Near Third Pass, sea oats (Uniola paniculata), evening primrose (Oenothera sp.), and cordgrass (Spartina sp.) are present on the dunes, and on alkaline flats we collected Conocarpus erectus, Leucaena sp., and Cassia fasciculata var. ferrisiae.
We reached Washington Beach from Matamoros on July 6, and drove to a point approximately 33 miles south on the beach, where we made Camp 1 on the east side of large dunes 400 yards from the surf. From this camp we worked the beach and dunes and also visited alkaline flats adjacent to the Laguna Madre. On the afternoon of July 8, we drove south along the beach and established Camp 2 on the south side of the Third Pass, approximately 73 miles south of Washington Beach. We had intended to go farther south but were unable to cross the Fourth Pass, an inlet three miles south of the Third Pass. We left the barrier island on the afternoon of July 10, after driving north from Camp 2 to the mouth of the Rio Grande, 11 miles north of Washington Beach.
Mexican fishermen camped at the Fourth Pass told us that, had we been able to cross the Fourth Pass, it would have been possible to drive south on the beach all the way to La Pesca, a fishing village near the mouth of the Río Soto la Marina, approximately 150 miles south of Washington Beach.
Summary of Previous Work in the Area
The ornithologist H. E. Dresser (1865-1866) worked in southern Texas and at Matamoros, Tamaulipas, in 1863, and on one occasion reached the mouth of the Rio Grande ("Boca Grande"). He did not visit the barrier island or the Laguna Madre de Tamaulipas.
In their extensive travels through México, E. W. Nelson and E. A. Goldman made collections at three localities in the coastal region of Tamaulipas but did not reach the barrier island (Goldman, 1951). Goldman collected at Altamira, near Tampico, from April 2 to 24, 1898, and from May 15 to 20 of the same year both he and Nelson made headquarters at Altamira. Nelson and Goldman also collected in the vicinity of Soto la Marina, 25 miles from the coast, from March 1 to 10, 1902, and, from February 13 to 15, they visited Bagdad, described by Goldman (1951:260) as "a village at very low elevation on the Río Grande about 6 miles above the mouth of the river."
In March, 1950, C. von Wedel and E. R. Hall collected four species of mammals and one bird on the barrier island at Boca Jésus María (Eighth Pass). A report of this work published by Hall (1951) contains descriptions of three new subspecies of mammals from the island.
A few records of birds from the southern end of the barrier island and from other parts of coastal Tamaulipas were reported by Robins, Martin, and Heed (1951). In 1953, R. R. Graber and J. W. Graber made ornithological studies in the vicinity of Tampico and also reached the western edge of the Laguna Madre de Tamaulipas. Several papers on this work have appeared (Graber and Graber, 1954a, 1954b; Graber, 1955), but a comprehensive account of their observations and specimens was not published. Finally, J. R. Alcorn collected some sandpipers 20 miles southeast of Matamoros, on August 21, 1954, obtaining the first record of the Semipalmated Sandpiper (Ereunetes pusillus) in Tamaulipas (Thompson, 1958).
Accounts of Species
Catalogue numbers in the following accounts are those of the Museum of Natural History, The University of Kansas.
Gopherus berlandieri Agassiz: Texas Tortoise.—A pelvic girdle and complete shell with a few attached scutes (63494) were found in stabilized dunes at Camp 1 on July 7, and tracks were seen in the same area. Fragments of two other shells (63493, 63495) were found on sand flats between active dunes at Camp 1.
Holbrookia propinqua propinqua Baird and Girard: Keeled Earless Lizard.—This lizard was abundant on dunes and in pebble-strewn blow-out areas between dunes at Camp 2, but it occurred in smaller numbers in the less stabilized dunes of sparser vegetation at Camp 1. Breeding was in progress at both localities, as evidenced by the presence of eggs in the oviducts of several females, by the heightened coloration of both sexes, and by mating behavior.
The mating behavior of this species has not been described in the literature, and the following observations, made by Raun at Camp 2 on July 8, may be of interest. A male was seen to circle a female as the latter remained motionless with tail curved upward and to the side, exposing a patch of bright pink-orange color on the ventral surface of the tail. At times the male approached the female from the rear and slightly to the side, biting the dorsal part of her neck and simultaneously attempting to effect intromission. The female several times reacted to this approach by running forward a few steps, thereby freeing her neck from the grasp of the male. When the male did not attempt to approach again, the female appeared to invite copulation by moving in front of him with tail elevated and the colored ventral surface prominently displayed. At the time of copulation, the male mounted from the rear on the right side of the female, grasped her neck, and circled his tail beneath her tail; at the same time the hindquarters of the female were arched upward.
To confirm the presumed sexes of the two individuals under observation, both were collected while in copulation. Examination of the still-coupled specimens showed that both hemipenes of the male were everted and the left one had been inserted.
Apparently the pink-orange subcaudal patch of females is present only in the mating season. It was not present on specimens of this species taken by Raun and Wilks on Padre Island, Texas, in autumn, and it is not mentioned in taxonomic descriptions by Axtell (1954) and Smith (1946).
Measurements of adult specimens in our series indicate that females are of smaller average size than males, and, as previously noted by Smith (1946:132), females of this species have disproportionately shorter tails than do males (Table 1).
Holbrookia propinqua was previously collected on the barrier island by Axtell (1954:31; see also Axtell and Wasserman, 1953:2), who took specimens at Boca Jésus María, at a locality six to seven miles south of Boca Jésus María, and at a point 20 miles east-southeast of Matamoros. Axtell (loc. cit.) also lists specimens in the Museum of Zoology, University of Michigan, from Tepehuaje and from one mile north of Miramar Beach (Tampico).
Specimens (56): 3 ♂ ♂ adult, 1 ♂ subadult, 63433-436, Camp 1, July 7. 33 ♂ ♂ adult, 63437-440, 63443-445, 63447, 63448, 63450-456, 63458, 63460, 63462, 63463, 63465-468, 63470-478; 13 ♀ ♀ adult, 63441, 63446, 63449, 63457, 63459, 63469, 63479-485; 6 juv., 63442, 63461, 63464, 63486-488; Camp 2, July 9-July 10.
Table 1.—Measurements in Millimeters of Adult Specimens of Holbrookia propinqua from the Barrier Island of Tamaulipas