Thursday, July 9, 2015

Lizards at Torrey Pines Reserve

On a recent visit to the Torrey Pines Reserve I was able to photograph a couple of lizards.

The Western Fence Lizard is quite common in the West. They are 5-8 inches long, including the tail. The blue throat and sides of adult males are quite striking. The blue is lacking in females and immatures. Instead, for identification, the backs of the legs show quite a bit of yellow, as in the photo below.

Fence Lizard
Fence Lizard
The next lizard was quite small. The little yellow dots all over the torso were striking, but the barely discernible dark spot behind the front leg is the clinching identifying mark for Side-blotched Lizard.

I have just learned (Wikipedia) that there are 3 color morphs of males and 2 color morphs of females, all with different breeding strategies. If I am identifying it correctly, the lizard below is a yellow-throated female.

Side-blotched Lizard
Side-blotched Lizard. Torrey Pines Reserve, California. June 21, 2015. Greg Gillson.
Because of the high predation rates, these lizards are prolific breeders. The 1-inch long immatures are abundant--and very fast if, in fact, those are what I am seeing in the desert lands darting everywhere. The males can grow up to 6 inches long, but most are much smaller.

In recent weeks I've also seen Horned Lizard and Alligator Lizards, and perhaps others that were just too quick for me!