California, August 2008

My wife, son, and I made a trip out west the second week of August, 2008. First we spent a few days in Carson City, NV which was spent catching up with family. Then we drove down to Ridgecrest, CA, and spent a couple of days there. This is where I grew up -- my folks still live in the same house I grew up in. We then drove back to Carson City and flew home.

One thing I started thinking about on this trip is lutosus. My non-herper brother mentioned that he has seen several DORs on his daily drive to work in the Carson City area. We did a little half-hearted checking on this trip, but didn't see any. Something for the future. The photos below are all from California, in more-or-less chronological order.

A nice stream in probable lutosus country. The following four photos were from this locality.

Sceloporus occidentalis.

Sceloporus occidentalis, bad hair day.

Sceloporus occidentalis. These were the first lizards I'd seen on this trip so I was easily entertained.

Thamnophis couchii, I believe.

Driving further south...

Crotaphytus bicinctores, in the late-afternoon sun.

Along the way went to a place which I've had on my list for a long time, but some some reason have never visited -- the Ancient Bristlecone Pine Forest. It isn't really a herping destination, but the natural history of these trees is very interesting. The concept of something living 4000 years is amazing.

Dead Bristlecone Pine.

Tree Hugger. I wish we could have spent more time here, but the sun was going down and we had to be on our way.

The next day we checked out a spot near my parents house which we've visited several times before. The place was nearly dead as far as herp activity goes, the slowest I can remember. We only saw two sideblotches, plus one more critter which made the short trip worthwhile... Perhaps you can see it in the shade of the large boulder:

Closer look:

Crotalus stephensi.

The photos of this animal are all in situ. A couple more:

Considering the time of year, this find was quite lucky. We've now seen cerastes, scutulatus, and stephensi at this locality. In fact rattlesnakes are the only snake species we've seen here -- contrast that with Ohio!

Road cruising in the north Mojave in August is generally pretty slow, especially with a bright moon. But since we don't get out this way very often, we had to give it a go. Here's our meager results:

Coleonyx variegatus. I believe we saw five geckos.

Another gecko.

Crotalus cerastes.

A fat scorpion.

The next afternoon we drove up to the mountains.

Random scenery along the way.

Salvia pachyphylla.

At one point, Roxanne was walking in some tall grass and kicked this up:

Crotalus oreganus.

Two more photos:

A short time later, I spotted this in the shade of a bush:

Elgaria coerulea, eating a caterpillar.

It soon retreated to the deep shade to finish its business:

(Roxanne took the last two photos of the alligator lizard).

Ryan and Roxanne.

A light moment:

Ryan and yours truly.

OK, I have to say something about that LP hat Ryan is wearing. It's the cap from one of my Little League teams from back in the 70s, I think my dad must have held onto it. Back in those days, LP (=Louisiana-Pacific) had a sawmill in Pearsonville and they sponsored our team. That's right, a sawmill in the desert, makes about as much sense as a navy base in the desert...

So that's my CA herp fix for the year... The next day we drove back to Carson City, and then flew back to Ohio the following day.