Wallace daisies are tiny delicate flowers that sprout in seemingly impossible conditions. You have to get down and close to see them as they are just a couple inches tall.
Despite the dangerous roads the preserve has a fairly healthy population of lizards and snakes and I try to make it around to the different locations where I might better find one species or another. This year we are in a La Niña weather pattern; colder and wetter than normal. It is hard to tell what triggers which animals to come out and do their thing so I just go along surprised each year on what is out and what is not. That is part of the fun in returning year after year. This year, my wife and I were joined by 3 very close friends from the Seattle area – people likely more weary of the weather than I. I found myself hiking more than usual, that is hiking for the sake of hiking and views more than finding reptiles. I say reptiles, but in reality where I visit there is one species of amphibian, the red-spotted toad, Anaxyrus punctatus, that is easily found in the washes and springs during wet years. It is a magical experience to sit in a spring, back to the mountains, and hear the high trill of toads amidst the silence of the desert. Every out doors aficionado should try this once in their lives.
The Great Basin Collared lizard, Crotaphytus bicinctores, basks on a boulder in the Granite Mountains.
Sceloporus magister, the desert spiny lizard, is another common lizard found staking out territories on large boulders and even on utility poles. The brightly colored males, like many lizards, do push-up displays to warn intruders and attract mates.
Desert banded geckoes, Coleonyx variegatus, are fragile nocturnal lizards that you may see at the bases of bushes at night. You are more likely to see these crossing roads and they can be surprisingly quick when they need. This is a pretty adult male. We counted many of these running around asphalt roads at night. Unfortunately speeding cars and untrained eyes meant that many got squished.
And here is a close up view of a female.