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 Post subject: trip to North Algodones Dunes Wilderness 3-20-12
PostPosted: March 23rd, 2012, 2:18 am 
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Joined: October 18th, 2010, 7:55 pm
Posts: 425
Location: San Diego, CA
I ventured to the Dunes on Tuesday along with Fil (PNWHerper) and Nathan (Nature Nate) in order to help Fil collect data for his tracking book. Of course, I also hoped to record my first fringe-toed lizard.
The weather was ideal for walking through the desert and tracking in the soft sand - minimal wind, clear skies, and temps in the 60's warming to the mid 70's. We made a number of interesting finds and overall the trip was a success.


Here's a chronological slideshow taken with my new Sony WX9 point-and-shoot camera that I'm still learning to use...

A few drive-by shots - Santa Ysabel, Julian, and edge of desert early in the AM
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Fil and Nate at the start of our walk to the dunes
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desolate habitat outside the wash we followed
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ground squirrel at mouth of burrow
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turned out to be dead
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(no Crotes located nearby unfortunately)

reached the edge of the dune habitat
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found our first fringe-toed, a juvenile
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tracks and burrows made by banded geckos
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blurry profile shot of a juvie
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Fil tracking one down for us
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Nate discovered a large pottery shard
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Dune/creosote ecotone habitat shots
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Another juvie
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More cool lizard tracks
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Juvie desert iguana
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appeared a little scrawny

Adult desert iguana
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also appeared thin and rather unhealthy

Urosaurus found in wash on return walk
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(only shot I got before it disappeared)
?possible range extension of ornatus based on Cal Herps dot locality map? ( http://www.californiaherps.com/lizards/ ... cusmap.jpg )

Tiger whiptail found near car
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freight train
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(for all you rail fans)

driving back over the dunes
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Mining train near a spot we stopped at on the way back
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In total we saw over 20 fringe-toed lizards, a handful of Uta's, two desert iguanas, 5 or more whiptails, that one Urosaurus, and zero snakes. We found a number of oddities as well, including a dead scorpion, reptile egg shells, old animal bones, broken clam shells, and a kit fox scent marking rock.

Algodones is a cool place and I plan to get back out there someday with the family. Check this site for more info on the area: http://www.blm.gov/ca/st/en/prog/wilder ... dunes.html

I hope Fil and Nate might add a few of their photos when they find some time. They were a lot of fun to spend time with out in the field, and I know their photography is much better than mine.


Take it easy,

Jeff


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 Post subject: Re: trip to North Algodones Dunes Wilderness 3-20-12
PostPosted: March 23rd, 2012, 4:10 am 
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Joined: March 22nd, 2012, 6:19 pm
Posts: 368
Location: The Dark Side of the Moon
Very cool area over there. Too bad you didn't see a sidewinder or two, that looked liked perfect habitat for them. Also, sweet diesels you got there.


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 Post subject: Re: trip to North Algodones Dunes Wilderness 3-20-12
PostPosted: March 23rd, 2012, 7:00 am 

Joined: June 7th, 2010, 8:38 pm
Posts: 1504
Location: Los Angeles
Thanks for sharing, Jeff. Looks like a place worth checking out one day. I like the shot of the freight train with the sun behind it :thumb:

Robert


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 Post subject: Re: trip to North Algodones Dunes Wilderness 3-20-12
PostPosted: March 23rd, 2012, 10:33 am 
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Joined: June 7th, 2010, 5:12 pm
Posts: 1220
Location: Los Angeles County, CA
Thats got to be one of the coolest Algodones Dunes report I’ve seen. You guys did great for early season herp’n. Your Brush Lizard is Urosaurus graciosus they love sandy habitats – sorry no range extension. Next time you’re in that area, stop to check out the oasis, hot spring that is nearby.


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 Post subject: Re: trip to North Algodones Dunes Wilderness 3-20-12
PostPosted: March 24th, 2012, 7:30 am 
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Joined: October 18th, 2010, 7:55 pm
Posts: 425
Location: San Diego, CA
Thanks for the comments guys. Glad you like the train shots - I can't come home from the desert without at least a few to show my boys. The last one of the mining train turned out just as I hoped.

I remembered Will telling me last year to 'watch out for brush lizards around the base of bushes' when searching for fringe-toed's. So I wasn't really surprised to see one out there. Then when I got around to double-checking the name and range on Cal Herps, I couldn't find a good match. I saw the other two species on the site and couldn't figure out which one might be in the dunes. I must have been really tired I guess, because Urosaurus graciosus is right there too, just up one row from the others (on the Lizard Photo Index).

Will - next time I head out there I definitely want to visit the hot springs oasis. Do you think it's a suitable spot to bring the boys to (i.e. not too far of a walk)?

Talk to you later,

Jeff


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 Post subject: Re: trip to North Algodones Dunes Wilderness 3-20-12
PostPosted: March 24th, 2012, 7:45 am 

Joined: June 8th, 2010, 7:12 am
Posts: 7063
Location: Hesperia, California.
Cool post Jeff :thumb: LT Brushes are still on my lifer list... :oops: :D jim


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 Post subject: Re: trip to North Algodones Dunes Wilderness 3-20-12
PostPosted: March 24th, 2012, 7:46 pm 
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Joined: July 8th, 2011, 1:04 pm
Posts: 658
Location: King County, WA
Nice post, Jeff. It was an excellent day in the field! Thank you Nature Nate and SurfinHerp. It was a pleasure exploring and herpin' with you guys! :beer: :beer: :beer: :thumb:

Here are some of my highlights...

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The hind foot of an adult Colorado Desert Fringe-toed lizard.

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The front foot of the same lizard.

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The back, showing the intricate scales and pattern on the back. Amazing camo!

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This very weird sight greeted us at the base of a dune, where flotsam is gathered by the wind. A scorpion, buried tail down sticking out of the ground like a scorpion-scile or post.

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A close up of a perfect pair of western banded gecko.

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This tiny California poppy (relative?) was found near where we parked our vehicles.

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This came to my surprise while looking over the photos... desert iguanas have fringes on their hind feet. Subtle, and nothing as developed as true fringe-toes, but present.

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The front feet don't show fringes, but do show well developed claws for digging.

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Not only did we find a dead squirrel in mid-stride going into its burrow, but we also found a dead fringe-toed lizard. This one was not fresh, like the squirrel, but had been fed on by scavenging insects. My theory was that the squirrel likely got tagged by a crot' species and ran for it. It got as far as the entrance of its burrow, then expired. :shock: Perhaps the fringe-toed also met a similar fate.

The squirrel was still crawling with fleas when we pulled it from the burrow entrance. I suspect it had died that morning. We searched the area for evidence of sidewinders and w. diamondbacks, but did not see tracks or sign of either. Hmmm. What a mystery...!


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 Post subject: Re: trip to North Algodones Dunes Wilderness 3-20-12
PostPosted: March 24th, 2012, 8:17 pm 
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Joined: June 9th, 2010, 8:33 am
Posts: 454
Location: SF Bay Area
Nice post Jeff! I love the algodones - very intresting intersection of low elevation and unique habitat. I gotta get back over there at some point.


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 Post subject: Re: trip to North Algodones Dunes Wilderness 3-20-12
PostPosted: March 25th, 2012, 1:24 am 
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Joined: August 15th, 2010, 2:40 pm
Posts: 102
Location: Palm Springs, CA
Your little flower is a little gold poppy. Great stuff. I will be out on some local sand dunes in April where I will be out with Dr. Cameron Barrows to search for coachella valley fringe toeds!!!


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 Post subject: Re: trip to North Algodones Dunes Wilderness 3-20-12
PostPosted: March 25th, 2012, 7:06 am 
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Joined: July 8th, 2011, 1:04 pm
Posts: 658
Location: King County, WA
Snakeherper5,

Quote:
Your little flower is a little gold poppy. Great stuff


Awesome, thank you!

Quote:
I will be out on some local sand dunes in April where I will be out with Dr. Cameron Barrows to search for coachella valley fringe toeds!!!


I am sad to say I missed a chance to go out with him this time, as the day we were scheduled to meet it was blasting wind in the coachella valley! I hope to reschedule with him for end of April. Please let us know what you find on your outing and share pics here!

:beer:


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 Post subject: Re: trip to North Algodones Dunes Wilderness 3-20-12
PostPosted: March 26th, 2012, 9:06 pm 
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Joined: June 10th, 2010, 11:35 pm
Posts: 1799
Location: San Jose', Northern Catcrapistan
Cool stuff.

I wonder what kind of tracks Megasoma sleeperi would make?


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 Post subject: Re: trip to North Algodones Dunes Wilderness 3-20-12
PostPosted: March 27th, 2012, 11:24 am 
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Joined: June 7th, 2010, 5:12 pm
Posts: 1220
Location: Los Angeles County, CA
SurfinHerp wrote:
Will - next time I head out there I definitely want to visit the hot springs oasis.


A person can simply drive right up to the oasis. The oasis is okay for kids as long as the naked, mentally ill people are not around. The oasis is a popular hangout for nudists --- the naked women are hideous looking and the men are perverts. So, just be sure to get the oasis to yourself and family, and tell the others to scram.
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Email me at [email protected] and I'll send you a google earth map to the location.. Anyone else want directions, just email. Its a nice spot when no one else is around which is about 75% of the time.


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 Post subject: Re: trip to North Algodones Dunes Wilderness 3-20-12
PostPosted: March 27th, 2012, 8:51 pm 
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Joined: October 18th, 2010, 7:55 pm
Posts: 425
Location: San Diego, CA
Hey Fil - thanks for adding on to the post. Glad you made it back home safe and sound. I look forward to your upcoming posts from the rest of your California trip.

Will - thanks a lot for the photo and details about the hot springs oasis. Maybe I'll wait until the boys are a little older before taking them out there. It would be a big disappointment to go all the way there only to find a bunch of old nudists soaking in the springs. Which reminds me of a time last year when I took my oldest son Trevor camping in Hawk Canyon in ABDSP. It was windy and the canyon had a number of families camping there to stay out of the wind, so the only area left to set-up camp was about 80 yards from some middle-aged, fat naked guy. At least his blubber covered his junk though.


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 Post subject: Re: trip to North Algodones Dunes Wilderness 3-20-12
PostPosted: March 28th, 2012, 6:14 pm 
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Joined: July 8th, 2011, 1:04 pm
Posts: 658
Location: King County, WA
Quote:
Hey Fil - thanks for adding on to the post. Glad you made it back home safe and sound. I look forward to your upcoming posts from the rest of your California trip.


I hope I can repay your great generosity in the future, Jeff. Thanks again for letting me stay with you while in SD!

I made a post about the high desert just now. I still need to put one together on SD. I am sorry to be slow to put them up and to make them so brief. Haven't had much time, as I had to jump right back into teaching when I came home. Let me know if you guys haven't input any species we found into the data base, and I will try to get to that as well.

Cheers!

Fil


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 Post subject: Re: trip to North Algodones Dunes Wilderness 3-20-12
PostPosted: March 29th, 2012, 7:54 pm 
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Joined: June 8th, 2010, 8:08 am
Posts: 2197
Location: Southern Arizona
Great post! I love the photography and creativity and interesting notes. Fringe-toeds sure are awesome lizards. I was nearby last week and saw lots of iguanas in the creosote flats. The creosote ecosystem is very interesting also.

Terry :beer:


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