South Texas - Day 3

My favorite sign at any park!

Got up at 0650. It misted all night and is foggy this morning. Tim wanted to run this morning so I spent the time cleaning up the car looking at some of the campground birds. Didn't see anything interesting (Chihuahuan Raven, Golden-fronted Woodpecker, Great-tailed Grackle).

We got on the road at 0830 during a light fog and mist. It is 67. We gassed up in Roma and then headed to a quiet road with some trash spots I like to herp here in far southern Texas.

By the time we arrived at our first herp spot, it was 71 and overcast. In some of the trashpiles we found -
TMTC Great Plains Narrow-mouthed Toads (Gastrophryne olivacea)
TMTC Mediterranean Geckos (Hemidactylus turcicus)
TMTC Texas Banded Geckos (Coleonyx brevis)
1 Four-lined Skink (Eumeces t. tetragrammus)
1 Texas Spiny Lizard (Sceloporus olivaceus)
several South Texas "Red-headed" Centipedes (Scolopendra heros castaneiceps) - the south Texas form of this centipede with its cherry red head, greenish-black bodies, and yellow legs are IMHO, the most beautiful centipedes in North America, although they still give me the willies. UUUGGGHHH! I would much rather deal with an angry Western Diamondback than one of these big boys! (We placed this one in a plastic bucket so that we could photograph the damn thing - otherwise they never stop moving!!! Although they get over 10 inches, this was a "small" 6 inch specimen.)

For those readers not familiar with the giant Scolopendra centipedes, I should point out that they are venomous and fairly aggressive when cornered/handled. They bite readily and should not be handled. A friend of mine who has had the (dis)pleasure of being stung by several species of Centruroides scorpions, bitten by a Western Diamond-backed Rattlesnake (a bite which require several days of hospitalization), and bitten by one of these Scolopendra says the centipede wins the "most painful bite or sting" contest hands down.

As we herped our way along my quiet little road, we came across this large dump area.

Dump area in south Texas

Under this never ending pile of wood and trash we found -
TMTC Great Plains Narrow-mouthed Toads (Gastrophryne olivacea)
TMTC South Texas Tarantulas (brown with red abdomen - quite pretty)
TMTC Mediterranean Geckos (Hemidactylus turcicus)
10+ Blue Spiny Lizards (Sceloporus cyanogenys) - including a giant male!)
3 Texas Nightsnakes (Hypsiglena torquata jani)
1 Couch's Spadefoot (Scaphiopus couchii)

Couch's Spadefoot

1 Gulf Coast Toad (Bufo nebulifer)

Gulf Coast Toad (Bufo nebulifer)

It was warm and sunny until about 1300 when the clouds moved in. We started off and then realized we had left Tim's forceps somewhere in that dump area and had to go back to retrieve them.

1400-1500 - stopped at another dumpsite. There was a dead dog on the road being eaten by vultures and the smell was overpowering. We had to hold our breath until we got past it!

TMTC Mediterranean Geckos (Hemidactylus turcicus)
Reticulated Collared Lizard (Crotaphytus reticulatus)

Reticulated Collared Lizard (Crotaphytus reticulatus) Head of reticulated collared lizard

I might take this opportunity to point out that Reticulated Collared Lizards, while not rare, are protected by the state of Texas and cannot be collected or killed. We only restrained these lizards long enough to get some pics, then let them go.

I was surprised we didn't find more at this site. Usually it is a predictable spot to see Texas Patchnosed Snakes (Salvadora grahamiae lineata) and Laredo Striped Whiptails (Cnemidophorus laredoensis).

We stopped at another trash spot and found Tarantulas, Great Plains Narrow-mouthed Toads, and a couple of Blue Spiny Lizards. By now, the temperature had warmed the lizards up to some degree and they were much lighter colored than the drab lizards we had found before and the blue was beginning to show.

warmer Blue Spiny Lizard

We headed out and stopped at WalMart, got a hamburger at Whataburger and then headed north on a quiet country road to look for trashpiles and to roadhunt. By the time we headed out, it was 77.

1850 - Stopped at a new spot with lots of good tin piles. We found 5 Blue Spiny Lizards and the shed skin of either a Patch-nosed Snake (Salvadora) or a Glossy Snake (Arizona). There wasn't enough left to be sure.

We roadhunted our way back towards Falcon Dam where we were camped. On the road we found -
1 Texas Toad (Bufo speciosus)
1 Rio Grande Leopard Frog (Rana berlandieri)

Rio Grande Leopard Frog (Rana berlandieri)

1 Giant (Cane) Toad (Bufo marinus) - it is always nice to see one of these creatures within its natural range!

Giant Toad (Bufo marinus)

This one wasn't a record breaker, but still a big toad by any standard!

Bufo marinus in hand

1 Western Diamond-backed Rattlesnake (Crotalus atrox)

Western Diamond-backed Rattlesnake (Crotalus atrox)

Headed back to Falcon Dam, showered, had a beer and hit the hay.
While at the shower building, I took some photos of the Mediterranean Geckos that hang out there at night.

a Mediterranean Gecko surveys his surroundings!

Hmmm....that looks tasty!

a Mediterranean Gecko surveys his dinner!

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Chris Harrison