someone will eventually collect a specimen from San Luis Obispo Co. and more specimens will be collected from Monterey Co.

Richard F. Hoyer (Corvallis, Oregon)

Jimi
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Re: NW Oregon in November

Post by Jimi » December 30th, 2019, 1:27 pm

Hi Richard,

There's a small crew of us that are headed that way in early April. General herping, not boa fixated, but we will be looking. Intend to be around Morro Bay around 4/8 or so. Re this:
I would hope that someone will eventually collect a specimen from San Luis Obispo Co. and more specimens will be collected from Monterey Co.
I understand the difference between photos of bodies, and real bodies. Do you have a strong recommendation for which museum(s) to accession such boa body(s) into? MVZ, NHMLAC, etc??? Or would any old accredited museum do?

Anyone else thinking of the area, or otherwise - have you ever pondered "backer board" (made for tile) as an AC material? It doesn't burn or rot or float away. Pretty cheap - a 3'x5' sheet is about $10-15 depending on thickness, and can easily be cut in half or quarters. The weight is the biggest downside for remote deployment. Close to the road is best!

cheers

Richard F. Hoyer
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Joined: June 7th, 2010, 12:14 pm

Re: NW Oregon in November

Post by Richard F. Hoyer » January 1st, 2020, 12:02 am

Jimi,
Regardless of which highway your group takes to get to Morro Bay (46, 41, or 101), you will have to pass through a shallow range of mountains so this message is for a word of caution. Rubber Boas have reportedly been observed to the south along a tributary of Lopez Creek that lead in to Lopez Lake, and then to the north as well in the Santa Lucia Range. Should there be an inversion the day you arrive, I suggest everyone in your party wear some type of protective mask as the Rubber Boa stench can get pretty over powering despite the fact no specimen of the species has been collected so far in San Luis Obispo County.

Should your group search for herps in Montana De Oro State park south of Morro Bay, even though the boa has been sighted and photographed in that park, you are pretty safe as the on shore breeze usually disperses the boa stench rendering it less offensive and potentially lethal. The same situation applies at Morro Bay and to the north along Hwy. #1 as the on-shore ocean breeze tends to render the boa stench as being less debilitating.

I know you can sometimes have the same problem in Utah but it is well known that the boa stench in the Wasatch Range is far less potent than what occurs along the central Calif. coastal region.

Other areas where I have had good anecdotal reports of the boa being sighted in San Luis Obispo County are 4.5 miles up Santa Rosa Creek from Cambria, about 7 miles up San Simeon Creek from Hwy. 1, and estimated 3.5 – 4.5 miles up Steiner Creek from Hwy. 1. Also, about 9 miles up San Simeon Creek, a zonata was photographed this spring on that road but beyond the locked gate across that road. I sent the photo of the zonata to Dr. Sam Sweet and he mentioned that it was only the second zonata documented in San Luis Obispo Co.

Good luck. Richard F. Hoyer (Corvallis, Oregon)

P.S. I recently had four photos of the Rubber Boas, observed in Monterey Co., vouchered at the MVZ in Berkeley. I believe the first photo voucher of the boa from Montana de Oro State Park was vouchered at the LACM. I have sent boas to be vouchered at CAS as well. I have no preference. But should you find one or more specimens, it would be best if I could record data on lengths from live specimens before they are vouchered. I would pay all shipping expenses from and back to Utah or wherever.

As for what you mention as a type of artificial cover that could be used, I see no reason it would not work as everything i had used or come upon by chance, has worked. I prefer thin plywood (1/8” – 3/16”) and roofing tin in combination. RFH

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jonathan
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Re: NW Oregon in November

Post by jonathan » January 1st, 2020, 11:42 pm

A 5-species day is incredible in Oregon any time of year, but particularly in November.

Jimi
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Re: NW Oregon in November

Post by Jimi » January 2nd, 2020, 2:34 pm

Thanks Richard! Way more info than I had any right to hope for.

I'm missing something on the boa stench thing. Probably just normal issues with communicating humor with writing. I know boas best from coastal NorCal, where they really don't stink much. Not compared to garters anyway...yuck. Ha ha. Same goes for Utah - pretty much everything else here stinks worse than the boas. Gophers and whipsnakes don't, I guess, but otherwise...phew.

Anyway, thanks again, most appreciated. I really don't know why SLO county is so poorly herped. The habitat diversity there is pretty stunning, between the coast, mountains, and desert.

Richard F. Hoyer
Posts: 586
Joined: June 7th, 2010, 12:14 pm

Re: NW Oregon in November

Post by Richard F. Hoyer » January 3rd, 2020, 10:10 pm

Jimi,
My reference to boa stench was meant to be in jest. Sorry if I mislead.

With now knowing the type of habitat and elevations where the boa has been observed in both Monterey and San Luis Obispo Counties, my guess is the boa likely has a continuous distribution from Carmel south into the northwestern part of San Luis Obispo County. Their distribution may then become spotty from that point on south.

The species has been observed up near the spine of the Santa Lucia Range and down at low elevation near the ocean beaches. Habitats have ranged from riparian and forested areas and then away from nearby free water sources in coastal scrub, grasslands, and a mixture of the two.

Hope you have good luck was all target species of herps in April.

Richard FH

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