Late winter/early spring in Southern California

Accounts and photos of non-captive reptiles in their natural habitat outside of South Africa. Try to record with your account details such as time of day/night, temperature, weather conditions, lunar cycle, sex, rough age of reptile, and so on.

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Late winter/early spring in Southern California

Postby croteseeker » Sat Mar 02, 2013 4:17 am

Well, I recently moved to Northern Michigan from Arizona. My brother and I haven't really seen much in Arizona this past winter, so when a chance came up to hit Southern California's early season, we jumped at it. Our major targets were boas and crotes, which we were able to find. But we also found some other cool stuff which made the trip just that much better. Weather was sunny, about 12 or 13 degrees Celsius, and time of search was just about sunrise to sunset on both days.

I'll start with the lizards. One of the first species we saw was the Great-basin Fence lizard (Sceloporus occidentalis longpipes).

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This is a new species for me, so I can't tell if it was male or female. My research has me leaning towards male, but I'm not 100% certain.

One species that I saw often, but wouldn't let me get a decent shot was the Granite Spiny lizard (Sceloporus orcutti). These guys are just absolutely beautiful, but they're so darn fast that it's near impossible to catch one. Finally, at our last spot, on the last day, I was flipping for boas when a big male shot over the top of a rock and snatched a bee out of the air. While he was occupied with the bee, I managed to snap a few shots.

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At the spot just before that, I was looking for C. ruber when my buddy, Diego, called me over to check out a cool gecko. It turned out to be a male San Diego Banded gecko (Coleonyx variegatus abbotti), another lifer.

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By far, though, my favorite lizard of the trip had to be the San Diego Alligator lizard (Elgaria multicarinata webbii) that I flipped early on the second morning of our search. I'm not quite sure of the sex. I don't believe Elgaria spp. are sexually dimorphic.

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Now that we've got the lizards out of the way, I'll post some photos that I never expected to get. I'm not really big on amphibians, but these Garden Slender salamanders (Batrachoseps major major) were just too cool to pass up. Here are some shots of the six that we found.

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Now for the snakes. This first species (also a lifer) gave us bad luck on both days. They were the first snake (x2) found on day one. We then spent the rest of the day finding nothing. A boa found right at dusk broke our losing streak. Then, on day two, they were the last snake seen (again, x2). Either way, it was cool to scratch another species off of my list. Here are shots of some of the San Diego Night snakes (Hypsiglena ochorhyncha klauberi) that we saw on our trip.

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Now for the good stuff. :D

We weren't able to find Crotalus oreganus helleri like I wanted to but, thanks to my friend Chris, we did get to see one species that I saw last year and was too excited to remember to take photos. The Red Diamond rattlesnake (Crotalus ruber).

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And now, by far the highlight of our finds and another lifer, the Coastal Rosy boa (Lichanura trivirgata roseofusca).

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All in all, an awesome trip to Southern California. For those who like inverts, mammals, and landscapes, I'll finish with some of my other favorite shots of the trip.

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Thanks for looking guys. Hope you enjoyed. :smt006
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Re: Late winter/early spring in Southern California

Postby Durban Keeper » Sat Mar 02, 2013 5:37 am

Wow these are great images. Thanks for taking the time to share your trip with up. Plenty of lifers there! The night snake (Hypsiglena ochorhyncha klaubergi) looks very much like a spotted house snake (lamprophis guttatus) from the karoo. Salamanders are awesome. Most people in South Africa have never had the chance to see one in the flesh. Hope to see some more posts in the future!

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Re: Late winter/early spring in Southern California

Postby Westley Price » Sat Mar 02, 2013 8:50 am

Nice finds man and some good photography.

It must be so cool to find a Rosy in the wild. When I see them in captivity I often wonder how on earth the are camouflaged in the wild, and now you've showed me!

I had to look very hard to see that first salamander's legs. Funny little critter.

Thanx for posting.
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Re: Late winter/early spring in Southern California

Postby levi_20 » Sat Mar 02, 2013 5:02 pm

Always a treat to see animals in their natural habitat, especially from other countries.
Thanks for sharing.
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Re: Late winter/early spring in Southern California

Postby TJ&ACP » Sat Mar 02, 2013 8:33 pm

Great pictures, thanks for sharing
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He, without doubt, is the King of Snakes in South Africa.
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Re: Late winter/early spring in Southern California

Postby croteseeker » Sun Mar 03, 2013 2:26 pm

Thanks, guys. Glad you enjoyed the photos.

Dean, I am often struck by the seemingly endless symmetry between species from our respective continents. :-)

Westley, I wondered the same thing. Having seen two subspecies in the wild now, I'm just beginning to understand. Their base color matches the rock pretty well. Some gracia even live in areas with these little red flowers that perfectly match their striping.
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Re: Late winter/early spring in Southern California

Postby MrG » Thu Mar 07, 2013 3:41 pm

That rosy boa are beautiful indeed.
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Re: Late winter/early spring in Southern California

Postby croteseeker » Thu Mar 07, 2013 11:12 pm

Thanks, Mr. G.

Two, three, and five are the same snake. Number one was released (as found) and number four was allowed to crawl back into his/her crevice at his/her leisure.

Thanks for looking, Mr. G. I'm glad that you enjoyed the photos. :smt006
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Re: Late winter/early spring in Southern California

Postby bradmiller » Fri Mar 08, 2013 7:33 am

Stunning photos and great story.
I also never knew the rosy boa was native to California - now I do!

Thanks for sharing!
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Re: Late winter/early spring in Southern California

Postby croteseeker » Sun Mar 10, 2013 3:34 pm

Sorry for the late reply, Brad. I've been kind of busy.

I'm glad you enjoyed the rosies. Their range covers parts of Arizona and California, USA, and parts of Baja California and Sonora, Mexico. I've heard it said that there are five subspecies, but arizonae is actually gracia, so there are two more subspecies for me to see. I personally prefer roseofusca and gracia anyway, though, so I'm not in any big hurry.

I recently moved to Northern Michigan, so I thought I'd include some recent photos of my new herping hell. And yes, it does freeze over. :lol: :smt013

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After I got done checking out some of the local architecture, I decided to go check out nearby Lake Michigan...

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Worst beach ever....

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Well, that's it. My new hell. There is only one crote species to be found anywhere near here. Only one lizard species, for that matter.

Guess I'll have to get used to looking for testudines and amphibs. :smt009

Take 'er easy, guys. As always, keep your eye on the sharp end. :smt006
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Re: Late winter/early spring in Southern California

Postby froot » Mon Mar 11, 2013 12:10 pm

That place looks good for nothing but snuggling in front of a fire and watching movies. Try and move again, been enjoying your photos..
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Re: Late winter/early spring in Southern California

Postby Unforgiven » Mon Mar 11, 2013 12:12 pm

That is a beautiful place! with and without the snow!
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Re: Late winter/early spring in Southern California

Postby Bushviper » Mon Mar 11, 2013 4:13 pm

Now we know where Snow corns are found. Perfect habitat?
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Re: Late winter/early spring in Southern California

Postby croteseeker » Fri Mar 15, 2013 3:57 pm

Unforgiven, you're right about it being beautiful, but it's still herper hell. It was -10c when I left the house yesterday.

Bushviper, I wish that were the case. I'm about a thousands Kilometers too far North for E. guttatta (I'm sure I spelled that wrong :lol: ) but this is a spot where I can find E. obsoleta. I'm looking forward to trying for Sistrurus catenatus, but we'll see how long that excitement lasts. :lol:
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