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 Post subject: 2016 in Alta and Baja California
PostPosted: January 14th, 2017, 8:26 pm 
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Joined: June 7th, 2010, 7:57 pm
Posts: 141
Location: Davis/Santa Cruz
Thought I'd share some of my favorite finds from last year. I spent a lot of time herping in new areas, and had a great year finding some locality and lifer targets. Also got to take two trips south to Baja which was a first for me and an awesome experience. I'll throw everything up in more or less chronological order, with some extra pics of my favorite finds.

2016 Started off with a few good rains allowing for some observations of the local ambystomids
Tiger
ImageDSC_5583 by mangoman57, on Flickr
SC Long toed
ImageDSC_5587 by mangoman57, on Flickr
I did a few nocturnal checks in a property of state park land to survey where red legged frogs were
Only 1 minute into the first survey and my partner and I confirmed red legged frogs, though this individual was slightly confused… Hopefully it realized its mistake before the much larger bullfrog made a snack of it
ImageDSC_5607 by mangoman57, on Flickr
A less imperiled red legged frog
ImageDSC_5743 by mangoman57, on Flickr
Chorus frogs were also common. I watched this pair lay a few eggs
ImageDSC_5640 by mangoman57, on Flickr

In late January, I went to scout a spot that I thought might produce Cal Kings later in the year in Santa Cruz co where they are pretty uncommon. Surprisingly, my scouting trip turned into one of my favorite finds of the year when I doubled flipped two neonates
ImageDSC_5674 by mangoman57, on Flickr

This ensatina from yolo county was a big surprise while looking for aneides in February. I think it’s a legit co. record and approximately 10 mile range extension eastward in the interior coast range.
ImageDSC_5851 by mangoman57, on Flickr

Aniella provide a fun target during sunny brakes in cooler weather.
ImageDSC_5874 by mangoman57, on Flickr

In March I got my lifer spadefoot in Yolo co, where to my knowledge, they hadn’t been recorded in around 15 years. Definitely one of my favorite finds
ImageDSC_5939 by mangoman57, on Flickr

After finishing my last winter quarter final, I rushed to catch the sun before it set on what became one of my favorite crack’s this year and spotted this tiny z wedged in deep. This would be a reoccurring, and depressing theme for me this year.
ImageDSC_5998 by mangoman57, on Flickr

On a trip down the interior coast range in central California, I flipped this huge king that was over 4 ft long and extremely hefty
ImageDSC_6093 by mangoman57, on Flickr
A cold spell limited herp activity, but my dad and I did find a number of night lizards in their disjunct range there. Similar to southern California, where I often find them under Joshua trees, these were all found under rotting yucca stumps.
ImageDSC_6117 by mangoman57, on Flickr

On the spring yolo survey with Dave, everyone was really hoping for a striped gopher. After our group had flipped hundreds of boards that Dave has set out and seen tons of other cool stuff, we circled around literally the last board at the last sight, and held our breaths as Mark flipped it to reveal a perfect striped juvenile.
ImageDSC_6188 by mangoman57, on Flickr

In spring, I took a field ecology course and spent a lot of time away from santa cruz, hearing about how great the herping was as others found tons of z’s during the wet spring. One weekend when I was back, I returned to the same crack from march and found a pair of adult z’s sharing it. One came out of the crack with almost no coaxing, but I got greedy and tried to gently direct the other one towards the edge with a small twig as well. It was not having it and bolted deeper into the rock and at the same time, the first, which was in my other hand with my flashlight, got its head back into the crack so I had to let it go as well. Can’t win them all
ImageDSC_6199 or something by mangoman57, on Flickr

The highlight of my spring, and year, was a 2 week trip to one of my professor's field sites in the sea of cortez where our small class broke into groups and carried out a research project. I chose to study lizards to maximize the amount of time I could spend herping on some of the islands. Didn't take a whole ton of pictures of lizards because bringing a camera around during surveys was a little too much, but I did try photo every snake. Rattlesnakes were pretty common on one of the islands we visited, and I think I saw about 10 each of mitcheli and ruber. The variability in both species was amazing and we also found a number of pairs hanging out together. I'll throw up a few different individuals of each species
First snake on the first day was my lifer ruber
ImageDSC_6350 by mangoman57, on Flickr
A light speck
ImageDSC_6365 by mangoman57, on Flickr
Another light speck
ImageDSC_6372 by mangoman57, on Flickr
Based on the bird poop, I'm pretty sure the log it was on was a regular perch and this guy was waiting for something to land
ImageDSC_6395 by mangoman57, on Flickr
Another in ambush
ImageDSC_6452 by mangoman57, on Flickr
Much lighter ruber that was kind of greenish
ImageDSC_6462 by mangoman57, on Flickr
Loved this in situ pair showing the contrast between dark and light individuals. We ended up seeing a number of pairs together
ImageDSC_6477 by mangoman57, on Flickr
A speck on the crawl at night
ImageDSC_6483 by mangoman57, on Flickr
Another light Ruber, coiled only a few feet away. A little tanner this time
ImageDSC_6544 by mangoman57, on Flickr
This speck was much more silver than the others
ImageDSC_6547 by mangoman57, on Flickr
Thought it was going to be my favorite until the next one. Super pink with some hints of orange
ImageDSC_6625 by mangoman57, on Flickr
In situ coiled under a tree. How we spotted most of the crotes
ImageDSC_6630 by mangoman57, on Flickr

One night, I spotted the eyeshine of what I though was a mouse halfway up a cardon. I pointed it out to my friend who replied, I don’t see a mouse, but there’s a huge snake right there. The “mouse” turned out the be the snake's head poking out around the cactus and the body below belonged to a gorgeous 5 ft gopher snake, likely looking for the small mice or bats that drink the cardon flower nectar.
ImageDSC_6508 by mangoman57, on Flickr
My friend was trying to conquer a fear of snakes and this one was so mellow and gently draped across her shoulders.
ImageDSC_6528 by mangoman57, on Flickr
No mice in the cardon, and the snake fell out when it saw us, so we released it at the base of the cactus. This snake's orange and black pattern was absolutely incredible
ImageDSC_6532 by mangoman57, on Flickr

Spent the eve of my twenty first birthday staying up and looking for rattlesnakes… way better than going out to bars
ImageDSC_6504 by mangoman57, on Flickr

The highlight of the trip, and year, for me was my lifer rosy boa. I’ve had a pet boa from further north in baja since I was 5, when the most creative name I could think of was “baja,” so to get my lifer here was surreal. They had also never been recorded on this island which added to the excitement
In situ
ImageDSC_6661 by mangoman57, on Flickr

ImageDSC_6679edit by mangoman57, on Flickr

I was beyond stoked and my initial reaction lead to a lot of imitations and jokes for the rest of the trip
ImageDSC_6694 by mangoman57, on Flickr

Heading back into the rocks
ImageDSC_6697 by mangoman57, on Flickr

We stopped on another island to photograph some San Lucan rock lizards and were rewarded with some extremely gorgeous and large specimens
ImageDSC_6789 by mangoman57, on Flickr

ImageDSC_6766 by mangoman57, on Flickr

During summer, I continued to try and get some targets around Santa Cruz, and managed to finally get infernalis. Turned out to be the best looking one I’d ever seen from anywhere and another favorite of the year
ImageDSC_6826 edit by mangoman57, on Flickr
ImageDSC_6836 by mangoman57, on Flickr

Not quite the same color wise, but these sagebrush lizards were another target I've had and in summer the gravid females developed some nice orange coloration as well
ImageDSC_6851 by mangoman57, on Flickr

While surveying for pond turtles with Lawrence at the Soquel Forest one day, we both had a moment of excitement turn to perplexion when we found this huge slider deep in the redwood forest far from any trailheads or houses. Not quite the turtle we were expecting or hoping for
ImageDSC_6900 by mangoman57, on Flickr

A Yellow legged frog missing one of its legs
ImageDSC_6873 by mangoman57, on Flickr

In fall, Zach and I checked out a spot I had been to countless times to look for SF garters in Santa Cruz co. Having seen tons of individuals of both other Thamnophis species here, but never sirtalis, I was starting to doubt they were still there. Then Zach practically stepped on this one and we spotted a few more making for an exciting morning
ImageDSC_7073 by mangoman57, on Flickr

In September I spotted this family of crotes at the base of a rock outcrop. The female looked to have just dropped the babies, but the large male looked like he was already attempting to mate with her again. he kept nudgin her and smelling all over, but she wasn’t having it and would rattle at him every few minutes. I think there were 6 visible juvies scattered around as well. Pictures are terrible because I didn’t want to disturb them but it was fun sitting on the rock above them and watching them interact
The adults. Bonus points if you can spot a loner juvi
ImageDSC_7062 by mangoman57, on Flickr
I think theres 4 or 5 more young visible in this shot
ImageDSC_7051 by mangoman57, on Flickr

Fall rains rejuvenated the santa cruz area, and made herping for more fossorial species the priority again. A spot I found earlier this year has quickly become one of my favorites due to the abundance of boas and toads at it, both of which were common after the fall rains
ImageDSC_7152 by mangoman57, on Flickr
A few boas. More orange
ImageDSC_7181 by mangoman57, on Flickr
More green
ImageDSC_6193 by mangoman57, on Flickr

One warm afternoon, I returned to the same crack to again see the red white and black of a z at the edge, but was only able to get a few pictures before it disappeared. Possibly one of the pair from earlier in the year.
ImageDSC_7213 - edit by mangoman57, on Flickr
I figured that would be the end z’s for me in 2016, but in November the z gods decided to torture me one last time and while checking out a new area, I found yet another z in a crack, and failed yet another time to get any good pictures.

On one of the last warm days, I flipped this sweet night snake which couldn’t have been more than 4 inches long. I rarely find these so I was pretty excited about this one
ImageDSC_7318 by mangoman57, on Flickr
An adult black salamander
ImageDSC_7256 by mangoman57, on Flickr
And back to where we started: Ambystomids when the heavy rains returned
First a tiger from a new county for me
ImageDSC_7330 by mangoman57, on Flickr
And long toeds as well, this time climbing about 8 inches into low vegetation. I’ve seen pictures of other ambystoma up in grasses before, with the possible explanation of foraging. My friend and I noticed many small slugs up in the same grassy areas and I’m guessing the salamanders were following them up there. We saw 4 or 5 climbing like this, but the only one actively eating was battling with a worm on the ground so we couldn't confirm that's why they were climbing
ImageDSC_7351 by mangoman57, on Flickr

During new years, I returned to baja with my family, to dive in cabo pulmo national park. Back in May, I had attempted to find bipes but conditions were dry and I only found a few shed skins. On new years eve, I returned to the same spot and within a few minutes found one last highlight for 2016. Smaller than I expected they would be, but they are definitely pretty weird little animals.
ImageIMG_0107 by mangoman57, on Flickr

ImageIMG_0202 by mangoman57, on Flickr


Hope everyone else had a great year as well. 2017 already started out awesome when I found one of my top targets last week so it's looking like another great year.
Happy herping!
-Elliot


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 Post subject: Re: 2016 in Alta and Baja California
PostPosted: January 15th, 2017, 12:26 am 
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Joined: August 24th, 2010, 9:14 am
Posts: 498
Location: San Diego
Awesome stuff! I hope to herp that side of the boarder someday.


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 Post subject: Re: 2016 in Alta and Baja California
PostPosted: January 15th, 2017, 9:04 am 

Joined: December 3rd, 2010, 12:06 pm
Posts: 1556
Nice summary, nice finds. Thank you.

Quote:
They had also never been recorded on this island which added to the excitement


I bet. Well done, very well done. I really liked all your spec shots too. I think your silver one remains my fave, ha ha.

Quote:
Spent the eve of my twenty first birthday staying up and looking for rattlesnakes… way better than going out to bars

I can scarcely agree more. Most wholesome, most memorable.

Pulmo's a sweet spot, if you have to be on the mainland, that's a good choice! It really validates the Marine Protected Area "experimental concept". Sure seems to be working, after 20 years of no harvest there's sure a lot of big fish. Makes you imagine what the Sea must have been like in "the good old days".

cheers


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 Post subject: Re: 2016 in Alta and Baja California
PostPosted: January 22nd, 2017, 9:52 am 
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Joined: June 11th, 2010, 11:07 am
Posts: 307
Location: Canyon country, Ca
Amazing year! And Amazing finds! Loved the Baja island specks, and the New Island rosy boa! I assume your going to have it written up?

-Dan


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 Post subject: Re: 2016 in Alta and Baja California
PostPosted: January 23rd, 2017, 9:25 am 
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Joined: October 18th, 2010, 7:55 pm
Posts: 628
Location: San Diego, CA
What a great year Elliot!
Congrats on the County Records and range extension.
I can't get over the red and black gopher snake! That thing looks amazing.

Keep it up man!

Jeff


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 Post subject: Re: 2016 in Alta and Baja California
PostPosted: January 28th, 2017, 4:41 pm 

Joined: January 28th, 2017, 1:22 am
Posts: 1
Location: San Diego
Love the Santa Cruz kings! :thumb: :thumb:


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 Post subject: Re: 2016 in Alta and Baja California
PostPosted: January 29th, 2017, 7:40 pm 
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Joined: March 19th, 2011, 6:43 pm
Posts: 1625
:thumb: :thumb: :thumb: Wow!


ImageDSC_6532 by mangoman57, on Flickr

ImageDSC_6826 edit by mangoman57, on Flickr


Cool shot! 8-)


ImageDSC_7351 by mangoman57, on Flickr


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 Post subject: Re: 2016 in Alta and Baja California
PostPosted: January 31st, 2017, 12:29 pm 
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Joined: June 7th, 2010, 5:14 am
Posts: 1785
Location: San Clemente, CA www.swfieldherp.com
That Pituophis is amazing. What is the species? P. vertbralis or P. c. vertebralis?
Whatever it is, that thing is gorgeous!


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 Post subject: Re: 2016 in Alta and Baja California
PostPosted: February 3rd, 2017, 10:04 am 
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Joined: June 7th, 2010, 7:57 pm
Posts: 141
Location: Davis/Santa Cruz
Nate you should definitely do it. So much remote desert/islands out there with some sweet herps
Jimi, Pulmo diving was awesome. We didn't see a few of the big fish we were hoping for, but the insane schools of jacks and snapper were unreal.
Dan, yeah I wrote a little note on the boa that should be in the next issue of HerpReview. PM me if you want a little more info on it
Thanks Jeff! Always appreciate your comments.
Anthony, thanks! They were a nice Jan. surprise. Weird piece of AC under an overhang so it got lots of sun but stayed dry, while the surrounding area was soaked
Porter, I figured you'd like that sirtalis
Steve, yep vertebralis. According to grismer, I think its P. v. vertebralis or Cape gopher snake which I think are more orange than the other subspecies further north in central baja.


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 Post subject: Re: 2016 in Alta and Baja California
PostPosted: February 5th, 2017, 7:00 am 
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Joined: June 16th, 2010, 7:09 am
Posts: 624
Location: Santa Cruz Co. California
A epic year for you indeed! Great post man.


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 Post subject: Re: 2016 in Alta and Baja California
PostPosted: February 7th, 2017, 5:32 pm 

Joined: September 25th, 2010, 2:46 pm
Posts: 206
Location: Santa Cruz ca
Nice!


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 Post subject: Re: 2016 in Alta and Baja California
PostPosted: February 16th, 2017, 12:54 am 

Joined: March 30th, 2015, 10:01 am
Posts: 45
Location: Orange County
Great stuff Elliot!

Gotta love Baja, really dig the San Lucan Rock lizards.

And yeah flipping that Striper under the last board of the day was nutty...


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 Post subject: Re: 2016 in Alta and Baja California
PostPosted: February 16th, 2017, 8:36 pm 
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Joined: May 14th, 2011, 11:16 pm
Posts: 1127
Location: Santa Cruz, CA
Damn! :shock:

JimM


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