Sunday, September 7, 2014

NAFHA Cruises the Southwest, Day 3: August 31st, 2014

Wanting to get up before the crack of dawn is easier said than done, especially when you've been out cruising into the wee hours the night before. With good intentions, we had planned just that. But we didn't wake up until after 7:30. Oops! So, breakfast was out. We made some PB&Js and hit the road while it was still cool enough for animals.

The day started off pretty well... I finally got my Gambel's Quail, who stopped in the road long enough for me to get a shot! Big Year #84!
#84 Gambel's Quail (Callipepla gambelii)

Within 5 minutes, I saw more quail and snapped a shot at one who had jumped onto a low branch... #85, a Scaled Quail!
#85 Scaled Quail (Callipepla squamata)

We went down the road that had the tragedy the night before and it looks like our murderers in the white sedan had struck again... another hacked rattlesnake (this time an Atrox) missing just the rattle. Damn, that angered me so much! So, we went up to a birding spot that Mike had recommended to us, hoping to shake the feeling of disgust.

First bird sighting was our #86, a Lesser Goldfinch, who was checking to see if he remembered his deodorant that morning!
#86 Lesser Goldfinch (Carduelis psaltria)

A Spiny Lizard was the day's first herp. (It's a Clarkii, but we didn't know it yet! Thanks Mike and David!)
Schott's Tree Lizard (Urosaurus ornatus schotti)

This place, while on private property, looked inviting!

Not having photographed any hummingbirds yet for my "big year", I was thrilled to get a decent shot of this female Black Chinned Hummingbird! #87!
#87 Black Chinned Hummingbird (Archilochus alexandri)

I was super excited to see another hummer species, too! But when I looked at my photo, I got a surprise!
Hummingbird Moth, Hemaris thysbe
A Hummingbird Moth! (A white-lined sphinx moth, Hyles lineata... thank you again, Ashley!)

Andrea spotted this Whiptail, probably a Sonoran Spotted, who are in the area.
Striped Whiptail of unknown species

The lizard find of the area for us, however, was an economy sized Clark's Spiny!!
Clark's Spiny Lizard (Sceloporus clarkii)

Another female, another need-it... #88, a Black-headed Grosbeak!
#88 Black-headed grosbeak (Pheucticus melanocephalus)

We decided that we wanted to be neighbors to this bird-paradise. This house will do.

We went back down and decided to get some real breakfast after all. Many of our herping compatriots were there and we all compared stories. I got our #89 while sitting at my breakfast table, over some friends' heads and through a window... the Acorn Woodpecker.
#89 Acorn Woodpecker (Melanerpes formicivorus)
He looks totally focused (read: insane) on his food.

Since it had become pretty hot already, we scoped out some possible routes for the evening's cruising. It offered us some stunning vistas.

We found a lovely mountain stream that cut through the rocks, and formed a pool...

The pool had a few tadpoles, which I have not identified.

We went back to our hotel for a few minutes to rest and cool off before heading to the Chiricahua Desert Museum for our next meet up... a barbecue and a look through the museum! What an amazing place it is! Over thirty species of Rattlesnake! Native animals on display, artwork... just mind-blowing. I can say without hesitation, this is the best museum I have ever visited!

Our friend Brian snapped this picture of us relaxing after lunch!

The grounds are also amazing. Many bird species visit and there are even some not-quite-native herps out there! This Black-throated Sparrow came by, making itself #90.
#90 Black-throated Sparrow (Amphispiza bilineata)

The only pond turtle I saw all weekend was this Western Painted who dove into the drink at the sight of us. So like our Easterns... *sniff*

An exciting sight for me... a favorite lizard who aren't quite in the area we were in, but nearby... a few Chuckwallas!
They love their heat! And they got it. It must have been 100°F!

When we got to the car, Andrea pointed to a tree and said "there's a Thrasher in there". I snapped a picture. "No, that's not it! That's a dove!" It sure was. But it was a need-it... #91, a White Winged Dove!
#91 White-winged Dove (Zenaida asiatica)

But the branch below, which I hadn't seen, held #92, a real treasure... a Curve-billed Thrasher!
#92 Curve-billed Thrasher (Toxostoma curvirostre)

So, we drove around a while waiting for dusk. Our patience (insanity?) was rewarded when we finally cruised an Atrox of our very own! This wee fella was layin' very low to the ground!
Western Diamond-backed Rattlesnake (Crotalus atrox)
Western Diamond-backed Rattlesnake (Crotalus atrox)
A wee button-rattle!
Western Diamond-backed Rattlesnake (Crotalus atrox)
He was tough to move off the road, so splayed out was he!

Our next sight was a small Longnose! I learned that weekend... settle for ANY photo you can get of a Longnose. They're pretty uncooperative!
Western Long-nosed Snake (Rhinocheilus lecontei)
Western Long-nosed Snake (Rhinocheilus lecontei)

What's so great about a Great Plains Toad? Everything!
Great Plains Toad (Bufo - or Anaxyrus - cognatus)
He is a bit dusty, though...

It was the night for the teeny-tiny! This Mojave was diminutive but displayed the full-size temper that this species has!
Mojave Rattlesnake (Crotalus scutulatus)
Mojave Rattlesnake (Crotalus scutulatus)

We saw another, larger Longnose motorin' across the road but failed to get a picture... the only snake we couldn't document this weekend!

Great Plains Toad (Bufo - or Anaxyrus - cognatus)
Excuse me... do you have any Grey Poupon?

We headed to a new road, one that we'd passed by before but didn't explore. I'm glad we did, because not too far in, we got another lifer! A Black-tailed Rattlesnake! Our friend Chris and his herping colleague had found it and were happy to share their triumph! What a beautiful snake!
Black-tailed Rattlesnake (Crotalus molossus)
Black-tailed Rattlesnake (Crotalus molossus)

Further up the road, we found another Western Diamondback.
Western Diamond-backed Rattlesnake (Crotalus atrox)
Andrea tantalized him with her bare ankles, but he slid into the brush to coil up and try to not be seen.
Western Diamond-backed Rattlesnake (Crotalus atrox)
Western Diamond-backed Rattlesnake (Crotalus atrox)

We headed back to the Mojave side of town and passed Chris again, who had a nice Checkered Garter all coiled up.
Checkered Garter Snake (Thamnophis m. marcianus)

We cruised on ahead and found our first ever black headed snake... a Tantilla nigriceps
Tantilla nigriceps
Tantilla nigriceps
Tantilla nigriceps

It was 24 hours later and the Spadefoots were nowhere near as plentiful as the night before. We found a few, though. Here's a Mexi and a Couch's.
Mexican Spadefoot (Spea multiplicata)
Couch's Spadefoot (Scaphiopus couchii)

Our next find, an oddly patterned Mojave, really put some fear into us. He was taking his sweet time crossing the highway and there was a truck barreling down the road towards him!
Mojave Rattlesnake (Crotalus scutulatus)
Mojave Rattlesnake (Crotalus scutulatus)
He was about a 3 footer and my collapsible hook was doing its best to get him out of the way as the lights got brighter. I finally got him into the brush and could feel the breeze from the vehicle on my back. SLOW DOWN!!!
Mojave Rattlesnake (Crotalus scutulatus)
I got crappy pictures but at least he lives to crawl again.

Another bewildered looking Mexican Spadefoot.
Mexican Spadefoot (Spea multiplicata)

We ended the night with another little spitfire of a Mojave. Button rattle and full of piss and vinegar!
Mojave Rattlesnake (Crotalus scutulatus)
Mojave Rattlesnake (Crotalus scutulatus)
Mojave Rattlesnake (Crotalus scutulatus)
He'll go far with that attitude. Or Crote-itude as we started to call it!

We headed "home", knowing all was secure while we slept... the Watch Toad was up and doing his job.
Great Plains Toad (Bufo - or Anaxyrus - cognatus)

Only one day left?? But I'm having so much fun!!!!

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