I decided to start of this year by making a quick trip out to a site I had not been to for awhile. For awhile I have wanted to find an Arizona Ridgenosed Rattlesnake (Crotalus willardi) on December 31st and January 1st but have never made it out to look on those dates. Earliest I had found one was January 2nd. So this year I headed off on the 30th and spent the night at my friends place in Tucson.
Waking up early on the 31st I got some coffee and made my way south. I had been looking at the weather during the week so I would know whether to make the drive or not. The forecast proved true and it was a perfect morning. After making my hike into the site it took only 10 minutes to “find” my first snake. I say “find” because my toe tripped over the rock he was underneath. It definitely pays to be lucky. Unfortunately it was not the species I was hoping to see, instead it was a Twin Spotted Rattlesnake (Crotalus pricei). I did not take any photos of this animal as it would have looked unnatural and I prefer the in situ shots. I placed the rock I had knocked off of him back in place and started on my way again. A few minutes later and another Twin Spot. It quickly dove down into the rocks it had been basking on and I mentally marked the spot so I could return later in an attempt to get a photo.
Patience pays when going for in situ shots that show rattlesnakes as they truly behave. Though this shot is not the best here is a picture of the third Twin Spot I found that day basking. I would have spent more time trying to get better pictures but I was not there for Twin Spotted Rattlesnakes.
For species that interest me more I spend more time. Here is a photo of my favorite Crote species (Herper lingo and short for Crotalus, the genus that rattlesnakes belong to.) Crotalus willardi.
Shortly after taking the photo of the pricei basking the sun dipped behind the mountains. The temperature dipped quickly and as I was starving I made my way down to get some food. I stopped in to get a burger at one of the few places to get food in the area (the place has terrible service, ask Chad Whitney) and then made my way back to where I was camping.
I had an enjoyable night of blaring old cd’s that I had not listened to in years and drinking Almond Champagne from Wilson Creek Winery that I tried for the first time just a few months previous when my parents came out to visit me from Indiana. Here is a shot of the camp set up.
The following morning I made my way back up to the spot and succeeded in getting a quick buzz. No idea what species it was that buzzed me but it was in a spot that I have reliably seen a Twin Spot for a few years. I left early without seeing anything else as I had to be getting back to Cali. Overall even though I did not get my Dec 31 and Jan 1 willardi it was a good trip. As any day herping beats a day inside. Unfortunately I saw much more habitat destruction on the slide than in years past. Please if you are looking for species in talus slides just come back a half hour later to the same spot. You are very likely to see the animal out again. It is much better than doing this (shot from a nearby range). If you must move a rock try to have some restraint and have a 3 rock rule, so you can easily replace them. No photo should be worth destroying habitat.