2018 EOY Recap

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achillesbeast
Posts: 41
Joined: July 15th, 2012, 8:52 am

2018 EOY Recap

Post by achillesbeast » December 28th, 2018, 8:46 am

This year, I enjoyed many wonderful sights and experiences. The weather was less cooperative than what seemed normal, nevertheless many great snakes made appearances. My main targets, as usual, were Lampropeltis (specifically, gray-banded kingsnakes and milk snakes), and vipers (Crotalus and Vipera).

I began seriously herping around late February and began finding a few fossorial snakes and lizards. I was not as successful flipping herps this year as I was in 2017 (mostly because of the drier spring conditions), but I did manage to find a few neat skinks and snakes in several parts of west Texas.

ImageLined Snake by Frank Portillo, on Flickr

ImageMany-lined Skink by Frank Portillo, on Flickr

ImageShort-lined Skink by Frank Portillo, on Flickr

ImageRing-necked Snake by Frank Portillo, on Flickr

ImageCollared Lizard by Frank Portillo, on Flickr

ImageWestern Coachwhip by Frank Portillo, on Flickr

ImageRing-Necked Snake by Frank Portillo, on Flickr

ImageLittle Brown Skink by Frank Portillo, on Flickr

ImageDesert Massasauga by Frank Portillo, on Flickr

ImageNew Mexico Milksnake by Frank Portillo, on Flickr

At the end of April/beginning of May, my focus switched from massasaugas and milk snakes to gray-banded kingsnakes. The first two weekends of hunting cuts were largely unproductive, but at the beginning of May, I began seeing more movement. During the first weekend of May, I chose to hunt one of my favorite rock cuts in the eastern part of west Texas. A large thunderstorm approached early in the night, making me anticipate orange and gray. After several passes of the rock cut, I saw the familiar sight of an alterna crawling along the rock face. It was a beautiful animal, to say the least. I saw a few other common snakes that weekend.

ImageWestern Coachwhip by Frank Portillo, on Flickr

In situ
ImageGray-banded Kingsnake (In situ) by Frank Portillo, on Flickr

ImageGray-banded Kingsnake by Frank Portillo, on Flickr

ImageTexas Night Snake by Frank Portillo, on Flickr

Immediately following the weekend with an alterna, I departed for Croatia to visit my wife. The early part of the trip was dedicated to personal matters, but I did get some herping in when possible. While in Croatia, my main targets are always Vipera, and I was fortunate to find a large and beautiful male nose-horned viper basking during the morning. A few other nice animals were seen during my stay in Europe.

ImageEuropean Frog by Frank Portillo, on Flickr

ImageSand Lizard by Frank Portillo, on Flickr

ImageGrass Snake by Frank Portillo, on Flickr

ImageEuropean Green Lizard by Frank Portillo, on Flickr

ImageGrass Snake by Frank Portillo, on Flickr

ImageDice Snake by Frank Portillo, on Flickr

ImageNose-horned Viper by Frank Portillo, on Flickr

ImageNose-horned Viper by Frank Portillo, on Flickr

Once I returned from Europe back to the US, my normal west Texas herping excursions resumed. During June, I was not able to find any live Lampropeltis (except for an alterna within a rock crevice that would never surface), but I did find plenty of other beautiful animals. A few friends joined in during these weekend adventures, which were (for the most part) successful outings.

ImageTrans-Pecos Rat Snake by Frank Portillo, on Flickr

ImageLong-Nosed Snake by Frank Portillo, on Flickr

ImageTrans-Pecos Rat Snake by Frank Portillo, on Flickr

ImageStriped Whipsnake by Frank Portillo, on Flickr

ImageWestern Coachwhip by Frank Portillo, on Flickr

ImageMottled Rock Rattlesnake by Frank Portillo, on Flickr

ImageMottled Rock Rattlesnake by Frank Portillo, on Flickr

ImageMottled Rock Rattlesnake by Frank Portillo, on Flickr

ImageTexas Horned Lizard by Frank Portillo, on Flickr

ImageMottled Rock Rattlesnake by Frank Portillo, on Flickr

ImageDesert Box Turtle by Frank Portillo, on Flickr

ImageOrnate Black-tailed Rattlesnake by Frank Portillo, on Flickr

ImagePrairie Rattlesnake by Frank Portillo, on Flickr

ImageDesert Massasauga by Frank Portillo, on Flickr

ImageRing-necked Snake by Frank Portillo, on Flickr

July proved to be a mixed bag as far as weather conditions and herping success. The first part of July was plentiful with storms and not coincidentally, snake activity. I was able to find two gray-banded kingsnakes (both on rainy days) and observe a Trans-Pecos copperhead high up on a tree. The latter part of July was very hot and rather dry, which led to a massive decline in snake movement. I was accompanied by a good friend, unfortunately during the latter part of July. Nevertheless, outings (high in snake numbers or not) were enjoyable (much more than simply staying at home).

ImageGray-Banded Kingsnake by Frank Portillo, on Flickr

ImageGray-Banded Kingsnake by Frank Portillo, on Flickr

ImageGray-Banded Kingsnake by Frank Portillo, on Flickr

ImageWood's Jewel Scarab by Frank Portillo, on Flickr

ImageGlorious Green Scarab by Frank Portillo, on Flickr

ImageBaird's Rat Snake by Frank Portillo, on Flickr

ImageTrans-Pecos Copperhead by Frank Portillo, on Flickr

ImageTrans-Pecos Copperhead by Frank Portillo, on Flickr

ImageWestern Diamondback Rattlesnake by Frank Portillo, on Flickr

ImagePrarie Rattlesnake by Frank Portillo, on Flickr

ImageTexas Night Snake by Frank Portillo, on Flickr

August was a fantastic herping month, heavy with storms and a wonderful array of herp species. During August, rather than herp every single weekend as I normally do, I condensed all my herping activity into a 10-day trip. I still herped near home after the 10-day trip, but longer-distance road trips were left exclusively for the week-long road trip. The trip began on a rainy/cool evening in the Davis Mountains. It was raining hard throughout the mountain range it seemed. Luckily, I was able to locate a relatively dry-road cut. In that area, the rain was falling, but reduced to a steady drizzle, unlike everywhere else in the Davis Mountains. It didn't take long to start finding snakes as rock rattlers and black-tailed rattlesnakes made appearances early into my night. Around 10:30pm, I spotted a dark serpentine figure about 20-25 feet up the rock cut. Luckily, that stretch of cut was not very vertical so it was easy to climb. The snake turned out to be my first gray-banded kingsnake of the long road trip. An exceptional way to begin. During the next few days, I was able to find a few more snakes, including two more gray-banded kingsnakes, the third alterna of which was on my final night; an epic way to end the road trip.

ImageMojave Rattlesnake by Frank Portillo, on Flickr

ImageOrnate Black-tailed Rattlesnake by Frank Portillo, on Flickr

ImageMottled Rock Rattlesnake by Frank Portillo, on Flickr

ImageGray-Banded Kingsnake by Frank Portillo, on Flickr

ImageGray-Banded Kingsnake by Frank Portillo, on Flickr

ImageOrnate Black-Tailed Rattlesnake by Frank Portillo, on Flickr

ImageGray-Banded Kingsnake by Frank Portillo, on Flickr

ImageGray-Banded Kingsnake by Frank Portillo, on Flickr

ImageTrans-Pecos Rat Snake by Frank Portillo, on Flickr

ImageMottled Rock Rattlesnake by Frank Portillo, on Flickr

ImageGray-Banded Kingsnake by Frank Portillo, on Flickr

ImageGray-Banded Kingsnake by Frank Portillo, on Flickr

September and October were decent months for herping, but I was not able to get out for many consecutive days because of work. My wife joined in on a few trips, one of which was loaded with snake activity. My hunts during these two months, were mixed with west Texas and New Mexico outings.

ImagePrairie Rattlesnake by Frank Portillo, on Flickr

ImageWestern Diamondback Rattlesnake by Frank Portillo, on Flickr

ImageHubbard's Small Silkmoth by Frank Portillo, on Flickr

ImageDesert Kingsnake by Frank Portillo, on Flickr

ImageBlack-Necked Garter Snake by Frank Portillo, on Flickr

ImageWestern Hognose Snake by Frank Portillo, on Flickr

ImageWestern Hognose Snake by Frank Portillo, on Flickr

ImageTexas Horned Lizard by Frank Portillo, on Flickr

ImageWestern Coachwhip by Frank Portillo, on Flickr

ImageTexas Horned Lizard by Frank Portillo, on Flickr

ImagePrairie Rattlesnake by Frank Portillo, on Flickr

ImageDesert Kingsnake by Frank Portillo, on Flickr

ImageSacramento Mountains Salamander by Frank Portillo, on Flickr

ImageGreater Short-Horned Lizard by Frank Portillo, on Flickr

ImageGreater Short-horned Lizard by Frank Portillo, on Flickr

ImageWestern Hognose by Frank Portillo, on Flickr

ImageWestern Hognose by Frank Portillo, on Flickr

ImageMojave Rattlesnake by Frank Portillo, on Flickr

ImageMojave Rattlesnake by Frank Portillo, on Flickr

In summary, 2018 was a great year of herping and am happy to have met a few new people and herped with known friends. Despite my sincerest efforts of finding a cool and rare Lampropeltis (milk snake or alterna) while herping with friends and family, I was unsuccessful. All of the rare Lampros were found while I was alone (actually with my dogs). Eventually, I'm sure it will happen. Finding rare and target species is a fantastic experience to share with others (and a good way to pass the herping bug to those unfamiliar with our peculiar hobby).

Below, a few additional photos of places I was fortunate to see, and of my dogs, who are my constant companions on every herping trip. I hope you enjoyed the post!


Upward and onward.

ImageSerenity by Frank Portillo, on Flickr

ImageKalnik by Frank Portillo, on Flickr

ImagePecos River by Frank Portillo, on Flickr

ImageWest Texas Storm by Frank Portillo, on Flickr

ImageBrady and Anubis by Frank Portillo, on Flickr

ImageMadera Starry Night by Frank Portillo, on Flickr

ImageAt the Creek by Frank Portillo, on Flickr

ImageFM 2886 by Frank Portillo, on Flickr

ImageSummer Monsoon by Frank Portillo, on Flickr

ImageLimpia Canyon by Frank Portillo, on Flickr

ImageThe Road Ahead by Frank Portillo, on Flickr

ImageEl Paso Sunset by Frank Portillo, on Flickr

ImageWild West by Frank Portillo, on Flickr

ImageThe Last Surge by Frank Portillo, on Flickr

ImageFall in the Mountains by Frank Portillo, on Flickr

ImageWhite Sands National Monument by Frank Portillo, on Flickr

ImageDogs at White Sands by Frank Portillo, on Flickr

ImageGallery Forest by Frank Portillo, on Flickr

User avatar
csalemi731
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Location: New York

Re: 2018 EOY Recap

Post by csalemi731 » December 28th, 2018, 9:22 am

amazing photos! love the skies in the background and the gray bands

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achillesbeast
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Re: 2018 EOY Recap

Post by achillesbeast » December 28th, 2018, 9:30 am

csalemi731 wrote:amazing photos! love the skies in the background and the gray bands
Thank you, I appreciate it.

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Fieldherper
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Re: 2018 EOY Recap

Post by Fieldherper » December 28th, 2018, 11:27 am

Too much awesomeness. Sensory overload.

FH

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achillesbeast
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Joined: July 15th, 2012, 8:52 am

Re: 2018 EOY Recap

Post by achillesbeast » December 28th, 2018, 11:54 am

Fieldherper wrote:Too much awesomeness. Sensory overload.

FH
Thank you!

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Rancorrye
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Re: 2018 EOY Recap

Post by Rancorrye » December 29th, 2018, 1:28 am

Really great post, Frank. I always look forward to your posts. Some of the best photos out there in my opinion. I’m hoping to make a trip out to West Texas this coming year. Maybe we’ll run into each other haha.

Rye

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achillesbeast
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Re: 2018 EOY Recap

Post by achillesbeast » December 29th, 2018, 9:15 am

Rancorrye wrote:Really great post, Frank. I always look forward to your posts. Some of the best photos out there in my opinion. I’m hoping to make a trip out to West Texas this coming year. Maybe we’ll run into each other haha.

Rye
Thanks, Rye. I'm glad you enjoyed my post and photos. Hopefully, you have a summary as well as I am a fan of your work.

If you do come to west Texas next year and want to meet up, let me know.

Frank

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krismunk
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Location: Copenhagen, Denmark

Re: 2018 EOY Recap

Post by krismunk » December 30th, 2018, 7:30 am

Amazing as always.

Thanks for taking the time to put it together again this year, Frank.

...really hope to make it bakc to west TX some time...

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achillesbeast
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Re: 2018 EOY Recap

Post by achillesbeast » January 1st, 2019, 6:29 pm

krismunk wrote:Amazing as always.

Thanks for taking the time to put it together again this year, Frank.

...really hope to make it bakc to west TX some time...
Thank you!

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Porter
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Joined: March 19th, 2011, 6:43 pm

Re: 2018 EOY Recap

Post by Porter » January 6th, 2019, 1:28 am

Awesome post and beautiful photography :thumb: I like the up close profile shots the most!

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Soopaman
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Location: Houston, Texas

Re: 2018 EOY Recap

Post by Soopaman » January 6th, 2019, 12:16 pm

Fantastic photos, Frank. You've got some real gems in here. I can't help but be envious of all the time you get to spend out in my favorite part of the state!

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frodaman
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Re: 2018 EOY Recap

Post by frodaman » January 8th, 2019, 7:38 pm

I have always enjoyed your photos! Been following you for as long as I can remember. You really raise the bar high with your photography!

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achillesbeast
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Re: 2018 EOY Recap

Post by achillesbeast » January 12th, 2019, 11:31 am

Porter wrote:Awesome post and beautiful photography :thumb: I like the up close profile shots the most!
: Thank you! I'm glad you enjoyed the photos.

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achillesbeast
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Joined: July 15th, 2012, 8:52 am

Re: 2018 EOY Recap

Post by achillesbeast » January 12th, 2019, 11:32 am

Soopaman wrote:Fantastic photos, Frank. You've got some real gems in here. I can't help but be envious of all the time you get to spend out in my favorite part of the state!
: Thanks man!

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achillesbeast
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Re: 2018 EOY Recap

Post by achillesbeast » January 12th, 2019, 11:32 am

frodaman wrote:I have always enjoyed your photos! Been following you for as long as I can remember. You really raise the bar high with your photography!
: Thank you! I really appreciate it.

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nightdriver
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Re: 2018 EOY Recap

Post by nightdriver » January 13th, 2019, 11:27 am

Wow! You had a pretty good year. My year pretty much sucked :(

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John Martin
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Re: 2018 EOY Recap

Post by John Martin » January 26th, 2019, 4:09 pm

OMG, that alterna with the thin red crossbands and some triple alternates is a stunner! I also love your nighttime shots with the sky and stars in the background. I really miss my annual 2 week West Texas trips back in the '70s/'80s. Awesome photography Frank, thanks for the trip.

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achillesbeast
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Re: 2018 EOY Recap

Post by achillesbeast » February 2nd, 2019, 7:39 am

nightdriver wrote:
January 13th, 2019, 11:27 am
Wow! You had a pretty good year. My year pretty much sucked :(
Thank you

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achillesbeast
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Re: 2018 EOY Recap

Post by achillesbeast » February 2nd, 2019, 7:40 am

John Martin wrote:
January 26th, 2019, 4:09 pm
OMG, that alterna with the thin red crossbands and some triple alternates is a stunner! I also love your nighttime shots with the sky and stars in the background. I really miss my annual 2 week West Texas trips back in the '70s/'80s. Awesome photography Frank, thanks for the trip.
Thanks a bunch! West Texas will always be special to me. I'm glad you enjoyed the post.

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