Before I get into the SoCal trip, I did do a couple expeditions earlier in the month (the 7th and 8th). I was testing out flipping boards at night, however ran into some trouble as it hadn’t been as warm as I was hoping for. The thought process behind night flipping is that while the boards won’t hold more heat than a road they will still provide cover for mice. Snakes may use that as a place to sit and wait for prey.
I found resonable success as I did find more than ten snakes over the two nights with the majority being gophers and kingsnakes. I was disappointed as I saw my first snake in shed, blue eyes and all, but did not gather myself in time to photograph it. The only notable find was a juvenile racer.
We arrived in the San Bernardino area and instantly went to a rocky hillside. With a target of rosy boas we wanted to check it out before the sun set. Not out for long, we were lucky to stumble upon a red diamond rattlesnake. It alerted us of its presence as we were moving from one rock to another above it.
Our initial view of it was just its tail, but as we cautiously peered through the bush we saw more.
It was a gorgeous snake. Having just eaten, you can see a massive lump in its body. Even with that it was a big boy. The rattle is partially visible in the photo above and in my photo that shows the most, I counted 13 rattles. Unfortunately, we couldn’t see the rest of its body as it was hidden under the rock. However, it was nice enough to show face before we departed.
After that we headed up to cruise Joshua Tree. It was surprisingly cold with temperatures in the high 50s for most of the stretch we drove. After driving for an hour or so all we had seen was a DOR red coachwhip and more mice than we could count. As we were leaving, there were a couple miles of road in the mid 70s and we were lucky enough to find my lifer glossy.
They are fascinating snakes that are present up North but I have yet to find one. I also took a headshot.
After talking with a friend from the area, I decided to try my luck cruising Anza Borrego. Worked out as it brought me three new lifers. The first was an introduction to the gorgeous Colorado Shovel-Nose. The first one we found was purely yellow and black, but you will see throughout this post that they also have some orange coloration thrown in.
Teased by a DOR sidewinder moments before, I was relieved to find this next one, my lifer, still alive. It was awesome to see the prominent horned eye look and when moving it off the road it showed its famous locomotive motion.
A head shot while on the road.
After it was moved off the road, it presented it’s pattern and rattle.
Third snake of the night was another shovel, this one with a little more color. I think it was this find that cemented these as my favorite snake of the trip.
They were very energetic (maybe it had to do with the night time low of 88)snakes always looking for ways to burrow into/under your fingers. Made for fun handles when escorting them off the road. The below photo really highlights their shovel noses.
Up next came the second glossy of the trip.
Don’t be fooled by its calm demeanor. This snake had to be herded off the road as it earned the title of the most defensive snake of the trip. It struck repeatedly to avoid being picked up. That being said, it was also probably the biggest snake of the trip (don’t know the size of the ruber).
Quick stop for a gecko. Don’t have those up north.
These little guys like to run across the road with their tails up. Confused us many times for scorpions.
Finally, the last lifer species of the trip. Happened to find a leaf nose. Was able to identify it by its stubby little tail.
And obviously its leaf nose!
Before the night was done, we came across another sidewinder. This one really showed that sidewinders don’t get as big as the NorPacs I am accustomed to seeing up North. This one had considerably more rattles than the first one we saw demonstrating its maturity and was not much larger.
To round off the night, we found one more leaf nose.
For the final night, we returned to Anza Borrego. The temperatures were a little cooler with some areas being as low as 81. Did a little walking around and had some luck in sandy areas but all in all just saw more of the same species.
While the pictures aren’t as close, it presented us with the opportunity to show their camoflauge in situ. The first snake hiked was a sidewinder.
The second was a leaf nose.
Lastly, we saw a shovel nose.
The first snake seen on the roads was a slightly kinked Glossy.
Then came another sidewinder who posed to show off its pattern.
Then came the surprise of the trip. We saw a rattlesnake darting off the road.
Excited at the possibility of another lifer, we cautiously pulled the car over and scanned the side of the road. After extensive searching and almost losing hope we saw it curled up.
While still exciting to see, we were a little disappointed to find another red diamond rattlesnake rather than a lifer.
From this point on the trip was all shovel noses. Again I will say these were my favorite snakes of the trip. Seeing the variation in orange coloration was amazing. Also seeing them move was spectacular. The colors blended and the orange ones became an orange streak across the ground.
It was a decent trip. Never found the target of rosy boas but saw five species of which four were lifers in the short time we were out there. The total comes out to 20 snakes consisting of 6 Shovel Noses, 4 Sidewinders, 4 Leaf Noses, 4 Glossy snakes, and 2 Red Diamond Rattlesnakes. Hopefully more trips like this will be upcoming.