West Texas report 5/18-5/21

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chris drake
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West Texas report 5/18-5/21

Post by chris drake » May 22nd, 2011, 9:50 am

Wednesday I drove to Austin picked up Nathan Hall and headed fro Val Verde Co. as we have done this time every year for the past 6 years. We weren't sure what to expect with the drought but had high hopes regardless. On the way out we saw a DOR western diamonback and a western coachwhip. 5hrs later we checked in at the Comstock Motel which is now a great place to stay after the remodel. First thing to do was take a look at Bakers Crossing.

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While taking some pics at Bakers the game warden pulled up and got out to talk to us. He asked where we were from, what we were doing and how long we were going to be around. We told him and that we were photographing landscapes and wildlife and that we would be in the area for the next 5 days. I asked if he had any issues with us running the road and taking pics. He said he had no issue with that as long as we got our jeep clear of the road when we stopped. We did make it a point to show we were being safe by wearing reflective vests which i had on when he stopped. There was no questions asked as to whether we were collecting or harrassing the wildlife. We did not see him or any other wardens the rest of the trip.

The first and only live snake of the night was this nice but slightly skinny Trans Pecos ratsnake

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The first DOR was this nice red western coachwhip. As we walked back to photograph it a border patrol guard passed us and swung back around to check on us. I waited on the side of the road for him and he pulled up and parked right on top of the coachwhip. He asked what we were up to from inside his truck. I told him i was getting ready to photograph the snake he just parked on top of. :) The look of guilt on his face was hilarious as he quickly apologized and moved off the snake. In total we had probably 6 or 7 border patrol guards stop in on us throughout the trip and all were very cool and questioned as to what we were finding.

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A few couchs spadefoots were seen on the roads. I love these guys.
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The only other snake seen was a badly mangled DOR Western diamondback. We were amazed at the fact we only saw 2 dor atrox the whole trip. Usually they are the most common snake encountered. At this point we were thinking the drought may really put a damper on the snake movement. Everything was bone dry.

The roadkills on this trip far outweighed the live stuff we observed. None hurt worse then this very fresh DOR grayband king found at 8am the next morning. It was very overcast out and we guessed it was hit early a.m. It was the last thing i expected to see in the morning. We passed this spot around 1a.m. and he was not there then. Even though it hurt to see it made us feel a little more positive that stuff was moving. It was followed by a dor checkered garter not photographed.

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We hit another area where the road was covered in DOR Texas and roundtail horned lizards. There also seemed to be alot more birds and DOR birds than usual. I believe this may be because they were displaced from all the fires. This blackneck garter was also seen.

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Thursday night we decided to hit the Langtry area. We walked a cut just before dark and spotted this central texas whipsnake peeking out from his hide in the cut. He was out about half way then darted back in and just watched us. This was a lifer for both of us.

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On the way back to the room we spotted a good size snake in the road. Turned around to find this beautiful bairds ratsnake had just been hit. It would have been a lifer for me.

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Most people have heard about the wildfires in West Texas around Fort Davis. We had not heard about the fire around pandale and Juno. We were very suprised while driving to the Pecos River crossing on Pandale Dirt to see all the heavily burnt property. Somewhere between 175,000 and 250,000 acres were burnt.

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There were a million millipedes out as usual
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While at the Pecos River crossing a few lizards were seen as well as a nicely colored blotched watersnake swimming under the bridge.

southwestern earless lizard
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texas horned lizard
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Merriams canyon lizard?
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Trans Pecos striped whiptail
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blotched watersnake
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It rained hard for about 20 minutes in Comstock Friday morning but dried up so fast you could never tell it had rained. We thought it might help bring out the herps. The only snake found Friday night was this pretty little Mottled Rock rattlesnake. It was great to see. By far my favorite rattlesnake.
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Saturday was just a horrible day all around. While coming back from an area around brackettville the tire light came on in the jeep. Pulled over and aired up the tire. A few minutes later it came on again. We drove back to our room to find out the water was off in the whole town of Comstock and they werent sure when it was going to come back on. We decided to check out and get a room in Del Rio. After checking in i found a tire shop. Nail in the sidewall so of course it couldn't be patched. On the way back from the tire shop the traction control light came on and 1st gear started slipping. Over 300 miles from home and the transmission is going out was not good. We ended up checking out and driving home a day early. Not a great way to end a trip. In all we only saw 12 snakes and of those 8 were DORs. 10 species in all. It was still good to get out there. I just hope they get their fair share of rain soon.

Chris

2-DOR Western Diamondback rattlesnakes
2-DOR Western Coachwhips
1-DOR checkered Garter
1-DOR western blackneck garter
1-DOR Grayband Kingsnake
1-DOR bairds ratsnake
1-AOR trans pecos ratsnake
1-AOR Mottled Rock rattlesnake
1-AOC Central Texas whipsnake
1-Blotched watersnake swimming
TMTC- Texas horned lizards AOR and DOR
1-DOR roundtail horned lizard
2-AOR couchs spadefoots
1-merriams canyon lizard
1-transpecos striped whiptail
1-southwestern earless lizard

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herpseeker1978
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Re: West Texas report 5/18-5/21

Post by herpseeker1978 » May 22nd, 2011, 10:09 am

Is that blotched watersnake lighter in color is it just the picture? Great finds! bummer about the dors but such is life, I had a trip last year where all the snakes I found were dor! At least you knew they were moving and not feeling like nothing is out.

Josh

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chris drake
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Re: West Texas report 5/18-5/21

Post by chris drake » May 22nd, 2011, 10:21 am

Very true Josh. I guess we've been spoiled because we have always had very productive outings out there. It was bound to happen. :) The blotched was that color shown. I just figure because the water is so crystal clear that they don't get that muddy look. I had to second guess what it was too when i first saw it.

Chris

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Ross Padilla
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Re: West Texas report 5/18-5/21

Post by Ross Padilla » May 22nd, 2011, 1:55 pm

Too bad about the GB king, but its always cool to see evidence of whats in the area. Cool post! I liked the TP Rat snake shots. :thumb:

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chris drake
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Re: West Texas report 5/18-5/21

Post by chris drake » May 22nd, 2011, 4:51 pm

Thanks Ross. Yeah the GBK was painful. Nathan had walked back to it first and tried to cover my eyes because he knew i was going to be upset. lol. I was guessing it was a lepidus when he said no it was an alterna. That and the bairds were both tough to get over. The lep and the suboc helped some. :) Better trip next time.

Chris

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ThatFrogGuy
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Re: West Texas report 5/18-5/21

Post by ThatFrogGuy » May 22nd, 2011, 5:40 pm

I love that first spadefoot pic.

Reptiluvr
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Re: West Texas report 5/18-5/21

Post by Reptiluvr » May 24th, 2011, 10:34 am

Nice post. How is Nathan Hall? I haven't talked to him since 2006 at Daytona! Please let him know Robert Gundy says hi and sends good wishes. Then tell him to get to Daytona just for fun.

J-Miz
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Re: West Texas report 5/18-5/21

Post by J-Miz » May 24th, 2011, 1:46 pm

With all those awesome DOR's, I'm glad this wasn't my trip...I wouldn't have been able to take it!

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chris drake
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Re: West Texas report 5/18-5/21

Post by chris drake » May 24th, 2011, 2:51 pm

The bairds and alterna killed me. It was very hard because that was my first bairds and it was a beauty and the alterna..well it was an alterna! I've been fortunate to see 4 alterna in the last 3 years. Not to bad.

Chris

Jacob
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Re: West Texas report 5/18-5/21

Post by Jacob » May 26th, 2011, 6:09 am

Great pics Chris!

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Scott_Wahlberg
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Re: West Texas report 5/18-5/21

Post by Scott_Wahlberg » May 29th, 2011, 9:15 pm

That's too bad about the road kills. Did you hold onto any of them? I'm also glad to see that the area received a good burn and that the wardens were courteous and friendly towards y'all. I think I'll be out there towards the end of this week for a few days.

-Scott

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Greg Theos
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Re: West Texas report 5/18-5/21

Post by Greg Theos » May 29th, 2011, 10:10 pm

Cool post. I had no idea Toucans inhabited the western U.S.

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chris drake
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Re: West Texas report 5/18-5/21

Post by chris drake » May 30th, 2011, 6:18 am

Thanks Greg. I'm not very good with bird ids but I believe its a painted bunting. If i was a birder i would have been thrilled this year. Seems there was more birds out than usual.

Chris

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chris drake
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Re: West Texas report 5/18-5/21

Post by chris drake » May 30th, 2011, 6:20 am

Hey Scott I didn't save any of the dors. I hope you have better luck out there than we did. Let us know how it goes.

chris

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Nathan Hall
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Re: West Texas report 5/18-5/21

Post by Nathan Hall » June 2nd, 2011, 3:57 pm

Nice post, Chris. Look forward to going back out there soon. The DORs sucked, especially the Alterna and Bairds.

Robert, I'm alive and well. Shoot me a message.

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chris drake
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Re: West Texas report 5/18-5/21

Post by chris drake » June 2nd, 2011, 4:10 pm

Nathan,Please post some of your pics when you get a chance. I know you took the time to get some great shots i didn't. I would be there right now if we could. :)

Chris

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