Turns out most of the lizards I was calling Western Fence Lizards are in fact long-nosed Leopard Lizards. These days - early June - the Fence Lizards are still in dark phase, still skillfully hiding their blue bellies from me. The leopard lizards, on the other hand, are clearly patterned and proud of it. This one was standing right by my foot as I paused for breath. He cheerfully posed for three pretty good shots.
Posts Tagged ‘Western Fence Lizard’
Two days ago, I got my first decent butterfly picture. It’s not all it could be. It’s a little blurry. But it’s close to what I want. I still need a digital SLR with insane macro powers to get what I really want, which is every hair on its little legs.
This happy success led to a long, unplanned, trek around the butterfly websites to bring up the following identification. My guy doesn’t look exactly like the featured Sagebrush Checkerspots, but he looks more like them than anything else and all the other data fit.
Attributes of Chlosyne acastus
Family: Brush-footed Butterflies (Nymphalidae)
Subfamily: True Brushfoots (Nymphalinae)
Identification: Upperside is checkered black, orange-brown, and orange; hindwing has a dark wing base and a light median band. Underside of hindwing has pearly white spots.
Life history: Males perch and sometimes patrol in gulches for females. Eggs are laid in batches on underside of host plant leaves and sometimes on flower buds. Caterpillars eat leaves and flowers, and feed together in groups. Third- and fourth-stage caterpillars hibernate under rocks; some diapause for months and maybe years to survive bad weather.
Flight: Two broods from June-August.
Wing span: 1 1/2 - 2 inches (3.9 - 5.1 cm).
Caterpillar hosts: Rabbitbrush (Chrysothamnus viscidiflorus) and aster (Machaeranthera) in the sunflower family (Asteraceae).
Adult food: Flower nectar.
Habitat: Sagebrush scrub, pinyon-juniper woodlands, dry gulches.
Range: Eastern North Dakota west to eastern Washington, south to New Mexico, southern Arizona, and eastern California.
Conservation: Not usually required.
NatureServe Global Status: G4 - Apparently secure globally, though it might be quite rare in parts of its range, especially at the periphery.
Management needs: None reported. Note:This butterfly includes several subspecies including neomoegeni.
I was not so lucky this morning trying to photo what I believe to be a Painted Lady which appears actually to be more common. One expresses oneself tentatively when identifying butterflies; butterflies and distant little birds.
–Click on image to see full-size–
The daytime temperatures are now in the high 70’s and low 80’s. My squash seeds sprouted in the yard, and lizards abound in the nearby hills.
Boy Howdy! All this time I thought this frequently encountered guy (see left) was a separate species called the Blue Belly Skink. I’ve probably mentioned Blue Belly Skinks in this blog. Come to find out there are no Blue Belly Skinks. And skinks look snakier or, in some cases, wormier, than this very appealing specimen who is a proper lizard. He does, according to the literature, have a blue belly. I wouldn’t know, because it’s all I can do to sneak up on him and take his picture. His belly color remains his secret.
There are Great Basin skinks, Skilton skinks, western red-tailed skinks, great plains skinks. I will look these up and report back. Meanwhile, let’s say this guy is no kind of skink. He is the dark phase of the Great Basin Western Fence Lizard. Until now I’ve been confusing 3 types of lizard: the Great Basin Western Fence Lizard: two phases — and — the long-nosed Leopard Lizard. I will try to correct any errors in previous posts.
Clearly, May 15 is the height of breeding season. In addition to numerous lizards sunning on rocks, four scuttled across the path this morning during a one-and-a-half hour walk. This is unprecedented in my experience. Usually I see them on rocks, but very unusual to see them running around. Sadie is still sleeping three hours after our walk, exhausted from chasing them. Some day I’ll be quick enough to capture them in a mini-movie. Today wasn’t that day, but I did capture the stills here by gaining new insights into lizard psychology. I tried several others, spotted at a distance sunning themselves on rocks, and learned from my mistakes. You don’t sneak up on them from the back. They can tell you’re coming and they will be gone.
Instead, you let the lizard see you coming. You let him scope you out. You advance a foot or two, pause, advance, etc. until you can get him in your view finder. This is more acceptable to him.