I have visited the state a few times now, and find myself lucky any chance I get to go. I have only gone once as a dedicated herping trip, back in 2007, but it is easy to get out and explore even on short trips. As luck would have it, there was a conference I attended for work back in early June. It is a bit of a wierd time in Arizona, a little late for spring emersion, before the true heat of the summer, and a few months before the wonderous monsoons. I don't discriminate though, and was just happy to leave cold Michigan and get out in the desert.
I was only there a few short days, but I spent a few mornings hiking, and few nights roadcruising. I was staying in the northern Phoenix area, and had easy access to park land all around. I still find the urban sprawl of Phoenix depressing, but there are parks scattered throughout with animals to find.
I spotted quite a few DORs while driving to and from the conference, mainly gopher snakes and coachwhips. One of the first few nights I was able to sneak away from the group though and hit the roads. Right off the bat I spotted a few amphibians.
I am fairly certain this is a Bufo woodhousii. I don't have great crest shots but this seems more likely than Bufo cognatus.
It was kind of a slow night, but my first pass turned up this.
Desert Nightsnake Hypsiglena chlorophaea
A few more long passes remained slow, until I thought I saw a scorpion running across the road. It was actually this western banded gecko Coleonyx variegatus.
The next morning I got up early with an old medical school buddy and we hiked one of Phoenix's busier parks. There were people everywhere, a far cry from Detroit.
We saw chuckwallas, whiptails and tree lizards.
Chuckwalla Sauromalus ater
From the summit.
A Tiger whiptail on the way down.
The next morning I met a local Phoenix herper who was kind enough to hike around with me for a bit. It was wonderful to soak up some local knowledge and refine some of my search tactices. It helped that we saw some animals too.
Tiger rattlesnake Crotalus tigris
Speckled rattlesnake Crotalus mitchellii
Western diamond-backed rattlesnake Crotalus atrox
That afternoon I spent the heat of the day hiking rocky hillsides hoping for my first Arizona black rattlesnake. I struck out, but hiked some nice areas and found this unfortunate DOR.
Wish I could wrap this up on a high note, but the last find of the trip was a red-spotted toad Bufo punctatus.
All in all, it was another great trip, especially considering I was there for work. I can't wait to go back, and there might be a return trip later this month. Still plenty of places to explore.