Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Kingsnake Survey

As I was going through my photos (noticing how I really need to name more of them), I found that I still have photos from May that I haven't uploaded. Seeing as we're almost in July, I figured I better get to it. These are from one of the last weekends in May, when we volunteered to help look for kingsnakes. The wildlife biologist at the park organized a volunteer week, but we just had part of a day to help. About 10 other volunteers showed up at the visitor center, and we had a little briefing and then drove up to the North Snake Range. I had to keep stopping to take photos of wildflowers, like the carpet of Douglas' Dustymaiden (Chaenactis douglasii) that made the valley bottoms and benches look covered with white polka dots.

The globemallow was also impressive, with splashes of orange lighting up the landscape.

We went up Hampton Creek, a scenic drainage with a stream running down it.

Here's another view of the Hampton Creek drainage. It might not look much different than the previous one, but the flowers are different! I really had flowers on the mind that day, plus it was a terrific time of year to enjoy them, before it got too hot.

While I started flipping rocks and looking into crevices to look for the kingsnakes, Desert Boy amused himself with his adventure pack, which included a magnifying glass for looking at things close up.

I enjoyed this close up view of a bumble bee. It was really beautiful. (Of course if it had stung me it wouldn't have been so beautiful, but since it left me alone we got along just fine.)

At one point we crossed the creek, which I wasn't able to photograph because it was fairly high water and I was wearing Emma and trying to swing Desert Boy across at the same time. I'm sure we were quite a sight! We didn't even get wet, so I'd say that was a success. Desert Boy had fun jumping across this little spring all on his own.

We had plenty of rocky areas to search, and Desert Boy started doing some rock climbing. He does very well on the climbing wall in our house, and he enjoyed practicing outside.

I stopped to look at what I think is some Selaginella watsonii, sort of similar to moss but not quite.

I also enjoyed the view out across the canyon. You can see that the aspens are just starting to get their leaves.

Meanwhile, Desert Boy had found something else to climb.

This was the fun part of the hike for him. He likes a good challenge. Wonder where he gets that from?

I got distracted by this dandelion that was growing out of a small pocket in the rock.

Desert Boy kept going up higher. (Grandparents: he is not really in any danger, it's just the angle of the photo that makes it look like he's really exposed.)
And Desert Boy made it off the rock just fine. We kept looking for kingsnakes, but all we saw were sagebrush and western fence lizards. Finally Desert Boy was totally worn out, so we headed back and found a convenient bridge to get back over the little creek.

I couldn't resist photographing this butterfly, which I still need to identify.

Now, I know, the title of this post probably had you thinking you were going to look at some kingsnakes. Only three were found during the survey, and I wasn't around to see any of them. However, in order not to be a total disappointment on the herpetological front, I have included some photos of a snake we saw in May on a different walk.

It was out on the road, and is a non-venemous snake that I call a racer. The correct name is actually striped whipsnake (Masticophis taeniatus). They are known to move fast, but this one just stayed in one place while I walked all around it to take photos.

It has big round pupils and lifts its head to get a better look at me. Another characteristic are the white stripes on the dark body.

Finally I had taken enough photos and wandered off, leaving the snake to enjoy some more sunbathing.
The End.


The Incredible Woody said...

Each time I have visited the desert, it has been during the spring. I am always amazed by the beautiful blooms!!

jendoop said...

You know, you're chasing me away with these snake pics!

You have a special kind of courage, spelunking and snake hunting with two children in tow!

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