All text copyright  Eitan Grunwald.  All photographs copyright  Eitan or Ron Grunwald  except photographs by others are copyright per photo credits.  All rights reserved.  Terms
CALIFORNIA/ARIZONA
March 2001
 3 of 3
CALIFORNIA/ARIZONA
March 2001
 3 of 3
                    
Ron had arranged for us to visit a research site south of San Diego, where we get to tag along with a field technician who is collecting samples for a population study of regional herps.  Black plastic drift fences line the hillsides like miniature Christo artworks, leading to sunken buckets that serve as pitfall traps. The idea is that when a small creature, such as a lizard or frog, encounters the barrier it moves along the fence line till it stumbles into the bucket.  Inside is a tube to provide a hiding place until a field tech comes by each day to check the trap and take a sample (a tiny snip of toe or tail) before releasing the specimen.  Here’s a selection of what we find that morning:              By afternoon all the traps are checked and cleared, so we search out a promising looking dirt road, hoping to find at least one more snake before our trip ends that night.  It dawns on us that one of the snakes we’re dying to see is among the most common in the area, yet we haven’t found a single one.   With just half a day left it’s kind of now-or- never.  Finally, after flipping a whole lotta  boards, we are not disappointed.   We decide to end our trip where it began, back in the land of industrial park rattlers.  Drive north just in time to catch San Diego rush hour (who would want to miss that?) and arrive at our destination after dark.  In the parking lot, a Western Skink.   We proceed by flashlight to the board line where we had found our first snake five days earlier.  And on the very last flip we uncover the original incentive for our western trip.  One final Rattlesnake, silently coiled, staring at these eastern strangers who have come to say good-bye.        
Southern Alligator Lizard Gerrhonotus multicarinatus
Western Toad Bufo boreas
Side-Blotched Lizard Uta stansburiana
Granite Spiny Lizard Sceloporus orcutti
San Diego Gopher Snake Pituophis melanoleucus annectens