Thanks much to Beth, Celina, Devin & Jake for all of their hard work this summer! Thanks also to all the Biologists and Citizen Scientists who were able to provide data for the project this season!! We will be focusing on the volunteer effort in 2015, so those of you who are interested in getting out next year please be sure to sign up here soon so we can get you protocols and site assignments before then.
If you're interested in hearing more about the project, particularly related to how to volunteer next year and what volunteer protocols entail, Danny will be presenting at the upcoming Kansas Herpetological Society meeting in Manhattan, Kansas, in early November 2014, and likely at the Colorado Partners in Amphibian & Reptile Conservation (CO PARC) meeting in Greeley, Colorado in early 2015 (check here for updates as they become available).
Beth - "Lesser Earless Lizards were braving the cooler temperatures this week. There were only a few days of decent weather to survey and in that time we spotted about half a dozen bright little Lesser Earless Lizards still roaming the grasslands. A juvenile Bullsnake stopped us on the road and gave us its rattlesnake impression, but one of the best finds for me was on the last and coldest day. In a light rain, Celina and I surveyed a plot dappled with hills that I had been to before. I didn't expect to find anything until I stumbled over a freshly shed snake skin! This large shed was so well preserved that it looked like the ghost of a snake on the ground. I took a few moments to try and identify its previous owner by noting the unkeeled, smooth scales, the length of the tail, and the lack of a distinct pattern that can sometimes be seen on the dorsum of a shed. I flipped the fully intact face right side out to find a distinct scale above the eye, looking like an angry brow, that I use to identify Racers. A divided anal plate furthered my suspicions that this was from a large adult North American Racer. This is exactly the species I had found in person the last time I was on that plot and it made me wonder if it was from the same individual! "
Celina - "I wasn't sure what to expect this week, considering how late in the season it is. It's also been my last week on the project, so I was hoping for something cool to happen. We came across a juvenile Bullsnake basking on the road during the warmer part of the day. The little guy/gal shook their tail and tried so hard to be intimidating. And then tried to hide under my boot!
Looking back on the summer it's astounding how many new species I've run across for myself, and the project. I got to survey familiar areas in Texas (ah the old stomping grounds!), and new areas in Colorado, Kansas, Oklahoma and New Mexico. I had never done official work in any state other than Texas (and my only other volunteer work outside of Texas was in Arizona) prior to this season so it feels pretty good to have field experience in 4 more states under my belt now. I've witnessed a lot of cool things in the past 6 months and the time has really flown by. I think my hands-down favorite encounter has got to be the two Prairie Rattlesnakes I found together last week, I never expected to witness such behavior while in the field!"