at Tue Aug 28 18:29:02 2012 [ Report Abuse ] [ Email Message ] [ Show All Posts by Zach_MexMilk ]
Took an early morning trip up north of San Francisco to Marin county in hopes of locating the three species of Gartersnakes found in the area. The three species the were targeted were the Coast Gartersnake (Thamnophis elegans terrestris), the California Red-Sided Gartersnake (Thamnophis sirtalis infernalis), and an intergrade of the Aquatic Gartersnake (Thamnophis atratus).
Arriving early in the morning while the air temperature was still cool (mid 70s), snakes were found either basking alongside the trails or taking cover under coyote brush. Within 2 hours, all three species of Thamnophis were found.
The first snake of the day was an Aquatic intergrade. I was walking the trail and noticed a yellow stripe bolt from the tall grass into chapparal. A quick grab turned up a BEAUTIFUL, yet VERY STINKY atratus! It was interesting to see that the snake exhibited the green scale flecks commonly seen in Santa Cruz Garters (T.atratus atratus), as well as the side stripes seen in Diablos (zaxanthus; I've never personally seen one, but have seen pictures). 10 minutes in and a LIFER!
Next few snakes were the ever common Coast Garter. Many were seen cruising through the dry chapparal, as well as in the green grasses near water. I managed to secure a nice "green" one, while the other "red" specimen bolted into a hole and rendered me a picture of its side.
After many more Coasties, a flash of red and black caught my eye. Next thing I know, I was franticly searching for what could have been my lifer infernalis near a mix of reeds, grass, and muck. After a bit of searching, a MASSIVE in-shed infernalis was found! This snake was MEAN. Super heated by the now afternoon sun, it let out bombs of musk and wouldn't stop trying to bite. Coupled with the thousands of mosquitos that figured they wanted Chinese for lunch, I quickly snapped some horrible shots of my Lifer.
All in all, it was a great day of herping, in my opinion. I was able to set out a goal and was able to reach all three. It was so nice to be out in the sun. I am starting a "real" job (full time, all that grown up stuff :cry: ) in less then a week, so I know my herping time will suffer. Glad I was able to have a great day out in the field.
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