Saturday, May 14, 2011

coast horned lizard ~ 05/14/11 ~ Fort Ord

coast horned lizard
Phrynosoma blainvillii

I've said from the get-go that Nature ID does not show many of the cool things I see during hikes, nor is this blog a decent representation of what can be found on the Central Coast of California. You may have noticed I mainly post pictures of flowers, and it's NOT because I'm particularly more interested in plants than say birds or marine life. The great thing about taking pictures of plants is that they hold still, except when the wind blows. Plus, I can generally get close enough to take a decent picture. Flowers don't run, swim, or fly away. Unfortunately, sometimes the clearest pictures I get of animals is if they're dead, like this red-breasted nuthatch post. Even so, I was surprised to see this flattened coast horned lizard since this was on restricted Army Lands, and I can't imagine much traffic goes through on this road. Poor thing. Click this highlighted link to see much cuter (and alive!) pictures of juvenile coast horned lizards I found on Fort Ord BLM Lands on August 4, 2010.


Sinbad and I on the Loose said...

Yesterday I posted a couple photos of a horned lizard of the Death Valley type. Very light colored that blends in with the desert surroundings. He was in a much better condition than this poor fellow.

Sue Langley said...

Yes, you're right, it's easier to photograph flowers than critters. We were lucky to get a shot of a pocket mouse, but most photos here are plants!
In SoCal when I was growing up, we'd pick up and hold the horny toads. Lots of 'em back then.

Nature ID (Katie) said...

Thanks, John and Sue. Glad to hear someone else feels similarly about fast-moving (or hidden) critters. I would love to see more horned toads.

Jim Maughn said...

I would guess the Horned Lizard could very well have been hit by a bicycle. Phrynosoma have developed the defensive strategy of freezing when a potential predator approaches, and relying on their ability to blend into their surroundings for survival. They will often not run until the predator is practically right on top of them, and then usually only a few feet, at which point they freeze and try to blend again. This is apparently successful when faced with predators, but not so much with fast-moving mountain bikes. It's largely for this reason that I'd like to see the narrow, chaparral-heavy trails in Fort Ord restricted to foot traffic only, though I know that's a pretty unpopular opinion. I've come across a couple of bike-squashed Horned Lizards, though, and always hate to see it.

Great site, by the way. I'm enjoying reading my way through!

Katie (Nature ID) said...

Thanks, Jim. I wasn't kidding when I said this flattened lizard was found on "restricted" Army Lands -- it's behind barbed wire fencing: Not likely run over by a bicyclist, but it's good to know about their freezing behavior. I have mixed feelings about the popularity of mountain bikes at Fort Ord, when there's a dedicated mountain bike track just next door.