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California whiptail        Images © Mark A. Chappell

California whiptails are sleek, shiny, very alert lizards found in many habitats in the western US.  Like many lizards they are most active on warm days; unlike many familiar reptiles they are wandering hunters (not sit-and-wait ambushers).  Whiptails continually move around, poking under leaves and in crevices, looking for prey.   Consequently they are hard to catch and harder to photograph; I found this one basking briefly in the sun in the Box Springs Mountains near Riverside, CA.   I used a big telephoto lens to avoid alarming the animal, but as you can see, it kept an eye on me constantly.

  • Canon 10D, 500 mm f4 IS lens + 1.4X converter, fill-in flash (2003)