Showing posts with label Roger Repp. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Roger Repp. Show all posts

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

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Funding Progress

Howdy Herpers,                                                               12/16/11

He stands now at $550.00. I hope to see something more by Monday AM, but am happy to have this much.

Who needs to track sidewinders anyhow?

Have a good weekend, roger

Another Note from Roger

Howdy Herpers,                                                               15 December 2011

Attached one wrong thing, I did!

Attached is the image of Mr. Snake.

Off to drink the drain cleaner!


Sunday, November 13, 2011

THS Meeting Announcement and Answers to Where's Waldo x 4

Howdy Herpers,                                      11/11/11

Happy Veteran's Day to all. My heartfelt thanks to all of you served, and continue to serve, the armed forces of this country.

Speaking of serving, Mr. Everything here is stepping back into the realm of assisting the Tucson Herp Society. I'm running for Vice President. When I stepped down from the Board two years ago, I had high hopes that somebody else would carry on the tradition of emailed meeting reminders. That didn't happen, and a whole lot of other things didn't happen either. I was hoping they didn't need me. I'm convinced now that they do. Every living organism and organization needs an a$$hole. The THS will soon have one again.

One of the first things I will do is get together a new list, so that the meeting reminders can start going out again. With this list, I only address about 30% of the membership But that is better than nothing.

The next meeting for the THS will be held on Tuesday, 25 November, 7:15 PM. Directions to meeting room:

Round one of the evening will transpire at ~5:00 PM.

We will have our pre-meeting gathering at Dirtbags, directions are below:

On the south side of Speedway, just west of Campbell, and just east of 1702 and the 7-11 is a dive called Dirtbags. Plenty of parking on west and south side of Dirtbags. Their address is 1800 East Speedway Blvd 85719, phone is 326-2600.

I will be giving their owner a heads up. I will be requesting that the waitresses
collect the tab directly from you when you receive your food and beverage.

Following the usual display of belching, gluttony and disgusting table manners associated with feasting herpers, we will all truck over to our meeting room. Herewe will experience the following:

THS Elections, and then:

Dr. Jon Davis

Arizona Game and Fish Department

Confronting contemporary conservation challenges from Memphis to mainland China

Jon Davis began to study Arizona herps as an undergraduate at Northern Arizona University where he met Erika Nowak and began volunteering on her projects. Jon completed his dissertation at Arizona State University in 2008 where he worked in Dale DeNardo’s laboratory and studied the environmental physiology of the Gila Monster (Heloderma suspectum), which he previously presented at THS in spring of 2007.

Jon spent 2008-2011 in Memphis, Tennessee, as a postdoc with a dual appointment at Rhodes College and the Memphis Zoo where he developed a broad amphibian conservation research program that took him from downtown Memphis to the remote mountains of China. Jon is now back in Arizona for good and is a Wildlife Specialist for the Arizona Game and Fish Department Wildlife Management Division.

Welcome back Jon! I hope to see aggregations of herpers in our arena.
Ok, back to this Waldo Business,

The grand prize goes to a new winner, Mr. John Sullivan. Mr. Sullivan totally came in WAY ahead of the rest
of you. By 2:30 PM on the day this was sent out, he had them all nailed. He told me that he sacrificed
his lunch hour to conquer the puzzles. If you all heard the sighs of relief around noon last Wednesday, it
came from the turnip patch. The turnips were safe for a day.

Kudos John!

Honorable mention goes to Marty as always, Jeff as always, Bill "There-ain't-no colubrid" Montgomery, and especially Hugh McCrystal--who learned how to circle the herps on the pictures. Now, if Hugh can just learn to send all images at once, the company server will gush with gratitude.

Images 1 and 2: Rather than rely on a circle to give her away, I have just resorted to a close up of the snake in Pic 2.

Those of you who are Waldo-challenged can look at that second image, and see if the hint shows you the snake in Pic 1.

The snake is female CRAT #133, and this is the first time I've been able to get a shot of her in the open. It had rained in the early morning hours of 5 November, and she likely emerged to get a drink. At the time the photo was taken, the ambient temp was 7 C (44.6 F). Look at image 2 carefully. See how her pupil has rolled downward? That is a sure sign that the snake was sleeping. They don't have eyelids, but the trick of rolling the pupils down likely minimizes the glare of bright sunlight.

Images 3 and 4: Eastern Diamond-backed Rattlesnake. Circle in image 3 by John Sullivan, both images by Shannon Hoss. I think the second shot is one of the best images of a hiding snake that I've ever seen. If you look closely, you will note that every blade of grass and visible snake is in sharp focus. This belongs on the cover of a book or magazine, NOT on Roger Repp Suizo email. Nice shot Shannon--what were you aiming at?

Images 5 and 6: Yes Mr. Barker, we were finally  "busted." These images were photoshopped. Also, the last batch included an image of ribbon snake and frogs. That was also photoshopped. Dave worked hard on these, so I couldn't say no to him--this time. And I'm sure you'll all agree, Dave did a damn good job with these. (Dave doesn't do anything half-assed.)

Circles and labels are by the current champ, John Sullivan on these images.

In the future, I will only reluctantly accept any more of this sort of thing. So don't get in a snit if I say "no."
The real spirit of this game is for all of us to get out there, and take some real images of real herps. What
this teaches us to do is to take a step back, as well as the step forward, when taking a photo.

I'm also not going to accept anything where the animal is deliberately fuzzed-out in an attempt to hide it.

The next "Where's Waldo" will include some EXCELLENT images from Jon Davis. These, as well as
Shannon's images (and mine this go around), are EXACTLY what I'm looking for.

Best to all, thanks for playing!


Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Where's Waldo x 4

Howdy Herpers,                             11/8/11

Image 1, by Roger Repp: Find the rattlesnake, identify the species.

Image 2, By Shannon Hoss, taken in Georgia, find the rattlesnake, identify the species.

Image 3, By Dave Barker, within the framework of this image, there is a red-spotted toad, a gray tree frog, a southern leopard frog, and a broad-banded copperhead. Find 'em.

Image 4, By Dave Barker. From the San Luis Mountains, the birthplace of my second wind with herpetology.

Two species of rattlesnake, and a colubrid. Find and identify.

Try not to pop out your eyeballs.

Ready, set, go!

(I'll send the answers on Friday.)


Suizo Report -- A Good Deed for GOAG

Howdy Herpers,
No need for any of you to pat me on the back--my hand is in the way.

We FINALLY got some rain last Saturday, which ushered in a cold spell.

John Slone and I did some radio tracking at the plot, which will be another story.

Upon finishing up with that, we decided to do some fun herping in a canyon in the NW Tortolita Mountains. I call the canyon we visited "Atrox Canyon." It is the first place ever that I started scoring some major atrox dens.

My first visit to the place occurred on New Years Day, 1993. I've since been able to line up nine different atrox dens, which I try to visit several times a year. Interspersed between the atrox dens are various repeat Desert Tortoise honey holes. I always check these when there as well.

Upon visiting a tortoise den that I've been watching since 1994, my heart sank when I saw a young ~2 year old tortoise upside down on the apron. I thought it was dead, and began the grim task of photographing it. By the time the second image was taken, Slone piped up with the magic words "It's still alive." Sure enough, it had withdrawn its head when the flash went off.

We of course then flipped the poor little fella over, and he wandered right into the known tortoise den. Very cool!

I don't know how long the little creature was upside down, or if he could have eventually flipped himself over. I doubt it, he had a pretty high-domed shell, and the weather was still quite cold.

I do know the hole he entered, and look forward to visiting it whenever time permits. I'm thinking it will stay there. Time will tell.

Image 1: In situ

Image 2: Wandering into sheltersite.

Best to all, roger

Friday, November 4, 2011

Suizo Report -- Atrox Action

Howdy Herpers,                                                               3 November 2011

With the active season drawing to a close, the time we will actually see and photograph our animals in action is growing short. Rather than going into long stories about what you are seeing, we will let the pictures do the talking.

Subject numbers and dates are on each .jpg

Image 1-3: 22 October 2011, CRAT #121 as viewed prowling outside Atrox Den # 4 (AD4). We spooked her, and she made a beeline for the usual crevice entrance. AD4 has been heavily involved in our study since 2001.

Image 4-5: 29 October 2011: CRAT # 121 again. Just because she went into a known den didn't mean that she was going to stay. On this day, she was roughly 70 meters south of  AD4.

Image 6 and 7: 22 Oct 2011: We FINALLY got a decent visual of new CRAT #131. She was almost all the way up the Southwestern flanks of Suizo Mountains proper. She has since come all the way back down. It will be interesting to see where she winds up for the winter.

Image 8: 15 October 2011: This unmarked big male was dogging our female CRAT # 87 for several days. She was always in hiding when he was around.

Image 9 and 10: 22 October 2011: The unmarked male stayed with CRAT #87--right into AD7. The two atrox in  these photos were just outside the den itself. The big boy and #87 were inside the crevice. My last visit to AD7 was on 29 October 2011. The big male, CRAT #87, and one other unknown CRAT were jammed into a cluster of coils. A  lone female was  viewed  above them. I expect that these snakes are all there to stay, with more due any minute.

Image 10 courtesy of Hans-Werner Herrmann

We hope to get a few more above ground shots soon. And we have some good stuff to share on our other subjects as well.

Best to all, roger

Friday, October 28, 2011

Hidden Savings

Hi All,
From Jesse Rothacker.
Any other smartasses out there?
Stuff like this is the best part of the game.
Thanks Jesse, roger