AZ and NM, 12 days including the NAFHA meeting

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AndyO'Connor
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AZ and NM, 12 days including the NAFHA meeting

Post by AndyO'Connor » September 9th, 2014, 11:55 am

Any closed season, or endangered animals photographed were either not handled, or minimally so to avoid harm (moving them out of peril on a road, or off a busy trail with lots of foot traffic or loose rocks), and we complied with all rules and laws and permit guidelines. We also had valid hunting licenses in both states, so some open season animals were captured and manipulated for photos. With that PSA out of the way, on with the photos! The trip was part vacation, part science, as we were granted scientific collection permits to help survey reptiles in some remote areas for Arizona Fish and Game and New Mexico F&G.

We spent 12 days destroying our bodies and a rental SUV. We started in Phoenix just after the first wave of floods about a month ago (not NEARLY as bad as what just happened), and it made the reptiles scarce. The first 2 days were a lot of walking and photographing stuff other than snakes.

Some washes around Phoenix

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A velvet ant, also known as a cow killer

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Pin cushion cactus
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Anna’s hummingbird
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The search is on!
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Pokey stuff, seriously everything scratches or stabs you in Arizona.
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Gila spotted whiptail
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Fence lizard
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Another creek walk
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Tree lizard. On a rock
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Our first snake, a huge 6 foot gopher snake. We came around a bend in the road that we’d already made a couple of passes on, and suddenly there was a large tree limb in the road, but there were no trees it could have fallen from…

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In the road, as found
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And this is why we call him the hobbit
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Praying mantis
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Great Plain skink
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Nerf football sized Sonoran desert toad
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Red rocks near Sedona, AZ
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Another whiptail lizard
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Earless lizard
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Sonoran whipsnake in the reeds. Never had a chance to catch this guy
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Mexican garter snake. Flipped under a board, photographed, and released under the same board. An endangered species due to habitat loss and invasive species.
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Some might think we take finding snakes a little too seriously…
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Madrean alligator lizard portrait
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Roadrunner. They eat a lot of lizards and snakes, and DO run along roads. I almost hit one that was running down my line, zig-zagging but not leaving the road.
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Baby blackneck garter snake
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Looking across the border to Mexico
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Before we wrecked our bodies and dirtied the rental
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Sunset over Mexico. You can see some monsoon storms in the distance.
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Baby whipsnake
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I like their binocular vision, makes for funny pictures.
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Baby patchnose snake
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What we do when our hands are full…
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One of my favorite shots of the trip, a Black-tailed rattlesnake
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The boys trying to get theirs
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Arizona ridge-nosed rattlesnake
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Greater short horned lizard
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Another, of a different color
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One of my top targets of the trip was a coral snake. We were driving down an old highway at about 4pm, going 65, and I see one crossing our lane. I locked up all 4 tires and yelled CORAL!!! The tire smoke was drifting passed us before I could get out and run back to the guys who were trying to keep it on the shoulder to not lose it in the grass. They are deadly venomous, related to cobras, the only dangerously venomous snake in the U.S. that is not a viper (rattlesnakes, copperheads, cottonmouths) and this was a big one, so getting bit would be very bad. We managed to capture it without incident. Their fangs are very small, so thick leather gloves are safe for them. These are the snakes that spark the boy’s scout rhyme red meets black, you’re ok Jack. Red meets yellow, deadly fellow.
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Tucson from 9000 feet
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We hiked up to 9000 feet looking for a twin spotted rattlesnake (only found at high elevations in 4 mountain ranges of southern Arizona) but we did not see any. We did find a couple more ridge-nosed rattlesnakes though.
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Fence lizard?
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I’m not dead yet
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Spiny lizard
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We hiked up through the clouds
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I do stop and smell the roses
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I hope I get a plaque some day, but not any time soon
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Baby horned lizard
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Spiny lizard
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Another madrean alligator lizard
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And another. These are very cool lizards IMO
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Canyon treefrog camo
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Another pretty spiny lizard
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After we were hiking down, and the clouds had burned off.
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From here, we headed towards New Mexico, hoping to find more new species.
Here’s my buddy Mack with a whipsnake. Remember the binocular vision I mentioned, they have excellent eye sight, and aim for your eyes. And they bite, a lot.
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You can’t see the blood, but this is right after it bit his cheek.
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A fun view to photograph, if only we'd seen a different snake in a tree like this...
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A rarely seen snake, many people we met this weekend were jealous we found one on our first night of looking, some people go to this area for years before they see their first. It was hooked off the road as semi-trucks were coming, and this is exactly as it was set down, no further manipulation took place. A desert massasauga rattlesnake
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A Mojave rattlesnake, although I thought it was a prairie at first glance.
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"Dude, get that light out of my face!"
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I woke up to this at camp in the Chiricahuas
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We made another hike uphill, and this time found some twin spotted rattlesnakes. And you CAN photograph them as found, without tearing the hill apart.
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A spotted skunk. One of the coolest finds on the trip. Sorry for the many photos, I was busy with this while others were finding my lifer rock rattler. We hung out together for awhile, before my CF card got full...
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Arizona woodpecker
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Striped plateau lizard
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Banded rock rattlesnake, the one I didn't find since I had to go back to the car to get another memory card. Still photographed it in case I didn't see another, and it closed out the montane trifecta!
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A blacktailed rattlesnake taking refuge from the hot sun
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Desert box turtle
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“Uh, dude, get off the ground and stop taking my picture, there’s a car coming”
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I was going to climb up there, but that’s the direction the mama bear with two cubs ran after Mack almost bumped into her
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I was taking this picture while he was staring her in the face. He was about 30 yds to my right, smelling the angry mom's breath.
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One night while driving around, we were stopped by NMFG to make sure we weren’t poachers. They searched our whole car, and the whole thing took about 40 minutes. We were saying our goodbyes when Mack said, “Hey! There’s been a rattlesnake sitting here the whole time.” This is not a posed picture.
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Another rock rattlesnake, this one was much more attractive, and I could actually count as my lifer
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Pink and lavender. This is not photoshopped, it really was this color.
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Different lighting with flash, kinda washed out the colors
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A road to a magical place
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Texas horned lizard at sunset
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A longnosed snake that was hit by a car the night before, but showed signs of improvement and was released away from the road.
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Another rarely seen snake (at least at that time of year), the Chihuahuan hooknose snake. They are shy, live underground, and don’t hold still much for photos
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Juvenile great horned owls
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Great Plains toad
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A Mojave rattlesnake with an interesting striped neck
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Baby Lyre snake
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Adult Lyre snake
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Gila Monster
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Tailless whip scorpion
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Desert packrat
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Wind scorpion, also known as camel spiders
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Killer bees
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Yellow horned worms
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And we ended our trip in the same wash, looking for the same snakes we previously missed at the beginning. 4 hours before we needed to be at the airport, Mack found one. A speckled rattlesnake
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Thanks for looking! Snake Totals (Josh is still working on lizard IDs) for the trip are as follows;
31 Atrox 11dor
20 Mojave 4dor
4 sidewinders
5 Black-tail
3 Arizona ridge-nosed
1 massasauga
8 twin spot
4 rock rattlesnakes
2 viridis 1dor
1 speckled rattler
1 Coral
12 Sonoran Gopher 1dor
2 Regal Ringneck
9 Sonoran Whip 2dor
1 Red Coachwhip 1dor
2 sonoran coach 1dor
2 Mexican Garter
3 checkered 1dor
5 Black-neck 1dor
4 Eastern Patchnose 3dor
3 Big Bend patch 2dor
1 Cal King
3 western long-nosed
2 texas long-nosed 1dor
2 Chihuahuan hooknose 1dor
3 plains blackhead
4 sonoran lyre snake
1 painted desert glossy 1dor
1 night snake
5 Misc DOR

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ZantiMissKnit
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Re: AZ and NM, 12 days including the NAFHA meeting

Post by ZantiMissKnit » September 9th, 2014, 12:16 pm

Totally worth not sleeping, right? ;)

Great post, Andy! I love that skunk.

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The Real Snake Man
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Re: AZ and NM, 12 days including the NAFHA meeting

Post by The Real Snake Man » September 9th, 2014, 12:31 pm

Wow. You got Sistrurus, molossus, scutulatus, willardi, pricei, l. klauberi, a Micruroides... I'm at a loss for words. Well done, and well photographed. Looks like you had a great time.
-Gene

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Re: AZ and NM, 12 days including the NAFHA meeting

Post by monklet » September 9th, 2014, 12:54 pm

Burning green! :mrgreen: You guys always clean up. Must be one heck of a team :thumb: :thumb: :beer:

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Re: AZ and NM, 12 days including the NAFHA meeting

Post by Tamara D. McConnell » September 9th, 2014, 1:40 pm

Must be one heck of a team :thumb: :thumb: :beer:
Amen to that. Holy cow, Andy, what a truly spectacular post! I could go on interminably about all the things I liked about it, but I'll just hit the highlights.
The first shot of the ridge-nosed rattlesnake is epic. It would be a beautiful poster.
The greater short horned lizards are adorable, and I am seriously in love with the most colorful one.
LOVE the colors on the spiny lizards. Just beautiful.
The pink and lavendar rock rattlesnake is one of those images that makes me marvel at the natural world.
The coral is stunning.
The caption on the vulture picture is great.
Now I'm going to go look at the whole post again. Once is not enough.
You rocked it, Herp Ninja.

Itsryanfuu
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Re: AZ and NM, 12 days including the NAFHA meeting

Post by Itsryanfuu » September 9th, 2014, 2:50 pm

Great post Andy. Was cool meeting you dudes out there, and running
Into you guys all over the state haha

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AndyO'Connor
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Re: AZ and NM, 12 days including the NAFHA meeting

Post by AndyO'Connor » September 9th, 2014, 3:26 pm

Thanks for all the compliments guys! Hey Ryan, it was funny running into you guys a few times in places pretty far apart and unplanned. Hope your success continued after we last saw you.

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mtratcliffe
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Re: AZ and NM, 12 days including the NAFHA meeting

Post by mtratcliffe » September 9th, 2014, 4:27 pm

More individual rattlesnakes in this post than I've seen in my life! Awesome finds and great camera work! Glad you had a great trip.

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Soopaman
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Re: AZ and NM, 12 days including the NAFHA meeting

Post by Soopaman » September 9th, 2014, 4:59 pm

Andy, it sounds like you had a helluva trip! Kind of hard not to with Mack around!

Great, and impressive, species list. The speck is gorgeous.

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Jeff
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Re: AZ and NM, 12 days including the NAFHA meeting

Post by Jeff » September 9th, 2014, 5:58 pm

Andy

Wow, fantastic assortment for a single trip. I've seen all of the species that you've shown, but only after numerous trips and living there during the 1970s-1980s. I enjoyed seeing places that I have not been to in 35 years. My great envy is the Spotted Skunk! I've seen badgers, fishers, hognose skunks, coatis, mountain lions, ringtails, etc., but never a Spotted Skunk! (If you are putting your records in NFHA, your photo about the middle of a rust-colored "fence lizard" is a female Yarrow's Spiny).

Once again, fantastic.

Jeff

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Re: AZ and NM, 12 days including the NAFHA meeting

Post by chrish » September 9th, 2014, 6:55 pm

Great stuff, Andy. Looks like your group had a pretty spectular trip!

The crotes were cool, Micruroides are always need, but that Spilogale may be the coolest thing you photographed. I would have passed on a lep any time to see one of those. Lepidus are a lot easier to find than Spilogale.

It was good to meet you briefly on Friday. Sorry I never got to catch back up with most of you, but I had to bail out and head back to Texas unexpectedly and so missed most of the weeked festivities.

Chris

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Re: AZ and NM, 12 days including the NAFHA meeting

Post by hellihooks » September 10th, 2014, 6:18 am

All the lifers I had hoped to see...Oh well... at least I know it CAN be done... :beer: Great post, man... :thumb:

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Re: AZ and NM, 12 days including the NAFHA meeting

Post by AndyO'Connor » September 10th, 2014, 8:07 am

Regarding the spotted skunk, I agree, it was one of the coolest things I've seen when I had a camera in my hand. I was walking the ridge looking in the rock piles under the trees and around the yucca and agave. I heard the sound of rustling dried yucca and thought it might be a snake so I started approaching that pile, when I saw it. It stamped its feet at me and made little snorting/sneezing noises at me, and I was about 10 feet away, thought I might get sprayed. I backed up a couple feet and sat down and just watched it. It would dig a little bit, and I would click my tongue and it would pop its head up, stamp its feet and look at me, then continue what it was doing. I was hoping for a hand stand, but know what usually follows and thought better. I really wish my memory card hadn't ran out after only 50 shots, I was just starting to get the settings right and had the manual focus just about dialed in through the grass.

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Re: AZ and NM, 12 days including the NAFHA meeting

Post by Zach_Lim » September 10th, 2014, 9:45 am

Good stuff, Andy! Lovin' that coral and hooknose!

Heard you ran into my pals Stephen and Ryan a few times!

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lateralis
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Re: AZ and NM, 12 days including the NAFHA meeting

Post by lateralis » September 12th, 2014, 9:09 am

40 minute delay?.?

U have far more patience than I do. It does not take that long to search a car and licenses/permits should have seen you on your way in 5 minutes.


Excellent work though and nice pics thanks for taking the time to post this

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Re: AZ and NM, 12 days including the NAFHA meeting

Post by Brian Willey » September 12th, 2014, 10:23 am

You guys put forward quite an effort down there and it definitely paid off!

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Re: AZ and NM, 12 days including the NAFHA meeting

Post by AndyO'Connor » September 12th, 2014, 5:34 pm

lateralis, it was strange that they didn't ask, or care when I offered to produce, the licenses/permits. It would have been about 15-20 minutes, but we got chatty, and then found the atrox next to the car. It was disappointing to see a freshly hit painted glossy right as we pulled away, a couple of cars drove by while we were there, and if you look at the species list, it was the only species seen DOR and not alive on the trip. I love having a low count of "DOR only" species.

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Re: AZ and NM, 12 days including the NAFHA meeting

Post by Jimi » September 13th, 2014, 11:20 am

Well done, Andy and crew!

FWIW the law dog might have just considered your paperwork "camo". Lots of guys have some paperwork, but are then caught out-of-bounds. "First let's find the animals, then we'll look at the paperwork" isn't a very unusual approach.

I know exactly where that memorial plaque is, a certain saddle where several trails converge from various directions. Curious - did some of your montanes make their appearance on that hike? There's some great habitat up there, but it's quite a ways from any trailhead. Keeps out the riff raff. You guys excepted of course, ha ha. Anyway, I'd be sorry and surprised if you didn't do pretty well way up there. Good on ya for making the effort, even though it isn't always required just to find animals.

When are you studs coming to Utah? We could use the data collection!

Cheers,
Jimi

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AndyO'Connor
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Re: AZ and NM, 12 days including the NAFHA meeting

Post by AndyO'Connor » September 13th, 2014, 12:39 pm

Yes Jimi, some of our finds did come from way up there, though mostly lizards. It was an awesome hike and I liked that we got to see some habitat that obviously doesn't get torn up by very many people. I'd really like to do a Utah trip, but 2015 sounds like it is pretty much already booked up for us.

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Re: AZ and NM, 12 days including the NAFHA meeting

Post by Got Snake? » September 17th, 2014, 2:20 pm

That was one heck of a trip! Congrats on that big Pygmy rattler, what a find! Spotted skunk is the cherry on top. Looks like I should have started my trip a little earlier, currently hunkered down in the SUV waiting for this storm to pass. :cry: Thanks for sharing!

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Re: AZ and NM, 12 days including the NAFHA meeting

Post by ZantiMissKnit » September 22nd, 2014, 5:44 am

AndyO'Connor wrote:lateralis, it was strange that they didn't ask, or care when I offered to produce, the licenses/permits. It would have been about 15-20 minutes, but we got chatty, and then found the atrox next to the car. It was disappointing to see a freshly hit painted glossy right as we pulled away, a couple of cars drove by while we were there, and if you look at the species list, it was the only species seen DOR and not alive on the trip. I love having a low count of "DOR only" species.
Oh, no, really? I know that we had stopped briefly and were questioned a little by the F&G people. I hope we weren't the cause of the DOR.

We got a couple of painted glossies on the trip, and we thought the first one was a twig in the road. We carefully inspected every twig after that, including some that may have been set up to get our attention...

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