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 Post subject: Arizona Recap (Pt. 1 + Pt. 2)
PostPosted: August 18th, 2017, 8:15 pm 
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Joined: December 14th, 2015, 4:56 pm
Posts: 133
As the chaos and stress of senior year of high school begin to loom ever closer, I needed a break, both mental and physical, from the daily routines and work that occupied my mind most of my waking minutes.

This summer was a special one. I managed 2 trips to southern Arizona, one with my great herping friend Kyle Jimenez and the other with my dad and school friend Andrew. After my father had a heart attack back in the Spring of this year (while we were on a herping trip believe it or not in Mojave National Preserve of all places) he had suffered muscle damage throughout his body. Combine that with medications that make it harder to elevate your blood pressure and heartbeat, and exercise / herping was really a no go for the past 5 or 6 months. This would be the first time him and I could hit the field exactly 6 months after disaster had struck. It also gave me the chance to show my best friend from school, Andrew, a taste of the herping world and why people like me get so crazy over the monsoon season in the Southwest.

The first trip was in mid/late July with Kyle. The 2 of us had certain targets in mind but mostly ended up hitting new spots and changing our entire game plan due to unpredictable weather and really hard rain systems.
Many of you will have seen some of these pictures from my Arizona Pt. 1 post a few weeks back, but here they are with some new ones and added dialogue. :lol: :thumb:

Our first find was this Big Bend Patch-nosed Snake, fairly different from the patch nosed I'm used to in Southern California. I spotted him while stopping mid cruise on a dirt road to relieve myself. What a shock I had when I saw this guy perfectly placed on a roadcut, almost vertically oriented. This was the only good shot I could manage. This little guy was by far the hardest snake I've ever tried to photograph. The thing would not sit still at all. Oh well, next time I see one I'll hopefully have a bit more patience, wisdom, or a calmer snake.

ImageBig Bend Patch-nosed Snake by Jeremy Wright Photography, on Flickr

Sunset from the Santa Rita mountains. Probably the most incredible sky colors I've ever seen. Temperatures cooled off quickly that night, as they ended up doing every night we were there, but the prospect of the many species of snake that could be out meant that we were as excited as ever.

ImageSanta Cruz County, Arizona by Jeremy Wright Photography, on Flickr

Atrox (Western Diamondbacks) were the most common. This was the first one of the trip and of the night, and ended up being the only one that wasn't a neonate. We would see close to 10 more, but this was the only one I photographed.

ImageWestern Diamondback Rattlesnake by Jeremy Wright Photography, on Flickr

ImageWestern Diamondback Rattlesnake by Jeremy Wright Photography, on Flickr

The next find of the night was this beautiful Tiger Rattlesnake. I was a little surprised at the habitat this guy was in. I'm used to seeing them lower down mountain roads and in rocky thornscrub habitat, but this guy was at around 5000 feet in madrean oak woodland.

I couldn't resist taking dozens of pictures of this gorgeous snake.

ImageTiger Rattlesnake by Jeremy Wright Photography, on Flickr

ImageTiger Rattlesnake by Jeremy Wright Photography, on Flickr

ImageTiger Rattlesnake by Jeremy Wright Photography, on Flickr

ImageTiger Rattlesnake by Jeremy Wright Photography, on Flickr

We wrapped up the night early as we were tired and it was cold. I got a couple pictures of toads and inverts that I had overlooked earlier. I kinda regret not taking more time to photograph these guys, instead aiming to not waste time and see more snakes.

ImageMexican Spadefoot Toad by Jeremy Wright Photography, on Flickr

The next morning we aimed for Montane rattlesnakes in the Huachuca mountains. After a day of hiking we had found many banded rock rattlesnakes, but a ridge-nosed had eluded us. We tried a couple different canyons including one that was a few miles from the closest road. Totally worth it though in my opinion, as it's always great to scout new areas and find spots that most people wouldn't go to or know about.

ImageBanded Rock Rattlesnake by Jeremy Wright Photography, on Flickr

ImageBanded Rock Rattlesnake by Jeremy Wright Photography, on Flickr

ImageBanded Rock Rattlesnake by Jeremy Wright Photography, on Flickr

ImageBanded Rock Rattlesnake by Jeremy Wright Photography, on Flickr

ImageBanded Rock Rattlesnake by Jeremy Wright Photography, on Flickr

ImageBanded Rock Rattlesnake by Jeremy Wright Photography, on Flickr

That night we ended up seeing a massive Black-tailed rattlesnake, a good bit longer than my 4 foot tongs.

ImageNorthern Black-tailed Rattlesnake by Jeremy Wright Photography, on Flickr

ImageNorthern Black-tailed Rattlesnake by Jeremy Wright Photography, on Flickr

ImageNorthern Black-tailed Rattlesnake by Jeremy Wright Photography, on Flickr

Again, the temperature cooled rapidly and we turned in. On the way up to camp, we ran into a bunch of people with tents and black lights looking for moths and beetles. Kyle and I were pretty interested so we stopped and ended up spending a couple hours with them. A couple were from Florida, one from Glendale in Southern California, and a couple from Hull in England, the same town my dad grew up in! What a small world. I was amazed by their knowledge of insects and even more surprised by their understanding and passion of all other animals and herps. I always admire people who have a wide range of interests and knowledge.


ImageWestern Imperial moth by Jeremy Wright Photography, on Flickr

ImageSmerinthus and Manduca moths by Jeremy Wright Photography, on Flickr

The next day we did the same thing, targeting montane rattlesnakes. We ventured higher in elevation to try to find a pricei (twin spotted rattlesnake) in the Santa Ritas and Huachucas and failed, but to my excitement found both Banded Rock Rattlesnakes and Ridge-nosed Rattlesnakes. I can't get over these guys.

ImageBanded Rock Rattlesnake by Jeremy Wright Photography, on Flickr

ImageBanded Rock Rattlesnake by Jeremy Wright Photography, on Flickr

ImageArizona Ridge-nosed Rattlesnake by Jeremy Wright Photography, on Flickr

ImageArizona Ridge-nosed Rattlesnake by Jeremy Wright Photography, on Flickr

ImageArizona Ridge-nosed Rattlesnake by Jeremy Wright Photography, on Flickr

ImageArizona Ridge-nosed Rattlesnake by Jeremy Wright Photography, on Flickr

ImageArizona Ridge-nosed Rattlesnake by Jeremy Wright Photography, on Flickr

And obviously the insects were happy with our luck too :lol:

ImageEyed Click Beetle by Jeremy Wright Photography, on Flickr

ImageUnidentified grasshopper by Jeremy Wright Photography, on Flickr

We went into town to relax and catch up on many missed meals. I was content with the day but exhausted, and in some pain. The many miles over the past couple days had worsened my knee injury from months ago. A break was needed and was blissful.

We took our time and set off after dark, missing the evening light for many rattlesnakes and green rat snakes, so I had low hopes for the night. Besides the tiger and blacktail, we had seen only atrox night cruising. Not one colubrid. On what would be our last night, Kyle and I had high hopes. Temperatures were cool, but a rain system came through. I expected very little. To my surprise, the temperature slightly warmed during the showers, and at about 1 am, I turned absolutely ecstatic.

ImageArizona Coralsnake by Jeremy Wright Photography, on Flickr

ImageArizona Coralsnake by Jeremy Wright Photography, on Flickr

Seeing this snake in person is a whole experience that I can't begin to explain or depict in photos or words. Being the son of a biologist, my earliest memories of animals and snakes were in field guides and books on animals. I can remember being fascinated by the Coral Snake from the age of 5 or 6, and over 10 years later I got to see one in person, in the wild. It sounds sappy, I know, but it was a really emotional moment for me. I'm so thankful for the places I can visit and the knowledge, education, and respect I've been taught, mainly by my father. I just wish he could have been there with me and not back in Southern California working.

Soon after the coral, we found saw a roadkill by a motorcycle of all things. What a shame. We also got a couple of these incredible creatures. The first colubrid of the trip!

ImageDesert Kingsnake by Jeremy Wright Photography, on Flickr

ImageDesert Kingsnake by Jeremy Wright Photography, on Flickr

As we headed out to make our way west towards California, we found this guy. The last herp of the trip, and a welcome one.

ImageTiger Rattlesnake by Jeremy Wright Photography, on Flickr




Fast-forward 3 weeks and I was on the road back to Arizona, this time with my dad and friend Andrew.

Here are some of the most incredible landscapes to begin.

ImageView towards Madera Canyon by Jeremy Wright Photography, on Flickr

ImageLandscape in the Northern Huachuca Mountains by Jeremy Wright Photography, on Flickr

ImageLandscape in the Northern Huachuca Mountains by Jeremy Wright Photography, on Flickr

ImageView up Box Canyon by Jeremy Wright Photography, on Flickr

We started out with more baby atrox (not photographed). A pretty uneventful first night. The next morning however was a different story. I got to show Andrew his first leps. I couldn't get over the size and green coloration of this first one. It was at least 26-28 inches and had the most incredible minty lichen green hues, especially when the light caught it well. There were a couple smaller lepidus within a few feet of this big guy, but they were drab and in shed. I focused my photos on this one.

ImageBanded Rock Rattlesnake by Jeremy Wright Photography, on Flickr

ImageBanded Rock Rattlesnake by Jeremy Wright Photography, on Flickr

ImageBanded Rock Rattlesnake by Jeremy Wright Photography, on Flickr

It's always tricky taking pictures of these guys. Being protected you're not supposed to disturb or harass them, so quite often you have to let them curl up or move into a spot they are comfortable in. I ended up shooting with fill flash diffused in an fstoppers flash disc. Not the greatest lighting, but better than all flash or all-natural lighting.

Later that day we moved locales and ended up seeing a couple neonate lepidus. I flipped one under a log and soon after saw one on the crawl a few feet away. I figured these little ones were just recently born, so after a few quick photos I let them to it and stopped looking in that exact area. I know many rattlesnakes will remain with or close to their young, and the last thing I wanted to do was stress these newborns or their mother which I reckon was in the rocks nearby.
Here are the cute little ones.

ImageBanded Rock Rattlesnake by Jeremy Wright Photography, on Flickr

ImageBanded Rock Rattlesnake by Jeremy Wright Photography, on Flickr

ImageBanded Rock Rattlesnake by Jeremy Wright Photography, on Flickr

We took some time to enjoy the area we were in and spent the last hours of light hiking casually and soaking up our surroundings.

ImageFerocactus wislizeni by Jeremy Wright Photography, on Flickr

ImageLandscape by Jeremy Wright Photography, on Flickr

With another really bad night of only a couple atrox, and a snakeless morning, I really hoped we would have a change of luck. It what turned out to be one of my happiest herping moments, I got to see one of these guys. He was small and had some juvenile patterning, but as you can see, he was still GREEN. What a beautiful snake. Kind of sad so many people collect them. I wouldn't hesitate to buy one captive bred but something inside me couldn't take one. It's such a pure experience seeing one in the wild and watching it disappear on it's on terms.

ImageGreen Ratsnake by Jeremy Wright Photography, on Flickr

ImageGreen Ratsnake by Jeremy Wright Photography, on Flickr

ImageGreen Ratsnake by Jeremy Wright Photography, on Flickr


As this was the last night of the trip, I hoped we could end with a bang or at least an uninjured snake. We changed tactics, moving a little north of where we had been into warmer temperatures and began a nighthike. We started off with dozens, literally dozens, of mice and tucson banded geckos. In a case of unfortunate (yet fortunate) events, we turned around early due to a bad meal that was sitting wrong with Andrew. I was tired, a little annoyed from earlier, and in pain, but you can probably imagine how quickly my mood changed when what I thought was a mouse rustling in tall grass turned out to be this absolute beast.

ImageReticulate Gila Monster by Jeremy Wright Photography, on Flickr

ImageReticulate Gila Monster by Jeremy Wright Photography, on Flickr

ImageReticulate Gila Monster by Jeremy Wright Photography, on Flickr

Later that night we had a real bittersweet moment. Andrew really really wanted to see a Blacktail, and for some reason up to this point we had yet to see one. In previous trips I had seen over ten, including cruising 3 in about 200 feet. Both of us were excited when we cruising up on this guy, but instantly I knew something wasn't right.
The border patrol agent that had passed us a few times earlier and was the only other car on the road must have clipped this guy. Injuring weren't instantly noticeable but when I moved him off the road with tongs I could see blood on the underside and extensive internal bleeding. At first when I moved him into some rocks he was crawling on his own and flicking out his tongue a lot, but over the course of 10-15 minutes, he deteriorated, eventually to death. Such a shame. I'd never seen a snake do death curls or throws like this guy did. He'd start rolling over like a crocodile over and over and over off of rocks into cacti and grass, and made himself into a loop like a bandy-bandy snake would. Here we had 2 big 17-year-olds (especially Andrew who's built like a body builder) in a state of sadness and silence. I just hope some kind of mammal or bird would put the meat to use. Here are some pictures of the snake before it passed. Probably one of the prettiest blacktails I've seen.

ImageNorthern Black-tailed Rattlesnake by Jeremy Wright Photography, on Flickr

ImageNorthern Black-tailed Rattlesnake by Jeremy Wright Photography, on Flickr

We made our way north even more to camp in Saguaro National Park. The next morning on the way home, we ended up with the last find of the trip, and a good one at that. Here's a juvenile desert tortoise, and Andrew and I with it.

ImageDesert Tortoise by Jeremy Wright Photography, on Flickr

ImageDesert Tortoise by Jeremy Wright Photography, on Flickr

ImageAndrew with a juvenile Desert Tortoise by Jeremy Wright Photography, on Flickr

ImageMe with a juvenile Desert Tortoise by Jeremy Wright Photography, on Flickr

I'll end this post with a picture of my dad and I, something I really cherish. It was an incredible 2 trips with some amazing animals, company, and landscapes. Until next year Arizona.

ImageDad and I by Jeremy Wright Photography, on Flickr

Thanks for reading and happy herping to all.
Jeremy


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 Post subject: Re: Arizona Recap (Pt. 1 + Pt. 2)
PostPosted: August 18th, 2017, 9:59 pm 
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Joined: September 2nd, 2015, 11:52 am
Posts: 26
A ton of terrific images, and lots of great memories to boot. Congrats.


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 Post subject: Re: Arizona Recap (Pt. 1 + Pt. 2)
PostPosted: August 19th, 2017, 6:51 pm 
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Joined: December 14th, 2015, 4:56 pm
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TJA wrote:
A ton of terrific images, and lots of great memories to boot. Congrats.


Thank you! You're absolutely right. It's the memories that really count.


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 Post subject: Re: Arizona Recap (Pt. 1 + Pt. 2)
PostPosted: August 23rd, 2017, 9:55 am 
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Joined: June 10th, 2010, 7:37 pm
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Location: San Francisco, CA
Fantastic recap. Looks like a wonderful trip and a great one to have gone with your dad. Your photos are spectacular.


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 Post subject: Re: Arizona Recap (Pt. 1 + Pt. 2)
PostPosted: August 26th, 2017, 2:32 pm 
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Joined: December 14th, 2015, 4:56 pm
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Zach_Lim wrote:
Fantastic recap. Looks like a wonderful trip and a great one to have gone with your dad. Your photos are spectacular.


Many thanks Zach. It was a great trip. How are things up in Norcal?


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 Post subject: Re: Arizona Recap (Pt. 1 + Pt. 2)
PostPosted: August 28th, 2017, 6:55 am 
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Joined: February 18th, 2015, 11:11 am
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Location: Deerfield Beach, Florida
Man, you had some great trips! Nice seeing more photos and reading about the details of your trip. You've got me excited for mine!


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 Post subject: Re: Arizona Recap (Pt. 1 + Pt. 2)
PostPosted: August 28th, 2017, 4:39 pm 
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Joined: June 7th, 2010, 8:56 pm
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Location: SW USA
Great trip, and a really great way to spend time with your dad. Quality time in a beautiful place - doesn't get any better!


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 Post subject: Re: Arizona Recap (Pt. 1 + Pt. 2)
PostPosted: August 31st, 2017, 5:19 pm 
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dwakefield wrote:
Man, you had some great trips! Nice seeing more photos and reading about the details of your trip. You've got me excited for mine!

Thank you Daniel! Best of luck with your trip, I'm looking forward to seeing your pictures and finds!


lateralis wrote:
Great trip, and a really great way to spend time with your dad. Quality time in a beautiful place - doesn't get any better!

Thank you! I agree, good scenery, herping, and company, is always a good thing!


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