Desert Tortoise Finding near Nipton, California

04/29/2015 Trip Notes: While on a daytrip to the Lucy Gray Mine, northeast of Nipton, California, Harvey and I came across three instances of Desert Tortoise crossing the road. In all the hiking we have done over the past several years, this is the first time we have come across a live Desert Tortoise in their natural environment. To see three of them in the same day was just amazing. Even though I am aware that tortoises come out of brumation, a semi-hibernation state, in March or April as the weather warms up, I was surprised to find three of them within a two mile distance. The first one we came across (Figs. 01 & 02) was a little shy and we had all we could do to coax it to stick its head out once he became aware of our presence. Our second sighting (Figs. 03 & 04) was a little more active, and actually continued to scramble across the road and into the shade of a creosote bush. One thing I noticed was that all three had loose dirt on the top of their shells. Because it was quite breezy, I determined that they had only recently climbed out of their burrows, else the loose sand on their backs would have been blown away by the wind. Though I didn’t notice until I got back and started editing the day’s pictures, the third tortoise (Fig. 05 & 06) had a unique man-made marking on the rear of its shell. It was only recently I learned, during construction of the nearby Ivanpah Solar Electric Generating System  located just a few miles west of this location, that they spent more than $30 million on tortoise protection measures, eventually finding and relocating more than 170 tortoises. My guess is that they may have “marked” the tortoise that they relocated back into the desert for future observation purposes, and if so, this could be one of them and why we found so many in this area. For more info on this endanger species check out my page ... Desert Tortoise (Gopherus agassizii).
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