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Monday, September 7, 2015

Flashback to Some "Old" Utah Herps

Posting the recently-seen Utah herps reminded me of the ones Gary and I saw five years ago, on our first Grand Staircase Escalante trip. On that trip, we camped in the Cottonwood Creek area for several days, and then drove north to the town of Escalante, then south again on Hole-in-the-Rock Road. Then we paid another visit to Grand Staircase two years ago, in 2013, and made a day trip down Hole-in-the-Rock Road, notorious for how long it is (around 55 miles) and how unpleasant it can be to drive on (washboard that can jar fillings out - or feel like it - after a while).

On those trips we saw the Orange-headed Spiny Lizard, Sceloperus magister cephaloflavus, which is confined to northern Arizona and southern Utah. This is an impressive looking reptile, as the photos hopefully convey.

Sceloperus magister cephaloflavus, Cottonwood Creek, Grand Staircase Escalante, 2010. The first one seen and photographed.
The landscape in Cottonwood Creek. A nice place to camp, but as the days passed, the wind, flies and heat all seemed to be increasing, so in the end we were glad to leave and head north.
Sceloperus magister, showing more orange on its sides and less on the head! This was one of several that we saw on our 2013 trip, which focused on the Burr Trail (we camped at the west end of Long Canyon, as we did this year). These lizards were not seen at that spot though - instead they were in a side canyon off Hole-in-the-Rock Road (Coyote Gulch), which we did a day hike in. This male's blue belly is partially visible here.
Male showing off, trying to convince us he wasn't scared (they took off with slightly closer approaches, of course).

An orange-headed one, in a shady protected area.
Sceloperus graciosus, the sagebrush lizard that we saw so many of this year. This one was quite fearless, and was like a "greeter" at the Information Center for the Grand Staircase in the town of Escalante.
Another S. graciosus at the information center.
This was a herp that we did NOT see frequently (I think this was the only one). This is probably the Northern Tree Lizard, Urosaurus ornatus wrighti, also off Hole-in-the-Wall Road (in Coyote Gulch). 
A view of the landscape near Hole-in-the-Rock Road, from 2010. This is near Dance Hall Rock (and our camp is barely visible as a black dot - the truck, and a gray dot - the tent).

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