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

Posts tagged “lizards

Wild Iris

Well, flowers are starting to bloom, and spring is trying to be here, but for some reason, this cold wind just doesn’t seem to want to release its grip on the valley.  So rather than battle the wind and shoot fast shutter speeds, or wait for the wind (and the Iris) to die, I decided to just go with it…

Wild Iris

 There was a couple of other photographers out shooting, but the color never popped, and the wind was incessant.    Rather than battle the conditions, I went with it, stopped down to f/22, and even dropped a 3stop ND filter on to slow it down and really exaggerate the blur.  I think it came out fairly neat!

The Victoria and Wild Rose are blooming in the front yard, too…

Victoria

 

Wild Rose

And this is the closest I have ever gotten to a good shot of a Whiptail lizard…

Great Basin Whiptail--Aspidocelis tigris tigris

 One of these days, spring will actually get here and stay for a little while…

Thanks for looking!


Walking Around Out Back

Went for a walk through the desert out behind the house this afternoon.  No snakes, but bunches of lizards and birds…

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Walk in the Desert

Well…I went in to town today to try and find some local characters to interview and photograph.  I didn’t find the folks I was looking for, but I ran into a good friend of mine, and we decided to go for a quick walk in the desert to see what was moving.  So we hopped in my car, head to the Volcanic Tablelands, and started hunting around the rocks…

Western Sagebrush Lizard

 

Barred Spiny Lizard

 
 

Great Basin Collared Lizard

 

Great Basin Collared Lizard

Not a bad day for a quick trip.  The sun was out, the wind was relatively calm, and there were some really nice lizards that decided to come out and play.  It does a body good!

Thanks for coming along!


Backyard Bird Watching

Backyard bird watching.  It’s almost cliché.  People are hustlin’ and bustlin’ around this great big world of ours, and not leaving anytime to enjoy the simple pleasures of life.  Money is tight, job security is low, taxes and inflation continue growing…  It seems the only thing we have any ability to control anymore is how we respond to the rapidly changing stimuli.

That’s why I LOVE my backyard.  Let me explain…  I live in the High Desert.  My house is situated at about 5,000′, right on the feet of the eastern slope of the Sierra Nevada Mountains in eastern California.  I can look out my living room window and I have an unobstructed view for close to 10 miles, all the way up the western slope of the White Mountain peaks, which is the western most border of Nevada.  Now…there is a major highway running through there, and a multitude of high-power, high-tension lines zig-zagging back and forth.  Views are spectacular, but these ugly lines are very destructive to landscape compositions.  But the wildlife is incredible…

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It’s amazing how curative a backyard like mine can be.  I’m gonna tell you guys a little secret…I lost my job last week.  Yea, right in the middle of my visit with my son, I found out that I was no longer employed.  But it’s OK.  I had an incredible week visiting with my son, and my emotional well-being has never been more positive.  Even being unemployed and quickly running out of money, I can’t help but smile.  I walk out back, and it just happens.  Something will come through.  I have a lot of experience in a lot of fields.  I’ve done everything from flippin’ burgers and pouring drinks to antique restorations and hotel management.  I also found out about some pretty cool job openings in my area, including backcountry habitat recovery and wildlife rehabilitation, and not only would I LOVE to have either of those jobs…I’m fairly well qualified for both.  So something will come through.  Just gotta ride this wave for a few days…

Thanks for taking the time to stop and look!


The Buttermilks and Mono Lake

The last few days have been busy.  Zayne has been with her mother, so Kevin and I spent a bunch of time wandering around the desert, taking photos, looking for snakes and lizards, and just hanging out.  This really has been one of the most incredible weeks of my life.  We are already planning for him to come visit in August, sometime around my birthday, at least for a day or two.  It’s hard to believe I only met him 7 days ago, and here I sit, missing him, only 9 hours after dropping him at the airport.  I guess that’s life.  Anyhow…on with the photos..

Turkey Vulture

 There was a ton of Turkey Vultures flying around.  This one got fairly brave and flew right down near us, searching the boulders for food.  We also found a bunch of lizards and even a couple Panamints…
 
 

Panamint Rattler–Crotalus stephensi
Panamint Rattler–Crotalus stephensi

It was quite a lovely day…

Kevin trying to get the shot
Little Peak
Buttermilk Ridgeline

Kevin’s flight back home was this afternoon, so we left the house around 5am, and headed up to Mono Lake, to get some early morning shots before he had to go.  It was another spectacular day…

Mono Lake Tufa

Looking for a shot
South Tufa Portrait

This has been one of the most incredible weeks of my life.  I’m really glad I took a chance and reached out to my son.  I’m even more thrilled that he responded positively.  I think we have a good thing to build on here…

Thanks for taking the time to look!


What a Day!

So…I picked my son up at the airport on Sunday.  I haven’t seen him since he was 2 years old, and he has no conscious memory of me at all.  He’s a 21-year-old Army combat veteran, now.  We had a 4 hour drive from the airport to the house, and we spent 99% of it talking, laughing, and getting to know each other.  It really surprises me how much we have in common, both in terms of things we enjoy, and our personalities…the way we think.  We share similar opinions on many subjects, and enjoy many of the same hobbies and activities. 

It’s really been a nice couple of days.  We went for a walk around the Buttermilk area, looking for snake and lizards, and taking pictures yesterday afternoon…

My son, Kevin, looking for snakes and lizards, camera 'round his neck

 We did manage to find a few lizards, but no snakes…

Great Basin Fence Lizard--Sceloporus occidentalis longipes

And a B&W panorama of some of my favorite mountains…

2 shot pano--Paiute Crag to Mt. Humphries

 Last night, Kevin and I went road cruising for snakes for a little bit.  We didn’t see any snakes, but we did find a Great Basin Spadefoot toad, which is always a welcome and rare treat in Inyo County…

Great Basin Spadefoot--Spea intermontana

It’s been fantastic so far!  We are going to pick up Zayne either tonight or tomorrow.  These two haven’t met, yet, so I’m pretty excited to get them both together…

Thanks for looking!


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!


More from The Buttermilks

Here’s a few more shots from my quick venture in the Buttermilks the other day…

Summit of Mt. Tom

Common Sideblotch

Unexpected Sighting

Thanks for taking the time to look!