Mother Nature is the artist. I just collect the memories…

Posts tagged “amphibians

Endangered Toads

The California Black Toad(Bufo exsul) exists only in a tiny chain of natural springs in Eastern California.  They are endemic to this area, and as a founding member of the Eastern Sierra Herpetology Club, it is a privilege to be able to work with the California Department of Fish and Game to protect and maintain the habitat for these animals.  Yesterday, we took a trip up there to check on the toads, and see how the breeding season was coming along…

Adults in amplex amid egg strings

Adult pair in amplex(mating)

We observed 4 or 5 pairs of adult toads in amplex, which means the male has mounted the female and breeding has begun, and we also heard several “release” calls, which is a signal that mating has finished and the male is releasing the female.  We also saw millions developing egg strings, and even a few tadpoles…

Egg Strings. Each tiny, black dot is a developing tadpole. The empty areas are from recently hatched tadpoles...

2 tiny tadpoles, likely only a day or two old...

After visiting the breeding habitat, we followed the spring system to a location known to be home to several toads to see how they were progressing.  We were pleasantly surprised to see a countless number of juvenile toads, likely hatched last year, hopping and swimming around, seemingly everywhere we looked.  To say there were thousands would be an understatement…

Juvie Black Toad

Juvie Black Toad

It was a real treat to see so many breeding adults peacefully using the breeding habitat that we, as a club, helped to restore and protect.  It was also a real treat to see that the implementation of a seasonal road closure, also initiated by the Eastern Sierra Herpetology Club, led to such a successful amount of breeding last season.  We were all smiles and giggles over our short-term successes.  Now we can begin long-term documentation and maintenance and hopefully watch this endangered, endemic population of toads thrive in their only native habitat.

Obviously, while out on these trips, we see other reptilian wildlife and even a few insects.  So here are a couple of “bonus shots” from the day…

No idea...any guesses on species out there?

Great Basin Fence Lizard--Sceloporus occidentalis longipes

Common Sideblotch--Uta stansburiana

Northern Desert Horned Lizard--Phrynosoma platyrhinos platyrhinos

I did find a very pretty and extremely healthy Mojave Patchnose snake(Salvadora hexalepis mojavensis) on the way up to the habitat, but I didn’t get a picture of it.  I got to share it with my friend Rusty who had never seen one before, though, so that’s good enough for me…

Thanks for coming along!


My New Buddy

Someone called up the shop the other day, and asked if I knew anyone that rescued animals.  She said she found “some kind of turtle” walking in her backyard.  She described it to me, and I figured it to be a Red-eared Slider, which is a semi-aquatic turtle, popular in the pet trade, and not at all adapted to life in the hot, dry, high desert of Bishop.  So I told her to bring it in the shop, and I would make some calls.

I didn’t need to make any calls, because as soon as I saw him, I knew I was just gonna have to bring him home with me.  So I’d like to introduce you all to my new buddy, Rocky, relaxing comfortably in his new semi-aquarium…

Say, Buddy...Is that a camera ya' got there?

CHEESE!

This is actually my good side...

We done here? kthxbai!

He really is an entertaining little critter.  I never had a turtle before, believe it or not.  I have a tortoise, and loads of snakes, a couple dogs…I’ve had lizards of many varieties, hamsters, rats, and rabbits…cats, goldfish, and birds…but this is my first turtle.  He’s cool!!

Thanks for taking the time to look!


Eastern Sierra Herpetology Club

The ESHC is well into it’s second year of existence, and today was one of the most exciting days for the membership, and for me, personally, as a founding member.

Some may remember last year at about this time, I posted that the club was going to ask for seasonal closures of a specific road to help protect a breeding population of the incredibly rare California Black Toad (Bufo exuls).  We successful in getting a Memorandum of Understanding with the Department of Fish and Game.  As part of that MOU, the club is obligated to volunteer time and man-hours for maintenance of the habitat in the breeding location.  That’s just fine by us.

We met with a leading DFG biologist that has been working to protect these toads for a long time.  We had a great day installing blockades, cleaning the area, and of course…documenting animals and flowers…

James and Ceale working to install a T-post at one of the stream crossings

The gang, observation a swarm of bees. I stayed far away from that nonsense.

Great Basin Whiptail--Aspidocelis tigris tigris

Barrel Cactus in bloom

Beavertail Cactus blossom

California Black Toad--Bufo exuls

Black Neck Hummingbird eggs

All in all it was a fantastic day!  We were asked by the DFG to participate in a few studies in specific areas, looking for and documenting, various reptiles and amphibians for inclusion in a variety of environmental reports and studies.  Hopefully, you will start seeing some great improvements to the habitat and conservation efforts of the reptiles and amphibians that inhabit the Eastern Sierra!

Thanks for looking!


Road Cruising

Went out for a quick road cruise last night with my friends John and James.  It was a decent night…1 snake and a toad.  But james hadn’t been cruising in far too long so really…anything was fine by us, as long as it was alive…

Western Longnose

Rhinocheilus lecontei

Great Basin Spadefoot Toad

Spea intermontana

The Spadefoot was actually quite the treat.  I have never seen one in the wild before last night, and frankly…they aren’t that common.  The fact that I spotted it hopping along the side of the road was amazing enough.  To actually locate it and get some photos…that was the bonus!

Thanks for looking!


Went for a walk today…

Went for a walk around some high desert springs today with the Eastern Sierra Herpetology Club, looking for amphibians and lizards…primarily the California Black Toad or Bufo exuls.  We found some adult toads, LOADS of tadpoles, and some recently metamorphosed Pacific Tree Frogs.

Cool storm clouds, wildflowers and cactus blooms everywhere, a gorgeous spring afternoon, and lots of wildlife of the scaly and slimy variety.  So sit back, and enjoy the photos!

Spiny lizard enjoying the sun.

Spiny lizard enjoying the sun.

Beaver Tail Cactus

Beaver Tail Cactus

California Black Toad...the reason for the trip...

California Black Toad...the reason for the trip...

Blue Damselfly

Blue Damselfly

Brown Damselfly

Brown Damselfly

Cholla Cactus

Cholla Cactus

More Cholla

More Cholla

Cholla with a Friend

Cholla with a Friend

Cholla Landscape

Cholla Landscape

A flower, a bee, and a beetle.  Couldn't ask for much more...

A flower, a bee, and a beetle. Couldn't ask for much more...

Grey Damselfly

Grey Damselfly

Northern Desert Horned Lizard

Northern Desert Horned Lizard

Yellow Monkey Flower

Yellow Monkey Flower

Spiny Lizard

Spiny Lizard

Gravid Sideblotch...that means preganant...

Gravid Sideblotch...that means preganant...

Mating pair of Sideblotch lizards

Mating pair of Sideblotch lizards

Gravid Spiny Lizard

Gravid Spiny Lizard

Recently metamorphosed Pacific Tree Froglet...

Recently metamorphosed Pacific Tree Froglet...

Small, male Spiny Lizard in "full bloom"...

Small, male Spiny Lizard in "full bloom"...

A bit of natural history…the California Black Toad is an incredibly endangered species due primarily to the size of it’s habitat.  It only occurs in a very small area in Inyo County, California…where I live.  Don’t get me wrong…there are many of them within that habitat range, but still…it is a very small habitat.  Finding them was a real treat.  Getting even one halfway decent shot was not easy…

Thanks for coming along!!


Inyo County Road Cruise

So…a good friend of mine came to the shop where I work yesterday, and as usual…we started talking snakes.  As well…we are both fathers, and the conversation turned towards the kids.  He has 2 boys ages 3 and 6, and I have a daughter, who will be 5 in July.

Anyhow…last night, we both wanted to cruise, and since he had both boys and no vehicle, and I had my daughter and a car…we decided that Zayne and I would pick up the 3 guys, and head out for an evening of Road Cruising. 

The kids had a blast, playing and whoopin’ it up in the back seat, while Steve and I cruised the paved back roads looking for snakes, lizards, and amphibians…and nobody was disappointed:

Mojave Desert Sidewinder--Crotalus cerastes cerastes

Mojave Desert Sidewinder--Crotalus cerastes cerastes

 

Great Basin Gophersnake-Pituophis catenifer deserticola

Great Basin Gophersnake-Pituophis catenifer deserticola

Great Basin Gophersnake-Pituophis catenifer deserticola

Great Basin Gophersnake-Pituophis catenifer deserticola

Zayne and a Great Basin Gophersnake-Pituophis catenifer deserticola

Zayne and a Great Basin Gophersnake-Pituophis catenifer deserticola

Desert Nightsnake--Hyspiglena torquata deserticola

Desert Nightsnake--Hyspiglena torquata deserticola

We also found a “DOR”(dead on road) Desert Nightsnake and a DOR Panamint rattler.  So all in all…for my first “Official” Inyo County Road Cruise…it was quite a successful night.

Thanks for coming along!


Field Herping

Finally…I spent some time walking around a field, and driving on paved back roads, looking for reptiles and amphibians…a favorite hobby and past time of mine.  Enjoy!

Western Fence Lizard

Western Fence Lizard

Not sure...Sagebrush?  Fence?  Didn't get a good enough look at it...

Not sure...Sagebrush? Fence? Didn't get a good enough look at it...

Cool Spider

Cool Spider

Pacific Tree Frog

Pacific Tree Frog

Pacific Tree Frog

Pacific Tree Frog

Northern Pacific Rattlesnake

Northern Pacific Rattlesnake

Northern Pacific Rattler cuddled into some tall grass

Northern Pacific Rattler cuddled into some tall grass

That’s it for the Field Herping.  Thanks for looking!


Walk in the Desert

Went for a nice long afternoon stroll through the desert today.  Saw loads of lizards and landscapes.  Here’s a few selected shots from the day…

f/9; 1/320; ISO 100

f/9; 1/320; ISO 100

f/5.6; 1/640; ISO 100

f/5.6; 1/640; ISO 100

f/5.6; 1/100; ISO 100

f/5.6; 1/100; ISO 100

f/5.6; 1/800; ISO 100

f/5.6; 1/800; ISO 100

f/5.6; 1/250; ISO 200

f/5.6; 1/250; ISO 200

f/5.6; 1/50; ISO 100

f/5.6; 1/50; ISO 100

f/9; 1/100; ISO 100

f/9; 1/100; ISO 100

f/5.6; 1/1000; ISO 200

f/5.6; 1/1000; ISO 200

f/9; 1/60; ISO 100

f/9; 1/60; ISO 100

As always, thanks very much for taking the time to look.