Readers’ wildlife photos

Today’s photos come from the western U.S. desert, and were taken and contributed by Charles Peterson. His notes are indented:

I work as a field biologist in the Mojave Desert, helping to keep the U.S. military in compliance with the Endangered Species Act. I got some nice shots over the past few days that I thought you might like (attached).

I was sitting in the shade of a creosote bush crossing the Ts on some paperwork when I looked up to see this desert kit fox (Vulpes macrotis) checking me out. I know you consider foxes to be honorary felines, and this may be the most feline of canids. As evidence I offer:

Exhibit A.:

Our local endangered (officially Threatened) species, in this case a grumpy-looking little subadult Mojave desert tortoise (Gopherus agassizii):

A chuckwalla (Sauromalus ater, formerly obesus) in the hand. This is a tricolor-phase male, with the brick-red torso characteristic of some populations. I caught him because he was having difficulty with the fence you can see in the background.

After I let him go on the other side I saw the object of his efforts, this female. A nice example of sexual dimorphism in this largest Mojave lizard, a herbivore related to iguanas.

A beautiful gravid female long-nosed leopard lizard (Gambelia wislizenii). The red coloration occurs only between ovulation and oviposition.

Finally, a game of Can You Spot the Desert Horned Lizard (Phrynosoma platyrhinos)?

12 Comments

  1. Dee
    Posted June 5, 2020 at 8:10 am | Permalink

    Great photos. I’ve spent a little time in the Mojave and never seen a fox. That must have been amazing.

  2. ThyroidPlanet
    Posted June 5, 2020 at 8:11 am | Permalink

    Beautiful!

    Are these then all endangered species except maybe the fox?

    • chascpeterson
      Posted June 5, 2020 at 7:20 pm | Permalink

      Only the tortoise is listed.

  3. Charlie Jones
    Posted June 5, 2020 at 8:30 am | Permalink

    What a treat to see so many large reptiles!

  4. Posted June 5, 2020 at 8:37 am | Permalink

    For an instant, before I started reading, I thought the fox looked like some form of “chibi” coyote.

  5. rickflick
    Posted June 5, 2020 at 9:14 am | Permalink

    Good to see the reptiles getting a bit of attention. Foxes, of course, are a positive delight.

  6. Terry Sheldon
    Posted June 5, 2020 at 9:24 am | Permalink

    Great photos; much appreciated. Thanks!!

  7. Jonathan Wallace
    Posted June 5, 2020 at 9:42 am | Permalink

    Lovely pics!

  8. Posted June 5, 2020 at 11:42 am | Permalink

    All excellent! I did see a fox much like that, for a brief, breathless instant, when driving down some back roads in Mexico many years ago. We looked at each other, and then it vanished.

  9. Raskos
    Posted June 5, 2020 at 12:34 pm | Permalink

    I’ve done a great deal of field work on horned lizards, and that last picture is a reminder of just how difficult they are to find in the field. Endless days walking in the sun with your eyes on the ground.

  10. Charles A Sawicki
    Posted June 5, 2020 at 1:14 pm | Permalink

    Nice shoots. Love the desert kit fox equipped with the ears adapted for heat!

  11. Posted June 5, 2020 at 6:15 pm | Permalink

    These are splendid, Charles. Thanks!


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