Four Corners Herping

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Mike Pingleton
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Four Corners Herping

Post by Mike Pingleton » June 24th, 2011, 6:54 pm

I flew out to Denver last month to participate in a Four Corners herp survey conducted by the NAFHA Rocky Mountain Chapter. I had never visited that part of the country before and was looking forward to another unique herping experience. My plane landed in the evening and I immediately headed west with Tim Warfel and Daniel Dye, stopping late in the night to sleep alongside the road. The next morning Daniel says “Let’s go herping!”
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We did a little herping along the way to the gettin’ place. We saw a number of Eastern Collared Lizards (Crotaphytus collaris) and they were real beauties:
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We also spotted a Long-Nosed Leopard Lizard (Gambelia wislizenii), a lifer for me:
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When we first encountered this Desert Striped Whipsnake (Masticophis taeniatus taeniatus) it had an adult Tiger Whiptail in its jaws. The lizard escaped when the snake dove into some sagebrush, but the snake was detained for a few photos:
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We stayed in SE Colorado, camping out at a bed-and-breakfast. This sweet Great Basin Gopher Snake (Pituophis catenifer deserticola) was found crawling on the grounds soon after our arrival:
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We found a nice handful of deserticola during our stay, which made me happy, as I think they’re a handsome snake.
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The view from my bedroll each morning:
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Road cruising that night turned up a cool Mesa Verde Night Snake (Hypsiglena chlorophaea loreala):
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The snake spread and flattened its head (“hands off, I’m a pit viper!”) during its formal portrait.
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This New Mexican Spadefoot (Spea multiplicata) was also found on the road at night.
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We did some lizard catch-and-release as part of our data collection. Thom Wilder shows off a Collared Lizard he noosed:
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Being a corn-fed flatlander from the Midwest, I had no experience with lizard noosing. The guys fixed me up with an apparatus, consisting of a stick and some dental floss. Before long I was noosing with the best of them and having a whale of a time.
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Closeup, Sceloporus tristichus:
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We also scared up another Striped Whipsnake, this one actually having stripes:
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We road cruised every evening, and we found some interesting herps in the process, including several Banded Kingsnakes (Lampropeltis getula californiae):
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These snakes apparently range as far west as the Pacific Ocean.
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Painted Desert Glossy Snake (Arizona elegans philipi):
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We came up with a dozen Prairie Rattlers (Crotalus viridus viridus):
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This specimen was walked up during a day hike in Utah:
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Road cruising also turn up several Midget Faded Rattlesnakes (Crotalus oreganus concolor):
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We spent a day at Mesa Verde, as tourists:
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Claret Cup Cactus – awesome.
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So much new and cool stuff – Field Crescent (Phyciodes campestris) nectaring on Chaetopappa ericoides (Asteraceae):
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We visited the Canyon Rim Lands in Utah:
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Dang.
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Here’s the gang making plans for the night’s road cruising:
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Cortez, CO is apparently horse-friendly:
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Pan-sized Woodhouse Toad:
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Obligatory tourist photo:
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On the way back to Denver we stopped at a creek to look for Canyon Tree Frogs:
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Hyla arenicolor were present:
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One last stop yielded some Wandering Garters and a couple Great Plains Rats:
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It was a great trip – beautiful country, great folks from the Rocky Mountain chapter, 11 lifers for me, and around 200 records for the NAFHA herp database.
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thanks for looking! -Mike

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chris drake
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Re: Four Corners Herping

Post by chris drake » June 24th, 2011, 6:59 pm

Very Nice. The midget faded is awesome! Love the collareds and leopard lizards. Thanks for sharing.

Chris

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Crazins
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Re: Four Corners Herping

Post by Crazins » June 24th, 2011, 7:03 pm

Oh so this is why all of you missed my graduation! Actually, I wish I had been with you guys. It sounded like so much fun! I hope I get to herp with you again soon, Mike.

Great post!
-Marisa

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justinm
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Re: Four Corners Herping

Post by justinm » June 24th, 2011, 7:24 pm

Pretty cool old man. That third viridus doesn't look right, any chance he's a NorPac? Maybe I'm crazy? Let's get together soon while my spare room is still a spare room and not another nursery.

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Mike Pingleton
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Re: Four Corners Herping

Post by Mike Pingleton » June 24th, 2011, 7:57 pm

thanks, Chris!

Congrats, Marisa! See you out there some time.

Justin, that's what happens when you stay at home too long :D Lots of variation in the viridus we found.
-Mike

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Bill Love
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Re: Four Corners Herping

Post by Bill Love » June 24th, 2011, 8:03 pm

Excellent post, Mike! I've never been to that part of the country before either, and I almost don't feel like I need to now. Not!
Great post!

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monklet
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Re: Four Corners Herping

Post by monklet » June 24th, 2011, 8:04 pm

Totally awesome post Mike :thumb: Super clean images, each one a gem! 8-)

Forgot to mention that whip is so reminsisent of M. f. ruddocki ...bitchen snake!!!

johneddington
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Re: Four Corners Herping

Post by johneddington » June 24th, 2011, 8:25 pm

Very nice post...Did you fly into Denver and Make that drive southwest? Looks like you had a great time. I have been out that way and learned to noose with a friend from the southwest. It is so much fun. If you have any cemeteries in the midwest with five lined squirrels, you'll have to give it a try. I have used my typical fishing pole with the real, and simply laid the noose over the squirrels hole. When it peaks its head out and you see the loop and start realin. You'll have to try it...you'll like it.

Kind Regards,
John

Taylor Henry
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Re: Four Corners Herping

Post by Taylor Henry » June 24th, 2011, 8:46 pm

Great stuff Mike. Those collared lizards are beauties! And the black and white king is awesome. I bet it was neat seeing the stiped whip eating. Loved all the habitat and scenery shots to...

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Re: Four Corners Herping

Post by joeysgreen » June 25th, 2011, 5:45 am

Thumbs up to a super cool post :)

Ian

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Re: Four Corners Herping

Post by ThatFrogGuy » June 25th, 2011, 5:59 am

Very nice!

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Re: Four Corners Herping

Post by Barry R » June 25th, 2011, 7:29 am

Love the Hypsiglena and Crotalus

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reptilist
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Re: Four Corners Herping

Post by reptilist » June 25th, 2011, 7:49 am

Great post!
These snakes apparently range as far west as the Pacific Ocean.
Haha!

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Jeff Lemm
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Re: Four Corners Herping

Post by Jeff Lemm » June 25th, 2011, 8:25 am

Great post MIke!!!

Gordon C. Snelling

Re: Four Corners Herping

Post by Gordon C. Snelling » June 25th, 2011, 8:40 am

Well they do get that far west, but not with the striking "black and white" banding. Those desert phase kings are gorgeous.

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Dell Despain
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Re: Four Corners Herping

Post by Dell Despain » June 25th, 2011, 10:26 am

Excellent post Mike. Ever sense you've come back from South America it seems your photos have gotten even better then they used to be, nice job.
In reference to horse-friendly Cortez: Is a Water Dog what I think it is, and are they being sold w/ the fishing supplies? God I hope not.

Again excellent post.

-Dell

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Re: Four Corners Herping

Post by herpseeker1978 » June 25th, 2011, 11:11 am

Dell Despain wrote:Excellent post Mike. Ever sense you've come back from South America it seems your photos have gotten even better then they used to be, nice job.
In reference to horse-friendly Cortez: Is a Water Dog what I think it is, and are they being sold w/ the fishing supplies? God I hope not.

Again excellent post.

-Dell
Yep salamander larvae as fish bait

Josh

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Ross Padilla
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Re: Four Corners Herping

Post by Ross Padilla » June 25th, 2011, 12:11 pm

Great post, Mike. You guys road cruised several Cal kings in CO? I heard they were pretty uncommon there. I guess not. There was a SW CO Cal king posted here a couple of years ago that also had the same kind of markings around the snout, which I think is kind of interesting. Nice looking Collards and GB Gopher. :thumb:

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Casey Lazik
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Re: Four Corners Herping

Post by Casey Lazik » June 25th, 2011, 1:01 pm

Nice post Mike! Man, you sure get around! :)
I dig that Night Snake!
I noticed the same thing Ross did about the Cal Kings in the Four Corners area. I sure love that area.
Casey

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Mike Pingleton
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Re: Four Corners Herping

Post by Mike Pingleton » June 25th, 2011, 2:57 pm

thanks, everyone - much appreciated. John E., I've never fished for gophers, I will keep your technique in mind! :thumb:

Dell, thanks - there's always room for improvement, so I'll keep working at it.

Ross, Casey, I don't know if L.g. californiae are all that common in CO, but they sure are beautiful!

Image

-Mike

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Re: Four Corners Herping

Post by mikemike » June 25th, 2011, 4:51 pm

Great post, Mike! Looks like you guys scored pretty well. Glad to see you got some many DB entries as well! Thanks for sharing

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Re: Four Corners Herping

Post by sonorandesertman » June 26th, 2011, 3:52 am

Absolutely beautiful.....all of it. Thank you.

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Re: Four Corners Herping

Post by keown » June 26th, 2011, 4:48 am

Mike, looks like a great trip and some spectacular animals, not to mention the great scenery and excellent photography. I had to laugh about the street scene in Cortez....Sign says "No Bicycles or Skateboards Allowed on Sidewalk" but horses are OK. My kind of place. Were all of your herp photos from the Colorado side or were some from Utah, Az or NM? Just wondering.

-Gerald

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Mike Pingleton
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Re: Four Corners Herping

Post by Mike Pingleton » June 26th, 2011, 5:45 am

thanks, everyone. Gerald, we did a little night cruising in AZ, but the rest was CO UT and NM, and so are the pictures.

Yeah, I love the irony in the urban cowboy shot. I file that one under "scenes from another planet". :D

-Mike

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Steve Barten
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Re: Four Corners Herping

Post by Steve Barten » June 26th, 2011, 6:02 am

Wow, looks like a great trip, Mike.
Your photography and story telling is always top notch. I know I'm in for a treat when I see a new post with your name on it and this one is another home run.
Great job!

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BillMcGighan
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Re: Four Corners Herping

Post by BillMcGighan » June 26th, 2011, 7:13 am

Super... Diversity of pics brought us right with you.
.
Of course, as said, the King and Night snakes were the best to see.

Bill

(Of course, doing so well was to be expected, since the habitat and terrain is so similar to your own back yard!!!! ;) ;) Looks the same as Shaumburg or Evergreen Park.. :shock: )

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Re: Four Corners Herping

Post by Snake Junky » June 26th, 2011, 12:10 pm

That looks like a fun and productive trip. I can't wait to try herping that area sometime. I will be going through Colorado around the end of August. We are taking a trip from Medford, OR. to Caulfield, MO. Im gettin giddy already. Thanks for sharing. :thumb:

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Brian Willey
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Re: Four Corners Herping

Post by Brian Willey » June 26th, 2011, 2:47 pm

Looks like you've been getting around Mike! I'm glad you've gotten to experience such foreign areas, you deserve it man!

RobK

Re: Four Corners Herping

Post by RobK » June 26th, 2011, 8:49 pm

That area is some tough herping, to put it mildly. You guys knocked out some awesome finds, not surprising with the folks you had in your group though. Great photos!

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Mike Pingleton
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Re: Four Corners Herping

Post by Mike Pingleton » June 27th, 2011, 3:54 am

thanks, everyone.
RobK wrote:That area is some tough herping, to put it mildly. You guys knocked out some awesome finds, not surprising with the folks you had in your group though. Great photos!
Excellent herpers indeed, and we had a number of cars out on the roads at night, which helped. Great herps and herpers, great location, great food and tasty beer. Home run.
-Mike

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Joe Farah
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Re: Four Corners Herping

Post by Joe Farah » June 27th, 2011, 7:51 am

That looks like it was an absolute blast! I'm glad you guys enjoyed yourselves and were so successful. Some really great finds and beautiful photos...

:thumb:

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Re: Four Corners Herping

Post by Daniel D Dye » June 27th, 2011, 5:23 pm

Awesome trip...let's do it again!!!

Here's the whip snake with the whiptail lizard.

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Striped Whipsnake (Coluber taeniatus) by Daniel D Dye II, on Flickr

Daniel

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Mike Pingleton
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Re: Four Corners Herping

Post by Mike Pingleton » June 27th, 2011, 6:21 pm

Wow, that's a great shot Daniel! Nice way to capture a cool moment.

-Mike

TimCO
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Re: Four Corners Herping

Post by TimCO » June 28th, 2011, 7:36 pm

We had a blast, as always. Pics came out great Mike.

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Cole Grover
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Re: Four Corners Herping

Post by Cole Grover » June 29th, 2011, 6:36 am

Fantastic photos detailing what I'm told (and believe) was an amazing trip. Very cool stuff, Mike. Tim's a machine... the good kind... the herping kind.

-Cole

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Kent VanSooy
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Re: Four Corners Herping

Post by Kent VanSooy » June 29th, 2011, 11:38 am

Great stuff (although that lizard stick is a little savage - the REAL pros use telescoping fiberglass!). The nightsnake looks alot different from those here on the left, and the kings are simply gorgeous. Thanks Mike!

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peterknuteberg
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Re: Four Corners Herping

Post by peterknuteberg » June 29th, 2011, 12:36 pm

Mike, what a beautiful place to herp and camp out! I suspect that as I write this you and Marty will be getting ready to take off for the North woods. That Cali king is a stunner. I call those White Sox kings. Of course you nailed the viridis. Those Collared Lizards also look a lot nicer than those Kansas specimens that we see as they are just emerging from hibernation. I also noticed in the horse picture a sign on a fishing store that says "waterdogs". Are those salamanders? Did you check the waterdogs out or is that something else? Have a great trip. And tell Marty, for me......"way down below the ocean..." P.

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Mike Pingleton
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Re: Four Corners Herping

Post by Mike Pingleton » June 30th, 2011, 8:15 am

Cole Grover wrote:Fantastic photos detailing what I'm told (and believe) was an amazing trip. Very cool stuff, Mike. Tim's a machine... the good kind... the herping kind.

-Cole
thanks Cole - yep, Tim kept us rolling right along!
-Mike

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Mike Pingleton
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Re: Four Corners Herping

Post by Mike Pingleton » June 30th, 2011, 8:17 am

Kent, my Yankmaster 6000 was on back-order, so we used the materials that were at-hand :)
Kent VanSooy wrote:Great stuff (although that lizard stick is a little savage - the REAL pros use telescoping fiberglass!). The nightsnake looks alot different from those here on the left, and the kings are simply gorgeous. Thanks Mike!

johneddington
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Re: Four Corners Herping

Post by johneddington » June 30th, 2011, 8:33 am

Cool shot of the lizard eating the snake...was he able to finish it? :)

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Mike Pingleton
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Re: Four Corners Herping

Post by Mike Pingleton » June 30th, 2011, 11:54 am

Thanks, Peter. We didn't check out the water dogs, but in retrospect we should have.

Yep, the Great Boundary Waters Mink Frog Expedition embarks at 3am July 4th. :thumb:
peterknuteberg wrote:Mike, what a beautiful place to herp and camp out! I suspect that as I write this you and Marty will be getting ready to take off for the North woods. That Cali king is a stunner. I call those White Sox kings. Of course you nailed the viridis. Those Collared Lizards also look a lot nicer than those Kansas specimens that we see as they are just emerging from hibernation. I also noticed in the horse picture a sign on a fishing store that says "waterdogs". Are those salamanders? Did you check the waterdogs out or is that something else? Have a great trip. And tell Marty, for me......"way down below the ocean..." P.

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Mike Pingleton
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Re: Four Corners Herping

Post by Mike Pingleton » June 30th, 2011, 11:57 am

johneddington wrote:Cool shot of the lizard eating the snake...was he able to finish it? :)


The snake lost it when it ducked into some thick brush.

-Mike

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