Showing posts with label Suzio Report. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Suzio Report. Show all posts

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Suzio Report March 18

Howdy Herpers, 
Sunday, March 18 brought upon us the weather conditions that are ideal for herping: 8 degrees C, rain and sleet, and howling winds. John Slone and Marty Feldner joined me for the arctic blast, and we had a blast in the process. There were others who were supposed to join us, but at the first sign of bad weather, they starting mewing like baby bunnies going down a Gila Monsters gullet. "We're AFRAID, Roger. We might get all wet. Meow........."  So, three manly men arrived in the teeth of a hail storm, and the first stop was a check on AD1. And from here, we can let the images tell the story. 

Image 1: The scene at the lower apron of AD1. Note how the globe mallow this snake is under is dripping  wet.

Pic 2: Mallow moved aside. Note the head on this adult male atrox. Rain harvesting posture. 
Pic 3: The first female atrox that I've seen at AD1 in over 3 years. VERY cool! She was likely drinking off the upper edge of the crevice. 

Pic 4: We find this atrox under the leaning boulder that we call "Kimmie Rock." This boulder is ~2m west of the almighty crevice of AD7. Hopeful that he might be stacked on a female, we hauled him out. 


No female, and apparently, too many years of chawing Skoal had done some damage to the lower left lip.
Pic 5: Closeup of lip, and good left eye.   

Pic 6: Closeup of right eye. I got the impression that this poor dude was blind in this eye. Any Vets care to venture an opinion? 

We also had a tortoise completely out, head nuzzled against the edge of a prickly pear. It is possible she was drinking drops off one of the pads. We drove through a sleet storm to another den in the Durham Mountains, where we found one atrox out cruising in the sleet!

That's all that's fit to spit. Until the next time, roger



Thursday, March 22, 2012

Suzio Report, Winter 2012

Howdy Herpers, 03/21/12
So, where's Waldo these days? He's wherever you folk find him. 

My new duties with the THS have me so buried that I can't play where's Waldo any more. Perhaps the day will come when I have too much time on my hands again. When that happens, we'll play some more Waldo games. 

It was another one of those inglorious winters this year weather-wise. We had April weather in January and February, and January weather in March thus far. The herps under watch don't know whether to defecate or go blind. The Gila Monsters got jacked up early and split, but not before we got to see lots of burrow action. The atrox have yet to bask enmasse anyplace I've been. Four is the most that I've seen out. And I have only encountered one snake on the road thus far--a DOR atrox

But the tortoises have been putting on quite a show for us. At one point, we had 8 visible on our little hill. This ties a record set back in 2001 of the most tortoises viewed before the first day of spring on that hill.
Without further adieu, we'll let the images tell the story.

Image 1: The Lazy M Gila Monster, Hill 97. This image was taken on 2 January. The dude cleared out in early February. I hope so see him again next November.
Image 2: A small female tortoise out basking on 11 February. Note the green lips, a sign of early feeding.  
Image 3: Pair of male atrox out basking on the shelf of the den we call AD Zero. This marginal image is the best I've taken of basking this spring. 11 February, 2012  
Image 4: A nearly impossible image to get, a pair of Gila Monsters in deep in our communal den. At one point, we had three monsters visible this spring. 4 February 2012 (Hans-Werner Herrmann).  
Images 5 - 7: A sequence of the tortoise we called "Slone's Tortoise." On 29 January, she is edging toward the apron of the burrow. On 29 January, she is out, but has not fed yet. On 18 February, she has obviously been browsing. 

Image 8: Female Gila Monster number 19, a new monster for our study. She was found out moving around on 4 March, but one of the students of Kevin Bonine's herp class. 
Image 9: The "Twin Saguaro" old male tortoise out browsing on 22 February. Sights like this are to die for!  
That's all that's fit to spit. I expect BIG things in the days ahead.

Yours, roger

Friday, March 9, 2012

Suzio Report 3/09/12


Howdy Herpers, 03/09/12
We'll get the bummer news out of the way first, and hopefully, follow up with the fun stuff soon.
It appears that our lone Mojave Rattlesnake met Mr. Badger out in paradise.
Pic 1: Male Crotalus scutulatus #1, "Blake the Snake" in situ on 28 September 2011. This was the best image that I was able to get of him during the 8 months that he was under watch.

Pic 2: On 11 November, Blake the Snake moved into his hibernaculum. The hole just to the right of the flag was the K-rat hole that he utilized.
Pic 3: On 20 February, John Slone and I tracked him, and found the evidence that Blake the Snake had been attacked. The hole is distinctly badger shaped. The dirt pile in front of the hole was undisturbed by us for this shot, but there doesn't seem to much in the way of tracks to verify "badger" for sure. Does anybody else think anything other than badger? We got the impression our snake was still alive at this point.
Pic 4: The smoking gun. On 3 March, I noted that the hole had been enlarged slightly. Whatever was digging moved to the left a bit, and scored. The transmitter was buried about 1 inch under the loose soil. Note that there is a bite mark on the "L" of the serial number on the transmitter. Can you imagine digging face first into the maw of a scut lair? That's a scary way to make a living!
Pic 5: "And you flowers bloom like madness in the spring............."

Best to all, roger

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Suzio Report, Fall 2011

28 December 2011
Howdy Herpers,                                                                                      

Those who are text challenged can feel to skip the ~3 pages of rambling that follows, and go straight for the brief descriptions that compliment the attached images below. Go for the asterisks (*****). This year has taught me from all directions, (read: it isn’t just me!), that inserting images into the text of emails isn’t the best way to fly. Nor are website images the answer. Where this typing boy is concerned, attaching .jpgs to these Suizo Reports is the best way to assure that images of at least minimal quality arrive on the screens of you, the recipients. Anything else is sub-par, and when delivering images that are already sub-par, one must do their best to polish the turds that one offers.

For over 15 years, Thanksgiving has become the official traditional beginning of the winter herping season for the Herp King of Southern Arizona. The art of waiting until that glorious holiday before striking took many years to master. As hard as it must be to imagine, there was a time when there was no Herp King of Southern Arizona. (These were the darkest days of herpetological history in Arizona.) Prior to hoisting the weighty crown to its lofty perch, a mere mortal would foolishly begin scouring the hillsides in early October. He did this with hopes of discovering the winter lairs of various types of herps. As always, when he found something, there was great excitement and jubilation. And a week later, when that find was revisited, it would be long gone.

Nope, the lesson that was eventually learned here is that good things come to those who wait. While most herps commit to their winter homes by early November, it is best to just give them a few weeks to settle in before visiting them. By doing this, one assures that the animal being watched is usually dug in enough to endure flashing mirrors and cameras without being scared clean out of the county.

As some of you may remember, Thanksgiving 2011 recently descended upon us. On Wednesday, 23 November, the Director of NOAO sent us an email that dismissed us for the long holiday weekend at noon. Ever the dedicated company man, I took that to mean it was ok to leave at 1130. Whap! I was out of there­and heading for my first-ever winter playground. Back in 1991, I found my first “repeating herps,” (that is, herps that demonstrate fidelity to winter sheltersites), at Ragged Top.

With but limited time on my hands, I headed straight for a ridge where chuckwallas (Sauromalus ater) have been observed through the years. I first visited a crevice where a lone large adult chuckwalla has been observed, off and on, since 1996. The big guy was home, and looking good! I eventually worked my eastward to a place that I call “The White Rocks.” I have been visiting this particular rock structure since 1992, when I first found a chuckwalla there. It has been hit-or-miss at the white rocks through the years, but there has been a streak of one or more chucks hanging out here since 2009. And today, there was one present. The crevice where the chucks over-winter is extremely difficult to get a camera into. But I was lucky enough to get something to share. I was lathered in sweat from the effort to get this image, and questioned why taking a picture on a cool fall afternoon would cause this. I broke out my thermometer, and took a temperature on the rock face. It was 39 C, or 102 degrees F! Wow! The chucks know how to find a hot spot!

Thus endeth the Ragged Top adventure. Thanksgiving transpired, and it was learned that Jameson whiskey, Captain Hornitos, and the elixir of the world’s most interesting man doesn’t allow one to effectively mix with republicans­or anybody else for that matter. The day after Thanksgiving became “Misgiving,” but there was no way that a whopper of a hangover was going to stop the Herp King of Southern Arizona. Off he went on a visit to Hill 97, leaving a trail of toxic sweats and partially-digested turkey with all the trimmings in his wake. In all, the king saw, or at least hallucinated, eight diamond-backed rattlesnakes, a desert tortoise (Gopherus hardtospellit), and four Gila Monsters (Heloderma suspectum). A hog-nosed skunk was observed lying beside a rattlesnake in one of the dens. Faced with the spastic side-effects of the DTs, the king’s camera grew a mind of its own, and tried to twitch itself out of his grasp every time he tried to use it. The only image worth sharing from this day of Misgiving is of the “Lazy M” Gila Monster­a monster that has overwintered in the same Gila hole for eleven years now.

In a Suizo Report last year, the king made a big deal out of the Lazy M HESU, calling it the monster of the decade. He showed images of it from November of 2000, and again, November, 2010. I think we’ve done this enough without using comparative images again. The short story, for those who missed it, is that this monster was an adult when found in 2000, and is still with us today. One fine day, I expect we will know how long Gila Monsters live in the wild. For now, an estimate of 20 years is not unreasonable, and longer is certainly possible.  

Bringing it all back home, the Suizo Plot has also been well-monitored this fall. We begin with an accounting of the western diamond-backed rattlesnake (Crotalus atrox) dens. Atrox Den #1 (AD1), has had three atrox viewed inside the crevice this fall. There are likely more. We have been monitoring AD1 since 1999. AD5 holds two atrox, AD6 holds one, and AD7 has had as many as six visible. We have been watching AD5 since 2001, AD6 since 2002, and AD7 since 2003. This fall, female CRAT #121, “Tracy,” surprised us by settling into AD6, which was the former home of the “Barbie Twins.” (The Barbie Twins were two female atrox, CRAT # 44 and 46. They were in our study from 2003-2007. The fact that they shared the same winter den, and dogged each other during the active season, led us to speculate that they are sisters. The time will come when their DNA will yield that information.) Our newer female CRAT #87, “Julie” settled into the upper crevice of AD7. (#87 in AD7 forces us to carefully enunciate our words, lest confusion arise when discussing either.) Female CRAT #133 has crossed the big wash, and has settled into a man-made boulder pile near the top of the southwestern flank of the Suizo Mountains proper. It is quite the climb to track her every week. Each time we make the trek, we gleefully cuss John Slone for finding this wayward snake. 

The tiger rattlesnakes (Crotalus tigris) have been somewhat predictable, but fun to watch. Female CRTI #8 “Zona” ended her yearly migration in the exact boulder that she started from last April. Male CRTI #10 “Jeff” snagged a big meal in Mid-October, and settled under a west-facing boulder jumble on the northwest side of Iron Mine Hill. Male CRTI #11 “Steven” ended exactly where Blake and Gordon predicted­AD5! Commensal overwintering between tigris and atrox is normally not a common situation. But there have been several instances of such behaviors on the upper east side of Iron Mine Hill. 

On 10 December, “Steven” gave us a big surprise by being discovered basking in 100% direct sunlight. The transmitter revealed his body temperature to be 22.3 C. By comparison, the two non-basking tigers had body temps of 13.8 and 8.7 C on this day. We have yet to really do much with all the micro-climate data we’ve collected, and these three points may point to how difficult that data will be to fathom. Getting back to Steven, this is only the second time that I’ve ever seen a tiger rattlesnake out basking in December. The first time was with a non-transmittered tiger on Hill 97 in 1998. Perhaps not-so coincidentally, this Hill 97 tiger was also sharing a den with atrox.  

On 19 November, our scrawny female Gila Monster female HESU #13, “Farrah” moved into a Gila hole that she occupied during the same period last year. She surprised us by making a three meter mini-move downslope between 10 December and 17 December. Her new location is a place where during the winters of 2006 through 2008, I would often see an unknown Gila Monster. As we did not actually catch/process Farrah until May of 2008, it is possible that this “unknown” monster was her. In her current location, she is poised to go downslope to a place she hibernated in 2009 and 2010, or she could head upslope to the communal Gila dens, as she did last year at this time. Time will tell.

I will be doing a blow-by-blow accounting of our female black-tailed rattlesnake (Crotalus molossus) in the next report. For now, it is enough to say that female CRMO#10 “Susan” has entered a currently inactive beecave that resides about four meters directly above CRTI #10’s hibernaculum. (Which is also near an inactive beecave). There are still honeycombs visible in both hives, and it is possible that either hive will rejuvenate soon. (Both hives were explosively active during the winter of 2008. Beecaves tend to wax and wane depending on weather circumstances, and we are heading toward an ideal “waxing” situation this winter). A waxing hive does not fall under the category of “none of our beeswax.” An active hive could be the death of us, as we have to get close to the hives to collect the data. And a vibrant hive is equally scary for the snakes, as we speculate that our local “killer bees” (sons of bees) will not hesitate to merrily sting anything to death that they deem a threat­including snakes.

We will leave our wayward Mojave Rattlesnake "Blake the Snake" out in the middle of the flats, where he belongs. We'll stick to Iron Mine Hill for the remainder of this report. In much the same fashion that Ragged Top and Hill 97 have become hands off monitoring places, so has Iron Mine Hill. To be sure, we're sticking transmitters in some of the animals and following them around. But there are many animals that we are content to admire from a distance. Many times I put the receiver away and just hike our little hill, checking known sweet spots, as well as potential new honey holes. This fall has thus far been a little lean in terms of finding winter herps, but that could change shortly. Thus far, I have two Gila Monsters, a tortoise, and a Lyresnake under observation. 

We have reached the point where the images should do the rest of the talking:
**************


Pic 1: Ragged Top. (Grin) I don't want to give away too many secrets, but the two chuckwallas pictured below were found somewhere within the framework of this image. Can you find them?

Pic 2: The first chuckwalla mentioned in the text above. He's a dandy!

Pic 3: The "White Rocks." Chuckwallas have been under observation in this formation since 1992.

Pic 4: The current occupant of the White Rocks.

Pic 5: "The monster of the decade" reaches year #11
Pic 6: "Farrah" looking out at you!

Pic 7: Good old tortoise #505 basking on 10 December. Although he was processed in March of 2005, he has been under watch since 1998.

Pic 8: #505 has consistently chosen a winter sheltersite that is open at two ends. This permits one the rare photo op of shooting a basking tortoise from behind.

Pic 9: CRTI #11, "Steven" found basking on 10 December 2011. This is only the second time this herper has seen a tiger basking in December.


Pic 10: Iron Mine Hill Lyresnake #7. My first attraction to Iron Mine Hill were the lyresnakes that could be found there. In 1992, I found four different crevices that were producing. Through the years, I have managed to find an even dozen crevices. Considering that this involves a time span of almost 20 years, one can understand how scarce they can be. Crevice #7 was first discovered in February of 2000. The last time a lyresnake has been seen here was 2006.

Pic 11: Iron Mine Hill as viewed from CRAT #133's hibernaculum.

Pic 12: Looking west from Iron Mine Hill. Fog smothering Picacho Peak, 4 December 2011. The rains have been generous thus far this fall. We hope for more this winter. Well, that was probably more than enough for the likes of all of you. Thanks to the two of you who hung in there!



Here's to wishing you all a happy and prosperous new year. roger

Friday, October 7, 2011

Schuett/Repp Suizo Mountain - Crotalus scutulatus

Howdy Herpers, 5 October 2011

I got off to a bad start on the evening of 27 August. I hopped out of my truck, and prepared to open a data sheet by placing a thermometer in a nearby palo-verde tree. The fact that moments later, I forgot which palo-verde tree I thrust said thermometer into was the beginning of the bad start. Anybody who works after nightfall with various instruments of science scattered about knows the danger of not paying rapt attention to placement. The darkness that is often associated with nightfall can make even the simplest chore a nightmare in flandickery if full focus is not applied at all times.

As an amused Blake Thomason looked on, I walked in circles around the various pieces of surrounding shrubbery, muttering curses and bitch slapping myself incessantly. After about ten minutes of this, Blake took pity on me, and began to scour the area around our parking lot as well. About two minutes later, he called me over and said: "Hey Amigo--look what I found!"

Image 1: "Hey Amigos--look what Blake found!" It's a Mojave Rattlesnake (Crotalus scutulatus), only the second one ever found in the 10.5 year duration of the Schuett/Repp Suizo Mountain study. This is an in situ image of the snake as Blake found it--less than 20 feet from our parking spot!

The previous Mojave Rattlesnake was found 22 July 2009. At that point in time, we didn't have the means or desire to radiotrack a "scut." We were fearful that since they don't normally occur on our plot, we might have a wayward snakethat would wander well off plot and be lost.

Image 2: However, with the scut found on 27 August, we decided we'd try our hand at tracking him--regardless of any would-be wandering. This is obviously a posed image, taken the day following the capture.


In no time flat, we had a transmitter in him, and began tracking.

Image 3: In the early going, tracking good old Blake the snake went slicker than greased owl scat. On 7 September, he was found behaving very atrox-ish, coiled in prickly pear next to a pack rat midden. His total move was ~100 meters to the southeast of his capture spot. He had wrapped around to the south side of our hill. I expected him to move southward, out to the creosote flats by Park Link Drive.


Image 4: Knowing that this snake might just boogie right off the plot, staying with him became imperative. The next tracking session was on 11 September. He had shifted westward about 100 meters, and had actually crossed Main Street.

Image 5: I tracked him again on 13 September. He had shifted about 200 meters to the northwest. Thus far, there was nothing to indicate that there was trouble ahead. 

On 17 September, I could not get his signal from our normal parking spot. Blake the person and I took a drive to the top of Iron Mine Hill, and picked up a very faint series of blips. They were coming in from the north, and the weak blips indicated he was a LONG way out there. We drove back down the hill, (encountering my shadow, tortoise number 505 on the way down), and headed across Suizo Wash. We got the signal from the other side. At that point, as we had three other people waiting for us at the parking spot, we drove back and formed a two truck caravan to work the back roads that occur haphazardly around the countryside. We drove around for over an hour, the results being akin to the sound of one hand clapping. My companions were still gung ho to keep trying, but I pulled the plug on the effort. We were out there to find new snakes, (which we did-but that is another story), and I wasn't about to waste five pairs of eyeballs by driving around all night in no mans land looking for a lost child. (The thought of putting his image on a milk carton occurred to me. "Have you seen this child?")

On 24 September, the same scenario repeated itself. I drove to the top of the hill, once again freaking out poor old tortoise number 505, who was peacefully munching on some grass at the edge of the road. The signals came in ever-so-faintly, and I drove to the edge of the earth with zero luck again.

Great feats of deep thinking began. How did I do this back in the day when we had big male Black-tailed Rattlesnakes that would take off? Then it hit me. The next time I got the signal, I would make cock sure of which direction it was coming from, and hike him out. None of this driving wildly around on back roads hoping for a convenient parking place. Hiking them out is what I used to do with lost children in the past, before I got fat and lazy.

Thus it came to pass that on 28 September, I drove to the top of Iron Mine Hill. Once again, poor old 505 was choking down some dry grass at the edge of the road. This time, he paused long enough to give me a dirty look, and then continued to browse. Once again, a faint signal came in, this time from the northwest. I aligned my compass in the direction, and noted that I could get about 100 meters closer to him by driving to a place that was in direct line with the compass/signal.

I started the hike at 1715. I told myself that I would walk until 1810 before I threw up the white flag. At precisely 1800, the first faint blips appeared again. The crowd went wild!

Image 6: By 1815, I had tracked him down. He had moved an astounding 1,885 meters from his point of capture. As good fortune would have it, he followed the one road that leads in that direction. I could have driven and parked right beside him that night.

 
On 1 October, another drive to the top of our hill yielded no tortoise 505, and no signal. Off we went on a wild drive to try to find the signal, with no luck.

On 2 October, John Slone joined me for another attempt. At the last possible second, we caught a faint glimmer of a signal. It wound up being nearly an hour later, but we finally we tracked him down.
Image 7: He was now 4,280 meters northwest of his capture spot. That is over 2.6 miles!


Image 8: And of course, when we found him, he was traveling in that same northwest direction he has been heading since we first found him. Just after this image was taken, he exploded into a defensive posture, rattling and loudly hissing. He was not glad too see us! 

 

The paved road gradient that leads to our plot takes one through some changes in the landscape that in turn leads to changes in the herpetofauna that inhabit the region. To the west end of the road, Sidewinders, Mojave Rattlesnakes, and Desert Iguanas can be found. These all peter out together about one wile west of our plot. We knew when we installed the transmitter that we might be in for a difficult subject to track.

Blake the Snake is probably one of those rare individuals that cut loose from a smaller home range to check out the world around him. He found us at the eastern edge of his journey, and that was likely not a good experience for him. I speculate that he is now heading back to his home range. As one who has herped the whole length of the area, I have only once encountered a Mojave Rattlesnake once in November.
That means Blake the Snake is going to hibernate soon. If I can stay on top of him until that point, we probably will have him at the point where he is back home again.

Image 9, By Royce Ballinger. View from Iron Mine Hill looking northwest. To the left background, local herpers will recognize Picacho Peak. To the right, the Picaho Mountains. Smack dab in the middle of the two mountain ranges is the lone hill that is called "Huerfono" (The Orphan in Spanish). Blake the Snake is slightly past Huefono, and about 1/2 mile to the north. 


This here is Roger Repp, signing off from Southern Arizona, where the SNAKES are strong.......................

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Suzio Report - Elgaria, etc

Howdy Herpers, 6 July 2011

Just when we all thought we were safe from the scourge of Elgaria, one more tidbit came in. Even though it was uttered that only God himself would earn a paragraph on the subject, Dave Barker rang in. That's close enough for me!

"About halfway up (the arroyo Dave was following) , we found this little hatchling Elgaria, and it ran into a little mud tunnel to escape us. My companion wanted that lizard and excavated the tunnel until it opened up into a soft-ball-sized cavity where there was a guarding adult female Elgaria, and, if my memory serves me, something like seven newly hatched babies and eight about-to-hatch eggs."

How about that! Mom hanging with kids. Thanks to Rick Shine and a seemingly endless source of funding, the Aussies are kicking our a$ with their lizard studies. While it's true that they have some very cool lizards over there, let us not forget that ours are WAY above average. (And we don't even know how much above average they may be.)

Anybody else on Elgaria? Go ahead--make my day..........

Thanks to all of you for your comments about Bcc. The unanimous consensus was that a "reply all" only gets you to me. We even ran a test case to see if that was true. If any of you heard from my friend Natalie, let me know. Thanks.

As most of you have heard, the summer rains have started moving in to the area. Our plot actually received a light rain on 3 July, and 4 and 5 July produced some gully washers in various parts of Tucson. My house seems to have some sort of force field that repels rain, for all 3 storms came roaring up to the place, stopped cold, and dissipated. While anything can still happen, I expect that the fires are behind us now.

What with all the excitement about Big Windies and Black Velvet, the Suizo Reports have been somewhat devoid of the Suizos of late. I'll try to bring us back to that with this report. The truth is, there hasn't been much to talk about. Since May, we have mostly been writing up patches of ground that the herps are under. I have yet to see our Gila Monster "Farrah" surface active this year, but every three weeks or so, she somehow shifts to the nearest packrat midden 10 meters or so away. I have only seen our tiger rattlesnake "Gracie" up twice this year, and one of these times was in January! Our other tiger "Zona" has also only been out of shelter once. Gracie has not moved in nearly a month, and remained hidden the whole time. One small area of Iron Mine Hill has an abundance of plant life gaily festooned with the flagging from Zona. Each is about 5 meters away from the other. I have only found one new tiger rattlesnake this year, and that was one in a crevice in January!

Other harbingers of the dryness and heat are as follows: I've yet to see my first leopard lizard for 2011. That's unheard of. Only two desert iguanas thus far--both of those in urban neighborhoods. Only 3 regal horned lizards, one of which was DOR. Not good! By early April of this year, I had racked up 19 different Gila Monsters. I have not found a single one since! And May is the alleged "Gila Monster month." The numbers on common lizards are abysmal.

June brought to Tucson a dry streak that lasted 81 days total. It was the seventh warmest June on record. And the fires only added to our misery.

I think we are at the point where we can let some images do the rest of the talking.

Pic 1 (below): It's not all bad on our little hill. We even have a geological replica of the Dark Continent there!


Pic 2: The Twin Saguaro GOAG burrow. (Although I guess Sonoran desert tortoises have now been officially been reclassified as Gopherus morafkaii¸ so now they're all GOMO. GREAT! Now I get to re-designate all 10,000 of my images, not to mention updating 500 pages of field notes. But GOMO is kind of cool, no?)


Ahem. Getting back to where we were. The Twin Saguaro GOMO burrow has been occupied by one of them there GOMO things every winter since 2002. See Pic 3.

Pic 03: This is GOMO the magnificent. He moved into the burrow in November 2010, and did not clear out until June 18, 2011. This is another sign of dry times. He normally egresses in early March.



Pic 4: CRAT # 121, Tracy, as viewed on 15 May 2011.




Pic 5: Tracy again, same day, different angle. Note the open area surrounding her.


Pic 6: Tracy again, 12 June 2011. If I had backed off a little further with the camera, this would have been the impossible "Where's Waldo" shot.




Pic 7: Tracy again, 25 June 2011. This one WILL be a "Where's Waldo" shot in the future. It was her, not me, that broke the funnel spider webbing above her.



Pic 8: CRAT #131, 15 May 2011. This is our newest female, and is looking fat and sassy, like she might be pregnant.



Pic 9: CRAT #131 again. Sigh. She was in this posture on 21 May, and did not seem to have moved a muscle 24 hours later. On 28 May, it was noted that she had moved over 300 meters, and entered a badger burrow. We have not seen her since, and she has remained in that badger hole. This is yet another indicator that all was not well this spring. While there is still hope, we're pretty sure she is dead. And we are getting mighty discouraged.............



Pic 10: We may be discouraged, but we won't be ending on a sour note. One of the two living regal horned lizards seen this year. Both have been on our plot, and neither was found by me. Both have been juveniles. We can thank Jeff Smith for this one. Thanks Jeff! 22 May 2011.




Pic 11: We're going to get off track a bit. This is an image of a Texas Horned Lizard found near Willcox AZ on 2 July 2011. Pretty little rascals, aren't they?




Pic 12: Let's make it an even dozen. I am willing to be corrected, but I believe this is a young Black Hawk. Its parents were circling above me as I took the image, and they were screaming their displeasure. Check out its "Count Yorga" features. Magnificent in its ugliness--no?
 

That's about all that is fit to spit for now. I hope that our rainy season will be a good one. Quite a few of you will be out here in a couple weeks to see for yourselves how things are fairing. Keep your finger crossed, and keep up with the rain dances!

Best to all, roger