Thursday, January 1, 2009

Herping on New Year's

I love the winters in southern California. After being in Provo and walking to school in snow and freezing wind, taking a trip to California in late December has been a nice change. The temperature has been in the low 70s, so Devin and I took advantage of the beautiful weather to get in some "winter" herping. The few short days exploring the boulder-strewn hillsides of Moreno Valley would prove to be just as successful as any warm spring or summer day.

Originally, my goal was to find one of two lizards that has continually eluded me: either the granite night lizard or the California legless lizard. It seems as though these tricky reptiles have once again given me the slip. Although I'll have to await a future day to find them, I did manage to get some great finds in to boost my spirits and fill my herping cantine until spring and summer roll around.

One morning Devin and I drove to the Lake Perris area and around Moreno Valley to hike the foothills and explore the granite crevices for granite night lizards. No such luck this time. Our efforts, however, would yield other herps like side-blotched lizards, western fence lizards, granite spiny lizards, western skinks, California slender salamanders, and Pacific treefrogs. In addition, we'd see centipedes, millipedes, a small tarantula, and a scorpion. Our best find of the day was a lyre snake found under a slab of granite rock. I had never found a lyre snake before, so seeing this secretive, mildly venemous night dweller was a herp I was proud to check off the list.

California slender salamander
Western skinkSide-blotched lizard
Lyre snake
The next day, Devin and I returned to the hills to release the lyre snake and do some additional herping. Lo and behold, not long after the release we spotted a large red-diamond rattlesnake curled beneath a bush against a large boulder. The snake was about 30 inches or more, but about 5 feet from the first snake, we found another red-diamond that was even larger.

Our adrenaline was pumping after finding two large rattlesnakes, so we kept working our way around the side of the hill, trying to stay on the sunny slopes. The sun was dipping low in the sky and our shadows were getting long. We'd only herp for a few more minutes before heading back. I jumped onto a boulder, looked down off the back side, and stretched out below me on the ground was a beautiful rosy boa.
I'd say it turned out to be a pretty decent herp trip, considering the fact that we weren't out but a couple hours each day. I was able to check herps off my holiday wish list that I had not seen before, get some good photos, and rejuvinate my herping spirit that will have to remain in hibernation once I return to the wintry wonderland of central Utah.


Drake Family said...

My kids are currently gathered 'round the computer looking at your pics. of the snakes. I would have been gone with the tarantula, not to mention the rattlesnakes and "mildly poisonious" snake. Hard to believe we are related! LOL Glad to know you had a fun time and were able to get in some herping. Enjoy the warm weather while you can!
P.S. I like your shirt! :)

mama K said...

OMG!! I hope and pray that someday you don't die from herping!! You got some great photos of your herps, I must admit, and I know you loved it! dude, give up the white t-shirts. You look great in that shirt. I agree with Allie. And once again, your descriptions and writing..what can I say? You are a word artist!

da Bergs said...

I have to say that was one mean rattlesnake and I am GLAD to have it OUT of my garage!

Ya'll had several great finds!

Jeff said...

Shaila, you're a good sport. I don't know if my mom would've let me have a big rattlesnake in the garage.

Anonymous said...

oh my gosh! Sorry, I haven't been on the blog in so long, so I just barely saw this post. I don't think you will ever look back on your life and wish you had done more exciting things with your time! On one hand I would never want to encounter snakes and spiders, but a small part of me is envious of your adventures!!

Anonymous said...

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