Birdless Joys of Birding – Part 2

Birdless joys of birding occur when a birding trip turns up other cool animals (see Featherless Joy of Birding). On a previous birding trip to the East Mojave Preserve we had an opportunity for photographing interesting non-avian critters. At the Baker Sewer Ponds, we encountered this male Western Zebra-tailed Lizard – females lack the black bands on the belly.

Western Zebra-tailed Lizard

The Western Zebra-tailed Lizard lives in the Mojave and Colorado Deserts and the Great Basin. It is diurnal and forages for insects and smaller lizards except during extreme heat. When not taking refuge in the shade, it maintains only minimal contact with the ground. As seen in this photo, only the vent and heels are touching the sand. Zebra-taileds will occasionally take this a step farther and stand on only two feet at a time.

When they are scurrying around (25+ mph), Western Zebra-tailed Lizards curl their tails over their backs like a scorpion. Sometimes they use only their hind feet. They usually don’t allow close approach. I took this photo from a distance of about 40′. I used a point and shoot camera through a Kowa TSN-884 spotting scope with their new TE-11WZ 25-60x wide angle zoom eyepiece. The zoom features two elements of Extra-low Dispersion (ED) glass. This is an innovation in Kowa eyepieces which improves contrast and sharpness by further reducing chromatic aberration.