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/CALIFORNIA
May 2016
 4 of 5
MEXICO/CALIFORNIA
May 2016
 4 of 5
After rest and a meal at the ranch, it’s back to the field as daylight fades.   We return to the canyon for an early evening hike.    Lingering past dark, we shine our way back up the gully, when Ron spots something moving along the rocks. It’s a ruber Did I mention that the Red Rattlesnake was one of my top targets for this trip?  I know they’re fairly common, but being easy to find has never stopped me from failure (see “curse of the common snake” referenced in many of my reports).   Fifteen years ago I had a brief glimpse of a ruber that someone else showed me, but I got no photos, nor the satisfaction of being there when it was found. This moment makes up for it.  For thirty minutes we just sit there, enjoying the night sky, the desert breeze, and the company of a calm Red Rattlesnake.     In the morning we take daytime photos before releasing the snake where it was found. Kevin and Don also score one of their top targets.  Both of these guys have considerable experience herping in Baja, and every trip increases their expertise.  Such is the depth of their knowledge that they can distinguish locality morphs from just the slightest variations.  This region is still relatively new to them, so they’re eager to find a local Rosy Boa for comparison.  And they succeed. The distinctive feature of this regional variety is their shape.  This is how they normally look, an unusual but completely natural form, apparently an evolutionary adaptation:1 1 See Grismer et al, 1958.  Pretzel crypsis in a curvilinear vertebrate.  Journal of Sourdough Morphology, 24: 113-115. Sometimes, for inexplicable reasons, they untwist:   We depart the ranch for our long drive north.  Nearly everywhere we go feels remote; except for my Amazon experience, this is the most extensive wilderness I’ve traveled on a herp trip.    And then in the back of beyond, Kevin and Don spring this little surprise on us:       Turns out that Coco’s Corner, despite its isolated location, is in fact a world-famous landmark and mandatory stop in central Baja.  And not even so much for its salvage-yard sculpture garden and pre-feminist (or is it post- feminist?) interior decorating, but mainly because of the man himself.     End of day finds us in a seaside village for the night.   Don goes for a walk on the beach.  Kevin doesn’t.        Cruising starts after sundown. It’s super windy along the coast and litter is being blown onto the road.  Some debris goes sailing across the asphalt, but getting closer we realize it’s a Sidewinder being pushed by the wind, its belly becoming an airfoil as it flings itself forward.  We get the snake off the road for a photo, then spend a few more hours driving, but for us that was it for the night.   Don and Kevin don’t do much better, but happily they find a snake that’s new to me and Ron.  In daylight we photograph the little charmer doing its disappearing act, then we continue towards the border, into the forgotten and waiting world of noise and traffic and too many stop signs.    
Variable Sand Snake Chilomeniscus stramineus
Red Diamond Rattlesnake Crotalus ruber
Mid-Baja Rosy Boa Lichanura trivirgata “saslowi”
Colorado Desert Sidewinder Rattlesnake Crotalus cerastes laterorepens