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A Week in Las Vegas - June 5-11

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Posted by: tspuckler at Thu Jun 13 19:20:00 2013  [ Report Abuse ] [ Email Message ] [ Show All Posts by tspuckler ]  

It was hot and drier than usual on this trip compared to last year. Temperatures reached over 100 degrees every day.

I started off in Arizona in the Cerbat Mountains.

Plateau Fence Lizard.

A wasp hitching a ride up the mountain.

I photographed this Eastern Collared Lizard out of the driver's side window of the car.

A Yellow-belly Assassin Bug...

...that decided to attempt to assassinate the camera (I think it saw its reflection in the lens).

Gila Spotted Whiptail.

A smaller, darker Gila Spotted Whiptail actively foraging in the leaf litter.

Cicada exoskeleton "as found."

There were a number of these small, spotted beetles on the flowers of cacti.



Yucca fruit.

Lichens forming the letter "G."

A mammal that I've never seen before - a Rock Squirrel - they are surprisingly large.

Eaton's Firecracker being visited by bees.

Later that night...Wolf Spider.

And still later - Spotted Leafnose Snake.

I met Phil (Phillodactylus) while herping NorCal in April. He said if I ever wanted help finding a few "lifers" to let him know. I took him up on his offer to do some SoCal herping.

On the way to Barstow to meet up with Phil, I saw this street with an interesting name.

We were lead by Jim (hellihooks) joined by Phil's wife Kara.

Phil spotted what was for me lifer #1 of the trip on the road - Southern Pacific Rattlesnake.

Here's Phil preparing to photograph the snake.

Jim spotted another helleri shortly afterwards in the grass.

We later investigated this waterway.

A few Baja California Treefrogs were found.

I had my first encounter with a beetle with an undeniably cool name: Diabolical Ironclad Beetle.

We went on a search for a specific amphibian, the Federally Endangered Arroyo Toad.

It wasn't long before someone spotted a toad, but it turned out to be a California Toad.

I captured this adult female American Bullfrog and gave it to Jim for "processing."

Were we discouraged about not yet finding our target species? No, because we heard the Arroyos calling nearby.

In time we found one - lifer #2.

An Arroyo/California Toad combo. This California Toad kept trying to get in the picture, even when moved away, he'd head right back, so we let him share the "spotlight."

Double Arroyo!

It was an awesome night, topped off by this high-contrast California Kingsnake found while roadcruising and photographed on the following day.

I'd like to thank Phil, Kara and Jim for taking me out on this SoCal adventure - it exceeded my expectations.

On the following day I went to a popular tourist destination a half hour from Las Vegas. On the way there, a thermometer displaying the time and temperature, indicated that it was 111 degrees.

Desert Iguana.

What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas.

Tarantula Hawk.

Lime Green Lichens.

Sooty Longwing

You know that it's really hot outside when even the Chuckwallas are chillin' in the shade.

"Balancing Rock."

Later in the evening - Desert Glossy Snake.

On the following day I decided to check out a wildlife refuge that is managing a snail and fish that are found nowhere else in the world. As you might expect, the place has a permanent water source.

Desert Spiny Lizard.

There are many birds that can be found in this riparian habitat. Here are a few that I saw.

Black Phoebe.

Great Crested Flycatcher.


A fine-looking Woodhouse's Toad.

Sacred Datura.

Lange's Metalmark.


Sometimes you need to take a break from the high teperatures. So I went to a mountain where I knew it would be cooler.

Western Whiptail.


Black-headed Grosbeak.

There were many different wildflowers in bloom on the mountain. Here are a few:

Arizona Skyrocket.

Palmer's Penstemon.

Indian Paintbrush.

Alpine Penstemon.

Evening Primrose.

Male Sagebrush Lizard.

Female Sagebrush Lizard.

These reptiles were quite common in this habitat.

Darking Beetle doing the "headstand thing."

It was kind of a "magical moment" when this yellow robin-sized bird dropped down from the treetops and started foraging 25 feet away from me - Western Tanager.

Great Basin Fence Lizard - these climb pretty high up on tree trunks.

Great Basin Fence Lizard on the ground.

I like trees. Lately I've become interested in Bristlecone Pines, the longest lived tree species in the world.

They are well known for their fascinating, twisted shapes.

Golden-mantled Ground Squirrel.

Side-blotched Lizard.

I set my sights on finding a particular Bristlecone Pine that is over 3,000 years old. The six mile round-trip hike was at times at elevations of over 11,000 feet. Here's a Painted Lady that I saw along the way.

And I finally did get to meet up with that tree.

The Palmer's Chipmunk is found nowhere else, but on this mountain.

Like the Palmer's Chipmunk, the Nevada Admiral is only found here.

Mule Deer.

Later that night - Desert Banded Gecko.

I visited a Nevada canyon that usually has a couple of water sources, though they were both dry. Water was harder that usual to come by in the desert this year.

It turned out to be a good day for lizards though - Long-nosed Leopard Lizard.

I saw this Desert Horned Lizard in the road.

The reptile's "prehistoric" looks and mild disposition make it a favorite of many herpers.

I moved him underneath a shrub off the road so he wouldn't be the victim of an automobile accident. He seemed to blend in well there and soon went back to snoozing.

Bigelow's Nolina

This wash is a pretty reliable area for Zebratail Lizards.


This rocky area is especially attractive to Chuckwallas.


Crissal Thrasher.

I found this Pallid-winged Grasshopper hopelessly trapped inside a fast food resturant. I rescued it. As a form of repayment it posed nicely for a couple of photographs before going back to the business of being a grasshopper.

A trusty (and dusty) rented Mitsubishi Gallant that travelled over 2,400 miles - some of them a bit treacherous.

There's a tiny (6,000 acres, which is small by western standards) wilderness area that I like to visit, since it is a Joshua Tree preserve.

Later on I investigated the night life.


I saw this Longnose Snake crossing the road, so I moved it over to the other side and shot some photographs.

I was so focused on the snake I didn't realize that there was another only a few feet away. My guess is that the first snake was a male in pursuit of the female. Here are both of them. The snake that was crossing the road is on the left.

The second Longnose Snake by itself.

On my last day I visited a popular tourist destination about 30 minutes from the city. It is a canyon well-known for its rocks of red coloration.

Antelope Ground Squirrel.

The lizards in this area are accustomed to humans and some will allow you to approach them relatively closely. Boardwalk Spiny Lizard.

Yerba Mansa.

A pair of Western Kingbirds were tending to their offspring, catching insects and bringing them back to their nest. The nest is in the hole near the broken branch the bird is perched on.

A "spotless" Red-spotted Toad.

This toad was living up to its name.

Desert Cottontail.


Side-blotched Lizard.

I checked out this creek.

Here's what the surrounding area looked like.

I was kind of surprised to find a duck with its offspring in the creek.

I only saw one Baja California Treefrog in the area and it was trying to stay out of the heat.

When I heard some tapping on wood, I looked up and saw this Ladder-backed Woodpecker hard at work. It was a great way to end the trip.

See you next year, Las Vegas!

Third Eye Herp


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