I intend this blog as a venue for photos & observations I have recorded while in the field–mostly in the state of Utah, but also in neighboring states in the western USA.

This is a work in progress.  I find some errors I’ve made (in plant identifications, anyway) and then fix them as best I can.  If you notice any error, please comment.

late June 09, black wasp & small bees on blooming spider milkweed (Asclepias asperula), Canyon Mtns, Millard Co, UT

Each post will be one topic–a list of observations within one category.  All my posts are in the “Home” section.  If you go there and scroll to the page bottom and click “<<Previous Entries”, you can view all the posts (in reverse order).  Or, go to the “Contents” section’s chronological list of linked posts.

You can click on any photo to view it enlarged.  You can also click on “Zoom In” in most browser’s “View” controls, to enlarge everything in this post, as you view it.

snake petroglyph, San Rafael Swell

late Nov 1993, snake petroglyph (Fremont Period), San Rafael Swell, western Emery Co, UT

Although in earlier years I had enjoyed some backpacking and hiking, in 2002 I began specifically searching for wild reptiles to photograph.  In the process, I began to learn more about plants, birds and geology.

juvenile western fence liz, southern Snake Range

late May 09, juvenile western fence lizard (Sceloporus occidentalis) with a less common dorsal pattern similar to that of a tree lizard (Urosaurus ornatus), southern Snake Range, White Pine Co, NV

This blog may cover plants at least as much as animals.  I will often use both common and scientific names of organisms.  As new taxonomic shifts become advocated, I may adopt some & be slow to recognize others.  Some difficult species divisions I may never learn to discern….which species is that lupine below?

mid May 09, lupine (Lupinus sp.), Sheeprock Mtns foothills, Tooele Co, UT

Unfortunately, another season has passed and I was once again unable to photograph a sasquatch.  But there is always next year.

early July 09, clouds at dusk, northern Deep Creek Mtns, Tooele Co, UT

It was not until December 2009 that I decided to begin this blog.  The photos I took earlier were taken essentially for my personal amusement and not with the idea I might display them in this context.  If I had anticipated the topics for some of these posts earlier, while in the field, then I would have been able to include in my posts better photos of some subjects.

juv des horned plus car, SE House foothills

late June 2010, juvenile desert horned lizard (Phrynosoma platyrhinos), SE foothills of House Range, Millard Co, UT

Unless otherwise indicated, all photos have been taken by me.  For those dated 2006 and later, I used my Fuji Finepix 2800Z digital camera I bought from a friend when it was 5 years old.  For those dated prior to 2006 (such as the one below), I used a mid-1970s Minolta 35mm film camera and then scanned a print.  Each posted photo on this site is the raw jpg produced by the Fuji digital camera or the jpg scan of a print from the Minolta film camera, unmodified except by some cropping.

utah mountain kingsnake, adult female, head-on, Hurricane Cliffs

mid April 2004, utah mountain kingsnake (Lampropeltis pyromelana infralabialis), adult female, head-on, Hurricane Cliffs, Iron Co, UT

This utah mountain kingsnake was an interesting find for several reasons.  1) The boulder crevice I found her in the first day I saw her contained a second adult of the same species with her, probably a male.  2) She had an old wound in her posterior, visible as a constriction (an abruptness of tapering) in this photo’s right foreground.  This wound had healed fully but may have limited her reproductive capability. (Could an egg pass the constriction?)  3) The bulge inside her, clearly visible in this photo’s central rear, was a large food item, probably a mammal or bird.  Her attempt to digest it despite mid-April’s low temperatures is probably what induced her to seek some afternoon sun’s warmth.  4) I returned the afternoon following the day I first saw her (after the intervening night’s one-inch snowfall in the area), found her again, alone this time, and gently removed her from the crevice for these photos and some measurements.  When I subsequently returned her to her crevice she simply re-assumed her initial position at the crevice edge’s warmest spot, instead of retreating from me out of sight.  5) When a friend passed by the same area one week later, he checked the same crevice and again found this female, this time in mating position with another adult, almost certainly a male–and perhaps the same snake I’d seen with her.  My friend obtained further photos, including photos that show the female’s food bulge I documented in my photos had dissipated.  6) These observations demonstrate how early in the season this cold-adapted and fairly high-elevation snake species can be feeding and mating in Utah.

See you in the hills, somewhere?

early July 09, Deep Creek Mtns, Tooele Co, UT

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One Response to “Introduction”

  1. Robby said

    Very cool photos and text, Mark. That storm cloud photo is incredible.
    Robby

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