2015 in California (Same as CA forum)

Dedicated exclusively to field herping.

Moderator: Scott Waters

Post Reply
User avatar
Posts: 148
Joined: June 7th, 2010, 7:57 pm
Location: Davis/Santa Cruz

2015 in California (Same as CA forum)

Post by yoloherper »

I just dumped a ton of photos onto the California forum, but for those from other areas, I'm copying it all on to here as well. Enjoy!

As much as I tried to post more often last year, it's all the sudden January again and I have an entire year's worth of photos. So
here's my 2015 highlights more or less chronologically
Last January, I got to herp the Soquel Demo forest with Lawrence. We had a ridiculously productive day and found something like a
herp per person every 2 minutes. I mostly just vouchered stuff with my phone, but did decide to take pictures of this tiny forest
sharp-tail. I found him under the coin and then posed him on the bark, or maybe it was the other way around…
ImageDSC_3641 by mangoman57, on Flickr
ImageDSC_3628 by mangoman57, on Flickr

Nice pile of SF garters doing their best to keep their subspecies thriving
ImageDSC_3648 by mangoman57, on Flickr

This early season z was a welcome find. After hearing that a few people had found them, I went out on a warm day not long after
and managed to turn this little guy up. Great way to start a lampro filled year
ImageDSC_3705 by mangoman57, on Flickr

My dad and I used to do annual desert trips for flowers and herps, but as I’ve gotten older it’s harder to get off school. This year we
made it down towards the end of April, but unfortunately we hit a little cold front which made night driving tough. We still managed
to see some of the usual stuff as well as some less often seen snakes for the area
Here's a cruised longnosed
ImageDSC_4271 by mangoman57, on Flickr
And a sidewinder
ImageDSC_4263 by mangoman57, on Flickr
I hiked this glossy right at dusk. First non cruised one I’ve found.
ImageDSC_4212 by mangoman57, on Flickr
I walked up on this gorgeous king in a riparian canyon. First one I’ve seen in the Eastern Mojave and my understanding is that they
aren’t often seen in this area
ImageDSC_4202 by mangoman57, on Flickr
ImageDSC_4200 by mangoman57, on Flickr
I managed to flip a desert night lizard followed shortly by a desert night snake under some old wood in the hottest part of the hottest
day. I was definitely not expecting it as ground temperature was well into triple digits
ImageDSC_4237 by mangoman57, on Flickr

Procrastinating for finals, I went looking for legless lizards at a nearby beach and found this large individual doing its best to look like a
washed up pelamis. Unfortunately I forgot my camera so I had to settle for a phone voucher
ImageUntitled by mangoman57, on Flickr
A smaller one when I brought my camera a few weeks later
ImageDSC_4103 by mangoman57, on Flickr
This insane coast garter was found basking nearby
ImageDSC_4145 by mangoman57, on Flickr

I found more z’s as spring got into full swing, all of which were gorgeous, but this one takes the cake. Not sure I’ll ever find another with
that light of a head.
ImageDSC_4076 by mangoman57, on Flickr
Having almost 50 triads didn’t hurt either
ImageDSC_4075 - Copy by mangoman57, on Flickr
Or white bars connecting a lot of the triads. It looked like an agalma crossed with a knoblochi
ImageDSC_4058 by mangoman57, on Flickr
ImageDSC_4079 by mangoman57, on Flickr

Another really stunning one with a big meal. This is one of my favorite photos from last year
ImageDSC_4314 - cloned by mangoman57, on Flickr
ImageDSC_4328 by mangoman57, on Flickr

Even in shed though, they’re gorgeous.
ImageDSC_4611 by mangoman57, on Flickr
Experimenting with DOF. I spent comparatively much less time this year with photos than I have in the past, but couldn't help taking a
bunch whenever I got lucky with z's
ImageDSC_4578 by mangoman57, on Flickr
A close up. Z eyes are weird in that they look all black from most angles. Whenever I get a shot with the pupil visible it almost looks weird
now after seeing a lot of shots like this
ImageDSC_4616 by mangoman57, on Flickr

Some of my z’s this spring were bycatch as I hoped to finally cross nightsnake off my list of targets in Santa Cruz Co. I finally managed this
large adult on a foggy morning, but was running late for class so I didn’t spend much time with photos.
ImageDSC_4369 by mangoman57, on Flickr

Lawrence and I headed to the Sierras one weekend to try our luck for our lifer multicinctas. While crossing the valley, we just missed this
heartbreaker melanistic blackbelly getula with an entirely black belly. It was really fresh and must have only been a few hit minutes before we saw it.
Habitat on both sides of the road was plowed agriculture for miles with only a small ditch and hedgerow providing habitat. Hard to believe
that a snake can grow to adult size living its entire life on the shoulder of a busy road
ImageIMG_1712 by mangoman57, on Flickr
Once in the mountains, it took a bit for things to heat up, but boy did they. Lawrence had the hot hand and spotted both a ringneck and a crote
basking not far apart before flipping a tiny z. Hungry for my own snakes, I just took a few phone shots of the king and then walked off again only
to hear “I got another” seriously 3 minute later. I’ll admit I was getting a little frustrated at this point having not found a single snake, yet alone
a z. But stopped for a minute when I noticed one of my favorite flowers. As I turned around again to continue walking, I glanced through a
manzanita bush and saw the unmistakable banding of a huge mountain kingsnake. Lawrence and I came around the bush from different sides and
managed to corner it and I grabbed it before it could get away. Success!! Awesome looking snake with some weird white on its labials and really
peachy cream colored bands. I think it measure out to 33 inches or so.
ImageDSC_4523edit by mangoman57, on Flickr
ImageDSC_4528edit by mangoman57, on Flickr
ImageDSC_4545 by mangoman57, on Flickr
After finding the z, I just enjoyed the show as Lawrence managed to double flip a pair of adult zonata under a log, flip another ringneck, get buzzed
by a second crote, and walk up on a basking thamnophis. Sometimes it just isn’t your day and I had pretty much accepted that despite flipping hundreds
of good rocks, I wasn’t going to flip a snake, until I found this tiny pink boa right before we got back to the car.
ImageDSC_4554 by mangoman57, on Flickr
Between the two of us (mostly Lawrence) we ended with 2 crotes, 2 ringnecks, a mountain garter, a boa, and 5 z’s. Not a bad way to spend a Saturday

I herped with Lawrence on surveys a few more times before school ended. At Soquel one day, we managed a handful of boas and found a population of
yellow legged frogs in a shady Sulphur spring in the redwoods far from the flowing creeks we usually find them at. Quite a few metamorphs were all
hopping around and basking on logs in the little sunlight that penetrated through the trees.
ImageDSC_4404 by mangoman57, on Flickr
Baby boas from the coast don't have the same pinks as the sierras, but are still fun finds
ImageDSC_4393 by mangoman57, on Flickr
In Santa Clara Co. we surveyed a creek and managed some good Salamanders. The black salamanders we found were the first officially recorded in this
area and my first outside of Santa Cruz Co.
ImageDSC_4488 by mangoman57, on Flickr
ImageDSC_4475 by mangoman57, on Flickr
ImageDSC_4495 by mangoman57, on Flickr
We also found a few ringnecks
ImageDSC_4458 by mangoman57, on Flickr

A few other odds and ends. A large boa flipped along the coast and a silver dollar sized pond turtle found crawling through some reeds at a nearby pond
ImageDSC_4440 by mangoman57, on Flickr
ImageDSC_4442 by mangoman57, on Flickr

Towards the end of the spring quarter, I helped a grad student out with catching blunt nosed leopard lizards for a study on how they are being affected
by climate change and drought. Didn’t take too many pictures but I snapped some as we let lizards go
ImageDSC_4698 by mangoman57, on Flickr
ImageDSC_4717 by mangoman57, on Flickr

In early summer I managed a surprise find while camping with my girlfriend. This intergrade zonata was crossing a trail near our campsite in far
northern California.
ImageDSC_4733 by mangoman57, on Flickr
After getting to the campsite, I recognized it as a spot that I had spent a day looking for zonata when I was much younger with no success so it was awesome
to find one this time. Knowing more now than I did then, I’d actually say that it’s not a very good spot for Z’s and I’m really surprised that we found this
guy. We took it back to the campsite to show her family and so I didn’t want to spend a lot of time with photos before releasing it and Ionly took a few in hand
ImageDSC_4727 by mangoman57, on Flickr

In fall after coming back to school, things were really dry and herping was tough. I spent a lot of time trying to find a few more targets I have around Santa
Cruz, but didn’t see a whole lot. This whiptail was a welcome find as I rarely am able to get good shots of them
ImageDSC_4933 by mangoman57, on Flickr

A chorus frog on an otherwise slow day
ImageDSC_5000 by mangoman57, on Flickr

This Elgaria had a ridiculously long tail and I struggled with my lens to get far enough back to include the whole thing in the shot
ImageDSC_5311 by mangoman57, on Flickr

This gopher was my last snake of the year and came in early December. I flipped it under a piece of driftwood below the high tide mark while birding one day.
Imagegopher edit by mangoman57, on Flickr

Rain has brought out some amphibians and I’ve had a few good nights of herping, but unfortunately a lot of the storms have petered out in the middle of the
day and I haven’t gotten to cruise during a good night rain yet this year. Even so, I cruised this giant a few hours after some rain
ImageDSC_5176lighter by mangoman57, on Flickr

The next night I went out hoping to cruise an arboreal and didn’t find much besides a few ensatinas. While walking from my car back to my house though, I
couldn’t believe my eyes when I spotted an arboreal crawling across our parking lot only 50 ft. from my front door. A walk around my complex turned up a
few more including this huge one climbing around in some of our landscaping plants
ImageDSC_5279 by mangoman57, on Flickr

I night hiked with a few other students in our natural history club one night to search for giant salamanders and anything else that might be moving. The date
had been set in advance based on a rain forecast that proved false so I was skeptical, but we still had some great luck. Ensatinas were everywhere
ImageDSC_5388 by mangoman57, on Flickr
This pair was in the courtship process and was awesome to see
ImageDSC_5405 by mangoman57, on Flickr
With a powerful headlamp, I was able to spot the eyeshine of our target from about 40ft away. Having never eyeshined a salamander before, I was pretty
surprised and happy and look forward to trying this method out againImageDSC_5390 by mangoman57, on Flickr

The last significant find I photographed was this toad. While really common in a lot of areas, toads are surprisingly scarce from Santa Cruz Co. I busted my butt
and found one last winter, but for some reason that must have made sense to me at the time, I decided to take only one bad picture of it so I was excited to
get some nice in situ shots of this one
ImageDSC_5453 by mangoman57, on Flickr

Well, that pretty much catches me up until now. 2016 is looking to be a pretty awesome year and I can't wait to see what I find.
Happy Herping!

Posts: 1607
Joined: June 10th, 2010, 7:37 pm

Re: 2015 in California (Same as CA forum)

Post by Zach_Lim »

What an amazing year you had , man!

Those Z's are all gorgeous.

User avatar
Posts: 275
Joined: June 11th, 2010, 5:06 am

Re: 2015 in California (Same as CA forum)

Post by mfb »

Great observations, thanks for sharing!

I miss those sharptail snakes from when I used to live in CA.

But my absolute favorite is the courting Ensatina. It's not too common to run into courting Plethodontids. Did you get to see any spermatophores put down?


User avatar
Posts: 199
Joined: January 23rd, 2012, 10:08 am
Location: Salt Lake City, Utah

Re: 2015 in California (Same as CA forum)

Post by Roki »

Beautiful photography.

User avatar
Posts: 18
Joined: June 7th, 2010, 4:03 pm

Re: 2015 in California (Same as CA forum)

Post by kentoid »

Excellent post! Need to hunt some sallies up north again, it's been a few years. Still want to find a terrestrial Dicamp. :-)

User avatar
Posts: 5721
Joined: June 7th, 2010, 6:11 am
Location: Los Angeles County

Re: 2015 in California (Same as CA forum)

Post by Fundad »

Fantastic account and post.. Those are some really nice Zonata and Cal kings..

:beer: :thumb:

Post Reply