Successful Southeast AZ trip (same as AZ forum)

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Rothdigga
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Successful Southeast AZ trip (same as AZ forum)

Post by Rothdigga » August 20th, 2013, 9:29 am

Last year was the first time I visited SE Arizona. I went once in Aug and once in Sept and had a blast. I didn't find all the things I was looking for, but almost everything was new to me down there and of course that always leaves for more things to find in the future.
This year, I planned a work loop in Tucson and Phoenix to coincide with a new moon in hopes of good conditions. I also met up with Kevin Price in Tucson and although 2 people driving 2 separate cars isn't the most environmentally friendly way to travel, it was the only way as he was staying for an extra 4 days after I left.
On to the photos!
We started in the Tucson area the first day/night and worked our way East from there.
Gotta love this view from the mountains
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Santa Rita Mountains in Arizona by jrothdog, on Flickr

I'm guessing Kevin's landscape shot is better than mine
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Santa Rita Mountains in Arizona by jrothdog, on Flickr

First pass, first snake of the trip was this neonate Banded Rock Rattlesnake. A really good first find of the trip and the first one I have ever seen. I was stoked.
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Banded Rock Rattlesnake (Crotalus lepidus) by jrothdog, on Flickr
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Banded Rock Rattlesnake (Crotalus lepidus) by jrothdog, on Flickr

We saw some sketchy business going on while road cruising this road that night. I'm not a collector at all, but I do buy a license just to be legal and do my part. But we kept bumping into people with somewhat nefarious motives.
While shooting photos of this awesome little Tiger Rattlesnake below, a car with Texas plates approached and asked what we had. When we told them their first question was "Are you going to keep it?" Our answer of "no, of course not" was replied with "Cool. Can we have it? We're breeders from Texas" I guess the only thing I can commend them with is that they were honest about it instead of asking to shoot photos of it themselves and then just waiting us out so that they can take it. We simply replied that we were there only to shoot photos and wouldn't let them have it..."Cool, it's your snake, you found it so I guess that's your choice" was their reply.
So the rest of the night and trip somewhat I was constantly thinking about how I really needed to find everything I could before the scavengers found it. Of course that logic is insane since I was only there 1 night of the whole year and can't police the road myself, but I still felt my obligation to help out.
Sorry for the diatribe, here's the little Tiger...
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Tiger Rattlesnake (Crotalus tigris) by jrothdog, on Flickr

It was relatively damp out so we got to see a few toads the first night. This Couch's Spadefoot looked like he just rolled out of his burrow
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Couch's Spadefoot Toad (Scaphiopus couchii) by jrothdog, on Flickr

I've never found a Pyro before and was so stoked to see this on the road, but upon getting out we saw that it had just been hit before we got to it (in the head). Probably not a survivor. Cool looking snakes though.
Image
Sonoran Mountain Kingsnake (Lampropeltis pyromelana) by jrothdog, on Flickr

The area was unbelievably stunning.
Image
Huachuca Mountains looking towards Mexico by jrothdog, on Flickr

Night cruising that night was further out east towards Portal. First thing we found was this very ornery WDB. I rarely find these guys not just totally pissed off at life. When we found this snake it was on the road, so we moved it off. There was a patch of grass running the entire length of the road about 2 ft high but only maybe 6 inches wide. Somehow this snake hid totally out of sight from us for about 5 minutes directly in front of us after we moved it. It was amazing since we knew exactly where it was, but couldn't find it.
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Western Diamondback Rattlesnake (Crotalus Atrox) by jrothdog, on Flickr

It was a little dry out but toads were still cruising. This Red-Spotted Toad was lurking
Image
Red Spotted Toad (Bufo punctatus) by jrothdog, on Flickr
as was this Great Plains Toad. I believe this was a first for me as I had never been that far east to herp to see them
Image
Great Plains Toad (Bufo cognatus) by jrothdog, on Flickr
Mexican Spadefoots were pretty numerous out there. Very cool looking toads
Image
Mexican Spadefoot Toad (Spea multiplicata) by jrothdog, on Flickr
I was super stoked to find (and save) this Desert Box Turtle from the road the next morning. We'll be filling out the paperwork for that turtle study that Dave posted up on the forjum a while back. I believe Kevin saw 2-3 more after I left.
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Desert Box Turtle (Terrapene ornata luteola) by jrothdog, on Flickr
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Desert Box Turtle (Terrapene ornata luteola) by jrothdog, on Flickr

We took a nice, long drive on a dirt road the following day. Ideally we were planning on making it into New Mexico to hike around, but we got sidetracked from some of our finds.
A stop and hike around scored us this cool Regal Horned Lizard
Image
Round-Tailed Horned Lizard (Phrynosoma (Doliosaurus) modestum) by jrothdog, on Flickr
Ornate Tree Lizard? Man, I suck at these ID's
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Ornate Tree Lizard (Urosaurus ornatus) by jrothdog, on Flickr

Up ahead on the road I saw something black in the middle of the road. As we had passed numerous tire pieces I just assumed it was another until I saw it was moving. Gila! I yelled. Both of us were really looking forward to finding a Gila on our own and we were rewarded.
Kevin getting a good look
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Reticulated Gila Monster (Heloderma suspectum suspectum) by jrothdog, on Flickr
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Reticulated Gila Monster (Heloderma suspectum suspectum) by jrothdog, on Flickr
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Reticulated Gila Monster (Heloderma suspectum suspectum) by jrothdog, on Flickr
Gila overload for you all, but it was too cool
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Reticulated Gila Monster (Heloderma suspectum suspectum) by jrothdog, on Flickr
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Reticulated Gila Monster (Heloderma suspectum suspectum) by jrothdog, on Flickr
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Reticulated Gila Monster (Heloderma suspectum suspectum)Reticulated Gila Monster (Heloderma suspectum suspectum) by jrothdog, on Flickr
Here he was as he made his way into the bushes
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Reticulated Gila Monster (Heloderma suspectum suspectum) by jrothdog, on Flickr

We checked out some roadside ponds and saw tons and tons of tadpoles in this one. Along with some crazy tiny horseshoe looking crab-type things.
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Roadside Pond with tadpoles by jrothdog, on Flickr
Kevin found this Eastern Patchnose while we hiked just over the New Mexico border.
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Eastern Patchnose Snake (Salvadora grahamiae) by jrothdog, on Flickr
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Kevin shooting the Eastern Patchnose Snake (Salvadora grahamiae) by jrothdog, on Flickr

As we were driving down the road, I drove over a stick. After passing it about 100ft I stopped and decided to go back and check that stick out. The stick ended up having a cool orange belly and became a Ring-necked Snake
Image
Ring-necked Snake (Diadophis punctatus) by jrothdog, on Flickr
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Ring-necked Snake (Diadophis punctatus) by jrothdog, on Flickr

I didn't really have a whole lot of bird luck on this trip. I wasn't totally looking as we were driving more than hiking, but I did score this cool Montezuma Quail.
Image
Montezuma Quail (Cyrtonyx montezumae) by jrothdog, on Flickr

On the way back the sky was looking insanely awesome
Image
Sonoran Desert near Peloncillo Mountains by jrothdog, on Flickr
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Sonoran Desert near Peloncillo Mountains by jrothdog, on Flickr

We saw way more juvenile and neonate rattlesnakes than adults.
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Mojave Rattlesnake (Crotalus Scutulatus) by jrothdog, on Flickr
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Mojave Rattlesnake (Crotalus scutulatus) by jrothdog, on Flickr

Another cool looking Mexican Spadefoot
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Mexican Spadefoot Toad (Spea multiplicata) by jrothdog, on Flickr

I think everyone is familiar with this sight, but it was the first time for me. Very dramatic scenery in the Huachuca's.
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Chiricahua Mountains by jrothdog, on Flickr

We hiked this talus slope in hopes of scoring a hat trick on Montane's for the trip but it was not to be. It is HARD hiking these things. I've backpacked on larger slopes before but these smaller rocks kind of suck.
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Chiricahua Mountains Talus Slope by jrothdog, on Flickr

While looking for snakes I did find a buddy. I think this is a White-throated Woodrat. He really wanted to be pals with me and decided it would be cool to chew on my boots as well...
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white-throated woodrat (Neotoma albigula) by jrothdog, on Flickr
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white-throated woodrat (Neotoma albigula) by jrothdog, on Flickr
I decided against picking up a strain of the Hantavirus and moved on.
Yarrow's Spiny Lizard and twin-spot rattlesnake food
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Yarrow's Spiny Lizard (Sceloporus jarrovii) by jrothdog, on Flickr

While cruising down the mountain we passed a US Forest Truck. He stopped me and said I would soon be passing a truck up ahead that was stuck and about to fall off the mountain. He explained that he was going back to get 2 tow trucks and told me NOT to try to help this guy. All I could think was "How do you get your car stuck on this wide forest road".
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Bummer for this guy... by jrothdog, on Flickr
When we got to it, this old Texas guy who was driving explained that he swerved to dodge a deer or something (I didn't hear what it was) and overcompensated only to fishtail out and almost all the way down the mountain. The only thing holding it on there was a burned out old stump that was cracking.

I had one last hike to try with Kevin to find some Banded Rocks of our own before I was going to head to Phoenix that night.
Sonoran Spotted Whiptail (i think)
Image
Sonoran Spotted Whiptail (Aspidoscelis sonorae) by jrothdog, on Flickr

We walked the trail all the way down and didn't find anything. On the way back I stopped and got my camera pack off so that I could hike the steep rock pile on the trail. Well, I didn't actually need to hike it because this Banded Rock was out basking right next to Kevin and buzzed him. Score!
Image
Banded Rock Rattlesnake (Crotalus lepidus) by jrothdog, on Flickr
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Banded Rock Rattlesnake (Crotalus lepidus) by jrothdog, on Flickr
This snake was large, much larger than the adult we had seen in the other mountain range.
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Banded Rock Rattlesnake (Crotalus lepidus) by jrothdog, on Flickr
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Banded Rock Rattlesnake (Crotalus lepidus) by jrothdog, on Flickr
Habitat shot
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Banded Rock Rattlesnake (Crotalus lepidus) by jrothdog, on Flickr
As it made it's way back into the rocks, I shot this just to show how insane their coloration matches the lichen and rocks.
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Banded Rock Rattlesnake (Crotalus lepidus) by jrothdog, on Flickr

On my drive back to Phoenix I saw tons and tons of toads. I stopped and shot the 4 species I saw and moved a ton off the road without shooting.
I'm sure Kevin will either add to this or have a separate post with some of this along with the additional things he saw after I left. I'm already trying to squeeze in 1 more quick trip out there before all the fun winds down for another year. Thanks AZ. I'll be back.

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sep11ie
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Re: Successful Southeast AZ trip (same as AZ forum)

Post by sep11ie » August 20th, 2013, 10:30 am

Great finds. Thanks for sharing.

Herpetologist115
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Re: Successful Southeast AZ trip (same as AZ forum)

Post by Herpetologist115 » August 20th, 2013, 1:33 pm

Awesome finds and trip, sounds like fun. And those horseshoe crab looking things were probably Triops I have found them in tadpole pools before. Did they look like this [Not my picture]

Image

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Rothdigga
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Re: Successful Southeast AZ trip (same as AZ forum)

Post by Rothdigga » August 20th, 2013, 1:47 pm

Herpetologist115 wrote:Awesome finds and trip, sounds like fun. And those horseshoe crab looking things were probably Triops I have found them in tadpole pools before. Did they look like this [Not my picture]

Image
Exactly these things. Kevin shot a few photos as well but I was the one holding it in my hand so I didn't get a pic. Weird looking things, I didn't expect any crustaceans/arthropods in that pond.

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Re: Successful Southeast AZ trip (same as AZ forum)

Post by tspuckler » August 20th, 2013, 1:50 pm

Awesome photography. I liked the landscapes a lot. That Gila has quite a bit of black on it - I like it. And the shots with the baby rattlesnakes in a group are really cool. That looks like it was an excellent trip.

Tim

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Blacktail31
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Re: Successful Southeast AZ trip (same as AZ forum)

Post by Blacktail31 » August 20th, 2013, 2:29 pm

Posts like this are why I troll this forum for at least an hour every day. Awesome! Great job keeping that great looking little tiger from the "Texas breeders" Lord knows they probably loaded up on every animal they saw. Hopefully they had terrible luck and did not see as much as you did.

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Rothdigga
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Re: Successful Southeast AZ trip (same as AZ forum)

Post by Rothdigga » August 20th, 2013, 2:46 pm

Blacktail31 wrote:Posts like this are why I troll this forum for at least an hour every day. Awesome! Great job keeping that great looking little tiger from the "Texas breeders" Lord knows they probably loaded up on every animal they saw. Hopefully they had terrible luck and did not see as much as you did.
Exactly what I was thinking. Why would you want to take a tiny juvenile Tiger? So if they were interested in that, they're just scooping up everything they find all night long. Don't get caught driving behind them, you don't find anything. Actually, a couple of times I saw them coming and just turned around so I would stay in front, ha.
Stoked you liked the post.

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Blacktail31
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Re: Successful Southeast AZ trip (same as AZ forum)

Post by Blacktail31 » August 20th, 2013, 3:11 pm

Back when I lived in San Antonio Id go to the Reptile shows they'd have in New Braunfels and there were always a couple of vendors who would have tables full of what looked like They'd just made a couple trips from W. AZ all the way back to Texas. Buckets of various spiny lizards. Skinny ill treated snakes from long noses, bulls and gopher snakes and the whole Western USA reptilian package. It was obvious that these animals had all been snatched up in some kind of blitzkrieg style road trip. Bummed me out every time I saw them.

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Jeroen Speybroeck
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Re: Successful Southeast AZ trip (same as AZ forum)

Post by Jeroen Speybroeck » August 21st, 2013, 3:03 am

Rothdigga wrote:I didn't expect any crustaceans/arthropods in that pond.
Not sure how they cope, but I have seen them in good numbers in small puddles of rain that were gone the next day.

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Re: Successful Southeast AZ trip (same as AZ forum)

Post by chris_mcmartin » August 21st, 2013, 3:42 am

Your ornate box turtle should more properly be called a "desert box turtle," Terrapene ornate luteola. :thumb:

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Re: Successful Southeast AZ trip (same as AZ forum)

Post by marchnw » August 21st, 2013, 6:53 am

I thoroughly enjoyed this post. That is an area I've always wanted to visit, but have not yet had the chance. Great photography!

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Rothdigga
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Re: Successful Southeast AZ trip (same as AZ forum)

Post by Rothdigga » August 21st, 2013, 8:23 am

Thanks Chris...corrected. For some reason I thought they were interchangeable, thanks for the heads up on the ID.

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regalringneck
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Re: Successful Southeast AZ trip (same as AZ forum)

Post by regalringneck » August 21st, 2013, 12:35 pm

comments here: !

viewtopic.php?f=4&t=17267

will lattea
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Re: Successful Southeast AZ trip (same as AZ forum)

Post by will lattea » August 22nd, 2013, 6:32 am

nice post! you guys managed to see a lot of stuff and there were some really nice photos captured as well. it's my first season in a while not getting down there and those klaubs felt like a punch in the gut!!

the crazy thing about willardi is that they're pretty common where they occur... the populations in the US are just the tip of the willardi iceberg and that's really what harms them the most. too bad folks aren't willing to spread it out a bit and try for them south of the border where one may explore ranges and rocks that haven't been treaded and flipped by a million others... but I can understand that to an extent (although not enough to keep myself in the US haha).

Like all rattlesnakes it's important to remember that keeping the habitat pristine and not messing with gravid/ postpartum females is key (and keeping it to a minimum with the rest surely won't hurt either). It's easy to see a post like this and want to do whatever it takes once one finally makes it within the animal's range. Don't mean to get all preachy but awesome AZ posts like this need some kind of warning at this point- it's okay to be a newb and learn from mistakes, but that'll happen less if the information is out there.

thanks for sharing!

:beer:

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Re: Successful Southeast AZ trip (same as AZ forum)

Post by justinm » August 22nd, 2013, 7:11 am

Great stuff this area is one I never get tired of. Looks like you did really well, awesome shots.

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noah k.
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Re: Successful Southeast AZ trip (same as AZ forum)

Post by noah k. » August 23rd, 2013, 1:00 pm

Great post! Anyone else notice the lizard on the talus habitat shot?!

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Rothdigga
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Re: Successful Southeast AZ trip (same as AZ forum)

Post by Rothdigga » August 23rd, 2013, 2:16 pm

Justin,
I already want to go back. Every area I explore gets better and better down there.

Noah,
Man, good eye. I didn't even notice that.

I had to do some editing out of the photos on this post due to some comments and things brought up on the AZ forum. Apologies to anyone who was offended or felt it violated forum etiquette.

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