After a break following the trip to the southern Great Plains, this week found Beth & Devin surveying some new sites in east-central Colorado and Celina, Jake, and Danny surveying private ranches in southeastern Colorado. With the help of one of our project's volunteers, Ben Fisher, we were able to document the 3rd known occurrence of the Round-tailed Horned Lizard from Las Animas County, Colorado! This was the last week of field work for Jake as he heads back to classes at Colorado State University next week. Devin will largely be helping Danny with data management over the coming weeks while Beth & Celina wrap up the field season into October.
Celina - "There's something about Eastern Collared Lizards that just enchants me. We got to see several this week of varying ages, from adults to a juvenile (likely from an earlier clutch this summer) to a recent hatchling! It's amazing when you get to see the difference in size and coloration/patterning of the different ages and sexes. Since we travel a lot we also get to see geographic differences in coloration of adults, so that's always really fascinating."
Beth - "The sheen of snake scales caught my eye at the bottom of a chest-high empty trough at a fish hatchery this week. Inside the empty raceway I found a shriveled up garter snake. As I turned around to hoist myself out, I could hear the splash of little feet belonging to Plains Leopard Frogs and Woodhouse's Toads jumping around in some residual water in the raceway. I was snapping a few photos of the frogs when I saw a black and yellow lump in the corner; an Ornate Box Turtle. The raceway was like a small ecosystem in itself! I finally turned to hoist myself out again and was eye to eye with a Coachwhip who had been watching me the whole time, possibly looking for a quick meal from one of the numerous frogs. But as soon as it had been discovered, the Coachwhip wasted no time sticking around."
Jake - "As the fall semester starts up again at CSU next week, this was my last full week of field work for the summer. I spent it in southeastern Colorado in pursuit of Round-tailed Horned Lizards and Checkered Whiptails, and the days offered me plenty of challenges and accomplishments. Unfortunately, I wasn't present when the one and only Round-tailed Horned Lizard of the week was found, but I still managed to garner some satisfaction from seeing several Common Checkered Whiptails. While I will continue to help out with the project over the coming weeks from the office, I will definitely miss the amazing time I got to spend in the field and the great people I got to spend it with! This job has offered me an amazing amount experience, and I feel truly lucky to be a part of one of the largest reptile conservation movements in this part of the U.S."
Devin - "This week we switched up crews and checked out some habitat near the Kansas border of east-central Colorado. I was excited to check out this area since it was new to me. The first morning surveying was fairly cool, and the presence of deciduous trees for shade and nice sandy soils made for a great opportunity to find Ornate Box Turtles. Between the two of us, we found five box turtles before we even got to our second survey plot!"