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midwestern herpers visit socal, 47 sp/subs part iii (large)

18 years ago

We found a few more species on paved roads that night then returned to San Diego to rest some the next day. We met back up with Mike, and Ginny Weatherman from Kansas had joined him. They contributed to our hunting party the rest of the trip. We flipped a few boards that day but this snake was notoriously out in the open next to a board that Mike was about to flip:

Crotalus helleri

We sadly saw a large DOR Cal king in the area. On the way out of the site, this dark 5-foot San Diego gopher was stretched alongside our path:

Pituophis melanoleucus annectens

That night the desert was coola good sign for the next day but it forced us to the lowest elevations of the desert to find our snakes. We met up with Yani and Socalherper making three cars total cruising the area. Many spotted leafnose, sidewinders, glossies, and geckos were found along with a couple of shovelnose and other DORs. We missed on meeting with Eimon because of temperature-induced plan changes and cell phone limitations.

Coleonyx v. variegates

We had one more day for zonata, and it was the best temperature shot of the trip. We began hunting with the intent of continuing throughout the day until we found a mountain king. It didnÂt take long before I flipped a rock in the middle of a large granite outcropping to uncover this nearly "perfect" beaut:

Lampropeltis zonata, pic by Mike

Only a few minutes later, Mike saw about an inch of this zonata hanging from a crack:

Lampropeltis zonata, pic by Mike

We moved to Eyeball Hill, a special place that gives me phantom pains whenever seeing it. As soon as I got to the top I noticed color in the grass:

Lampropeltis zonata, on the crawl

A nice adultÂwhat a sight out in the open. With that find, we were ready to leave. It was still morning and we had already seen three zonataÂone under a rock, one in a crack and one on the crawl. We were very satisfied.

We spent the afternoon in the desert in search of iguanas, chucks and fringe-toed lizards. We found another chuck which eluded capture, then proceeded to find several fringe-toeds and a desert iguana.

Uma notata, pic by Mike

Uma notata, underside

That night was our final night. We couldnÂt believe that we had seen nearly everything that we had wanted to document, and many we didnÂt think we would succeed in seeing. The only hold-out for me was a Cal king from the desert, but I was so happy with our finds that it was fairly easy to write it off. At dusk, Mike and Ginny found two more boas, making a total of five. We found 2 more lyre snakes, a blind snake, a night snake, and some others. It was a cool night again and at 11:00 pm or so, we were about to turn around to drop in elevation as the temperature was only 63 degrees and we were mainly staying to meet and talk with Eimon and Jason Jones. As I was about to turn, Chad hollers, "snake! I think its a Cal king!" We piled out and ran down the road to find a beautiful white and black subadult California king.


Lampropeltis getulus californiae

We couldnÂt have asked for a better experienceÂplanning, great weather, good people helping us out, providence, and luck, led to a great trip. Very thankful for the help and company of Fundad, Yani, Socalherper, Eimon and others. A trip that needs repeating, even if it will not likely be duplicated.

Comments (7)

  • 18 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    What a great trip. Many of us dream of finding so many different beautiful species on a single trip. I just must use the excuse of my son living in California to make a trip to this area and do some herping.

  • 18 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    Best three posts of the season. I lived in Cal. as a kid. I miss it just for these reasons.

  • 18 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    Great trip! I especially enjoyed the Rubber and Rosy Boa pics.

  • 18 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    Thats crazy! I have a friend that lives in Southern California that I will just have to visit now. He's not much of a herper but he said he would be willing to tag along. I hope to make it there next year and to have half the luck that you guys did. Great trip.

  • 18 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    Sounds like you guys had the time of your lives! Great post! I was once in Southern California on vacation with my family, but didn't herp at all on the trip. I would just love to go back again and do some herping!

  • 18 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    Thanks all for the comments-- SoCal is indeed an incredible place. Even still, I don't know if we'll ever duplicate the good fortune we had on this outing.

  • 18 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    Great trip Matt! That was quite a post! Always fun to read the long posts.

    Congrats on a very successful trip!