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
MEXICO
August 2012
 3 of 5
MEXICO
August 2012
 3 of 5
The days fall into a nice routine of morning hikes followed by afternoon siestas and photo sessions.  But herping continues even during our down times, as we occasionally find critters on the grounds of the hotel. Iguanas are seen regularly around the compound.      Sonoran Toads are also common.  Unfortunately, we find way too many of them dying in this drained pool, which becomes an inadvertent pitfall trap.  We hope at least some of the toads will find their way out using the board we place for an escape. Some of the resident herps are more of a surprise.  While Ron is in the middle of photographing a different snake that was brought back from roadcruising, this guy comes crawling out of the surrounding rocks, right into the photo session!  Ron graciously accommodates the unexpected intruder with a portrait of its own. Another afternoon, while Ron and I are relaxing by the pool, a gardener approaches.  By then the staff had figured out we were loco, but being such friendly folks, they were happy (and a bit amused) to accommodate our obsessions.  “Culebra, culebra,” the gardener says, pointing across the lawn.  We follow to where he had been working, and there poking around the flower bed is this fidgety juvenile. By late afternoon it’s time to head for an early dinner in town before a long night of road cruising.  We stroll the noisy, crowded plaza, with its cobblestone streets and classic colonial mission.     Despite my earlier fears, I feel perfectly safe here.  Part of the reason it’s so peaceful, or so I’m told, is that there’s no war between drug gangs in this area (apparently the local cartel is securely in control).  Where rival groups are competing for territory, I understand it can be more dangerous, but that’s far away, in places we’re  not going to. Of course, that’s not to say we don’t have some frightening encounters:   Before it gets dark we hit the roads.  It doesn’t take long to get into the countryside. It’s mostly miles of driving through uninterrupted habitat, occasionally guarded by roadside shrines and vigilant caracaras.        Soon the scenery dims, and another night of road cruising begins.   By now a familiar pattern has emerged.  Shaun and Jason drive faster and farther, and have more success, than anyone else.  Matt and Lorrie hold their own, consistently producing decent results every night.  Ron and I are abducted by aliens, whom we encounter more frequently than herps.  Except when the road is covered by thousands of toads, so numerous there’s no avoiding them.      One of the coolest-looking species of the trip, and a lifer for me, is the Saddle Leaf-nosed Snake.  Throughout the week the other cars have been finding multiple Leaf-nosed Snakes, and eventually Ron and I find one as well. This catch is actually a two-fer.  Just a few feet away is a smaller snake with a similar pattern, but turns out it’s a Mexican Lyre Snake instead.     Redemption also comes in the form of a nice hefty Beaded Lizard.  Though the last of eight found by our group, at least it’s one of the largest. On a typical night we finish up around 3 am, drive past the silent, empty plaza, and return to our hotel for a few hours sleep, before we get up to do it all over again.  
Western Indigo Snake Drymarchon melanurus
 Matt Cage
Desert Night Snake Hypsiglena chlorophaea
Saddle Leaf-nosed Snake Phyllorhynchus browni