Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Another 'Tail' of Two Reptiles

Photo by Fred Heath 7/21/2012

Fred tells the tale of the tails:
We did the Sabino Canyon Butterfly Count on July 21, 2012. This count is carried out in a 15 mile diameter circle which includes all of Sabino Canyon as well as all the areas along the General Hitchcock Highway to the top of Mt. Lemmon. As has been my custom for the past few years, I lead a group into Sabino in the morning and then head up the mountain as the day gets hotter. This year because of threatening weather, the number of participants was small. In fact only Karen McWhirter [you'll remember her from this post] was able to join my morning foray into Sabino. As it was mostly overcast, the butterflies were not flying and we only managed to find a few individuals of a dozen species. However our rattlesnake count was phenomenal with three seen. The first was found by a couple who was right behind us on the Creek Trail. As we were looking at a Tiny Checkerspot, they mentioned that they had just seen a rattlesnake a few yards down the trail which we had missed entirely. We quickly doubled back and found a Tiger Rattlesnake (above) along the trail. As we proceeded to the area above the dam near the hummingbird feeders, Karen spotted a Western Diamondback. Below the dam we noticed a family looking intently at the base of scrub into which another Tiger Rattlesnake was heading. I guess the cloudy weather allowed the snakes to stay out and about later in the morning, even if the butterflies didn’t find the weather agreeable.

Yes, another Ornate Box Turtle  7/28/2012
More from Fred:
I noticed last week that your blog contained Mark’s sighting of an Ornate Box Turtle. I thought that was pretty exciting even though it had suspicious origins, especially since I had never seen one before. On this past Saturday, we did another butterfly count in the Chiricahua Mountains. Again it was somewhat overcast most of the day, but we still saw a good number of butterflies anyway. However, at the SW Research Station we were shown a beautiful Black-tailed Rattlesnake. I was starting to think I should be doing rattlesnake counts instead of butterflies. However, that wasn’t our best reptile of the day. As it rained heavily that afternoon, we ended the counting and headed west out of the mountains. As my wife, Mary, was driving about a mile west of the Chiricahua National Monument entrance in the grasslands, she saw something which she thought may have been a turtle on the road. Or maybe it was just a rock. She made a quick U-turn and sure enough it turned out to be an Ornate Box Turtle (above), the first we had ever seen! Mary helped it to the road margin before we drove off.
Thanks to Fred and Mary for making today's post a breeze!

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