Thursday, May 24, 2012

A gathering of lizards

Where the lizards gather
 I've read that Western fence lizards (Sceloporus occidentalis) tend to be loners, defending their territory fiercely. There's a rocky place at Howarth Park where I like to sit and watch lizards, birds, insects and the occasional California ground squirrel go about their business. In winter the lizards are tucked away under rocks and in the ground but when the sun warms up those rock, the lizards come out of hibernation.

Fence lizards and a skink hanging out
One morning in early spring I arrived just as the sun hit the rocks and was pleasantly surprised to find a gathering of several lizards andl Western skinks (Plestiodon skiltonianus) hanging (literally) together on the vertical face of the rock. As I watched a few more emerged from holes in the wall and within an hour most had dispersed and could be found hunting within view.

Western fence lizards easing out of a tiny cave in a big wall of rock
Entranced, I returned several mornings in a row. The first couple of days the gathering was large. The weather became unseasonable warm and by the time I arrived (between 7:30 and 8 a.m.) the lizards were already out hunting. The skinks appear to come out later than the lizards and I was usually able to see them straggle out, sun for a bit and then glide off for some breakfast. After a few days, the gathering was much smaller but when I looked closely I could see lizards and a few skinks scattered among the rocks, hunting and defending territory.


  1. Hi Debbie,
    Howard Park seems to be an inexhaustible source of delight..:). These lizard are beautiful, I wonder how you managed to sketch them. Those we have here are very shy. As a child I used to catch lizards and put them in the pockets of my trousers where I forgot them sometimes until my mom would run out of my room the other morning yelling...

  2. Your observation intrigues me ...... I wish a knew of a lizard spot within walking distance of my house. Someday spring day I may get lucky when I'm out and about.

    Great sketches, especially that last one.