Lizards

Discussion in 'Nature & Wildlife' started by abraxas, Mar 19, 2008.

  1. abraxas

    abraxas No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    I haven't paid too much attention to my little scurrying friends in the last couple years. But lately I found that if I move slow, and talk low, I can sit down right beside them and have a nice little one-sided chat.

    This first one is a common side-blotched lizard I became acquainted with during a hike to Keane Springs in Death Valley.
    [​IMG]
    Just behind the right front leg is the identifying side-blotch. It looks sort of like a halfmoon, or boat shape just inside the shadow. I was sitting about 3 feet from him/her. I told the tiny creature (about 6 inches long) that I wasn't interested in eating right then and thank you for the photo op.

    This is another common side-blotched lizard I found roaming around while I was hiking at Amboy Crater in the eastern Mojave.
    [​IMG]
    This creature apparently had been attacked, maybe a year or so ago. Most lizards have regenerating, breakaway tails. This comes in handy when a predator grabs it by the tail. The lizard releases the end portion and runs off. The predator gets a little lizard snack instead of a full meal. The tail eventually grows back as can be seen by the difference in texture on this itty-bitty beast. Almost seems like a win-win for both predator and prey. Again the identifying side-blotch can be seen on the body just behind the front leg. The lizard was about 8 inches long. Notice the difference between the design on the back of this lizard and the one from Death Valley above. I told this animal that their home was in a beautiful place and thanked them for letting me enjoy it with them. I was kneeling about 3 feet away.

    This last lizard is a Mojave fringe-toed lizard I sat next to in a remote sand dune field in the east Mojave.
    [​IMG]
    This lizard was about 9-10 inches long. I sat about 2 feet from it while talking about how it was the longest, fattest, juciest, looking lizard of its kind I ever seen. Notice the fringed, or extra long toes on the feet. These act sort of as snowshoes keeping the tiny little feet from sinking in the sand. Other features include reversed nostrils and interlocking eyelids. Both of these help the reptile when under the sand, which they often are to regulate their sensitive body temperature.

    I've never ate a lizard, but someday I might.
     
  2. tpe

    tpe TPF Noob!

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    It is fantastic that you managed to get so close. Are you sure that you didnt put anything in their water or something. I spent about an hour and a half trying to get a decent picture of a european eyed lizard last summer and could not get withing 7 feet of it. I had not thouht of talking to it but when it left at 6 feet 11 inches i may have muttered something under my breath whilst trying to get the circulation going in my legs again. It is really nice to see these things in their natural environment. They really blend well into the background too. I am not sure that helps for the impact of the picture. You really have to look to apreciate them. Perhaps a UV or polorizing filter would help to make them a little easier to see. Personally though i just like seeing how nicely cryptic they are.

    tim
     
  3. abraxas

    abraxas No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    Thanks Tim.

    I'm not sure why it seems I can get this close lately. Maybe it's just me getting older and moving slower- or I look so well fed that they don't feel threatened?

    Here's the routine;
    While walking, I see one dart, I stop, locate the beast and move my camera off my shoulder and up to my eye, aim, focus and shoot.

    Next, is slowly moving down while keeping the camera lens aimed in the animal's direction and near my eye. I try to find features that I can easily recognize through the viewfinder (they do blend in and can still be there even if I can't see them. I also try to look away as direct eye to eye contact seems to bother them. I shoot a shot every six inches or foot or so. I also rotate to the side as if I'm not interested. That's when I'll talk in a low voice.

    I keep going down until I'm profile to the lizard and on my knees, shooting and leaning and always moving slow. One fast or abrupt move or slip and they're gone.

    I fold my legs over and sit on a thigh. I always, at all times try to keep the lens aimed at the lizard. If I can, I stretch out and lean on one elbow then both. Past the profile stage, when I'm hidden behind the lens I usually quit the talking part. I think it is important to keep the camera up to my face at all times.

    I don't always get every one, but it's fun and sometimes it hurts to get in and maintain position. I try to remember that if I get it I'll be glad I did. If I didn't I regret not suffering the little bit. My legs have gone alseep several times, but I don't mind just sitting there for awhile afterwards. :)

    They blend in really well. All three shots were with a CPF. Remarkable adaptations.

    All three shots were taken in remote if not seldom visited locations. The Death Valley shot was taken at a spring that is only a mile from the trail head, but in a clearing in the brush near a spring that stinks like sulphur and sewage. The second shot was in a lava field in between complicated cracks and crevices that very few wander the quarter mile from the trail in these (no footprints :) ). The directions to the third read like, "Drive 100 miles to the town on the edge of civilization, drive 64 miles east on the skinny paved road, go left up the dirt road 24 miles, turn left again and go through 4 miles of deep sand."

    I think these guys are lonely and may have seen only a few people, maybe none. They're just curious I guess.
     
  4. tpe

    tpe TPF Noob!

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    Thanks for that wonderfull explanation, it would be good to see it done, but i guess in the mean itme can practice on the sand lizards here, they are probably a little more wary though.

    I really have to get out there to see it one day, it sounds fantastic, especially if the animals aren't that used to humans yet. Looks like i am going to have to try and get the summer holidays sorted out for somwhere over the atlantic hopefully this year. The nearest we would get to that would probably be marocco or north africa or the atlas mountains, however even that is probably more populated.

    Ahh you are giving me itchy feet, got to go and look for a trip somewhere now :).

    tim
     
  5. abraxas

    abraxas No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    I was thinking about this post last weekend. Anyway, I missed getting close to this little creature.
    [​IMG]
    (notice it's shedding its skin)

    This one is a whiptail lizard. I've gotten quite close to these in the past, but the conversely of the others, I've had better luck in more populated areas. This was in a canyon near a road where most people drive by. I was with a group, and not the first to spot it, but the only one to get within 10 feet of it (about 6 feet). I just took my time, but it was very leery of me.

    The thing about whiptails is that they have a territory and spend their days patroling it. If you spot one and miss it, get out of the way and maybe 20-30 minutes later it will come by again. Just don't move and it won't care less. Patience is the key- and watching. I didn't have time to wait on this last occasion, but I have other times. I'll watch and think of how weird these are. Fr'instance, these lizards don't need males to reproduce. They do need another lizard though. Apparently two females can rub each other special and that sets off some kind of chemical that fertilizes the tiny little lizard eggs. Usually by the time I'm done wrapping my head around female lizards doing 'it' and how their gizmos don't need gadgets to reproduce, well, the lizard is back on that part of their patrol route. Click-clik,... got it.
     

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