Herping in AZ. Part 1 - FaunaClassifieds
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Field Collecting/Observing Sightings of herps in the wild, where-tos and how-tos, as well as photos of herps in their native environment.

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Old 05-01-2005, 02:10 PM   #1
Herping in AZ. Part 1

On Friday 4-29-05, I went out with a couple of friends (Steve, Gram, and Chuck) on a 2 hour herp hike. Our target species was the Gila Monster. We decided to hike up a small wash/caynon that feeds into Canyon Lake. My friend Steve, suggested this place, calling it the Valley of the Gila Monsters. The conditions were very nice for hiking. The high that day was 79 degrees, and the skys were partly cloudy. The first thing we saw on the way there was a road killed Sonoran Gopher Snake. He was still moving when we stopped to check him out. DORs seem to be the main thing I end up seeing on my herp adventures, and I was beginning to fear that this one would be no different.

Once, we got there and started hiking we saw loads of Tree Lizards, and Whiptail Lizards. It was perfect out, and my only complaint was the stickers that kept getting stuck in my socks. Because of the recent heavy rains there were many areas with lots of grass, and the grass was shedding those crazy sliver-like sticker things that seem to gravitate to peoples shoes and socks. After about 10 minutes I found the first snake. It was a Western Diamond back that was all coiled up next to a river rock in the middle of the wash. I almost steped right on him. He never made a sound despite the fact that he was very much awake. When I was photographing him he would discreatly shift his head in my direction so as to keep a better eye on me.
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Old 05-01-2005, 02:13 PM   #2
Herping in AZ (part 2)

Shortly after our encounter with the Rattlesnake, found a rather large Caynon Tree Frog, and then Gram found another. We photographed them and moved on. Steve was telling me that he had found Black-Tailed Rattlesnakes here before, and I asked him if anyone had ever seen a AZ Mt. King in the this area before. Steve looked at me and said, "I do not know, but there are Cal-Kings in here, and there is a big one right in front of us in that grass." I slowly moved over to where Steve was standing and looked, and there it was. I hooked him and lifted him out of the tall grass and steve took quickly grabbed him off the hook as soon as he started to make his move. We took our pics of him and continued forward.
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Old 05-01-2005, 02:16 PM   #3
Cal King...
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Old 05-01-2005, 02:16 PM   #4
It was Steve again that saw the next snake. It was a Red Coachwhip in what appeared to be a small packrat nest. We could see the head and neck on one side of the nest and its tail at the other side. Knowing how crafty and quick Coachwhips can be, I decided to take a shot of him as he was before we would attempt to catch him. I went slowly went over to get in position to grab the tail and Steve went over to try to flush it out, but inadvertantly scarred it back in instead. It pulled its head back and its tail forward, and in a split second it disappeared inside there. Steve said he would try to scare it out, and I stepped back to cover its most likely escape route. Steve started poking at the pile and nothing was happening. I told him it had probably gone down a rodent hole in the nest. Steve disagreed, saying "no James, he is in there alright." At that moment the Coachwhip flew out in exactly the direction I knew he would if he were to try an escape. He went right between my legs and was gone in the thick brush. I looked up from between my legs and said, "oops"

As we continued I came pretty close to a very quick Patch-Nose Snake. Unfortunately, he was not willing to stick around for Photos. It was right then that I saw a Zebra Tailed Lizard that barely held still long enough for me to get one crappy pic of him. A little while later I say a very nice female Clarks Spiny Lizard. Just as I was about to photograph her, I saw some movment to the left. I looked, and it was a huge male. I Tried to get into position to photograph him, and he bolted. I looked back at where the female was, and she was gone as well. I had just been successfully tag teamed by two lizards...
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Old 05-01-2005, 02:21 PM   #5
Well, at this point it was almost time to head back, and still no Gila Monsters. I was fine with that, as I had seen lots of great herps, and the day was a success in my book. All of the sudden, I heard Steve yelling for us. I ran over there and there it was. It was a small adult Gila Monster. It looked like a male, and he was pretty thin as a result of the many recent drout years that he had endured. Chuck had an appoitment that afternoon, so we took a few pics of him and moved on.

After hiking about 5 more minutes, Gram spotted the next Gila monster. It was another very thin small adult male. He was even thinner than the other one. He was also much more colorful and much more angry! We took some photos, turned around, and headed back to the car. I just thought I would share with you guys.
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Old 05-01-2005, 02:22 PM   #6
Jeremy Letkey
Sounds like you guys had a very nice little adventure. Thanks for sharing.
Old 05-02-2005, 03:10 AM   #7
Nice pics! Looks like it was an interesting trip. Wish I had time to get away to kick around in the field for a while.......

Thanks for sharing.
Old 05-02-2005, 01:28 PM   #8
Nicw photos, James. You lucky b@stard! I've still not been able to add Heloderma to my lifelist.
Old 05-02-2005, 01:45 PM   #9
John, get out here, and I can take you there so that you can get that one out of the way! The weather is perfect, and it is only about 30 minutes away from my house.
Old 05-02-2005, 09:18 PM   #10
Originally Posted by pch101
John, get out here, and I can take you there so that you can get that one out of the way! .
It's partly my fault. I actually lived in Tempe for a couple years around 1986-87, and only got one decent herp trip in during that time (work and family stuff), so I've actually done a lot more herping on vacations to AZ than when I lived there. Mostly the SW and SE areas. I'd love to have a guide, so I'll try to hit you up, if/when I can manage to get out that way.
Originally Posted by pch101
The weather is perfect, and it is only about 30 minutes away from my house.
Now you're just rubbing salt in to the festering 30 year old wound.

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