After a shotgun visit through Phoenix to see Saskia Brad and Kai, and Dale and Dianne, we got to the herping. We started out by meeting my friends Roger and Wendy at the Suizo Mountains, which are in the Sonoran Desert lowlands outside of Tucson. Roger radiotracked some tiger rattlesnakes (Crotalus tigris) and western diamond-backed rattlesnakes (C. atrox), like this girl here.
We spent the next evening radiotracking Gila monsters at the Owlhead Buttes, my old field site, with some of Dale DeNardo's graduate students. But after tracking just 4 animals we got completely rained out. No photos, but amazingly 3 of the 4 Gila monsters were the same ones that I and Dale had first captured and implanted with transmitters 10 years ago!
Heading ever southward, we met up with my friends Justin Keri and Corbin who live at the base of the Catalina Mountains, and then my friends Melissa, Jeff, and John met us up in said mountains. I never spent a lot of time here when I lived in AZ, but they are gorgeous.
No rattlesnakes out though; it was pretty overcast and cool. We spent the next night in the Pinalenos, but again not much of anything out. Time to head to the Chiricahuas.
Here they are from Onion Saddle:
We went up to Barfoot Park, which is a famous spot for viewing twinspot rattlesnakes (C. pricei). They have been researched heavily here, likely because the beautiful talus slide is so gigantic that it houses a massive population of these guys:
We did a bunch of night driving, but unfortunately many of the critters were dead on the road. I've never seen traffic on Hwy 80 like this before! 3 of every 4 vehicles were Border Patrol, and we got "harassed" constantly. I say that in quotes because they were in fact quite friendly, and of course I am happy that they are there doing their important jobs. But it's hard to stop for a snake when you are being high-beamed and tail-gated by a patroller.
Here's a nice longnose snake (Rhinocheilus lecontei) we found on Hwy 80:
We visited our friends at the beautiful new Chiricahua Desert Museum, and were overwhelmed by their beautiful displays of live animals (and those of us without Y chromosomes also greatly enjoyed the fabulous shop). Here are the three of us standing in front of their collection of booze bottles with herp labels:
Next it was off to the Patagonia Mtns. Again, weather and conditions not so perfect, not to mention severe time lost having to drive to Nogales on my spare to get a new tire, but it was still really fun. Tony found this gorgeous night snake (Hypsiglena sp.) under a log:
There was a big rain pool from the monsoons, and it was filled with tadpoles. Upon closer investigation, we realized that these tadpoles were odd-- oops, wrong phylum! They were tadpole shrimp, which Tony likened to wee little horseshoe crabs. I had never even heard of them. Dorsal view:
Overall it was a great trip, but we were a bit early in terms of the monsoons. The final tally was 5 species of anurans, 1 turtle, and 32 species of squamates. Here are the rest of the species we found that I did not mention above:
Hyla arenicolor - Canyon Treefrog
Bufo cognatus - Great Plain Toad
Bufo debilis - Green Toad
Bufo punctatus - Red-spotted Toad
Scaphiopus couchii - Couch's Spadefoot
Terrapene ornata - Ornate Box Turtle
Crotaphytus bicinctores - Mojave Black-collared Lizard
Coleonyx variegatus - Western Banded Gecko
Cophosaurus texanus - Greater Earless Lizard
Callisaurus draconoides - Zebratail Lizard
Sceloporus magister - Desert Spiny Lizard
Urosaurus ornatus - Tree Lizard
Uta stansburiana - Side-blotched Lizard
Plestiodon callicephalus - Mountain Skink
Elgaria kingii - Madrean Alligator Lizard
Aspidoscelis tigris - Western Whiptail
Lampropeltis getula - Common Kingsnake
Pituophis catenifer - Gopher Snake
Salvadora hexalepis - Western Patchnose Snake
Trimorphodon lambda - Sonoran Lyre Snake
Crotalus scutulatus - Mohave Rattlesnake
Crotalus viridis - Prairie Rattlesnake
Heterodon nasicus - Western Hognose Snake
Thamnophis cytropsis - Black-necked Garter Snake