In mid April, my friends Zack West, Frankie Casalenuevo, Chad Lane, Ricky Ortiz, Amy Johnson, Natalie McNear, Devlin Espeleta, John Worden, Vicente, and I went to Southeast Arizona for a week of herping. 
Seeings how I had nothing going on in the northern half of the state, I headed to Southern California for a few days prior to try and get in a few extra days in the field before everyone else. 

Within half an hour of me arriving at Zack's house, him and I headed east into the desert for my first night of roadcruising for the year. We didn't have as good of luck this night as we would the next night, but we did find a couple snakes. After cruising a couple desert roads for a few passes and starting get discouraged, we finally found the first snake of the night, an adult Crotalus cerastes laterorepens (Colorado Desert sidewinder). We made a couple more passes to no avail, besides seeing a small snake that disappeared before we could get out of the car. On our way back to Los Angeles for the night, we stopped and cruised a couple roads in a rather well known area and cruised my first lifer of the trip. We were cruising along a dirt road, when I made a comment that it was 62 degrees and we should still be able to cruise a boa. Around the next bend, in the middle of the road, was my lifer rosy boa. This was in an intergrade zone between Lichanura trivirgata gracia (Desert rosy boa) and L. t. roseofusca (Coastal rosy boa). I didn't take any pics of either snakes unfortunately.

The next night, we took another one of my friends from Northern California out with us. We had a much more productive night, including two personal lifers. The first snake of the night was another sidewinder, not far from where we found the first. When we were checking that one out and moving it off the road, Zack and I heard a quick rattle, so we shined the roadcut and found another winder just sitting there. The third snake of the night was my second lifer of the trip. There is an area in Northern California where live Rhinocheilus lecontei (Longnosed snake) has avoided me for years, even though they're a rather common occurance for some people. I was happy to finally have cruised a live individual. 
Rhinocheilus lecontei
We ended up cruising quite a few more sidewinders, as well as 5 or 6 Coleonyx variegatus variegatus (Desert banded geckos). The next and final snake we cruised was a subadult Phyllorhynchus decurtatus (Spotted leafnosed snake). This was my second lifer of the night.
Phyllorhynchus decurtatus
A couple mornings later, the trip started with Zack, Natalie, Vicente, Frankie, and I herping our way to Arizona. The first place we stopped was a boardline in Los Angeles County. Frankie flipped a pretty little CalKing and I flipped this gorgeous adult Masticophis lateralis lateralis (California striped racer). 
Masticophis lateralis lateralis
The only other herps found by me on the way to Arizona were an adult San Diego intergrade gopher snake and a pair of Coleonyx variegatus variegatus. I also saw numerous other lizards, such as Sceloporus orcutti (Granite spiny lizards), Uta stansburiana elegans (Sideblotched lizards) and Aspidoscelis tigris tigris (Great Basin whiptails). 

That night we got to Arizona pretty late, checked in to our motel and crashed. The next day went snakeless for all of us, but we did all score a good number of lizards, including Ornate tree lizards, various whiptails, and various spiny lizards.

Thursday we headed out early with higher hopes of finding snakes. While walking along, we managed to find a good number of more assorted lizards. I also found a lizard I have been wanting to find for a long time. I was checking out a small bunch of rocks, when a small blob of red caught my eye as it was waddling through the grass. Once I focused on it, it became clear what I was looking. This juvenile Phrynosoma hernandesi (Greater short horned lizard) was a very welcome find. 
Phrynosoma hernandesi
Not too long after finding that guy, we reached some suitable habitat for one of our main targets of the trip. We had been searching rockpiles for two days solid now to no avail, when Chad and I find that this Crotalus lepidus klauberi (Banded rock rattlesnake) was just posted up in a rockpile we had been sitting on for 15 minutes while taking a break. 
Crotalus lepidus klauberi
Friday morning we headed a different direction with a few targets in mind. Although we didn't find any of the 'big' targets, Chad and I managed an adult Masticophis bilineatus (Sonoran whipsnake) that bloodied us both up real nice. On the way out, Chad, Ricky, and I cruised an adult Thamnophis cyrtopsis cyrtopsis (Blacknecked gartersnake) and a gorgeous Salvadora grahamiae grahamiae (Mountain patchnose) that became one of my favorite herps of the trip.
Salvadora grahamiae grahamiae
Roadcruising that night produced the second longnose of the trip and first for Arizona, as well a couple Bufo punctatus (Redspotted toads).

Saturday was a snakeless day full of more lizards, until we managed to cruise a single juvenile Pituophis catenifer affinis after hours of cruising. 

Sunday morning, Ricky, Chad, Amy (Ricky's girlfriend) and I decided to drive to a spot in the desert to try and photo Phrynosoma solare (Regal horned lizards). Although we weren't able to catch or get photos of any, we did see a few. I completely underestimated their speed. We found a couple other species of lizards and as Amy and I were walking, she nearly stepped on this female Crotalus cerastes cercobombus (Sonoran Desert sidewinder). 

Crotalus cerastes cercobombus
That was the last snake we found in Arizona and we left the next morning. Once we crossed into California, we found some Chuckwallas and some assorted lizards until it got dark, then hit some more roads, and found our first Crotalus atrox (Western diamondback), a California kingsnake, and numerous Colorado Desert sidewinders.

That was it for the trip. We drove back to Los Angeles that night and back to Northern California the following day.


Leave a Reply