The last post I made was March 17th. I proceeded to take roughly a month break and let the boards rest while the California weather continued to warm up.
I began by checking my local board setup. I was blown away on that day to find 25 total snakes. The majority were king snakes (18) and the others consisted of gophers, ring-necks, and even some racers. It was eye opening to see that many kingsnakes, proving how common they are in the area. There were some gorgeous snakes seen, especially one that was large and leathery brown.
Some good headshots as well.
There was also a surprising number of double flips.
The Ring-necks seemed darker green than the previous ones I had found. They also didn’t want to roll over and show off their pretty colors.
After that, the excitement came with the unexpected racers. Back to back racer flips.
The first one showed off true racer characteristics and tried to bolt immediately.
The second one was very cautious at first but then also darted off.
Can’t go herping in my area without seeing some gophers. Surprise surprise, the expedition ended with a couple under the final few boards.
The following day I witnessed a gopher snake crossing the road in the middle of the day. With that sight I knew that snaking season was in full effect.
Excited that snakes were out now, I went to explore some new areas up North of where I live. Went hiking around a park and didn’t up turn much more than a ring-neck and some alligator lizards.
Back to my boards. Finishing off the other section, they yielded another, surprisingly, 25 snakes. Again, four species were seen. This time the majority were gophers (15) with the remainder being kings, rings, and some garters.
The gophers were present in full force. There were small ones.
And cut ones.
Seeing this wound, I immediately was brought back to the gopher I found on March 17th also under this same series of boards. However, this wound was on the other side of the snakes body so they were most likely not the same snake. Just goes to show the everlasting battle for survival in nature. It could also explain the defensive nature of this snake as it was the only gopher of the day to hiss.
The most exciting flip of the day came next. I flipped two red-sided garters under the same board. I was surprised as I had not found a red-sided garter in my locale.
The bigger of the two featured a much more prominent dark pattern.
The smaller one had a smaller dark stripe and more pronounced red/teal coloration.
Having only seen diablo garters, their coloration really took me by surprise.
The next notable flip was a double flip of ring-necks which yielded this handful of snakes.
Lastly, one of the smaller kings found on the day.
Continuing the good vibes, I went to explore another area within walking distance of my house. On the way there I found a prime piece of tin sitting in the sun. Wasn’t a big surprise to see two kings under it. I am starting to understand the temperatures snakes like and am really appreciating tin cover.
At the location, the rocks I wanted to flip had not heated up enough and were still cold on the under side. Little learning experience there.
Flipped a couple boards on the way back and found more kings and gophers. Nothing spectacular.
Shockingly, I had not seen any rattlesnakes thus far in the season. Seeing warmer temperatures on the forecast, I went to check out some tin I knew of at a nearby park. I missed the prime window and came after the tin had been in the shade for a couple hours. That being said, I still found a ring-neck and the first rattlesnake of the year. I took it cautiously because I heard the snake before I saw it and didn’t want to chance anything. Only got one photo of it (and the photo is out of focus).
This snake was not particularly large but I was still excited to find the first one of the season.
Realizing that warm temperatures meant night cruising, I began to wonder about the possibility of night herping. I went out after a mildly warm day to check some boards and was surprised to see the results. Uncovered eight kings and two gophers. It was also moister than I expected. No pictures but I will be continuing to look into this and will report back as I do.
Went out to a different set of boards this night. Remarkably colder than the night before, both during the day and when I went out. Completely struck out aside from one juvenile western racer.
The goal with night herping is to get an understanding of how snakes are dealing with the California heat of mid summer and provide other avenues to increase encounters. In addition, nocturnal activity allows us to interact with a couple of additional species.
In that span of two weeks, I saw 74 snakes of 6 species. Broken down it is 36 kingsnakes, 24 gophersnakes, 8 ring-necks, 3 racers, 2 garters, and a rattlesnake.
I expect the number of rattlesnakes will increase as we get into warmer summer temperatures. I need to do some work to find some boas, nocturnal snakes, and if I’m lucky and looking in the right places, a mountain kingsnake.