Buckeye Herps Blog

A photographic journal of the reptiles and amphibians of Ohio, Michigan and other places interesting wildlife call home.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Evil Homeowners Association

Evidently, it is illegal per the rules of our condo/townhome association to hang bird feeders.


Wednesday, September 23, 2009

West Texas Part IV - Grand Finale!

We moved north and east to set up shop at the town of Sanderson. All herpers familiar with the area have been through Sanderson, and will be able to guess our home for the next three nights with ease. We stayed at the Outback Oasis Motel, a herper owned and operated establishment run by people dedicated to protecting our wonderful hobby. Roy and Ruth Engeldorf were excellent hosts. The rooms were clean, the rates fare and the location to die for... Unfortunately, I forgot to take a picture but I can't wait to return again and correct that mistake.

Our first night we cruised until very late and only turned up a few things to show for our hard work. Rumor had it alterna were being found in good numbers this week, but it wasn't to be for us tonight.

More WDBs. They started to make a run for most commonly observed snake on our trip...

We also spotted a few of the cool inverts that call this part of the country home, like this large Scolopendra helos.

And this Vinagarroon, which I think is Mastigoproctus giganteus.

It was a slow night... The next day we headed further east to try a different place. Pointless flipping of some railroad ties yielded a few striped bark scorpions?, Centruroides vittatus.

And this wonderful reminder of where we were.

This spot had a nice amount of water, and the habitat and vegetation was very different. We had hope of a few critters whose western most range we had crossed into...

But we didn't see a thing. Even more painful, only a little farther east a fellow herper had a record night. Luck of the draw or a couple of Texas newbs - we will never know. We saw a few of these Aphonopelma sp. during our trip.

Luckily an old friend turned up late on the way home.

The next day I photographed a few of the rio grande leopard frogs Roy had living in his pond.

And we photographed some of the cuts we had been driving during the daylight hours.

A few of these Merriam’s Canyon Lizard, Sceloporus merriami merriami, were seen. This completed our trifecta of Merriam's lizard subspecies.

And I finally got a crappy shot of a Crevice Spiny Lizard.

We managed to noose a nice Big Bend Spotted Whiptail, Aspidoscelis scalaris septemvittata, and it sat still for a pic or two after.

Hitting the road that night, one last subocs let them reign supreme as the most common live snake of our trip (atrox won including DORs)!

I had fun shooting a widow... it was another slow night.

And we ended the trip with one last new species, a Great Plains Ratsnake, Pantherophis emoryi.

Well, it was a great time. An alterna never showed up, we easily stayed awake until 4-6 am every night, and we put around 2700 miles on the rental car in a week. It wasn't exactly the cheapest trip in the world, although airfare, rental and lodging really wasn't too bad, but as Carl later put it...

$ spent per live alterna =

Until next time...

Click here for West Texas Part I, Part II, Part III and Part IV.

Cid Update

The little guy is doing well. We picked him up yesterday afternoon and he was definitely out of sorts, still groggy from the anesthetics. Even most of the night he wasn't the same old happy puppy. When I woke up today things were back to normal, and when I returned home from work this evening I was greeted with 15 minutes of excitement and love.

It will be a couple weeks to get the biopsy results, but I should have him back in the field soon. He (or me for that matter) has not been in the field since Labor Day. Hopefully this Friday...

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

West Texas III

We had initially only booked two nights at the motel, but we had been having such a great time with great company, so we decided to try and stay a third night. This requiring changing "cabins" (double wides) which we had no problem doing. The second cabin was smaller, but had been remodeled recently and was actually much more comfortable. Instead of going anywhere for the afternoon, Carl and I decided to just hike the wonderful land behind the cabin. The habitat was excellent and I wish we had been able to tear ourselves out of bed one of the mornings a bit earlier. We actually some more lizard diversity on this hike than any other.

There were a bunch of Greater Earless Lizards, Cophosaurus texanus, hanging around the cabins.

Another commonly seen lizard in the rocks was Big Bend Canyon Lizard, Sceloporus merriami annulatus. You might have noticed this is the second subspecies of Sceloporus merriami we have seen so far. The first was mentioned in Part I, but there is still another one to go. I don't typically throw too much weight into subspecies, (and these are actually a pretty good example of why) but I do tend to keep tract of them when I travel. If there are any taxonomic changes later, having a decent record of what exactly was seen and where may be useful.

Carl working his way up the hillside.

We managed to find two examples of Big Bend Tree Lizard, Urosaurus ornatus schmidti.

The hike on the way back down provided a nice view of the motel.

Later that night, Bob and Brad grilled up some tasty chicken and we enjoyed a beer while waiting for dusk to fall. There were a few whiptails running around between the cabins. I believe this to be a Big Bend Spotted Whiptail, Aspidoscelis scalaris septemvittata.

More earless lizards were seen before we headed out for the night.

We searched for a while seeing more of the usual suspects and then decided to try a different area a little earlier than normal. This provided us with a couple of new viewing opportunities. First was this Trans-Pecos Ratsnake seen in situ about 30 feet up a rock cut.

Unfortunately, a small ways away we spotted this DOR Grey-Banded Kingsnake, Lampropeltis alterna.

We managed to spot a nice looking blacktail in situ on a cut, waiting for a meal around 0400.

Despite good luck with a variety of animals we decided to move on to a different area. We didn't come all this way just to see an alterna (although it would be nice). We wanted to see much of West Texas, visit the the different towns, and the different areas herps are known from.

We chose to drive back through Big Bend National Park for the hope of stuff on the road and to take in the scenery. One drawback to this is the hands off mentality of national parks. We had just paid our fee at the initial station to see a gorgeous red coachwhip crawl out on the road about 15 yards in front of our car. We didn't have many options other than to wave goodbye as it took off into the brush. I managed a quick shot of red in a see of grass...

Any cactus experts out there for some help on IDs?


And a final goodbye to Big Bend National Park. I would love to return again, hopefully soon!

But more to come from West Texas...

Click here for West Texas Part I, Part II, Part III and Part IV.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

West Texas II

The next day we got up around noonish to head into Big Bend National Park again for a day hike. This was even less successful than the day before, despite some nice scenery.

We started out cruising the roads a bit and were soon seeing checkered garter snakes and western diamon-backed rattlesnakes.

The Couche's spadefoot toads continued to be common.

And what would a night in SW Texas be without a Trans-pecos rat snakes? I don't think Carl or I were prepared for seeing so many of these wonderful animals.

Finally, after seeing a DOR the first night, we struck gold on our Black-tailed rattlsnake, Crotalus molossus. We ended up seeing 4 this night. These snakes have previously eluded me on all my trips to Arizona. I think they are rather handsome creatures, so pardon my numerous pictures!

A couple of other herpers, Brad and Bob, were staying at the same motel and we enjoyed chatting and enjoying some of their awesome grilling. They frequently mentioned how many Reticulated gecko's they had been seeing. We couldn't figure out how we were missing them?!? We were easily spotting small snakes and but just couldn't find a gecko for the life of us. They were kind enough to let us photograph a gecko they were observing, and finally, one night I was able to spot one in a crack.

Reticulated gecko Coleonyx reticulatus

To further support the fact that our eyes were keyed into lizards, we did spot this Marbled Whiptail (Aspidoscelis marmorata) on the road at night.

And finally, check out the string on this monster!

More to come as always...

Click here for West Texas Part I, Part II, Part III and Part IV.