Crotaphytus vestigium — Baja California Collared Lizard
Also known as:
Baja Collared Lizard, Black-collared Lizard
We stayed in Borrego Springs for nearly two weeks. With only a few days left in the area before we were due to head east towards Tucson, I decided to take a long lunchbreak on the hottest day left at the hottest time of day to make one final attempt to find a Baja California collared lizard. Back to Borrego Palm Canyon I went in the early afternoon on a 95-plus-degree day. There were few signs of life at that hour; even the normally ubiquitous side-blotched lizards were laying low. I hiked the most boulder-strewn portion of the canyon with my eyes looking for lizard shapes on the largest distant boulders, and it paid off with this attractive lifer. It wasn't in a modeling mood, so I didn't end up with any close-ups, but I followed it around at a distance for ten or fifteen minutes and admired its striking pattern and big fat side-blotched-lizard-devouring head. Woo-hoo! I saw one more individual run off when I hiked back to the car, but that one was even less cooperative.
Art Smith Trail, Santa Rosa and San Jacinto Mountains National Monument, Riverside County, California—May 1, 2019
At long last I photographed a second individual of this good-looking species. I came around a corner and my eyes landed on this lizard atop a mound of boulders, only about five feet away. I was carrying my camera on a tripod, but I was afraid that setting up the tripod would be enough to spook the lizard into hiding, so I slowly and carefully released the camera from the tripod and took the first photo here. This was indeed enough to spook the lizard into hiding, so I moved about twenty feet away, set up my camera on the tripod, and started waiting. After maybe ten minutes the lizard cautiously crept back up onto the rock and settled in. I took a few photos from there, then repeatedly snuck a little closer and took a few more photos. The second photo above was the closest I got before it ducked back down into a crevice.
Collared lizards can be so smug, but I think they have earned it.
- Crother, B. I. (ed.) 2017. Scientific and Standard English Names of Amphibians and Reptiles of North America North of Mexico, with Comments Regarding Confidence in Our Understanding, Eighth Edition
- Lemm, J. M. 2006. Field Guide to Amphibians and Reptiles of the San Diego Region
- Sanborn, S. R. 1994. The Lizard-Watching Guide
- Smith, H. M. 1995. Handbook of Lizards: Lizards of the United States and Canada
- Stebbins, R. C. 2003. Peterson Field Guide to Western Reptiles and Amphibians, Third Edition