Thursday, April 15, 2010

An exciting day in the field

Today was another productive, and even exciting, day in the field.

Collecting Penstemon albomarginatus from the Arizona site where it occurs was quite fun. The plants seem just a little different here compared to the ones seen in California and Nevada. The habitat is slightly different also.

The flowers seem a bit paler in coloration and the leaves seem a bit more narrow and elongated.

The flower stems are also more densely packed with flowers.

The habitat at the Arizona site is a transition zone between the Mohave Desert and the Sonoran Desert. Ocatilla and Saguaro cactus are in this transition zone.

The big excitement of the day was this close encounter with a Mohave Rattlesnake. It was basking in the sun on one of the main roads into the area.

We stopped so that Stephen Zitzer could move it off the road. The snake was definitely not happy to be disturbed.

In fact, it got rather upset about being messed with.

Stephen jumped into the truck to move it, but the snake had already decided to head for cover underneath it.

No! Don't go up in the truck! Damn!

This isn't the solution I would have come up with, but Stephen seemed pretty sure of his approach to remove the snake from the underside of our field vehicle. If you're going to yank on a rattlesnake's tail, you better be sure to fling it hard and fast away from you.

Now the snake is even more upset about the whole affair.

Ok, fella - here's the deal. You get pinned by a stick.

Then you get picked up by the neck.

Got it!

"Now, stay off the road!"

The snake is still upset about this treatment, but at least it's not a target for the next vehicle that comes along.

Ok, off you go then.

Yep - that was pretty exciting.

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