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Thread: Herpetology Field Trip!

  1. #1
    hcarlton's Avatar
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    Herpetology Field Trip!

    Went on a 4 day trip over Labor Day weekend to the Comanche National Grasslands for herpetology class, and basically spent a whole weekend looking for reptiles. Wasn't the only thing we found, of course, but more on that in a moment. First, the start of the trip:

    Day 1
    A herd of pronghorn on the trip down
    Pronghorns by Hawken Carlton, on Flickr
    Stopped at a prairie dog town on the way, spotted burrowing owls, cottontails, and spiders. A classmate also caught this
    Holbrookia maculata by Hawken Carlton, on Flickr
    In a marsh outside La Junta
    White faced ibis by Hawken Carlton, on Flickr
    First visitor at the campsite..
    Tarantula Hawk Wasp by Hawken Carlton, on Flickr
    Tarantula Hawk Wasp by Hawken Carlton, on Flickr
    For scale, that's a 1 liter bottle. The wasp was at least 3 inches long
    Tarantula Hawk Wasp by Hawken Carlton, on Flickr
    First live snake of the trip
    Crotalus viridis viridis by Hawken Carlton, on Flickr
    And, a first for me, and the first live specimen the professor had ever encountered in CO
    Rhinocheilus lecontei by Hawken Carlton, on Flickr
    Second day, an odd flower in camp
    Campsite flower by Hawken Carlton, on Flickr
    An odd beetle on the bluff
    Beetle by Hawken Carlton, on Flickr
    Pincushion cactus by Hawken Carlton, on Flickr
    Found a scorpion under the rocks
    Scorpion by Hawken Carlton, on Flickr
    Another first for me, caught him on a ledge
    Masticophis flagellum by Hawken Carlton, on Flickr
    Masticophis flagellum by Hawken Carlton, on Flickr
    Masticophis flagellum by Hawken Carlton, on Flickr
    In the process of catching the coachwhip, saw this guy ambling across the plain
    Porcupine by Hawken Carlton, on Flickr
    Not far from where the coachwhip was (10 feet away or so), also found this guy
    Crotalus viridis viridis by Hawken Carlton, on Flickr
    Crotalus viridis viridis by Hawken Carlton, on Flickr
    Orb spider by Hawken Carlton, on Flickr
    Prairie lizard in Vogel Canyon
    Sceloperus undulatus by Hawken Carlton, on Flickr
    Rock formation
    Vogel Canyon rock formation by Hawken Carlton, on Flickr
    Supposedly, this was put as a marker for the petroglyphs, but not sure what it was supposed to mean..
    Petroglyph marker by Hawken Carlton, on Flickr
    There are several spots where water stands deep enough to last all summer, and these live in the pools
    Lithobates blairi by Hawken Carlton, on Flickr
    Thamnophis radix by Hawken Carlton, on Flickr
    Bullfrogs are invasive, so these guys were used for target practice
    Lithobates catesbeianus by Hawken Carlton, on Flickr
    Cool flower with variegated bracts
    Unknown flower by Hawken Carlton, on Flickr
    Saw this guy hunting frogs
    Thamnophis elegans vagrans by Hawken Carlton, on Flickr
    An hour later, we spookd the frogs trying to catch the snake, and this resulted:
    Thamnophis elegans vagrans by Hawken Carlton, on Flickr
    Interestingly, even after we caught him the snake continued to finish his meal. Disturbingly, after he was done, and even after he'd disappeared under the water again, you could still hear the frog's distressed chirping inside

    Thamnophis radix by Hawken Carlton, on Flickr
    Another non-reptilian creepy crawly. These guys were everywhere, dozens on the roads at night and at least two different specimens were spotted in camp. This was the first
    Tarantula #1 by Hawken Carlton, on Flickr
    Tarantula #1 by Hawken Carlton, on Flickr
    Tarantula #1 by Hawken Carlton, on Flickr
    This was one seen while road riding, one of, again, dozens. They had body lengths of at least 2, maybe 3-4"
    Tarantula #2 by Hawken Carlton, on Flickr

    Third day
    Orb spider by Hawken Carlton, on Flickr
    Ichneumon wasp by Hawken Carlton, on Flickr
    Sadly, nobody was home anymore...
    Bx turtle shell by Hawken Carlton, on Flickr
    Another new species for me
    Diadophis punctatus arnyi by Hawken Carlton, on Flickr
    Sceloperus undulatus by Hawken Carlton, on Flickr
    A baby caught in the Picture Canyon picnic area
    Sceloperus undulatus by Hawken Carlton, on Flickr
    New species #4. While we have one in the college reptile room, this wild specimen was far more beautiful
    Hypsiglena torquata by Hawken Carlton, on Flickr
    Hypsiglena torquata by Hawken Carlton, on Flickr
    Not 10 minutes later, new species #5 was found .He was very docile and curious when we brought him into the van
    Arizona elegans by Hawken Carlton, on Flickr

    Day 4, first find was a large prairie lizard
    Sceloperus undulatus by Hawken Carlton, on Flickr
    Managed to catch him and get pics of the ventral colors
    Sceloperus undulatus by Hawken Carlton, on Flickr
    Sceloperus undulatus by Hawken Carlton, on Flickr
    And the last find of the trip, under a rock
    Thamnophis radix by Hawken Carlton, on Flickr
    One of the non-animal residents of the grasslands
    Cholla cactus by Hawken Carlton, on Flickr
    Finally, a view of Vogel Canyon
    Vogel Canyon by Hawken Carlton, on Flickr
    Everything has a reason, whether big or small. Never underestimate the power of what is or is not.
    There is far more to everything than meets the eye.
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  2. #2
    spdskr's Avatar
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    Thanks for sharing the pictures! Looks like you had a fantastic trip. Certainly more herps and arachnids to see there, than here in NE Colorado.

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    Hawken those are amazing...

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    BS Bulldozer SubRosa's Avatar
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    Nice pics, looks like you had a great time. Interesting about the Coachwhip. Wild individuals I've seen have never been so obliging.
    Judge not lest ye be judged creates a cesspool. Judge others and prepare to be judged by them.
    Just know when to keep the verdict to yourself.

  5. #5
    hcarlton's Avatar
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    spdskr: I too live in NE CO, so I know well the relative paucity of reptiles here. Even if I end up not moving far from here later in life, I will at least move to the southern end of the state just for the higher level of reptiles.
    aerogrower: Thanks!
    SubRosa: It was quite surprising. We attribute the ease of capture and docile temper to the fact that he probably wasn't done warming up, but even then we all expected him to be nippy. Even the one in the college reptile room, while not a notorious biter, is fast and always ready to run; this one after a few minutes was content to sit and wait.
    Everything has a reason, whether big or small. Never underestimate the power of what is or is not.
    There is far more to everything than meets the eye.
    Growlist

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    This is so great! That must have been a great weekend im super jealous! Yall must of had so much fun!! Yr pictures are amazing its so fun to see what yall found i enjoyed yr photis hope to see more of yr future trips i really like the look of the Hypsiglena torquata snake very subtly beautiful and the lizards blue under belly is very vivid and unexpected thanks for sharing

  7. #7
    hcarlton's Avatar
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    Actually the bright underbelly colors are a rather common thing in lizards. They act either as signals to other members of the species for mate selection or rival deterrent, or as aposematic coloration for defense.
    Everything has a reason, whether big or small. Never underestimate the power of what is or is not.
    There is far more to everything than meets the eye.
    Growlist

  8. #8
    NECPS Editor Radagast's Avatar
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    College reptile room!? I wish my college had a reptile room. Must be neat to wander around the room enjoying the biodiversity.

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