This was the crews' second week this August spent in the southern Great Plains of Oklahoma, Texas, and New Mexico. The weather held out for most of the trip, and we documented many of the diurnal species found in the region.
Celina - "We had some very, very successful and full surveys this past week! I had one survey on which I actually had to use a second survey form, and filled both out, front and back! We didn't see a huge number of species (mostly Lesser Earless Lizards and some Sceloporus) - but we did see such a huge number of lizards, especially hatchlings, that it was astonishing particularly after the slow July weeks! I even saw a neonate Prairie Rattlesnake within 5 yards of an adult. It's definitely a good time to go out and see some herps!"
Devin - "A baby boom seems to be occurring in the plains of Texas! It seems that some areas we’re finding baby reptiles every-other minute this week. We've found hatchling Texas Horned Lizards, neonate Short-horned Lizards, and hatchling Lesser Earless Lizards all no larger than your thumbnail. I also chanced upon the youngest Ornate Box Turtle I've ever seen, that couldn't have been any larger around than a dinner roll. My advice to anyone herping this week is to take it slow and be on the lookout for some tiny reptiles!"
Jake - "The past 2 weeks spent in the Southern Plains were some of the most challenging and rewarding days of my summer. On one hand, the humidity and heat of Texas and Oklahoma really took their toll on us, making some of our days surveying quite trying. On the other, the diversity and abundance of species we don’t often get to see made up for the hardships. Our first week was spent in extreme northern Texas Panhandle and western Oklahoma, where we were able to observe Texas Horned Lizards, Prairie Rattlesnakes, and Coachwhips regularly. It surprised me how much life was supported in such a harsh environment. The second week divided our group, sending some back into Texas, while I ventured to the Wichita Mountains further southeast in Oklahoma. The days spent there were my favorite by far; not only was there an incredible abundance of herp species- including a massive, ~5 ft Western Diamondback Rattlesnake found in the foothills early one morning- but the landscape itself was truly something spectacular. One survey plot was located on the very top of a mountain, and although the climb was difficult, it afforded an incredible view of the whole area! Heading back west to Caprock Canyon and Palo Duro Canyon State Parks in Texas continued to give us spectacular views of the landscape and scenery the Southern Plains has to offer, and we saw new species including the Greater Earless Lizard and the Common Spotted Whiptail."
Beth - "On the last day of this past week, Danny, Jake, and I were surveying among the red rocks and stunning scenery of the Black Mesa ecoregion. On the way to our plot, I stopped Jake in our tracks for one tiny little snake basking on the trail. He identified it right away as a Lined Snake. It was doubled over like a hairpin, relaxed in the sun. We took some photos of its striped dorsum and realized that even though this is not necessarily an uncommon species, it was the first we had seen all summer!"