Buenos Howdy Herpers,The real story is the Gila Monsters. To date, I have seen 18 different Gilas thus far this year. To put that in perspective, last year was also a very good year, and I only racked up 16. I have yet to do a head count on the atrox, but I expect that I'm also kicking a$ with these.
Several of you have checked in to ask the "what up" of the reports lately. Truth be told, I've been so overwhelmed with what we're finding that I can't begin to report it all. It has been a glorious winter/spring.
The best day of the year thus far was 3 March. Jeff Smith and I started the day out with plans to go to sweet spots, but we got distracted, and found even better sweet spots. When the day was over, we observed 6 Gila Monsters, 5 of which were new.
I have NEVER seen five new Gila Monsters in day! 3 is the best I've done, albeit several times. We also observed 17 atrox, a lyresnake, two chuckwallas, a tortoise and a glossy snake that Jeff flipped a piece of tin sheet to find.
Meanwhile, back at the ranch, in 2001 The Peach and I began the Schuett/Repp Suizo Mountain study with a den we call Atrox Den #1 (AD1). Through the years, the den died out--which I'm seeing is more than a relic of hands-on herping. Dens that I've never touched have died out before my eyes, only to spring back to life a couple years later.
I think it's all a matter of having a female in the hole. Build a den with a girl in it, and the boys will come (literally and figuratively).
To make a long story short, AD1 is coming back.
For now, we'll throw a few pics out, and put together another report in a week or so.
Pic 1: Spectacular in its remoteness, Gila Knob is a new place that Jeff, Melissa Amarello and I are watching.
Pic 2: The glossy snake that Jeff found on 3 March Photo by Jeff Smith
Pic 3: A new atrox den containing five atrox was found on 3 March. Three of the five can be seen in this photo. Unbeknownst to me at the time, there were two MONSTER tortoises in the hole behind these guys.
Pic 4: The same den 3 days later. Photo by Jeff Smith
Pic 5: A young atrox viewed at a den site on 3 March. It is rare to see youngsters occupying a denning situation.
Pic 6: A rerun. In the crevice just downslope from pic 5, a Gila and another young atrox were observed haniging out together. Jeff found both snakes together on his 6 March visit
Pic 7: The den comes back! Picture of a male atrox basking at AD1, 22 March 2010.
Pic 8: Obviously the same male viewed as last picture, 13 March 2011. On 12 March, John Murphy and I saw three males out here--the first time I've seen multiple snakes here since 2006. Welcome back AD1!
Pic 9: Another den to suddenly spring back to life on our little hill is AD8. On 2 April, Dale Denardo and I, along with others, found five atrox. The next day, Natalie Rowe, Gordon Campbell and I found this pair hooked up there.
With the next report, we'll show some more of these Gilas I'm talking about, as well as some drop dead gorgeous tortoise images.
This is not all that is fit to spit, but it will have to do for now.
Best to all, roger