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This blog is predominately about camera trapping in California. We camera trap to save our souls and to teach primary school students about biology and conservation. We will also touch on other camera trapping news and musings, sets from afar, mediocre herpetology, sucky birding, and other natural history discussions.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Finding My White Whale

In Spring of this year, I got the call from Sean that we were on for a Zonata hunt, if I could get out during the week. Coming with us (more accurately taking us) was the esteemed California Mountain King researcher Mitch Mulks. If I was finally going to slay my white whale, Mitch was the person to help me do it. Mitch is the author of a beautiful book with lots of great photos of the different locales of Zonata (which looks to be out of print and going for $300 on Amazon!, maybe I need to sell my spare copy?!?). You should still be able to buy a copy for less than that at the East Bay Vivarium though.

We wandered around El Dorado County a bit and actually found this snake at the first spot we stopped at after about 30 minutes of searching. It was in a crack in the rocks, barely exposed. Mitch called me over to see it in situ before we pulled it out to get a good look. I have to admit I never would have seen it, and I don't know how he did. I guess thousands of hours in the field looking for Mt Kings make your eyes sharper. We admired it for 10 minutes and photographed it and then put it back in its little crack of a home.



We never sexed the snake, but we did notice an old wound on its side that was mostly healed. It looked like maybe it had been pecked with a beak.


The other guys had seen 4-5 rattlesnakes on the day and I hadn't seen a single one. In the midst of complaining about this fact, while walking along stacked granite wall, I got buzzed good. The rattles came about 12" at thigh height and I did the hip sway dance as I passed them. Walking back there were two individuals in this crack. One was calm and not bothered, the other shook that rattle constantly. I snapped a couple of proof photos and let them be.


Lastly we had a few other snakes on the day. This young yellow-bellied racer that I managed to mis-identify originally. My mind went to gopher snake, even though I knew it wasn't right by body shape and size. This was likely born this year.

We also saw, but didn't photograph including three whipsnakes, and a couple of garternsnakes.


The scenery wasn't half bad either. Remember when California Creeks had water in them?


Many thanks to Mitch for playing tour guide and sharing some of his spots with us. Looking forward to doing it again next Spring.

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