I was relocating a diamondback on a mountain in North Phoenix, and saw a skinny little female chuckwalla dart into a rock. On the way back, I though I’d offer her some water, and she was instantly fine with me being there. She drank from the rock, and eventually came out and right into my lap.
I got it on video, too:
… which seemed to get a bit of attention, resulting in this bit of silliness:
Spring is the time to find Gila Monsters out on the surface. While they can be found all year, April and May are when they are most active and most easily seen. In a typical year, I’ll see about 5 (though in 2013 I saw 10!). This is one that cared a little less about my presence and went right on with its business sniffing around for small animals to eat.
This big old boy was found via radio-telemetry, to be captured and have his transmitter removed. Being from a place where we don’t even look for snakes out active on the surface unless it’s in the 70′s, finding this one fully exposed on a rock in the 50′s in light rain was amazing. It’s definitely a different feeling finding rattlesnakes while seeing your breath!
Being from Arizona, and born in Oregon, it’s pretty cool to see someplace that’s so alien. Aside from just being so wet, green, and full of life, about every plant and animal was something new. Even the things that aren’t natural seemed odd, being older than 100 years old.
Old something or another in a field (while photographing a milksnake)
Limestone cliffs, caves, and amazing places everywhere:
Being from Oregon, green is familiar, but deciduous-everything was not. We hiked through miles of this habitat …
… looking for suitable basking areas like this …
… finding weird little creatures like these, which look like lizards but clearly are not (we have just one species of Salamander in Arizona, which are not under every single surface as they are in PA) …
… eventually leading to our target, the amazingly stocky (in relation to our skinny desert snakes) Timber Rattlesnake, Crotalus horridus.
This little worm-looking deal is a New Mexico threadsnake, and I was only tell it from the more common threadsnakes in the rest of Arizona by squinting really hard to count head scales. This was found in the rain one night after cruising up a couple of banded rock rattlesnakes and a ridge-nosed rattlesnake, so it was a pretty good night.
This is the one and only black ratsnake that I have seen in the wild, on one of my trips to Pennsylvania a couple of years ago. It’s always fun to see a big constrictor that isn’t a gophersnake! This one was leaving the roof area of a nature center where we were photographing Eastern Massasaugas, with a squirrel in it’s belly.
I notice that I’ve labeled this differently, probably due to having processed these at different times and being unsure of the taxonomic changes that have been going on with this genus. Anyone care to correct me?
Ok, normally when I photograph a turtle, it’s just a wet turd-looking blob with head completely hidden. This one, however, I actually like. Thanks, little damselfly, for coming in and making just a little spot of interest to an otherwise ho-hum picture.
This Western diamondback is a bit on the simple side, but not atypical of how these guys look in this area between Arizona and New Mexico, or the central clade as I’ve seen it referred to. In this area near the continental divide, the two halves of Western Diamondback squeeze through a relatively narrow band, and some interesting variation in pattern and color happen. This is just one example; in the daytime, this snake will look totally different.
We saw this big diamondback out crawling around in the late afternoon in February. Western Diamondbacks can be seen on their first trips away from winter densites that time of year, though this one was headed out a bit further than I’d expect him. He’s a large snake I’ve seen many times in one of the city parks, living in a hole just 10 feet or so from a very busy trail. Much like many of the very large rattlesnakes that I have seen, he doesn’t like to rattle, and just crawls along his way if given the chance. Unlike a lot of the snakes in that particular wash, he’s looking very healthy, and I look forward to seeing him again this summer.