Northeast Mexico - August 2006


Tuesday, August 15
We got up fairly early on this cool mountain morning. It had been a rough night, since a sick horse had wandered into camp and coughed and wheezed in a most discomforting way.  Michael P. didn't was concerned it might be a bear, so he pushed the button to lock and unlock my car repeatedly in order to honk the horn to try and scare it off.  I finally got up and turned off the car alarm because I thought it was falsing!
By the time I got up and out Ely and Ricardo had already been out flipping and had found a couple more skinks and salamanders.  We photographed the stuff then moved on up to xxxx to look for rattlesnakes.
We climbed up out of the valley near where we had camped,
and stopped alongside a rocky hillside covered with yuccas overlooking the small village.
The rocks were covered with small Sceloporus grammicus and other species.  It seemed like every shrub or agave should have a snake coiled up under it dining on these little saurian delectables.  It wasn't quite that easy.
We walked along, peeking into the dappled light under the agaves and rockpiles, listening for a telltale buzz.  We walked for a while, in that heightened state of "herper" alert you get when you are sure your quarry is just a step away.  I knew I was going to find something.  I was wrong.  Soon, I was brought back to reality by Rob's voice over the two way radio, "Hey guys.  Here's a pricei."
When we got over there, we were amazed at the snake Rob had found.  We had no idea how he had managed to spot it coiled among the branches underneath the agave.  See it?
Here's a shot from a little closer.  Somehow he had managed to spot this tiny gray head and piece of coil from several feet away.
We pulled it out to get better pictures of this little NE Mexican endemic, the Miquihuana Twin-spotted Rattlesnake Crotalus pricei miquihuanus
Rejuvenated by our first snake find, we all set off in different directions.  Now I was really sure I would find something, since I know had the search image.  I peered and poked in hundreds of rocks and agaves to no avail.
Soon Rob came on the radio again, this time to report a big Mexican Blacktailed Rattlesnake Crotalus molossus nigrescens.
I headed over that way, but by the time I got there, they had tired of waiting for me and had captured the snake.
They didn't have any big bags, so Michael tubed the snake and was carrying it over to meet me and to get a bag from me.
It hadn't been a very happy snake when first found, and now that Michael had hiked it down the mountain side in this unceremonious position, it wasn't in that pleasant a mood.  We snapped off a few pics of the pissed off Blacktail before bagging it.
As if it hadn't had a bad enough morning, later that day it suffered the extra humiliation of being tubed and scale clipped as part of Rob's research project.
We had done pretty well.  In a couple of hours we had seen a lot of lizards and two of the three species of rattlesnake that occupied this habitat.  The problem was, we had come here specifically to find the third, the Tamaulipan Rock Rattlesnake Crotalus lepidus morulus.

It was getting to be midday, and we had to move on to our other locality which was several hours drive away.  Somewhat disappointed we moved back towards the car.  Michael reluctantly hunted every last yucca and rock pile as he slowly worked his way back while Rob and I and the others moved back more directly.

As we walked back, Rob walked along the rock pile that separated our hillside from the fields in the bottom of the valley.  Suddenly I heard an exclamation that I won't repeat here so internet filters won't block my site. ;-)

Rob had reached down to turn a rock and almost touched a magnificent morulus coiled right behind the rock.
We pulled the animal out and set it in an area where we could admire it (and wait for Michael to get caught up with us). We all photographed it, OOOHing and AAHing as it sat calmly letting us get our pictures.
Michael rejoined us, we snapped off a few more pictures and Michael very begrudgingly took the animal back to its rockpile and released it.   It was the species he had most wanted to see, and this was a magnificent example, but it wasn't part of Rob's study so it had to be released.
With that find, we packed up and moved down the mountain, a much happier group!

On the way down, Michael and I drove slowly down the winding road through the desert scrub, photographing basking Sceloporus as we went.

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