Carolina Espinoza, expedition cook, prepares a meal.
Brad Hollingsworth and Dustin Wood admire a Baja California Spiny Lizard (Sceloporus zosteromus)
KPBS film crew interviewing a researcher in the field.
A rare striped racer (Masticophis lateralis) from Los Dolores. BCS Photo by Jorge Valdez Villaviencio.
Speckled rattlesnake (Crotalus mitchellii) collected near the old mission. Photo by Jorge Valdez Villaviencio.
Rare Baja California Nightsnake (Eridiphas slevini). Photo by Dustin Wood.
Baja California Spiny Lizard (Sceloporus zosteromus)
Over the last two days, scientists have been out surveying Los Dolores and it has been difficult to keep track of all the activities. I havenít been able to keep up! Life in base-camp is good. Carolina Espinoza has kept everyone fed with a variety of delicious meals. We have tents scattered across the beach and people coming and going into and out of the arroyo constantly. It is a four kilometer walk to just the mission, so days are long and nights are used to organize, prep specimens, and recover.
Since Iím a part of Team Herp (includes myself, Dr. Oscar Flores, Dustin Wood, Anny Peralta, Cynthia Jauregui, Jorge Villaviencio, Maura Maher, and Tom Myers), I havenít had the chance report on our own activities. Before I do, I would like to take a moment to say hello to everyone back at the museum, San Diego, my volunteers, and my students. The expedition is already highly productive and we are approaching a week in the field. Everyone is being well taken care of, weíve had no medical emergencies, and the mosquitos are not too dense (no Dengue fever yet, just some heat exhaustion).
Team Herp (reptiles and amphibians) has been active in the day and at night. We have hiked into the canyons where water flows and surveyed the surrounding desert flats nearer to the coast. Activity is high considering it is November. We have been pleased with the number of animals seen in the course of the day considering that amphibians and reptiles are mostly active in the Spring. Our biggest find thus far is the abundance in which the Baja California Nightsnake (Eridiphas slevini) occurs. This rare species is known from only two dozen specimens and we have seen five within two days. These will surely add to our knowledge of this animal.
Both the Pacific Treefrog (Hyla regilla) and Red-spotted Toad (Bufo punctatus) are common in the canyons where there is flowing water. Both have recently breed and there are both tadpoles and froglets in and around the water. These species are opportunistic breeders and the Fall reproductive activity is certainly a response to last Septemberís hurricanes.
Other interesting finds include a Striped Racer (Masticophis lateralis). This species is common in the coastal habitats of San Diego County. However, in southern Baja California this species is considered rare. Being able to study the specimen in detail will add to our understanding of why it is not commonly seen. In addition, we have encountered two Speckled Rattlesnakes (Crotalus mitchellii). One was caught in front of the KPBS film crew, who followed the action as it was captured from beneath a rocky ledge. Iím also sending some photos along of a Baja California Gophersnake (Pituophis vertebralis) and a Baja California Spiny Lizard (Sceloporus zosteromus), which represents just a small proportion of the diversity seen thus far.
Tomorrow we plan to scale the southern cliff wall with the help of two guides. Our goal is to reach the large freshwater lakes at the top of the mountains. It should be a grueling day since the temperatures have been reaching into the mid to upper 90s.
From camp at 11:55pm