Crotaphytus nebrius Sonoran Collared Lizard
Alamo Canyon, Organ Pipe National Monument, Pima County, ArizonaAugust 3, 2014
Sonoran Collared Lizard (Crotaphytus nebrius) Sonoran Collared Lizard (Crotaphytus nebrius)
Last time I had been in southeast Arizona, I told my friend Roger Repp that I wanted to try to find Sonoran Collared Lizards. "Oh, you mean the ugly ones?", he not-so-enthusiastically replied. (He is right that Eastern Collared Lizards, which also live in southeast Arizona, are often particularly pretty, but I had seen lots of those and zero of these.) So Roger and I had spent a morning in the Ironwood Forest National Monument, near the eastern end of the Sonoran Collared Lizard's range, in an unsuccessful search.

This time I decided to look further west, more in the heart of the range of this species. I saw many Zebra-tailed Lizards basking and scurrying about on the desert floor, and was distracted momentarily by a few Sonoran Spiny Lizards, before I glanced down a boulder-strewn wash to see a large yellowish lizard posed atop a boulder about ten feet away. I enjoyed the sighting during the six seconds it took me to lift my camera, and the collared lizard perhaps enjoyed watching me for the five seconds it took before vanishing. I searched the area but hadn't been looking in that critical second, so I didn't know which way it went and I had no luck finding it again. Ah well, I thought, the morning is young and perhaps I'll see others and I will be coming back this way eventually.

A couple of hours later I got a two-second glance at another largish, yellowish lizard as it clambered off of a large boulder and into a rock pile. I peered into the crevice into which it had vanished and could see the last part of the relatively smooth, cylindrical tail that confirmed it as another Crotaphytus nebrius. Ah well, I thought, the morning is no longer so young but soon I will be back to where I saw the first one; maybe it will be out again.

Alas, it was not. But as I neared the end/start of the trail, I spotted a familiar shape atop a rocky mound about 50 feet away. I don't usually carry binoculars when I'm out herping, but I had specifically brought them for collared-lizarding, and they confirmed that I had found Sonoran Collared Lizard #3. I got a few long-distance shots and then tried to sneak up closer without scaring the lizard off. I was about 50% successful; it definitely noticed me and slowly retreated to the safety of a nearby bush, but it wasn't spooked enough to vanish completely, and I got a few partially obstructed shots.

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