Monday, November 10, 2008

Seasonal Depressions

It is widely known that people can suffer from SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder) in the winter. Those that like to field herp can suffer even worse from something called HAD (Herp Absence Distress). The most common symptom is constant frowning, even after looking through field guides:
Recommended treatments include looking at photos of places where cool snakes have been found:

(Dense populations of Crotalus Oreganus Lutosus near home)

And planning herping trips for that first warm week in the spring:

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Whiptail Nutcase

My wife and kids and I were hiking a canyon in S Utah near where the Colorado River meets the Green River. This was our first time in this canyon and we were exploring the beautiful scenery (well, they were checking out the scenery and I was checking out the herps). The creek was full of tadpoles, frogs, crawdads, and other things most hikers miss. The canyon walls and rocks had different types of lizards all over them. There were a lot of colorful birds and some other hikers as well. I kept seeing Grand Canyon Whiptail Lizards running around in pairs or groups of up to 4. Most of these lizards were more than a foot long and extremely fast. Observing how these lizards moved their heads around to see things and the way their tongues lashed out made me think of little dinosaurs. At one spot in the canyon I found a group of these lizards in an area that seemed possible to catch one of them (note: catching one of these bare-handed is not easy). I quickly climbed down a 12 foot ledge and started herding the lizards towards the sheer rock face where there would be less chance that they could disappear into the cracks of rocks. Just then a group of hikers came by and began to watch me try to catch these lizards. (Great!) I wanted them to just continue on their way but they stayed to watch and I could tell from the looks on their faces that I was their sideshow entertainment for the moment. As I herded the lizards up close to the rock face, the group of hikers moved closer to the edge of the trail so that they could see, and an old man in the group nearly fell down to where I was. He didn't fall, but he did drop his water bottle down by me. A few moments later a young woman then asked me to get the water bottle for them. Was she crazy? I wasn't going to let the whiptails get away, so I told her I would get the bottle in a minute. I caught one of the whiptails and afterwards got a lot of stares from the hikers as I made my way back up to my kids, who were totally excited. Moments like this make me realize that when a young boy chases after frogs, lizards, and snakes, he is normal. But when a grown man chases after frogs, lizards, and snakes, he must be some type of an oddball.