After spending week 1 of the 2015 field season in the office completing trainings, crew Biologists Carissa and Kyla headed to Texas with Danny for their first few weeks of field training and sampling. We wanted to get to the southern plains earlier this year to improve our chances of seeing species that may be more diurnally active early in the season. During the first week, the crew surveyed public lands in the Panhandle including Rita Blanca National Grassland, Palo Duro Canyon State Park, and Caprock Canyon State Park.
Kyla - "The first week in the field proved to be an exciting one! We saw a lot of Common Checkered Whiptails darting about and colorful Eastern Collared Lizards basking in the sun in Palo Duro Canyon. Being a native to California, I got to see a plethora of species from the Great Plains that I've only seen in photos. My two favorite encounters this past week include seeing Texas Horned Lizards and both Western Diamondback and Prairie Rattlesnakes. I also can’t forget to include some of the iconic non-reptile species of the Great Plains such as Bison and Pronghorn."
Carissa - "This week was my second on the job and my first in the field. Danny, Kyla, and I have been surveying sites in the great state of Texas. I saw my first Lesser Earless Lizards on Rita Blanca National Grassland, and the iconic Texas Horned Lizard! Next we surveyed the beautiful Palo Duro Canyon State Park, where we documented Eastern Collared Lizards, Common Side-blotched Lizards, Common Checkered Whiptails, Common Spotted Whiptails, and Prairie Lizards. At Buffalo Lake National Wildlife Refuge I saw my first Six-lined Racerunner (see photos below), who was hiding under a sheet of metal that Danny carefully lifted with his field hook. Just before leaving the Refuge we saw a Bullsnake, and just after leaving we spotted a hefty Great Plains Ratsnake; both had ventured onto the road to soak up heat from the asphalt as evening approached. Last but not least, we ventured into magnificent Caprock Canyon State Park where we encountered Greater Earless Lizards, Side-blotched Lizards, Six-lined Racerunners, Texas Horned Lizards, and the first Western Diamondback Rattlesnakes I’ve seen in the wild!"