Year-End Countdown # 12 — Eastern Collared Lizard
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Tonight I begin my annual year-end countdown in which I post, in reverse order, my 12 favorite images from 2015. The countdown will end on New Year’s Day with my favorite image of the year. I’ve chosen the images based on two criteria: technical merit and also significance. Each of these images is memorable to me, for different reasons.
We begin with an image of an Eastern Collared Lizard, one that I made back on April 1. It’s not the most vivid or colorful image that I have of one of these big lizards, but it is the most dynamic.
I particularly like this lizard’s pose. It is basking in sunlight but at the same time is watching me, warily, undecided whether to stand its ground or retreat.
I spent three years trying to get this photo. Eastern Collared Lizards are not rare but they are very particular about their habit. They like rocky hillsides with plenty of sun. I hiked all over Sabino Canyon looking for these animals without any success. One day, a friend, Ned Harris, suggested to me that I could find them on a certain trail in the canyon. I began walking that trail a couple of times a week, looking for these lizards, still with no success. Then, on a very hot April 1, I was hiking that trail when I met another friend, René Clark, coming from the opposite direction. I told René that I was searching for a Collared Lizard. René answered that she’d just seen one. She turned around and led me to that location, and sure enough, there it was, sunbathing.
Eastern Collared Lizards are among the largest lizards that one finds in our desert. Indeed, the only lizard that I know that is larger is the Gila Monster. From its nose to the tip of its exceptionally long tail, a Collared Lizard can be over a foot long. Collared Lizards aren’t venomous, but they are predators, preying on smaller lizards when they can. They can also be remarkably colorful. The colors on this individual are somewhat muted but still, it is beautiful.
Image made with a Canon 5Diii, 180 f3.5L Macro Lens assisted by Canon 600EX-RT Speedlite, ISO 100, f8 @ 1/160.