August Road cruising in SoCal

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August Road cruising in SoCal

Post by Bostonsauce »

I haven’t done much road cruising this year. I’m considering going with a friend in the SoCal high desert next week. Anybody have any insight on cruising this late in the summer? Daytime temps are about 100 with evenings in the 80’s-90’s.

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Re: August Road cruising in SoCal

Post by Fieldherper »

August is not a great time to cruise the CA deserts. It is usually very hot and very dry and many animals are taking cover deep underground. The exception would be if there has been recent monsoonal rain, which tends to hit the higher elevations in the East Mojave at times. AZ would be much better.


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Re: August Road cruising in SoCal

Post by Fieldnotes »

DO NOT GO! Save your gas money or head into the mountains. Go to the SoCal mountains, Eastern Sierras, or as others said go to Arizona. If you head into California's desert now, you will only see geckos (if your lucky) and zebra-tails sleeping on the road. Monsoons with flash-floodings are awesome, but in California only geckos and amphibians come-out (toads which are awesome!). August in California's deserts is dead. I have driven many miles in California during and following monsoons only to be bummed out (except for spadefoots). Monsoons in California's deserts are nothing compared to what a person will see in Arizona. However, California Mountains come alive (again) during Monsoons. Go to the mountains and flip a thoroughly damped object due to a monsoon and you will score— "Wetter is better." In other words water=life.

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Re: August Road cruising in SoCal

Post by Jimi »

Monsoons in California's deserts are nothing compared to what a person will see in Arizona.
My experience is similar. Sometimes you can see something come out for a quick drink, I've heard of Gilas (Mojave, outside of CA) and torts doing this, I've seen it myself with specks and rubers. You certainly see gnats respond! Ha ha. Ugh. But I don't believe freak summer rains in the western deserts get reptiles moving en masse. I expect it's due to the unpredictability of summer rain outside the more easterly monsoon belt - it's just not good enough to make a living from, not enough to risk your life for. Previous generations' more inquisitive or responsive individuals that made the gamble, they must have died and failed to pass on their risk-taker genes. The conservative, "wait for the real wet season" individuals must have lived and reproduced better, generation after generation. That's my theory anyway - just trying to explain to myself what I've seen, and sharing here. It could be BS. But bottom line, I wouldn't waste my gas money and beauty sleep cruising SoCal deserts in August either. Find something better to do...

Good hunting!

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Jeremy Wright
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Re: August Road cruising in SoCal

Post by Jeremy Wright »

If you wait until things start to cool down, or well into hatchling season, I've noticed that cruising can be good. August is rough, especially in the high desert, but I've had decent luck in both the Mojave and Colorado deserts in September and October. Only problem is that a large portion of snakes you'll see are neonates.

I do remember one particularly good cruise I did down in San Diego county a few years back when we had an oddly cloudy and humid week. As fieldnotes and others stated, rain storms and summer monsoons in the deserts of local don't seem to bring out much, but I do think that a prolonged period of cloudiness, cooler daytime temps, and moisture can help. The particular time I went had daytime highs only in the low 90s (which is cool compared to the 110+ that area usually reaches) but the clouds meant that I was cruising in the mid to high 70s almost all night. I think I ended that night with something like 16 or 17 sidewinders, a few glossys, 3 long nose, 2 lyres, and 3 ruber. We also ended up driving high into SD county afterwards, seeing about 20 DOR sd gophers, a couple live ones, and 2 live California glossys. All snakes but 2 of the sidewinders were neonates, which gives you an idea of how baby-dominated it can be.

I've done alright in the Mojave in the fall, but not spectacular. The Mojave really does seem to shine in the spring. I can't think of many nights of 5 or more snakes I've had in August or September in the High d, in contrast to down in SD county where that is almost a guarantee assuming conditions are all reasonable.

Let us know how you do,


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