Howdy Herpers, 16 December 2011
We first begin with some very good news. We have been receiving steady and consistent rain since November. Our local weather guru is calling the phenomena "the rain train." I call these systems "Seattle Storms," as we are blessed with a jet stream that is dipping down from the Pacific Northwest.
These Seattle Storms are the kind where it rains gently all day long, allowing the top soil to get good and moist without washing away. I can already see the annuals starting to pop up on the landscape, which is quite the contrast to what we've seen lately down here. When the weather books are finally closed on 2011, I suspect that this will be the year of fire and rain.
If these storms continue, by mid-March, we can expect a quiet riot of lush flowers and greenery to carpet our desert.
We faced a severe drought through most of the summer months of 2011. By late July, we were bummed to the point of surrender with the Suizo study. We had six transmitters to use, and couldn't BUY a snake to put them in. We thought we were done. But a couple roundups later turned the tide.
The first cool thing to happen was finding our first Mojave Rattlesnake. We decided to rock with him. He was not exactly a homeboy, as we lost him for a month. We stayed with him, and eventually through intensive (and very enjoyable) effort, found him again. By the end of summer, he had led us 3.6 miles away from his capture spot.
The place he led us is magnificent. It is out in the flats, in the middle of nowhere. The ground is so infested with rodent holes that at times, we drop through the soil and into the networks. The saguaros are massively majestic on his turf, and the hedgehog cactus are waist high. I'm quite sure there will be more Mojave Rattlesnakes out his way, and I'm equally sure there is a good population of sidewinders in the vicinity--not to mention some "flat dwelling" diamondbacks. If we can find some of each, we hope to be able to shift some of our operation out that way.
Meanwhile, back at the rocky hillsides, we were lucky enough to score a new tiger rattlesnake, as well as the snake that sealed our enthusiasm for the upcoming year. We speak of a female black-tailed rattlesnake. We expect that the boys will be all over next year, and that will likely help us to start beefing up our N on them.
When all is said and done, I hope that by this time next year, we will be tracking FIVE species of rattlesnake, as well as a Gila Monster or two.
There has been some incredible activity on the plot lately, likely brought about by the rains.
I will be sending some pictures out next week.
Best to all, roger