Sky Islands first post

Dedicated exclusively to field herping.

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Sky Islander
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Joined: November 29th, 2019, 6:18 pm

Sky Islands first post

Post by Sky Islander » December 8th, 2019, 9:20 pm

"An educated man should admire any course of study no matter how arcane if it be pursued with curiosity and devotion."
Amor Towles from A Gentleman in Moscow



Hello Fieldherpers. This is my first post and I am unsure what to say. I learn a lot from your posts for many years. Thank you.

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Blacktail in situ then near.
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As avid birders in southern Arizona my husband and I found so many snakes by accident, we got interested in herping. Now we bird AND herp all over the Southwest U.S. - especially the Sky Islands. My knowledge is slight compared to many of you, but we are frequently outdoors and so have accumulated many observations to share.

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Blackneck garter trying to eat Arizona toad (?) Looked impossible at first.

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Each time the snake got an advantage, the toad would jump and drag the snake.

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After 30 minutes the garter snake hung from a limbs so the toad’s legs could not touch the ground.

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Working against gravity but with the toad unable to hop, the snake swallowed upward until the toad smothered. I have seen other non-constrictor colubrids employ this strategy (e.g. Masticophis) to subdue large prey. The small snake swallowed the deflated toad with no too much difficulty. The whole process was 90 minutes.

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In situ blacktail next to river.
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When we are birding we find many banded rock rattlesnakes because they rattle a lot. We start to really like this species because they are so variable and angry.

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As you know, banded rock rattlesnakes are sexually dimorphic for size and color. Males are larger and greener. A breeding pair.
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Please understand we release ALL herps where found. Putting these beauties in a cage would be joyless. Selling them would be shameful.

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We sometimes use binoculars to spot snakes from a long distance. We walked softly to this Arizona ridgenose (my favorite rattlesnake), take many pictures, and leave without the snake moving.
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Another in situ black tail. Unfortunately other Sky Island montane rattlesnake species are not so easy to photograph in situ because they dive fast.

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60F in hard rain

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Female banded rock rattlers are coloured like the rocks where they live. Males usually are not.

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1. Never stow your camera while the animal is still visible.
2. When your counterparts stow their cameras too soon, nudge the snake into a new photogenic posture, continue taking photos, and smile waiting for them to swear and begin unpacking.

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The male of this mating pair look to me like a female.

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This Sonoran ground snake was digging in the shade of a big rock for >10 minutes.
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Sleeping leopard lizard in situ

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We moved this long nose off the road and a diamondback was right there.

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We were very surprised to find these 2 species side-by-side under one rock.
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Sorry, I have some technical difficulties I will try to fix next time. I hope you like some of these images anyway.

Chao,
Goose

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Jeroen Speybroeck
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Re: Sky Islands first post

Post by Jeroen Speybroeck » December 9th, 2019, 2:37 am

Thanks a lot, this took me out of the herp-unfriendly weather of NW European autumn!

DRDAN
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Joined: November 1st, 2017, 6:54 pm

Re: Sky Islands first post

Post by DRDAN » December 10th, 2019, 2:39 pm

Very nice! The “iguana” is actually a leopard lizard Gambelia wislizenii, had it rained recently? I find quite a few diurnal lizards on paved roads at night following summer rains. That was a great score on the Willard’s and twin spot as well 👍👍
Cheers

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Sky Islander
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Re: Sky Islands first post

Post by Sky Islander » December 20th, 2019, 9:34 pm

I'm happy you like the photos, Jeroen and DRDAN. Thank you also for the correction DRDAN - I change it to leopard lizard. Actually, it was a cool, dry spring night but the tarmac was still warm apparently.
Thank you,
Goose

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Porter
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Re: Sky Islands first post

Post by Porter » December 21st, 2019, 2:36 am

Nice photography :thumb: what a beautifully colored gartersnake eating that toad. I like that shot of the reddish horned Liz. Also the shot of the leopard lizard asleep on the road at night. I’ve seen side-blotched lizards doing that in the desert . Never a lizard that large though

Also the vultures in the tree. Really cool artistic value to that :thumb:

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Sky Islander
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Re: Sky Islands first post

Post by Sky Islander » December 21st, 2019, 8:19 am

what a beautifully colored gartersnake eating that toad
Not as cool a giant garter snake maoing down a non-native bullfrog :thumb: but a good sight to behold nonetheless. Thank you! As a birder on a herp forum, I try not to show too many birds, but those vultures were too cool.
Goose

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Porter
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Re: Sky Islands first post

Post by Porter » December 24th, 2019, 5:27 am

Sky Islander wrote:
December 21st, 2019, 8:19 am
Not as cool a giant garter snake maoing down a non-native bullfrog :thumb: but a good sight to behold nonetheless. Thank you! As a birder on a herp forum, I try not to show too many birds, but those vultures were too cool.
Goose
It’s only cool in California ;) we have a birding section down at the bottom. It’s common for a field Herper to take to birding. Flipping snakes gets boring after a while… So they start flipping the bird instead :P I say flip away :beer: Everyone probably appreciates birds here

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