Spring in the mountains

Roger Repp's Puerco Mountains Report

Howdy Herpers,

I wanted to give a special snow day greeting to my Chicago friends and family. How I wish that I could share in your frigid rapture. At least I wouldn't be suffering from sunburn!

Enough harassing the hapless...

The day started with a check of diamondback AD1. Much to my surprise, a different diamondback was viewed about to emerge from the crevice. It is the first Crotalus atrox we've seen this year. Ever since our matriarch diamondback, CA1, was preyed upon, that den has been an empty crevice. I decided to check back later to try to lay hands on the current atrox-with no luck.

Male tiger rattlesnake CT1: coiled near boulderMale tiger rattlesnake CT1: coiled near boulderI also checked C. atrox AD5. We've had a big male C. atrox visible in that crevice since late February. Sometimes he's basking on the apron below his crevice home. Sometimes he's in the crevice. On this day, he was in the crevice.

Then I tracked male tiger rattlesnake CT1. He moved into a gneiss boulder close to where this photo was taken back on 16 December 07.

This is the first visual that I've had of him since mid-October. As I prepared to do the write up, it was noted that I had left the clipboard with my datasheets affixed back at the truck. This was convenient, since I was about as far from the truck as I was going to get today! In a pinch, business cards can make great datasheets.

Female diamondback "Ali": female diamondback, well hiddenFemale diamondback "Ali": female diamondback, well hiddenI next visited female diamondback, CA102, also known as "Ali." She was about ten meters SE of her hibernaculum, and this was my first look at her since late October of 2007. I'm sure that most would think this is a terrible photo--and it may be. But I've done everything in my power to make her "obvious" in this photo. They hide VERY well.

I looped back to the truck, picking off two tortoises in route. Once I had the datasheets in hand again, I went after diamondback female CA61, "Katie." She had moved about 50 meters east of her hibernaculum, her first move of the Female diamondback, "Katie": Katie sitting in bursage in full bloomFemale diamondback, "Katie": Katie sitting in bursage in full bloomspring. By the way, the plant she is next to is bursage. It is in full bloom. Subtle, ain't it?

From Katie, I hiked to the end of the earth to track C. atrox male CA55, "Double Nickels." Over the past two weeks, he has moved from his Iron Mine Hill den (AD4) to the furthest SE corner of range--near the corral at the paved road. It is about 700 meters away from where he was last seen. In his picture, check out what is littering the ground beneath him.

Male diamondback "Double Nickels": Sitting in cactus...Male diamondback "Double Nickels": Sitting in cactus...From south bajada land, I drove around to the north side of Iron Mine Hill. I tracked Crotalus tigris male CT3; his head, rattle, and flanks were viewed in the same vertical crevice that he has been in since December.

I next tracked our big male blacktail rattlesnake, Crotalus molossus, CM9 to the site he has been hanging out at since February. He was viewed coiled in a shady hot pocket, looking good.

From there, I hoofed up to AD4, and was able to find a young male C. atrox coiled beneath some Trixis on the west end of the den. I taped a dime to my PIT tag reader, and went all over its rattling, hissing form to try to get a reading. No luck--a new boy. I left him be without further molestation.

I hiked to the top of the hill, and swooped down on big C. tigris male CT7. He was viewed coiled beneath lush grasses and annuals in the shade of a saguaro. I took photos, but they are not worth sharing-far worse than the photo of "Ali" in crypticity. C. tigris male CT4 continues to be buried in a very cold place on the north side of the hill. Not visible, not exciting.

From this point on, the day got better.

The spring flowers in the desert have been gorgeous this year and the flower show gets better and better. It's all that I can do to make myself go into work.

 Best to all from paradise,   roger