Friday, December 31, 2010

Roger Repp Reports on a Recent Field Excursion to Ragtop in Southern Arizona

Howdy Herpers,

Fat, dumb and happy here is busily gathering herp numbers for the year 2010 for the Sonoran Herpetologist. I have one last outing to pull off-- that will be tomorrow.

I don't expect that effort to change the fact that 2010 has been by far the WORST herping year of the Y2K century. There are likely many factors involved as to why, but I do think the nonsoon season of 2009 played a big role.

By the way, a fair number of you pulled a wuss on this upcoming adventure tomorrow. Well, Annamarie Saenger didn't. What will see at 0 degrees C you ask? Oh, probably three to four Gila Monsters, the same number of tortoises, about a dozen rattlesnakes, hopefully a couple chuckwallas. That all depends on how fast we can
cover known ground.

On 2 December of this year, I made a pilgrimage to Ragged Top. The place used to be the best, but the drought of 1996 nearly wiped the place clean of herps.

We'll let the pictures tell the rest of the story:

Pic 1: The place.

Pic 2: In December 2009, a tortoise was viewed deep in a burrow that was the home of tortoise #26 back in 1995. I rejoiced to see a tortoise there again. Well, on 2 December 2010, this is what I saw at the mouth of the burrow
entrance. Good old Ragged Top--burial ground of tortoises great and small.

Pic 3: From 1994 through 1997, just above the burrow of tortoise 26, a large adult chuckwalla was using a crevice. On 2 December 2010, this one was in the crevice. While it is not the same chuck, it is good to know that one has
zeroed in on the haunts of the other. It gives me a reason to go back.

Pic 4: Good news! The chuck #26's inner plumbing is still working!

Pic 5: The white rocks chuck crevice. A chuck or chucks have been using this formation as a hibernacula since 1992! 2 December 2010 was no different.

Pic 6: Photo by Hans-Werner Herrmann. Taken in January 2009. This same bob-tailed chuckwalla used the white rocks crevice then, December 2009, and again in December 2010. I hope we can make it back to the place tomorrow.

I hope that you all had a GREAT holiday season. Wishing you all a
happy new year as well.

Best to all, roger

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