lizards, 2010 -part 1

August 11, 2010

Here’s another year of lizard shots, split into two posts.  Part 2 follows.  Some specimens are shown more than once.

In June I finally got better photos of a leopard lizard, although it was a juvenile.  Also that month I found my best shots yet of desert horned lizard & adult male great basin collared lizard.

sideblotch liz, Stansbury Mtns

late April 2010, sideblotch liz (Uta stansburiana), Stansbury Mtns, Tooele Co, UT

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western fence liz, in dusklight, Canyon Mtns

early May 2010, western fence liz (Sceloporus occidentalis), in dusklight, Canyon Mtns, Millard Co, UT

I have walked around thoroughly at higher elevations in this range, but between 5,800-8,000 ft I have only found sagebrush lizards (Sceloporus graciosus), and not this species.  But on this visit I poked around some lower foothills’ rock outcrops down near 5,000 ft, and found my first western fence lizard in this mountain range.  In other nearby ranges, S. occidentalis can be found easily at 6,000-7,500 ft.  I’m not sure why this species seems excluded from higher elevation in the Canyon Mtns.

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great basin collared liz, adult male, mid House Range

mid May 2010, great basin collared liz (Crotaphytus bicintores), adult male, mid House Range, Millard Co, UT

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western fence liz, House Range

mid May 2010, western fence liz (Sceloporus occidentalis), House Range, Millard Co, UT

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eastern fence liz, female, Pine Valley Mtns

mid June 2010, eastern fence liz (Sceloporus undulatus), female, Pine Valley Mtns, Washington Co, UT

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leopard liz, juvenile under shrub, E House Range foothills

late June 2010, leopard liz (Gambelia wislizenii), juvenile under shrub, E House Range foothills, Millard Co, UT

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Different shot of same specimen above:

leopard liz, juvenile unobscured, E House Range foothills

late June 2010, leopard liz (Gambelia wislizenii), juvenile unobscured, E House Range foothills, Millard Co, UT

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desert horned liz, adult male, E House Range foothills

late June 2010, desert horned liz (Phrynosoma platyrhinos), adult male, E House Range foothills, Millard Co, UT

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desert horned liz, subadult, E House Range foothills

late June 2010, desert horned liz (Phrynosoma platyrhinos), subadult, E House Range foothills, Millard Co, UT

As this shot illustrates, most of the times I have found this species there has been an anthill nearby.  They eat ants.

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sideblotch liz, female, E House Range

late June 2010, sideblotch liz (Uta stansburiana), female, E House Range, Millard Co, UT

I found this female here at 6,940 ft elevation, on a NW-facing slope.  That’s the highest elevation at which I’ve found this species.  Shrubs nearby were utah juniper, littleleaf mahogany, green ephedra, cliffrose & big sagebrush.

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great basin collared liz, juvenile, E House Range

late June 2010, great basin collared liz (Crotaphytus bicintores), juvenile, E House Range, Millard Co, UT

A few meters from that sideblotch lizard was this perky young collared lizard (that might have been glad to eat the sidelotch).

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great basin collared liz, territorial male, perched, E House Range foothills

late June 2010, great basin collared liz (Crotaphytus bicintores), territorial male, perched, E House Range foothills, Millard Co, UT

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Different shot of same specimen:

great basin collared liz, territorial male, midrange, E House Range foothills

late June 2010, great basin collared liz (Crotaphytus bicintores), territorial male, midrange, E House Range foothills, Millard Co, UT

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Different shot of same specimen:

great basin collared liz, territorial male, close, E House Range foothills

late June 2010, great basin collared liz (Crotaphytus bicintores), territorial male, close, E House Range foothills, Millard Co, UT

The second after I snapped this shot, this confident male jumped on my head.  I presume its intent was to master its domain by perching on the highest rock possible.

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western fence liz, male, Mineral Mtns

early July 2010, western fence liz (Sceloporus occidentalis), male, Mineral Mtns, Beaver Co, UT

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sagebrush liz, Mineral Mtns

early July 2010, sagebrush liz (Sceloporus graciosus), Mineral Mtns, Beaver Co, UT

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desert horned liz, under shrub, South Snake Range foothills

early Aug 2010, desert horned liz (Phrynosoma platyrhinos), under shrub, South Snake Range foothills, White Pine Co, NV

This shot demonstrates how easily this species can blend with its surroundings.

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lizards, 2008-2009

August 10, 2010

Here are two more years’ better lizards shots.  Some specimens are shown more than once.

western fence liz, male, South Snake Range

mid May 08, western fence liz (Sceloporus occidentalis), male, South Snake Range, White Pine Co, NV

When you see blue spangles on the dorsal scales of this species, then it’s a male.  A later post will cover distinguishing the sex of these iguanid lizards.

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short horned liz, female in shade, Wasatch Mtns

early July 08, short horned liz (Phrynosoma hernandesi), female in shade, Wasatch Mtns, Salt Lake Co, UT

This is how I found this large adult female–hugging its warm rock that had recently been sunlit.  Then I temporarily moved it nearby into the fading sun & shot the photo below.

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short horned liz, female in sun, Wasatch Mtns

early July 08, short horned liz (Phrynosoma hernandesi), female in sun, Wasatch Mtns, Salt Lake Co, UT

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short horned liz, subadult, Wasatch Mtns

late Aug 08, short horned liz (Phrynosoma hernandesi), subadult, Wasatch Mtns, Salt Lake Co, UT

This subadult was down in the gambel oak thicket, rather than up in the sunnier, more open part of the slope.

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sideblotch liz eating moth, Oquirrh Mtns

mid Sept 08, sideblotch liz (Uta stansburiana) eating moth, Oquirrh Mtns, Utah Co, UT

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western fence liz, Oquirrh Mtns

early May 09, western fence liz (Sceloporus occidentalis), Oquirrh Mtns, Utah Co, UT

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western skink liz, male following female, at can, Sheeprock Mtns

mid May 09, western skink liz (Plestiodon skiltonianus), male following female, at can, Sheeprock Mtns, Tooele Co, UT

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Different shot of same specimen above:

western skink liz, male following female, in veg, Sheeprock Mtns

mid May 09, western skink liz (Plestiodon skiltonianus), male following female, in veg, Sheeprock Mtns, Tooele Co, UT

Here, I found a female skink under a rock.  When I held it to photograph it, it nervously expelled a little substance from its cloaca.  Shortly after that, this red-chinned male appeared, smelling the air.  It was so intent on finding the female it knew must be near, it ignored me and I shot these photos.

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sagebrush liz caught by wandering garter snake, Sheeprock Mtns

mid May 09, sagebrush liz (Sceloporus graciosus), subadult, caught by wandering garter snake (Thamnophis elegans vagrans), female, Sheeprock Mtns, Tooele Co, UT

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Different shot of same specimens above:

sagebrush liz inside wandering garter snake, Sheeprock Mtns

mid May 09, sagebrush liz (Sceloporus graciosus), subadult, inside wandering garter snake (Thamnophis elegans vagrans), female, Sheeprock Mtns, Tooele Co, UT

This predation was staged.  I found a scrawny adult female gartersnake & photoed it.  Then, it seemed too tired to bother retreating as energetically as they often can.  I wondered how it would react to a sagebrush lizard held in front of it, so I caught one nearby and offered it, and this was the result.

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western fence liz, female, South Snake Range

late May 09, western fence liz (Sceloporus occidentalis), female, South Snake Range, White Pine Co, NV

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western skink liz, male from under rock, Sheeprock Mtns

late May 09, western skink liz (Plestiodon skiltonianus), male from under rock, Sheeprock Mtns, Tooele Co, UT

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western fence liz, male, Simpson Mtns

late May 09, western fence liz (Sceloporus occidentalis), male, Simpson Mtns, Tooele Co, UT

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western skink liz, gravid female, Wasatch Mtns

early June 09, western skink liz (Plestiodon skiltonianus), gravid female, Wasatch Mtns, Wasatch Co, UT

This female was under a rock much warmer than this species usually chooses to rest beneath.  And it was fatter than usual.  And, it was less energetic than usual.  So, I assume she was gravid.  But maybe I’m wrong.

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sagebrush liz, female, Wasatch Mtns

early June 09, sagebrush liz (Sceloporus graciosus), female, Wasatch Mtns, Wasatch Co, UT

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great basin collared liz, female, NE Deep Ck Mtns

early July 09, great basin collared liz (Crotaphytus bicinctores), female, NE Deep Ck Mtns, Tooele Co, UT

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western fence liz, female, NE Deep Ck Mtns

early July 09, western fence liz (Sceloporus occidentalis), female, NE Deep Ck Mtns, Tooele Co, UT

On occasional photo sessions like this one, a lizard can “seem curious” about the photographer.  It’s not just trying to get away, & not just barely tolerating my presence.  But perhaps its “curiosity” is solely a sort of evaluation of what sort of threat I might be?

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tiger whiptail liz, Mineral Mtns

late July 09, tiger whiptail liz (Aspidoscelis tigris), Mineral Mtns, Beaver Co, UT

After 3 and 1/2 seasons of carrying around this digital camera, I stumbled onto the awareness that it has a zoom capability.  Hah–now I can photo whiptails.  Without a zoom (or a lizard noose, that I don’t carry), you might as well not try to photo whiptails.  They are speedy & keep their distance.

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western fence liz, Mineral Mtns

late July 09, western fence liz (Sceloporus occidentalis), Mineral Mtns, Beaver Co, UT

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Different shot of same specimen above:

western fence liz, w/ P. rostriflorus, Mineral Mtns

late July 09, western fence liz (Sceloporus occidentalis), w/ Penstemon rostriflorus, Mineral Mtns, Beaver Co, UT

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western fence liz, neonate, Antelope Range

mid Oct 09, western fence liz (Sceloporus occidentalis), neonate, Antelope Range, Iron Co, UT

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lizards, 2006-2007

August 9, 2010

After ten posts on mostly plants, now it’s time for some reptiles.  The next posts will cover lizards, then snakes.  After covering reptiles then I’ll post some amphibians, birds, and mammals; and then make some posts dedicated to scenery and habitat shots; and then probably get back to more plants’ posts.  Not sure when I’ll get the arthropod photos posted here…some of those seem difficult to identify.

It took me a year of paying attention to be able to confidently & routinely identify three of western Utah’s common lizards: sagebrush (Sceloporus graciosus), western fence (Sceloporus occidentalis) and sideblotch (Uta stansburiana).  Adult sagebrush and western fence have similar silhouettes, but sagebrush have less protruding scales and a characteristic dorsal pattern.  Baby sagebrush and sideblotch can be similar in size & general color, but their patterns differ & sideblotch have a narrower head and longer tail.  All three of these species can overlap in habitat ~5,500-7,000 ft elevation.  In my experience, sagebrush lizards occupy the highest west-central Utah elevations (~5,500-8,500 ft), then fence (~5,000-7,800 ft), and then sideblotch (up to ~7,000 ft).

Three species I have seen (north of Arizona) but have not photographed are eastern collared (Crotaphytus collaris), desert spiny (Sceloporus magister) and plateau striped whiptail (Aspidoscelis velox).  These next posts include all the other lizard species I’ve seen (as of 2010).

great basin collared liz, neonate, Hurricane Cliffs

early May 06, great basin collared liz (Crotaphytus bicintores), neonate, Hurricane Cliffs, Iron Co, UT

This young-of-the-year remains the only specimen of this species I’ve seen at this site that I’ve returned to many times.  Its pinion-juniper habitat is more shaded & less rocky than most habitat in which I find this species.  So, here this species is at low density but still present.

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short horned liz, Black Mtns

mid May 06, short horned liz (Phrynosoma hernandesi), Black Mtns, Iron Co, UT

This lizard shot off just after I took this shot.  It was in very homogeneous big-sagebrush habitat.

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short horned liz, juv, Wasatch Mtns

early June 06, short horned liz (Phrynosoma hernandesi), juvenile, Wasatch Mtns, Salt Lake Co, UT

This was the first specimen of this species I found in the Wasatch Mtns.  It’s possible to spend plenty of time in their habitat & not notice them.

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leopard liz, E Deep Ck Mtns foothills

early June 06, leopard liz (Gambelia wislizenii), E Deep Ck Mtns foothills, Juab Co, UT

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western skink liz, Sheeprock Mtns

early July 06, western skink liz (Plestiodon skiltonianus), Sheeprock Mtns, Tooele Co, UT

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western skink liz, eggs, Sheeprock Mtns

early July 06, western skink liz (Plestiodon skiltonianus), eggs, Sheeprock Mtns, Tooele Co, UT

I turned over a rock, an adult skink scurried away, I saw these & snapped one quick photo, and I gently set the rock back down.

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sideblotch liz, E Deep Ck Mtns

late Aug 06, sideblotch liz (Uta stansburiana), E Deep Ck Mtns, Juab Co, UT

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western fence liz, E Deep Dk Mtns

late Aug 06, western fence liz (Sceloporus occidentalis), E Deep Dk Mtns, Juab Co, UT

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neonate lizards: sagebrush & sideblotch

late Aug 06--2 neonates' comparison: (LEFT) sagebrush liz (Sceloporus graciosus), from Pilot Range, Tooele Co, UT; & (RIGHT) sideblotch liz (Uta stansburiana), from E Deep Ck Mtns, Juab Co, UT

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eastern fence liz, neonate, Hualupai Mtns

early Oct 06, eastern fence liz (Sceloporus undulatus), neonate, Hualupai Mtns, Mohave Co, AZ

Even though they are not so far S of Utah, NW Arizona’s Hualupai Mtns seem quite different than anywhere I’ve been in Utah.  Near a sort of intersection of the great basin, mohave & sonoran deserts, a broad diversity of reptile species lives in & near them.

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western skink liz, Wasatch Mtns

early April 07, western skink liz (Plestiodon skiltonianus), Wasatch Mtns, Wasatch Co, UT

This is the earliest time of year I have found this species.

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sideblotch liz, gravid, Oquirrh Mtns

late April 07, sideblotch liz (Uta stansburiana), gravid female, Oquirrh Mtns, Utah Co, UT

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western fence liz, W House Range

mid May 07, western fence liz (Sceloporus occidentalis), W House Range, Millard Co, UT

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great basin collared liz, juv, W House Range

mid May 07, great basin collared lizard (Crotophytus bicinctores), juvenile, western House Range, Millard Co, UT

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sagebrush liz, E House Range

mid May 07, sagebrush liz (Sceloporus graciosus), E House Range, Millard Co, UT

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tree liz, Moab area

early June 07, tree liz (Urosaurus ornatus), Moab area, Grand Co, UT

This remains the only one of these I have seen within Utah, so far.

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western fence liz, E House Range

mid June 07, western fence liz (Sceloporus occidentalis), E House Range, Millard Co, UT

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great basin collared liz, adult male, E House Range

mid June 07, great basin collared liz (Crotophytus bicinctores), adult male, E House Range, Millard Co, UT

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great basin collared liz, subadult male, E House Range

mid June 07, great basin collared liz (Crotophytus bicinctores), subadult male, E House Range, Millard Co, UT

This smaller male was within a few meters of the larger male.  I think at least one of them must have been aware that the other was near.

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western fence liz, San Gabriel Mtns

late Aug 07, western fence liz (Sceloporus occidentalis), San Gabriel Mtns, Los Angeles Co, CA

Well, I know this is outside of this blog’s prescribed area.  (The San Gabriels are W of the Sierra Nevadas.)  This was the most interesting animal I found in my one day in this mountain range at a very dry time.

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sagebrush liz, Sheeprock Mtns

mid Sept 07, sagebrush liz (Sceloporus graciosus), Sheeprock Mtns, Tooele Co, UT

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