Life lists, every herper has them. A few weeks ago a good friend of mine, Paul, came out to try to find a few California crote species that he had yet to find. I have known Paul for many years online but did not actually meet him until 2007 when the Venom Week conference was in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Since then we have gotten to get out in the field a few times with some pretty memorable finds.
Paul only had a few days off from work and unfortunately this coincided with some pretty dreary weather here in California. The weather had cooled drastically from the week before and rain was going to be on and off. The mountains were again covered in snow.
Paul’s targets were the Red Diamond Rattlesnake (Crotalus ruber) and the Southern Pacific Rattlesnake (Crotalus oreganus helleri). Having recently moved up here from San Diego, I got some tips from a buddy of mine, Mike, on a nearby spot to take Paul so we could knock out a ruber.
Early morning herping was filled with lots of clouds and not many snakes even though we were in perfect habitat. It appeared like everyone had decided to stay deep down in their holes that morning. After working one hillside for a few hours and only finding a single California striped racer (Coluber lateralis lateralis) we decided to make our way to the other side of the open area in hopes that our luck would improve.
Upon arriving at the new location we made our way up the hill and continued our search looking around boulder outcrops and flipping rocks. About an hour into our new location Paul let out a yell that was muffled due to the distance between us but could mean only one thing. As I got close enough to hear him clearly my assumptions were confirmed. There was Paul with the grin that all field herpers flash when they have found a “lifer”.
As Paul and I are both crote guys it was nice to have our first one of the day. The weather was definitely not in our favor but at least now we had one and Paul would not have to make the long drive to New Mexico without finding his target, so a we were definitely relieved. Luckily for us this snake brought a change of luck and we soon found another ruber coiled at the base of another rock.
While this trip was meant to get Paul a lifer ruber, I was still hoping that I would turn up a lifer of my own. The only species that could have provided that in this area was a Rosy Boa (Lichanura trivirgata roseofusca). I had flipped so many rocks that had looked perfect for them that I had lost count and pretty much had resigned myself to the likelihood that today was not going to be the day for my first boa. As we worked our way back to the car I saw the 547th rock that just looked perfect for a boa. I went over to flip it figuring I would once again be staring at just dirt and to my surprise found this little guy.
This find made an already good day great. Not only had we found Paul’s target species but we had added another that we had just been hoping to find. Normally a 4 snake day would not be considered anything great but with the weather circumstances (cold and cloudy) we were happy with how we did. And it is always nice to get out herping with a friend you have not seen in awhile. Paul’s quick trip got even better as he finished it by driving down to San Diego and finding his helleri.