tirsdag 2. september 2014


Arizona Upland desert scrub
Nikon Coolpix

Imagine yourself walking the terrain and the temp is incredible 47 degrees C (in the shade !!). The vegetation is scrub-bush with all kinds of thorned & spined dangers. Acacias & Agaves with needle-sharp thorns and different kinds of cactus like the upright Saguaro and the deliric Teddy Bear Cholla cactus with long, super thin needles that are so easily released from the mother plant …. and that will penetrate anything at the lightest touch …. and once they go in, they stick inside you and they will not come out ! My first encounters with the Cholla was unpleasant, but important learning. The wildlife consists basically of tarantulas, black widow spiders, scorpions, venomous centipedes & millepedes, venomuóus gila monsters, a couple of turkey vultures monitoring you from somewhere above …. and rattlesnakes !! (this is of course nonsense, there is a lot of different wildlife in the desert, but this is only to put you in a certain mood !!). Hell on earth ?? Well, the desert may seem a little unfriendly at the first glance, but as you "get into it" … the desert becomes incredibly beautiful and the ecological adaptions to the harsh conditions are amazing !

My fascination for venomous snakes has brought me to the Arizona deserts to look for rattlesnakes. … and AZ is really rattlesnake heaven !!... with as much as 13 species of the total of 18 found in the entire US (not counting sub-species).We worked day & night for 2 weeks, stumbled around in the desert "turning every stone"for snakes, climbed several vegetation zones into rockslides in the high alpine mountains to look for the rare & "hard to find" Banded rock rattlesnake and drove innumerous of night drives on local roads to look for crossing snakes & snake warming up on the still-warm pavement.

Awarm thankyou to my friend biologist Pål Sørensen. Without Pål`s incredible knowledge, solid experience, excellent snake handling skills and dedicated commitment I could never have done this trip successfully. Thanks Pål !!! Also thanks to Barney Tomberlin, Portal AZ.

Mohave rattlesnake
D4, 200 4,0 micro, f/5,6, 1/200, ISO 1600

Definitely the most venomous & probably also the most dangerous of all rattlesnakes : 
the Mohave rattlesnake. The venom is not only hemotoxic causing massive tissue destruction & necrosis, but also neurotoxic affecting nerve system collapse : heart, lungs etc. A photographer was recently shooting a Mohave with a (too) short lens and got bitten in the wrist. He died in the ambulance helicopter 30 minutes after the bite.

Mohave rattlesnake
D4, 200 4,0 micro, f/5,6, 1/200, ISO 1800

Baby Mohave rattlesnake
D4, 200 4,0 micro, f/11,0, 1/640, ISO 1250

Tiger rattlesnake
D4, 200 4,0, micro, f/9,0, 1/400, ISO 450

With grayish colors, dark grey stripes on light grey background, the rare Tiger rattlesnake blends in completely in the rocky landscape. Hadn`t it been for the continuous rattling we would never have detected it.

Tiger rattlesnake
D4, 200 4,0 micro, f/9,0, 1/400, ISO 450

Unlike other rattlers the Tiger rattlesnakes does not lift it`s head & neck in upright position when threatened. The snake has also a proportionally relative small head compared with the body.
D4, 200 4,0 micro, f/9,0, 1/400, ISO 450

Tiger rattlesnake
D4, 200 4,0 micro, f/9,0, 400, ISO 450

Tiger rattlesnake
D4, 200 4,0 micro, f/9,0, 1/400, ISO 450

A big Western diamondback rattlesnake in defensive position in the grass. I was honestly pretty close to shoot this picture ! 
D4, 200 4,0 micro, f/16,0, 1/320, ISO 5000

The Western diamondback rattlesnake is the second largest rattler in the US, a big snake up to 1,7 m. Adults are an impressive sight when seen streched out crossing roads at night. The venom is primarily hemotoxic and the snake has big venom yields  & super long fangs (20 mm) which enables it to insert large amounts of venom in a single bite (up to 250 mg !). On top of all this : the W. diamondback is often grumpy & bad tempered. In average 5 persons are killed by rattlesnakes each year in the US and diamondbacks are responsible for most of them.

Western diamondback rattlesnke
D4, 200 4,0 micro, f/6,3, 1/800, ISO 560

Western diamondback rattlesnake
D4, 200-400 4,0, f/6,3, 1/400, ISO 400

Blactailed rattlesnake
D4,200 4,0 micro, f/9,0, 1/400, ISO 360

In my eyes the blacktailed rattlesnake is the most beautiful looking of all US rattlers : warm yellowish colors with black drawings and …. black tail. The blacktail is a big snake (1,2 m) with potent venom & big venom yields. Very dangerous of course, but not as grumpy & aggressive as diamondbacks and accordingly fatalities are not so common. 

Blacktailed rattlesnake
D4, 200 4,0 micro, f/9,0, 1/400, ISO 320

Blacktailed rattlesnake
D4, 200 4,0 micro, f/9,0, 1/400, ISO 360

Blacktailed rattlesnake
D4, 200 4,0 micro, f/9,0, 1/400, ISO 1400

Sunset rattlesnake : a blacktailed rattlesnake…. overlooking the indian wilderness where Geronimo once roamed ….130 (?) years ago !!
D4, 14-24 2,8, f/10,0, 1/200, ISO 3600, monopod & cable release

Catching a blacktail rattlesnake on a nightdrive
D4, 14-24 2,8, f/2,8, 1/60, ISO 1400

Sidewinder rattlesnake in early morning light
D4, 200 4,0 micro, f/9,0, 1/320, ISO 900 

The sidewinder rattlesnake is a desert icon !!! It is adapted to the more sandy areas of the desert and (as you will probably know) it can move sideways over the loose, sandy dunes. You would be amazed to see the incredible speed this technique can produce !

Sidewinder rattlesnake
D800E, 200 4,0 micro, f/11,0, 1/1000, ISO 800

Sidewinder rattlesnake
D800E, 200 4,0 micro, f/11,0, 1/1000, ISO 1400

Banded rock rattlesnake
D4, 200 4,0 micro, f/9,0, 1/800, ISO 1800

The banded rock rattlesnake is a small rattler and can be found in rockslides in the high alpine region. It is rare and hard to find !!!

Banded rock rattlesnake
D4, 200 4,0 micro, f/10,0, 1/500, ISO 1400

5 kommentarer:

  1. Hva skal jeg si. Awesome! Nok en flott bildeserie fra slangenes verden. Nydelig presentert i bilder og tekst.

  2. Kvalitetsarbeid fra topp til bunn :) Fantastiske skapninger og gode bilder!

  3. Fantastisk serie med slangebilder, og flott med underteksten som forteller en del om slangene..
    Fasinerende og flotte skapninger dette..
    Mye svette og jobbing har gitt gode resultater her, gratulerer så mye..


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