South of the border: A week in southern Sonora

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AZherper
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Joined: August 31st, 2015, 7:53 am

South of the border: A week in southern Sonora

Post by AZherper » January 18th, 2017, 5:20 pm

Last August, I was lucky to spend a week with a team of Mexican and American biologists on a ranch which was just purchased by the Turtle Conservancy to protect the newly-described thornscrub tortoise (Gopherus evgoodei). Our goal was to document the flora and fauna with the reserve, which basically meant my job was to herp as much as I could along with my buddy Cody and mentor of sorts Phil Rosen. The ranch was located in a great patch of tropical deciduous forest, the ranch provided excellent habitat for some really great herps. Even though pretty much all the herping we did was on foot, the weather was cool and rainy most nights, and we were limited to a small area, we managed to turn up some cool species.
On our way down, still north of Hermosillo, we pulled off the road to hike around a bit.

We found our first ctenosaurs, a desert tortoise, and this very nice Sonoran coachwhip (Coluber flagellum cingulum):

ImageColuber flagellum cingulum (Sonoran Coachwhip) by wyman.jules, on Flickr\

We got to Alamos after dark. On the way in we cruised up a pretty longnose snake and a long, thin snake that I believe was an Imantodes, but unfortunately got off the road.

Right around our hotel I found one Mexican treefrog (Smilisca baudinii) and several awesome Mexican leaf frogs (Pachymedusa/Agalychnis dacnicolor):

ImagePachymedusa dacnicolor (Mexican Leaf Frog) by wyman.jules, on Flickr\


At 12 AM, before turning in for the night, a couple of us went out for a quick road cruise. Soon I spotted a tiny snake crossing the road:

ImageGyalopion quadrangulare (Thornscrub Hooknose Snake) by wyman.jules, on Flickr\

We also found our first beaded lizard of the trip:

ImageHeloderma (horridum) exasperatum (Mexican Beaded Lizard) by wyman.jules, on Flickr\

Early the next morning we headed up to the ranch, where we would spend the following six days.

The rest of this account isn't in chronological order, partly because that would take a long time to write out and partly because I'm having trouble remembering what we found in each day. Instead I'll show some of the better finds, along with bits of commentary.

Lots of anurans were around; I believe we documented twelve species around the ranch. Mexican treefrogs (Smilisca baudinii) were among the most common:

ImageSmilisca baudinii (Mexican Treefrog) by wyman.jules, on Flickr\


Their relatives, lowland burrowing treefrogs (Smilisca fodiens), were also out in numbers on rainy nights:

ImageSmilisca fodiens (lowland burrowing treefrog) by wyman.jules, on Flickr\


Mexican west coast indigo snakes, aka red-tailed cribos (Drymarchon melanurus rubidus), were the most conspicuous diurnal snakes around the ranch. We turned up multiple adults,and I also spotted a yearling basking high in some vegetation. Here are a couple shots of the largest one I found:

ImageDrymarchon melanurus rubidus (Mexican West Coast Indigo Snake) by wyman.jules, on Flickr\


ImageDrymarchon melanurus rubidus (Mexican West Coast Indigo Snake) by wyman.jules, on Flickr\


ImageDrymarchon melanurus rubidus (Mexican West Coast Indigo Snake) by wyman.jules, on Flickr\
}

This big guy was pushing six feet in length, and had an attitude to match.


I spotted a couple Sinaloan milksnakes (Lampropeltis polyzona "sinaloae") on the crawl. Someone else in the group turned up a couple coralsnakes (Micrurus distans, which I unfortunately didn't take the time to photograph). Here's one of the milks:

ImageLampropeltis polyzona "sinaloae" (Sinaloan milksnake) by wyman.jules, on Flickr\

ImageLampropeltis polyzona "sinaloae" (Sinaloan Milksnake) by wyman.jules, on Flickr\

I also found two cat-eyed snakes (Leptodeira splendida) our first night on the ranch. The first escaped down a crack but I was able to grab the second, larger one by making a full body dive into a deep plunge pool and plucking it off a rock face. I came back soaked but victorious:

ImageLeptodeira splendida (Splendid Cat-eyed Snake) by wyman.jules, on Flickr\

This neotropical whipsnake (Coluber mentovarius) unfortunately looked to be in poor health:

ImageColuber mentovarius (neotropical whipsnake) by wyman.jules, on Flickr\

We saw several species of turtles and tortoises on the ranch, but none were cooler than the ornate wood turtles (Rhinoclemmys pulcherrima rogerbarbouri). We turned up six of these over the course of the week. Here's a young one:

ImageRhinoclemmys pulcherrima rogerbarbouri (Ornate Wood Turtle) by wyman.jules, on Flickr\
}

One night Cody spotted this Mexican lyresnake (Trimorphodon lambda) crossing a dirt track:

ImageTrimorphodon tau (Mexican Lyresnake) by wyman.jules, on Flickr\

ImageTrimorphodon tau (Mexican Lyresnake) by wyman.jules, on Flickr\

He also found this boa constrictor wedged deep in a crack in the rock, just after I said it looked like a perfect spot for a boa:

ImageBoa constrictor imperator in situ by wyman.jules, on Flickr\

We found a decent number of beaded lizards on the trip. Here's an in habitat shot of one:

ImageHeloderma exasperatum (Beaded Lizard) by wyman.jules, on Flickr\

Last but not least, someone turned up a juvenile cantil! This was a huge goal of the trip, and an incredible snake:

ImageAgkistrodon bilineatus (Cantil) by wyman.jules, on Flickr\

ImageAgkistrodon bilineatus (Cantil) by wyman.jules, on Flickr\

We found lots more, but those were some of the highlights for me. Thank you for reading, and I hope you enjoyed!

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SurfinHerp
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Re: South of the border: A week in southern Sonora

Post by SurfinHerp » January 18th, 2017, 6:35 pm

Wow, so awesome - I want to see more!!

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dwakefield
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Re: South of the border: A week in southern Sonora

Post by dwakefield » January 18th, 2017, 7:21 pm

Dude, you guys found some stellar herps!

bgorum
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Re: South of the border: A week in southern Sonora

Post by bgorum » January 20th, 2017, 5:05 am

Awesome!

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lateralis
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Re: South of the border: A week in southern Sonora

Post by lateralis » January 20th, 2017, 1:28 pm

Fantastic experience and what an opportunity. The picture of the female jaguar on their website was quite nice. That Cantil and the beadeds are sweet. Thanks for sharing!

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