This will be my detailed description
page of all of my snake trips.
Click a box below to shortcut to a particular month.
Mostly Cloudy 73°
|The first day of the new season meant a quick trip out to one of my favorite snake spots in St. Charles County. The temperature cooperated so hopes were high. While walking along the base of a bluff and feeling very discouraged at not having found anything up to that point, I spotted a beautiful juvenile eastern yellow-bellied racer. It was nice to get the first snake of the year under my belt. We moved on to a new location in St. Charles County and spent another hour searching with no reward. My dad decided to sit on a bench and rest while I continued my search. When I met back up with him later, he showed me a large snake that was basking 10 feet from his sitting location. This black rat snake would be the last snake of the day. It was a great way to kick the year off. A total of 2 snakes.|
|January 27, 2008
Scattered Clouds 59°
|My dad and I tried to hit a spot in St, Charles County,
Missouri, but luck was not on our side. The air was fairly warm, but
the wind was strong and cold. All we saw were several turtle shells including
those from red eared sliders, western painted turtles, and map turtles. A total of 0 snakes.
|February 09, 2008
Scattered Clouds 57°
sister Melissa, my two cousins Jessica and Erin Purcell, and I decided
to look for salamanders at a spot in Warren County, Missouri. We were
skunked on any herps here, but I did manage to turn up several aquatic staged
central newts at my grandparentís place. A total of 0 snakes.
|March 01, 2008
Mostly Cloudy 63°
Melissa, Jessica, and I again tried to find salamanders at my grandparentís
property in Warren County, Missouri without any luck. We did however
turn up a few cricket frogs and a very cold spring peeper. Also seen
were several aquatic staged central newts. A
total of 0 snakes.
|March 02, 2008
Mostly Cloudy 78°
dad, Melissa, Kyle and I decided to look for snakes at one of my spots
in St. Charles County, Missouri. After the snakes didn't show themselves,
we went to plan "B" which was to look for frogs and salamanders. Well
the salamanders didnít show themselves either, but the northern spring peepers
and western chorus frogs were calling in moderate numbers. We checked
a few ponds where we heard some without finding any. Then on the way
out we heard a huge chorus of both species. When we found the pond,
they were so loud I couldn't hear my brother talking next to me. We
visually saw 4 spring peepers and many blanchardís cricket frogs.
The spring amphibian movement is finally here. That means the snake
movement is just around the corner. A total
of 0 snakes.
|March 14, 2008
Mostly Cloudy 60°
dad and I hit my spot in St. Charles County, Missouri. We hadnít
seen a snake in, it seems like forever. Well the gods gave us a glimmer
of hope. I spotted a black rat snake poking its head out of a crack
in a rock. It immediately ducked back in though. Only minutes
later, I spotted a second one in another crack in a rock. The last
snake was a small prairie ring-necked snake flipped under a rock.
We attempted to see salamanders, but we had no luck. We did find and
photograph a few northern spring peepers, before we called it a night.
A total of 3 snakes.
|March 15, 2008
and I decided we really needed to find a spotted salamander on my grandparentís
property. We walked back to the vernal pool that I had discovered
last fall. The temperature was in the thirties, so we werenít banking
on much. After searching for more than 30 minutes we spotted a spring
peeper as it made its way into the leaf litter of the pool. We were
going to call it quits when I decided to walk the perimeter of the pool
one more time. I saw a rock that I had ignored up to that point.
My gut was telling me that if I turned it, I would be very happy. I
couldnít believe my eyes when I was staring at the spotted salamander that
was underneath that rock. I know they are common, but I have searched
for this species at my grandparentís for several years without any luck and
now I have the satisfaction of knowing they are here. After a lengthy
photo session, I sent the critter back on its way. This was a great
day! A total of 0 snakes.
|March 17, 2008
weather men were saying that a substantial amount of rain was suppose to
occur all night long. This was a red flag to me. While in-between
classes at school, I called Mike to get his opinion on whether I should get
out and look for salamanders. He basically said, I would be stupid
not to go. Later that night, my mom, who seemed interested in going,
decided to be the driver while I searched the roads for migrating salamanders.
My siblings Kyle and Melissa also tagged along. Well, we headed out
to my spot in St. Charles County, Missouri. I should make
it a point to tell you that I have spent a few years looking for local tiger
salamanders without any luck. Well, in route to the first pond, I
saw a large salamander walking across the road. My first thought was
tiger, but then I dismissed it thinking this wasnít what I would call tiger
habitat. I ran back and couldnít believe my eyes. I was picking
up a 6 inch eastern tiger salamander. The pattern wasnít the best,
but the colors were nice, so I definitely had nothing to complain about.
That was a good omen. We arrived at the first pool moments later and
quickly discovered the nice spotted salamanders in there. I stuck
to the edges of the pond because I didnít want to step on any eggs or salamanders.
I barely looked and found 5 spotted salamanders. I photographed one
quickly because the rain was relentless. We continued to the second
pond. Here I saw many wood frogs. Their chuckles were mixed
in with the peepers and chorus frogs. I stepped into the pond and
saw a small salamander quickly swimming away from me. I wasnít sure
what it was, so I grabbed it. It turned out to be a confused ringed
salamander. Everyone knows that ringed salamanders are fall breeders.
This struck me as being weird, but hey, Iím not complaining. These
are one of my favorite salamanders. I hit one last pond and saw one
more gravid female spotted before calling it a very successful night.
I feel fortunate to witness such a massive salamander migration. This
proves to be my first migration, and I hope itís not my last. This
was the best outing so far this year, and it ranks up there on my all-time
list. A total of 0 snakes.
|March 21, 2008
|After Kyle, Melissa, my dad and I played a nice game of disc golf, we decided the temperature was in our favor to do a little herping. We stopped at one of my spots in St. Charles County Missouri because it was within a few minutes of our golf location. Luck would have it, I spotted a nice eastern garter snake minutes after our arrival. The snake got away, but at least it was something. The beginning of the year has been very slow snake wise. I finally grabbed another snake that was sunning itself in the grass and I got some pictures. We ended the day with 5 eastern garter snakes. A total of 5 snakes.|
|April 05, 2008
that time of the year again, so my sister Melissa, my dad, and I headed to
the Wayne and Stoddard County border in Missouri to herp the habitat that
it had to offer. Here the swamps meet the Ozarks and there is a wide variety
of species to be had. We started off with some bad news. We were
told by a member of the Department of Natural Resources that the area was
mostly closed to flooding. She said the river and bluffs were about
the only places we had access to. After talking about our game plan,
one of which was to head over to Illinois, we decided to check the accessible
areas before we made some decisions. We hit the flooded river first.
The river was crowded with hundreds of gar and plenty of fishermen.
However, we didnít let that discourage us from herping. We just had to be a little more subtle.
Within minutes we spotted several snakes seeking refuge in the shrubs located
at the edge of the water. We also saw snakes soaking up some sun along
the bank. After a half hour of looking, we had found several midland
water snakes, yellow-bellied water snakes, a diamond-backed water snake,
and a western ribbon snake. We moved on toward the bluffs. On the way
we spotted another diamond-backed water snake coiled on a log in the swamp.
We parked as close to the bluffs as we could before the water no longer
allowed a vehicle through. There was a lake nearby so we walked the
dam. Here we spotted a couple of broad-banded water snakes making
their way through the grass. Also seen was my first viper of 2008,
a nice adult western cottonmouth. He was soaking up some sun by sitting
on a rock near the spillway. Also seen was a very large 4.5 foot diamond-backed
water snake. We finally arrived at the bluffs. We were expecting a nice
total up here, but we were not prepared for what was about to occur. It
wasnít long before we were seeing cottonmouths everywhere. It was ridiculous
how abundant they were. The density was unreal. The only other snake seen
along the bluffs was one large broad-banded water snake. To end the
day, we herped around the lake near where we parked. Here we found
a couple of diamond-backed water snakes, a couple of cottonmouths, a broad-banded
water snake, and a Mississippi ring-necked snake. The totals include
52 western cottonmouths, 6 midland water snakes, 5 diamond-backed water
snakes, 4 broad-banded water snakes, 3 yellow-bellied water snakes, 1 western
ribbon snake, and 1 Mississippi ring-necked snake. A total of 72 snakes.
|April 06, 2008
such a successful day yesterday we decided to hit LaRue Road today. The
day started out slow with only a few cottonmouths here and there and most
were in crevices. The few that were out though were very cooperative
for photographs. It wasnít until around noon that snakes started to
trickle out into the open. It was around this time that I found a
nice northern copperhead stretched out near the base of the bluff.
It was very cold and moved very little. After the photography session
the snake was released. It wasnít until the later part of the afternoon
that the place became alive with snakes. While walking my dad made
a joke about how I should go get that snake sticking out of the rock.
I figured I would humor him and go over there. If you know my father,
then you know why I didnít believe him. Well I went over there to throw
the stick at my dad, when I realized the stick was a black rat snake.
What do you know, my dad is capable of telling the truth. Anyway, soon
noticeable were three more black rat snakes and a yellow-bellied water snake.
After photographs were taken, I decided to rake the leaves a little with a
stick and out popped two more black rat snakes and another yellow-bellied
water snake all hidden completely in the leaves. This was a nice den
site and it was totally unexpected. I never would have known it was
there if I hadnít seen the snakes near it. We finally continued on to
see two ribbon snakes doing the dirty serpentine tango. We then headed
around to the north side to
herp the last two hours of the day. I climbed the bluff to look down
on a den site that has always produced in the past. Sure enough there
were plenty of cottonmouths, eleven to be exact. As the sun began to
set, I hit one last spot. As I was climbing toward the bluff base, I
heard a rustle in the leaves ahead of me. There was a mating ball of
at least 8 ribbon snakes. They quickly scattered and I continued on.
Only a few seconds later, I saw a racer take off between my legs. I
reached down in an effort to grab him, but I picked up a black kingsnake instead.
I quickly realized what I had and I saw the racer as it slide down a rock
crevice. The racer crawled right over the king. I didnít mean
to grab the king, it just happened. I was disappointed that I missed
the racer, but I much prefer the king. I photographed it and released
it. I was resurrected a minute later though. There was another
racer coiled perfectly at the base of the bluff. I couldnít have posed
it more perfectly. Before we left I saw a few more ribbon snakes.
Our totals for the day include 32 western cottonmouths, 19 western ribbon
snakes, 6 black rat snakes, 5 yellow-bellied water snakes, 2 southern black
racers, 1 eastern garter snake, 1 Mississippi ring-necked snake, 1 northern
copperhead, and 1 black kingsnake. This was an outstanding trip.
A total of 68 snakes.
|April 12, 2008
Sleet & Flurries 44°
expecting much as I herped at my grandparent's property in Warren County
Missouri. It was sleeting while I was looking for snakes. This didnít
seem natural. However, I flipped a rock and there was a prairie ring-necked
snake under it. I finished the day finding 6 of them. A total of 6 snakes.
|April 18, 2008
|Brian had yet to add a Grahamís crayfish snake to his life list so we headed over to one of my spots in St. Charles County Missouri to take care of that. We werenít expecting much. It was raining, cold, and very windy. However, we found our target right off the bat. It was an adult that was kind of beat up, but very easy to work with. Our next goal was to find a juvenile with better color. After finding a couple juvenile northern water snakes, Brian flipped a nice juvenile crayfish snake. After the photo session we continued on. To end the day we found another juvenile northern water snake under a piece of styrofoam, and two more juvenile crayfish snakes under a board and log respectively. We also netted a western chorus frog to take pictures of. A total of 7 snakes.|
|April 19, 2008
|I herped my grandparentís place in Warren County Missouri again today. I saw 10 prairie ring-necked snakes, 2 western slimy salamanders, northern spring peepers, American toads, and a pickerel frog, along with some other common stuff. A total of 10 snakes.|
|April 20, 2008
|My dad, Melissa, and I hit a spot in Jefferson County Missouri today. The day was slow, but regardless we found a few things. We found 4 prairie ring-necked snakes, 3 lined snakes, 1 western worm snake, 1 rough earth snake, and 1 juvenile eastern yellow-bellied racer. A total of 10 snakes.|
|April 28, 2008
Brian and I had planned a trip to a place in Maries County Missouri. We found a load of snakes here a couple of years ago, and today was the day to duplicate that performance. Unfortunately, the weather was not cooperative. It was cold and rainy. We decided to go anyway. The day started off with little diversity. Ring-necked snakes, rough earth snakes, and flat-headed snakes were seen in it seemed like a cycle. They were so predictable. We herped for a couple of hours wondering if we were going to see anything else. Soon Brian claimed that he had found something that I would like to see. In hand was a nice juvenile red milk snake, our first of the year. Happy we finally got one of our targets, we continued. Not long after, we found another adult rough earth snake. At least that is what we thought at first. It looked different so we checked its characteristics, and we realized it was the rough earth snakeís cousin the smooth earth snake. After posing both species together we continued on. The next rock is what Brian called the big snake rock. It took both of us to move it. Brian was right! Under it was two adult eastern yellow-bellied racers, a rough earth snake, and a prairie ring-necked snake. We continued on and the next rock was named big snake rock number two. Brian flipped it and bam, there was a prairie ring-necked snake and a large beautiful copperhead. This place produces the most beautiful copperheads in the world in my opinion. The copperhead was a very bright pink color. We found one like this last time too. This day was really shaping up. The next rock was named big snake rock number three. Brian flipped it and sure enough, there was an adult great plains rat snake coiled up underneath it. Brian was hoping we would find one. We had pictures taken and moved on. Three rocks in a row and 5 different species for 7 snakes. We continued on to find another copperhead and a juvenile great plains rat snake. The next find was a nice adult red milk snake with a yellow ground color. This was a unique looking snake. We spent quite of bit of time with the snake before moving on. Two more milk snakes were found before moving to the next hill side. We were wondering why we hadnít seen a speckled kingsnake yet. However, we resurrected that when Brian flipped a large adult. We headed back after letting the king go. We saw some more of the small fossorial snakes while hiking back to the car. Our totals for the day were 71 prairie ring-necked snakes, 21 rough earth snakes, 11 flat-headed snakes, 4 red milk snakes, 3 eastern yellow-bellied racers, 2 great plains rat snakes, 2 osage copperheads, 1 western earth snake, and 1 speckled kingsnake. This was a day to remember for both of us. What is more remarkable is every single snake was flipped under cover. A record total of 115 snakes.
|May 01, 2008
My dad and I were on our way to pick up our friend Brian to go storm chasing. However he got off work at noon and we were there at 9:00 AM. We obviously had some time to kill. I didnít know the area well, so looking at the map really didnít help. I just picked a conservation area on the map in Jackson County Missouri to check out. I got out in what appeared to be a bottom land wooded area. I followed the trail as it lead up a hill. I noticed it started to get rocky with rock outcroppings and some loose flat rocks. I quickly found a ring-necked snake. However, I was thinking milk snake, when I flipped a rock to uncover just that. It was a nice milk snake. He was a little dull colored and a little feisty. OK, so he was a lot feisty, but still a nice animal. We soon continued on to find 4 more prairie ring-necked snakes. We saw large hail but no tornadoes. A total of 5 snakes.
|May 03, 2008
Mostly Cloudy 58°
Jim was scheduled to come down and try to get another crayfish snake. We got one last year but it was opaque, so he wanted one that looked a little nicer. He picked me up at home and we headed over to my spot in St. Charles County Missouri. It was again cold, rainy, and this time partially flooded, but this time, no snakes were found. We decided to head over to my tin site in Jersey county Illinois in order to give the day a chance to warm up. We found 5 northern ring-necked snakes and a super sized red milk snake. This was a nice surprise. We photographed the animal and left for the Missouri side of the river again. On the way we saw a DOR prairie kingsnake. We arrived and soon found 3 northern water snakes under rocks. We ended the day finding an eastern garter snake, one more northern water snake, and a DOR (Dead on Railroad) eastern yellow-bellied racer. Thanks for coming down Jim. A total of 13 snakes.
|May 09, 2008
Mostly Cloudy 58°
My sister, my dad, and I needed to get out for a few hours, so we hit one of my spots in St. Charles County Missouri that I have been to several times in the last couple of months. It was cold again, and the place was flooded even more. All we found were two adult eastern yellow-bellied racers. A total of 2 snakes.
|May 11, 2008
R Rain / Thunderstorms 78°
and I herped my grandparentís property in Warren County Missouri again today.
It was raining most of the day. I caught a break in between storms so I quickly
took advantage of it. I found 18 prairie ring-necked snakes, a western slimy
salamander, and a gray treefrog. The tree frogs were really calling as the
storms approached. A total of 18 snakes.
|May 17, 2008
Partly Cloudy 84°
My brother and I once again herped my grandparentís property in Warren County Missouri. It wasnít a spectacular day or anything, but we did see five ring-necked snakes and a three-toed box turtle. Oh, did I mention the wood frog we found too. After years of searching for this species here and not finding any, I assumed they werenít here. I had never heard them calling from the ponds on the property. It figures that as soon as I stop looking for them, I would easily find one. It was a great day. A total of 5 snakes.
|May 18, 2008
S Sunny 73°
My dad, my sister, and I had a big day planned. We were to drive down into the Ozarks to look for whatever we could turn up. While in route to our location, I wanted to stop at a location that Mike Cravens showed me a few years ago in St. Francois County Missouri. Right away my dad spotted a northern water snake in the ditch next to the road. We then continued to the site of interest. I was hoping to find a prairie kingsnake or a speckled kingsnake. I went back to the tin site and almost every piece was flipped and discarded in a very unappealing way. It was a disaster. Needless to say, I didnít find anything. However, while walking the trail back to the car, I saw a three foot snake kinked up on the trail. It was a really nice prairie kingsnake. After the photo session, we continued to our next location. While driving to our next location we stopped to get a picture of a stripped DOR prairie kingsnake. It was a real shame the snake was dead. We did finally make it to our destination in Iron county. The glades we absolutely soaked. I knew that this was not going to go well for us. My sister did flip a nice red milk snake early on. That would prove to be it. We decided to head back to St. Francois county. Along the way we road cruised and just barely saved another nice prairie kingsnake. After releasing him well away from the road we continued on. We made it to our next stop and again the glades were soaked. We off coarse found nothing. I did remember a tin site near the glade that has produced in the past. We made a quick stop here. I quickly flipped up a ring-necked snake. I then noticed a door that was lying flat on the ground. I flipped it up and was in the process of setting it back down, when my eye caught a glimpse of something. It was another red milk snake. This one was missing an eye and it wasnít the best looking milk, but it was a milk nonetheless. On the way home through Jefferson county, we saw a large dead black rat snake lying dead on the side of the highway. When I got there, I was shocked to see it wasnít a rat snake at all. It was a very large five foot DOR prairie kingsnake. It was girthy snake. I saw some concrete chunks near the DOR, so I flipped them. This revealed the last two snakes of the day. They were ring-necked snakes. Our totals include 4 prairie kingsnakes (2 DOR), 3 prairie ring-necked snakes, 2 red milk snakes, 2 northern water snakes (1 DOR), and 2 DOR eastern yellow-bellied racers. It was a great day considering the low numbers. A total of 13 snakes.
|May 24, 2008
Partly Cloudy, Storms 78°
coming back early in the morning from chasing the brief Hutchinson tornado
in McPherson County Kansas, we road cruised a screamer of a red sided garter
snake. I didnít spend nearly enough time trying to get a good picture
of it. It was a great snake. Later at night, I spotted a small
great plains narrow-mouthed toad at the motel we were sleeping at in Jewell
County Kansas. This was the only the third one I have ever seen.
It was a real treat. A total of 1 snake.
|May 25, 2008
Partly Cloudy, Storms 88°
up early and decided to check a couple of road cuts in Lincoln County Kansas
in route to our chase target. We found 5 prairie ring-necked snakes
and several great plains skinks. Then, while actively storm chasing
in limpscomb County Texas, we road cruised a nice bull snake. Unfortunately,
he bolted off the road before I could get to it. Shortly after that,
we saw a 6 foot DOR western coachwhip. At the end of the night I watched
as a snake bolted onto the road in front of us in Harper County Oklahoma.
We couldnít avoid it. I got out and ran back to see what it was.
My heart broke into a zillion pieces when I realized we had just hit a Texas
garter snake. It was a great looking animal as well. I really
felt bad. Iím not sure how common or how rare they are. It's
unfortunate, but it's one of those accidents you'd like to take back.
A total of 9 snakes.
|May 26, 2008
Early in the morning while preparing for the dayís chase we road cruised a nice, very loud bull snake in Ford County Kansas. I never had a snake hiss that much at me. It was a very nice looking snake though. Later, while chasing a storm in Reno County Kansas, we saw a DOR bull snake. A total of 2 snakes.
|May 30, 2008
While photographing some lightning after capturing the Waverly Illinois tornado, I saw a DOR prairie kingsnake. This was in Madison County Illinois. A total of 1 snake.
|June 06, 2008
chasing a storm in Marion County Illinois, we road cruised an eastern garter
snake. A total of 1 snake.
|June 07, 2008
Partly Cloudy 93°
|My family was throwing a graduation party for my sister at my grandparents' house, so that meant herping for me. As soon as I stepped out of the car I saw a prairie racerunner run right across the driveway. I had never seen this species out here before and the habitat was not great for this species. It was definitely a real treat. My dad followed me as we herped the property. As Mike Pingleton always says, they are where you find them. He usually refers to snakes, but I think that goes for lizards too. My dad followed me around the property the rest of the day. All we found were 11 prairie ring-necked snakes. Right after dinner, I went down hill from the house and flipped another surprise for the day. Under the rock was a nice fat ringed salamander. I absolutely love finding these guys. They are rare here, and therefore a very welcome find. A total of 11 snakes.|
|June 12, 2008
|Our family did a little driving around St. Louis County and St. Charles County Missouri to look at the effects of the big flood. While doing this we saw several red-eared sliders, western painted turtles, 2 midland smooth softshell turtles, 1 common map turtle, and many fowlers toads. The common map turtle was actually laying eggs. This was a nice surprise. It was a good day considering I wasnít planning to herp. A total of 0 snakes.|
|June 14, 2008
My brother and I herped my grandparentsí property again in Warren County Missouri. It was a slow day. All we found were two prairie ring-necked snakes. A total of 2 snakes.
|June 15, 2008
Brian Willy and I had made a plan to herp my spot in St. Charles County Missouri. However, the plan changed a little as he had to be back by early evening. We decided to herp a few spots in St. Louis County instead. At the first spot, our goal was a timber rattlesnake. Early on we were not having much success. We found a couple of ring-necked snakes, but that was it. However, our luck changed when Brian flipped a nice adult speckled kingsnake under a rock. Unfortunately, the snake did not want to sit still, and it struck at everything. It wasnít long after we released the kingsnake that we found our goal of the trip. While Brian was hunched over to flip a rock, I noticed a small adult timber rattlesnake, coiled under the rock next to the one that he was going to flip. Iím sure he needed to change his pants after I shouted timber. I sure wouldnít want to be flipping a rock when someone shouted timber. All was good. The snake sat still while we took our voucher pictures. We let the snake back under his rock and continued on to one of Brain's spots. Here he had a rock that he called copperhead rock. He said he had seen a pair of copperheads every time he has flipped it. We were flipping rocks around the copperhead rock saving the best for last. I then hear Brian ask "what that was?". I hear a hissing sound as Brian picks up a nice eastern hog-nosed snake that had been lying there coiled at the base of the copperhead rock. I hadnít seen a live one in a couple of years. Unfortunately, the snake proceeded to play dead immediately after being touched. I knew getting a good picture of the snake was going to be impossible. We were kind of disappointed. However, we knew that we still had the honor of flipping the copperhead rock. He flipped the rock and BINGO! No it wasnít a copperhead, but another hog-nosed snake. This one didnít play dead either. In fact it offered us a very nice photo session. We were very pleased. The art of herping seems to have a way of leveling out the playing field. Where you screw up, you eventually get lucky. After we released the hog-nosed snakes, we called it a day. Our totals include 4 prairie ring-necked snakes, 2 eastern hog-nosed snakes, 1 speckled kingsnake, 1 DOR black rat snake, and 1 timber rattlesnake. A total of 9 snakes.
|June 20, 2008
Partly Cloudy 78°
of the flooding Mississippi River, snakes are being stranded and concentrated
in various places. My dad and I decided to go into St. Charles County
Missouri and search for some of these spots. Our first location was
a spot that I herp a couple of times a year. Here we found nothing.
We continued on. The next spot was a river levee that had water near
the top on one side. Here we saw 2 eastern yellow-bellied racers, 2
black rat snakes (1 DOR), 1 northern water snake, and 1 eastern garter snake.
At the next spot we found a nice eastern garter snake under some rolled up
carpet. The last snake of the day was another northern water snake
that dropped off of a shrub into the river. It was a good day.
A total of 8 snakes.
|June 22, 2008
Mostly Cloudy 78°
My family decided to go look at the flood in another part of St. Charles County Missouri. While looking at the flood I decided to get out and look along the rocks that lined the shore. Here my dad spotted an eastern garter snake. I also flipped a small western chorus frog. This was the first time I have seen this species outside of the breeding season. Also seen were a couple of midland smooth softshell turtles. A total of 1 snake.
|June 28, 2008
Partly Cloudy 78°
I was again at my grandparentsí property in Warren County Missouri. For several years I have tried hard to find a copperhead here. For what ever reason I havenít been able to find one. Well today I had a special feeling that my luck was about to change. I started the day by flipping 2 ring-necked snakes and a gravid northern red-bellied snake. So far I am off to a good start. I then walked down to the creek were I had a small vision of spotting a black rat snake in the grass. I havenít seen a black rat snake here in 8 years. That would have been a welcome find. Unbelievably, there was a black rat snake stretched out in the grass exactly as what had popped into my head. I couldnít believe it. I got my pictures and let it on its way. After the release, I had another vision that I would flip a copperhead under one of my boards. When I got there, I went to flip my board when I noticed an adult copperhead coiled at the edge of my board. It wasnít under the board like in my vision, but hey it is close enough. It has been 8 years since I saw a live copperhead out here. I laid these boards here in hopes that I would get a copperhead. Up until today, all it produced were ring-necked snakes and one brown snake. The effort to lay the boards was well worth it. I know that I see copperheads frequently everywhere else, but it is a real treat to find one on my main turf. After several pictures were taken, I continued on. I found a handful of other critters before the day drew to a close. The totals are 4 prairie ring-necked snakes, 1 northern red-bellied snake, 1 western ribbon snake, 1 eastern garter snake, 1 black rat snake, and 1 osage copperhead. A total of 9 snakes.
|July 06, 2008
and I decided to hit a spot in St. Louis County Missouri. It was hot
and humid and we really didnít expect to see much. We were right.
Other than three five-lined skinks guarding their eggs, which was very cool.
We only saw a lonely prairie ring-necked snake. A total of 1 snake.
|July 07, 2008
SPartly Cloudy 93°
Brian and I had made a plan to hit my spot in St. Charles County Missouri a few weeks ago, but the plans fell through. Today we decided to make that happen. We arrived there early in the morning. While flipping rocks in a creek bed, Brian flipped up my first dark-sided salamander from this area. It was a nice start to the day. We then found one eastern garter snake, but the mosquitoes were so bad that we had to let it go without a decent picture. We found three ring-necked snakes the rest of the day there. After a long an arduous hike back to the car. We decided to go to another spot in Jefferson County Missouri. We saw a DOR juvenile northern water snake on the way out. We finally made it to our destination. Here Brian immediately flipped my third eastern hog-nosed snake of the year. It didnít play dead, luckily, but it wouldnít sit still, and it pooped more than any other snake I have ever handled. After we got our pictures, we let it go. Our next find was a very nice osage copperhead tucked underneath a rock ledge. Unfortunately, I didnít play the strategy correctly and it got away. Sorry Brian! Anyway, Brian soon flipped a small eastern yellow-bellied racer. Shortly after that I spotted the last snake of the day. It was a large black rat snake tucked into a rock crevice. We called it a day when I got dehydrated and weak. Turns out that the dehydration was only part of the problem. I had some sort of virus that stuck with me for a couple more days. The virus then made its way around the family. It was a slow trip with a nice ending in the herp department. A total of 9 snakes.
|July 10, 2008
family and I wanted to check the flood conditions in St. Charles County
Missouri again, so we headed out. We found a road that had been flooded
until recently so we followed it. We were seeing lots of western painted
turtles. I knew it wouldnít be long before we saw a snake. Sure
enough the first shout out came from my mom as she spotted a yellow-bellied
water snake swimming in a road side ditch. The snake ducked before any
picture could be taken. Several seconds later, I spotted a northern
water snake sunning itself on a culvert pipe. Soon a second northern
water snake was spotted on a bush in the water, followed shortly by a third
snake. The third snake was a diamond-backed water snake. Four snakes
in just a few minutes is pretty good. We ended the day with one more
northern water snake. A total of 5 snakes.
|July 17, 2008
SPartly Cloudy 95°
and I wanted to get out for a few hours, so we headed to an area in St. Charles
County Missouri to look for what ever we could find. Other than the
many anurans and turtles our first find was an adult eastern yellow-bellied
racer making its way across the road. It immediately bolted up a small
tree as soon as I approached. The only other snake seen was a northern
water snake on the road during the evening. A total of 2 snakes.
|July 18, 2008
Matt was in town for a short stint and he wanted to spend a couple of hours
looking for some herps. We headed out to one of my spots in St. Charles
County Missouri. The day started out slow until I flipped a tarp and
about six angry wasps flew out at me. I ran for my life, while Matt
shouted that they were still on my tail. After he was done laughing
at my misfortune, he gave me the ok to stop running. I managed to avoid
the venom of these beasts. I have never actually been chased by wasps
before, but apparently it is nesting season. We moved on to another
nearby spot after this spot had been uneventful. A few minutes after
stepping out of the car, Matt and I spotted an eastern garter snake eating
a small fish. Shortly after seeing this, we spotted a small northern
water snake followed by another one after that. We ended the day with
one more snake and a feeding display as a mallard grabbed fish right out of
the air. The fish were trying to jump over a board that layed spread
across a culvert. The totals are 3 northern water snakes, and an eastern
garter snake. A total of 4 snakes.
|July 19, 2008
SPartly Cloudy 93°
once again visiting my grandparents when my brother Kyle told me he had seen
a huge common snapping turtle in the creek. We went down there and
sure enough, there was a large snapping turtle in the roots of a downed tree.
While manipulating my way to get a closer look, a northern water snake was
seen swimming by. A total of 1 snake.
|July 21, 2008
Partly Cloudy 92°
my dad, and I headed back to the culvert where Matt and I had been only a
couple days before in St. Charles County Missouri. We found much of
the same. I photographed a couple plains leopard frogs. In addition
to seeing 4 northern water snakes. A total
of 4 snakes.
|July 27, 2008
Brian Willey and I had planned to look for some of the rarer species of Missouri. We headed over to St. Charles County Missouri. The morning started out with a couple of garter snakes and northern water snakes. The day didnít get interesting until the late afternoon. We drove into Lincoln County Missouri were we started road cruising snakes. They were mostly, garter snakes, a northern water snake, and a western ribbon snake. However, evening was upon us and we were road cruising near an area that had just been flooded. We were whining about how we wanted to road cruise a crayfish snake. It wasnít a few minutes later that Brian slammed on the brakes because of a snake in the road. I ran back to see a nice crayfish snake. After the lengthy photo session, we continued on. Our next find was a black rat snake in the road. A quick photo or two and we were off again. I was really wanting to see a prairie kingsnake. Again, like magic, we see a snake in the road. We both shouted prairie kingsnake. I ran back to get the snake. Unbelievably it was a prairie kingsnake. While photographing the kingsnake, the humidity went way up. I soon realized the reason. There was line of very fast moving severe storms coming right at us. We finished the photo session and started driving again. We wanted to road cruise for vipers in a nearby location, but my dad called saying the storms were bad and that we should seek cover. We drove south and took cover. We let the storm pass while we thought of our next plan. We decided to road cruise our way home. While driving. Brian stated that we were passing a location that historically had plains spadefoot toads. We saw many frogs hopping across the road so we decided just to hear what was calling. We stopped the car and turned off the engine. We heard the unmistakable snore of the plains spadefoot. Our song was soon verified as we road cruised a newly metamorphed spadefoot. We saw many more frogs and toads along the way including more spadefoots. We got home around 2:30 AM. The totals were 9 eastern garter snakes (5 DOR), 4 black rat snakes (3 DOR), 2 eastern yellow-bellied racers (1 DOR), 2 western ribbon snakes (1 DOR), 2 northern water snakes, 2 prairie kingsnakes (1 DOR), 1 grahamís crayfish snake, and 1 prairie ring-necked snake. It was a great day! A total of 23 snakes.
|August 04, 2008
Kyle, and I had again planned a trip. This trip would start the sequence
that would make this month of herping one of the best of my whole career.
We had a specific goal in mind. We were targeting a species that was
showing an 80% decline due to increase in pollution and siltation. This
species lives in clear water streams and rivers feeding predominantly on
crayfish, but they will eat invertebrates and other sources of food.
This unique animal was the eastern hellbender. We had planned to arrive
at the location in mid Missouri by late morning. Our timming couldnít
have been better. The air was hot the water was cool and we were ready
to start this exposition. The river looked good as soon as we walked
down to it. We immediately got in and started looking under rocks.
We searched for a couple of hours without any luck. The river condition
was getting worse as we went down stream. We were finding less rocks
and there was more and more silt. We decided to head back to the car.
Along the way we saw a nice northern water snake basking in a root snake overhanging
the river. We had a plan to move down the river and look for more promising
locations, however we werenít finding any. We had a calm argument about
what to do. We eventually decide it would be in our best interest to
head to another river about an hour away. We got to the new location
by mid afternoon. The river looked great there was a nice riffle and
a pool loaded with rocks. We started in the riffle. It was clear
right away that this wasnít going to be easy. The water was only 3
to 4 feet deep but the current was very powerful. All three of us were
knocked down and swept away several times. If we flipped a hellbender,
we would have to act quick. The first find was made by my brother who
flipped, yes I said flipped, in the water, a 10K gold ring. He put
it in a safe place and we continued. We searched for about and hour
without finding anything. We had only searched half of the riffle and
I thought we were wasting our time. I wanted to search the pool.
Brian urged us to continue looking in the riffle. Iím glad he did because
it wasnít long before the call came. I was in the process of flipping
a rock when Brian shouted, ďGuys!Ē I looked over to see Brian struggling
with a massive hellbender. Kyle and I ran/tripped over to his location
to keep the hellbender in his hands and to keep him from falling into the
current. We finally secured the animal and took a long photo session.
This animal was greater than 15 inches in length. Brian said it best
himself. He said it was like holding a small puppy. This salamander
really did weight a lot. My pictures didnít come out the greatest, but
it is a memory that I will never forget. We eventually let the animal
go back under the rock it came from. We searched the rest of the area
and only saw a juvenile western spiny softshell and several midland water
snakes. Our next plan was to road cruise for snakes. Our goal
was a pygmy rattlesnake, but that wasnít to be. We did road cruise a
juvenile osage copperhead, a partially aberrant prairie kingsnake, and a
flat-headed snake. The totals include 8 midland water snakes, 2 prairie
kingsnakes (1 DOR) 1 northern water snake, 1 flat-headed snake, 1 osage copperhead
and one monster of an eastern hellbender. I got my life listing eastern
hellbender and Kyle and Brian got their first hellbender period. It
was a fantastic day. A total of 13 snakes.
|August 09, 2008
Mostly Cloudy 84°
and I again herped my grandparentsí property in Warren County Missouri.
It was mostly an uneventfull day. We saw three prairie ring-necked snakes
during the day. We were pulling out of the driveway to go home when
I saw a DOR snake. It turned out to be an adult osage copperhead.
It was a heart breaker for the area. Oh well. At least it tells
me there really is several here and that I just need to search harder.
A total of 4 snakes.
|August 15, 2008
Mostly Cloudy 73°
now had to add the Ozark Hellbender to his life list. Well, I was definitely
game, so we left for southern Missouri as soon as he got off work. The
plan was to herp glades on the way down there and road cruise the evening.
While driving south we did see a DOR black rat snake. We then stopped
at a small glade to herp. We found several neonate lizards of different
varieties, but no snakes. Brian did flip a big eastern narrow-mouthed
toad under a rock in a ditch. This was a welcome site because I hadnít
seen one in a couple of years. Road cruising was a complete bust.
The temperatures just werenít warm enough. I was even chilly so I know
the snakes were. We decided to park at the campsite. We werenít
quite tired so we walked down to the river to see if there were any visible
hellbenders active on the river floor. We struck out there, but we did
see 3 northern water snake. We then slept in the car awaiting for tomorrow,
which is when the trip really starts. A total
of 4 snakes.
|August 16, 2008
Partly Cloudy 83°
up and drove into town to get some breakfast. We then got ourselves
into the river. There were a ton of people floating the river today.
The day kind of went like this: flip a rock check for a canoe, flip a rock
and check for a canoe, and etc. It was slow going at times but we had
fun. Several hours of searching yielded nothing. We then came
to a nice pool with lots of rocks. I knew that it looked promising for
another creature that I really wanted to find even more so than the hellbender.
That would be the red river mudpuppy. Brian was also not opposed to
finding one because he had never seen a mudpuppy. Either way, there
is basically no difference in the way you look for either one, so there was
no conflict of interest. Anyway, I kept looking under moss covered rocks
to no avail. Finally I spot a nice flat rock at the bottom of the pool.
I lifted in and instantly saw what looked like a siren. I realized
what it was. It was smaller than what I was anticipating. I donít
know if it was a juvenile or a small adult, but either way, we had our first
mudpuppy. It was only 5 inches in length and it had a chewed up tail
and a scar on the head. Still it was a nice animal. After the
photo session, we let it go. We continued on. We saw a riffle,
but due to all the activity there at the time we figured we would check it
on the way back. We walked probably a mile or so down the river, when
we decided to turn around. The river became much less active so we decided
to check the riffle before we left for another area. We started looking
under the rocks when Brian called out in disgust. I asked what was
wrong and he replied, ďI just let my first ozark hellbender get away.Ē
The current apparently carried him down stream a little ways. We searched
hard for it when Brian relocated it on the river bottom. He grabbed
it and again it got away. At least I saw it this time. We again
looked and looked. He scanned the river bottom while I flipped rocks.
After about ten minutes, Brian relocated it again on the river bottom.
This time we both got into position and double teamed it. We secured
it and took over to a shallower and quieter are. We got our pictures
and were very happy. The length and weight were nothing compared
to what the eastern from two weeks ago was. It was much lighter in color
and had larger blotches. We released it at the sight of capture and
headed back to the car. We road cruised the rest of the night.
We saw a huge DOR black rat snake, a DOR midland Brown snake, and a Southern
Copperhead, which was a lifer for Brian. We also saw a midland water
snake during the day. Another great day! A total of 4 snakes.
|August 17, 2008
and the final day of the trip was upon us. We headed west to a glade
where Brian had found Ground snakes before. We got up at 6:00 AM to
beat the heat. Not along after arriving, Brian flipped my first Missouri
ground snake. It was bright orange with black bands. It was a
beauty. We found a juvenile like that too, not long after. The
third ground snake had a tan ground color with black bands and a red stripe.
It was basically a mix between the striped phase and the banded phase.
We also saw several rough earth snakes. After the temperature heated
up we hit some streams looking for gray-bellied salamanders. We didnít
find any of those but we did find what we believed to be dark-sided salamander
larvae. They looked like gray-bellied salamanders at first. We
also saw a midland water snake. The totals were 7 rough earth snakes,
3 ground snakes, and a midland water snake. Well, that concludes another
great trip. A total of 11 snakes.
|August 24, 2008
my sister Melissa, and I decided to go to one of my spots in Jersey County
Illinois. We werenít expecting much, but I was hoping we could find
a copperhead or something. The first find was a nice northern ring-necked
snake. Then I came to a sheet of tin. I flipped it and scrambled
to get the snakes that I saw. I saw at least one western smooth earth
snake get away and my sister said she saw a northern ring-necked snake get
away too. I had in my hands though, 2 western smooth earth snakes and
a northern ring-necked snake. After photos, we released them.
Later I uncovered another earth snake and a ring-necked snake. The
next find was the goal of the trip. Under a sheet of tin layed a nice
copperhead. I got my pictures and moved on. The last find of
the day was perhaps the best. Under another sheet of tin, I flipped
a large red milk snake. It didnít take long to see that it was the
same snake Jim Scharoash and I found earlier this spring. It was even
under the same piece of tin. I got some pictures and let him go.
I look forward to finding him again in the future. The totals are 4
western smooth earth snakes, 3 northern ring-necked snakes, 1 midland brown
snake, 1 red milk snake, and 1 northern copperhead. Who says you canít
find snakes under tin in the summer. A total of 10 snakes.
and I decided one last go at a hellbender was in order with a common mudpuppy
being a possible bonus. My sister Melissa decided to accompany us this
trip. He got to our location around 10:30 AM or so. The river
wasnít as clear as the rivers in the past, but we herped what we could to
no avail. We decided to move on to another spot. In route, we
road cruised a neonate racer. This was a welcome surprise. After pictures,
we continued on. Not long after that, we slammed on the brakes to a
rather large snake in the road. We were surprised to see a large osage
copperhead just sitting there. It was just after noon. This was
only the second time I have ever seen a copperhead on the road during the
day. After pictures and getting it off the road we continued.
We also saw a DOR western ribbon snake We arrived at our next spot where
again we were shutout. We continued on. The rest of the river
was just not good looking at all so we scraped it for a new river. We
arrived at the new place around 4:00 PM. The water again didnít look
real great, but it was clearer. There was really only one searchable
spot. We knew we were likely not going to see a hellbender here, but
it looked good for mudpuppies. It wasnít too long, when Brian called
out that he had found a mudpuppy. It was a nice one at that. We
spent our time getting pictures mostly because it was uncooperative and we
had to be careful how we treated the animal. We finally got our pictures
and released it. It wasnít long after that Brian found another one.
This one was even bigger. It was about ten inches long.
We also saw a northern water snake here. On the way out we stopped off
at an area to flip some rock. Aside from a few lizards, all we found
was a newborn prairie ring-necked snake. We later roadcruised a northern
red-bellied snake and a black rat snake. No hellbenders, but
we can at least say we completed the large ozark river salamander cycle in
one month. We got both hellbenders and mudpuppies known to Missouri
within the month of August. It was a heck of a month. It was
one I will never forget. A thanks goes out to Kyle and Melissa, and
a huge thanks goes out to Brian. A total of
|September 07, 2008
Mostly Cloudy 73°
Melissa, and I decided to take advantage of the cool weather and see if we
could find anything. We headed over to a spot in Montgomery County
Missouri. The day started out slow with only a few lizards being seen.
The first snake finally made an appearance however. My dad spotted
a small northern water snake swimming across the trail. A small pool
had formed across the trail and the snake was in that. It got away
so we moved on. The next find occurred while we were on a glade.
I heard a movement and saw a relatively large snake getting away. I
only saw the back half, but I was fairly confident that it was a large hog-nosed
snake. Anyway, I grabbed it. I soon felt the sharp pain of a
snake bitting my wrist. I soon realized my mistake and saw the large
northern water snake chewing on my arm. I very rarely ever make a mistake
like this. I was a little frazzled by the fact that I had misidentified
the snake. Luckily I knew it wasnít venomous when I picked it up.
Anyway, the other thing that I found interesting was the fact that there
was a water snake at the top of a glade. There really wasnít any water
for quite a ways. There was no doubt that the snake was gravid, which
leads me to believe that she is up there to gestate her babies like pitvipers
often do. Anyway, we took our pictures and soon released her.
The next rock over had a nice copperhead coiled out in the sun. We
only got a few pictures before it took off under the rock. A few minutes
later, we caught a glimpse of a racer take off into the brush. The
last find of the trip was only my second glass lizard ever. Unfortunately,
it got away in the tall grass. As we were driving out, we were unfortunate
enough to catch a glimpse of two very unattractive people in the act of reproduction.
Why you would do that on the side of a fairly popular hunting road is beyond
me. Aside from the eye gauging part. we had a fun time. We saw
2 northern water snakes, 1 eastern yellow-bellied racer, and an osage copperhead.
A total of 4 snakes.
|September 14, 2008
Mostly Cloudy 76°
and I decided to use the cool weather to our advantage again. We headed
over to one of my spots in St. Charles County Missouri. It was windy
and chilly when we got there. The day started out very slow.
The first find was a dead eastern garter snake on the trail. My dad
then saw two eastern yellow-bellied racers that I was too late in seeing.
After not finding much while walking, we decided to drive around looking
for spots. We saw two more DOR eastern garter snakes and a DOR midland
brown snake. As we were leaving, we were driving through a section
of the road that was flooded over. We saw some sort of aquatic snake
swimming across the road. He soon ducked under and I lost him.
At the same time a noticed what appeared to be a small snake stretched out
in the road in front of us. I walked up there to find a nice juvenile
grahamís crayfish snake. I was more than happy with this find.
We photographed and released it. We went home very happy. A total of 6 snakes.
|September 21, 2008
driving and taking in the scenery in St. Charles County, Missouri, I saw
a DOR juvenile prairie kingsnake. A total
of 1 snake.
|September 27, 2008
it was that time of year again. My dad Richard, Melissa, and I headed
down to snake road in Union County Illinois. The day started out slow
with only a few cottonmouths being seen. Then the other snakes started
showing up. They were only common stuff, but a snake is a snake in
my book. I really wanted to find a timber rattlesnake and a mud snake.
I ran into many people I knew from the herp forum so we spent some time bragging
about what we had seen. It killed me to hear about the hog-nosed snake
that some of them had found. Oh well, such is life. We saw a
couple green snakes, ribbon snakes and yellow-bellied water snakes.
Toward the end of the day, we ran into Mike Pingleton and Jim Scharoashís
group. They were helping with the shooting of a documentary about LaRue.
We did some herping together. Nothing was found of much interest, but
I did flip a Mississippi ring-necked snake. What it did really surprised
me. Now, I have had ring-necked snakes play dead, meaning they have
let their bodies go limp. However, this one put on a hog-nosed snake
style death I will never forget. It rolled around violently like a
hog-nosed snake and then finally after about 10-15 second it stopped on its
back with a kink in its neck. Supposedly, very few people have witnessed
this. This was possibly a once in a lifetime experience. I was
grateful to have seen it. To end the day, I found two opaque southern
black racers coiled in a pile of sticks. The totals were 16 western
cottonmouths, 6 yellow-bellied water snakes, 3 western ribbon snakes, 3 southern
black racers, 2 rough green snakes, 1 Mississippi ring-necked snake, and
1 northern ring-necked snake. It wasnít the best day, but it was still
fun herping. A total of 32 snakes.
|September 28, 2008
to stay for today too. The day started out slow due to the early morning
chill in the air. Cottonmouths were seen early on. However, it
warmed up quicker today and there was obviously more movement today then
yesterday. While walking the bluffs I saw the usual stuff again.
I then came to a nice rock slide, so I decided to see what it would yield.
I started seeing cottonmouths everywhere. I saw several adults and
several neonates, included in that were two clutches of babies that had recently
been born. It was a cool sight. I continued on carefully looking
for timber rattlesnakes, which I still hadnít seen on the trip. I saw
a yellow-bellied racer take off down the hill. I soon saw a small cottonmouth
coiled at the base of a downed tree. Then I looked over to my right
and saw what I had been looking for coiled on some loose rock. It was
a very bright, and very full juvenile timber rattlesnake. I was able
to get all my pictures without disturbing it at all. I love it when
things work out that way. It makes things easier on both me and the
snake. While photographing the rattlesnake, Melissa spotted a nice
rough green snake in the paw paw tree right next to me. We had gotten
4 species at one spot. I would have missed all of them if the water
snake hadnít forced me to scan the area. We eventually moved on.
When I ran out of bluffs to walk, we walked the road back to the car.
My dad had told me someone had a timber up ahead, so we ran up there.
Sure enough, some people had found a juvenile timber rattlesnake coiled on
the side of the road. It was also very full with dinner. We soon
continued on to the car and we headed home. Our total for the day were
22 western cottonmouths, 9 yellow-bellied water snake, 9 western ribbon snakes,
2 southern black racers (the same as the day before), 2 rough green snakes,
2 timber rattlesnakes, 1 eastern garter snake, 1 DOR black rat snake, and
one unidentified water snake (it got away too quickly). It was a fantastic
weekend! A total of 49 snakes.
|October 03, 2008
and I were set to go down to Southern Illinois again. We were going
to spend the night at Mike and Scottís house and then herp with Mike the
next day. One the way down there Brian and I roadcruised in Monroe
County Illinois. We were rewarded with a nice northern copperhead.
A total of 1 snake.
|October 04, 2008
Mike, and I headed over to LaRue Road in the morning. We started seeing
the usual cottonmouths first thing. It was a day in which we would
see large periods of nothing and then see several in a few minutes.
As the day advanced we started seeing more cottonmouths. We finally
started getting some other species. The highlight was probably a 5
foot plus black rat snake that was stretched out in the woods. It was
a nice healthy animal. As far as any diversity went that day, it was
poor. We ended the day with a neonate midland brown snake crossing
the road. The totals were 26 western cottonmouths, 2 western ribbon
snakes, 2 rough green snakes, 2 black rat snakes, a yellow-bellied water
snake, and a midland brown snake. A total
of 34 snakes.
|October 05, 2008
and I decided to sleep in a little. Brian was feeling a bit under the
weather. Mike decided he couldnít go with us due to homework.
Brian and I decided to start the day with some salamanders. First up
was a lifer, the dusky salamander. Brian took me to a spot he knew
they occurred in Johnson County Illinois. I was excited to finally
see this species. It didnít take long for Brian to flip the first one.
While looking at it, it suddenly went limp. I was sure I killed it.
I had accepted the fact that I was a murderer and put it in the water.
It instantly swam away. I was never so happy to be tricked in my entire
life. I didnít know that duskies played dead. We saw several
more including another lifer. I just happened to flip my first upland
chorus frog under a rock. Two lifers in one day was more than I was
expecting. We eventually moved on to a cypress swamp where we hoped
to find some salamanders and snakes. It didnít take long to find the
first snake. It was a western smooth earth snake on the move.
We continued on after a few pictures. Next up was the first of two
copper-bellied water snakes. It was partially under a downed tree.
It eventually bolted away. Now came the salamanders. We immediately
found some small-mouthed salamanders, mole salamanders, and central newts
(efts). It took a little more effort to turn up a marbled salamander,
but they started fitting in to the rotation too. We soon made it to
some rail road tracks and started looking around those. Aside from
a few nice eastern box turtles, we werenít seeing any snakes. We finally
started seeing cottonmouths, nine in total. The
last finds were the usual abystomids, a cave salamander, and the second copper-bellied
water snake. They were all flipped under logs. It was a fun day.
I want to thank Scott and Mike for their generous hospitality and Brian for
driving. A total of 12 snakes.
|October 11, 2008
Partly Cloudy 82°
been a while since I have been to see my grandparents in Warren County Missouri,
so we just had to go. No trip is complete without some herping as well.
On the way down the road leading to my grandparentís property, I spotted
a snake crossing the road. It turned out to be a large eastern garter
snake. I rarely see them around here, so it was a welcome treat.
Once I finally got to get out and herp, I immediately started finding ring-necked
snakes. They were pretty numerous. I got to a rock pile where
I had seen ring-necked snakes, racers, ribbon snakes, a red milk snake, and
a speckled kingsnake in the past. I had the feeling there was something
cool waiting there. It isnít the rock pile itself that is good,
but rather the rocks around it. I found several ring-necked snakes
here. I then came to a rock the I found a milk snake under two years
ago. There was nothing under it. However, the rock next to it
revealed why I had that feeling. Under it was a nice neonate red milk
snake. Now, I use nice very loosely. It was nice colored.
It had an attitude like a water snake. It would not stop biting or sitting
still. It was not the ideal snake for photographing. However,
I got some pictures that I like. I then released it where it was found
in hopes that one day I might see the snake as an adult. The last find
was a ribbon snake. The totals were 20 prairie ring-necked snakes, 1
eastern garter snake, 1 western ribbon snake, and 1 red milk snake. A total of 23 snakes.
|October 12, 2008
Mostly Cloudy 84°
and I decided to visit one of my spots in St. Charles County Missouri.
We immediately started finding snakes; however, the millions of mosquitoes
there were also finding us. The mosquitoes were as bad as I have ever
seen them. It was not fun. I had to rush all my photo sessions.
I know I missed snakes because of the mosquitoes. Anyway, we saw a
couple of racers, a black rat snake, and some ring-necked snakes. Then
while I was checking some den sites, my dad shouted that a snake was crossing
the path. It wasnít long before I had a beautiful adult prairie kingsnake
in my hands. I photographed the snake while my dad did his best to
keep the mosquitoes off of me. I wasnít too happy with the photos,
but they will work. We started heading back because we couldnít deal
with the vampires. I came to a rock pile that is known to be used as
den sites. I flipped a large rock at the top to reveal one of the most
beautiful copperheads I have ever seen. This is really the only copperhead
that I have seen that lives up to its name. It had a bright coppery
head. It was nice. We rushed the photo session once again, getting
maybe one decent picture. We saw a northern water snake before we finally
made it back to the car. We decided to not waste the day, so we hit
another spot. We mostly drove around, but it was evident that snakes
were moving in numbers. We quickly started finding DORs. It didnít
take long to find some AORs either. We saw ribbon snakes, northern
water snakes, and an earth snake alive on the roads. There were several
DORs too, but were pretty much the same species. The totals for
the day were 5 western ribbon snakes (3 DOR), 5 eastern yellow-bellied racers
(3 DOR), 4 prairie ring-necked snakes, 4 northern water snakes (2 DOR), 3
black rat snakes (2 DOR), 1 DOR rough green snake, 1 prairie kingsnake, 1
western smooth earth snake, and 1 osage copperhead. We had a nice diversity
today. I just wish I was at LaRue today. A total of 25 snakes.
|October 18, 2008
|I was at my grandparentís place in Warren County Missouri again today. The temperatures were finally getting lower. It was clear that the herp activity has slowed down. I started off by finding a couple of ring-necked snakes at my tin site I set up out there. I did get a surprise under one of my pieces though. I found a small spotted salamander. This represents only the second one I have seen out there and they have both been this year. This find made the day. I never get tired of finding spotted salamanders. I released it after I got some good pictures. The rest of the day resulted in several more ring-necked snakes. I saw a total of 14 prairie ring-necked snakes. A total of 14 snakes.|
|October 19, 2008
Melissa, and I went back to the mosquito infested area in St. Charles County
Missouri. I really do not know why. The temperatures had really
halted activity here too. We saw a racer early on as well as a northern
water snake. Then we didnít see much for a while. I finally saw
a good rock and it revealed 4 neonate ring-necked snakes. After that, only a few
more snakes were seen. The totals were 5 prairie ring-necked
snakes, 4 northern water snakes, 1 eastern yellow-bellied racer, and 1 midland
brown snake. A total of 11 snakes.
|October 23, 2008
Mostly Cloudy 57°
and I knew that there was a chance of rain over night that would stimulate
ringed salamanders to move toward the ponds to breed. However, the
weather changed with the rain ejecting out of the area early, meaning that
the rain would be gone by nightfall. We knew this wasnít good.
However, we still made plans to road cruise for them with the ability
to check some ponds if the roads didnít produce. I got out of school
around 7:00 PM and headed over to Brianís house. Our plan was to road
cruise in St. Louis County Missouri. After a couple hours of driving,
all we had seen were two small frogs hopping across the road. We opted
for plan B. I knew a place in St. Charles County Missouri where
I had seen them in the past, so we headed over there. We made it to
the first pond and quickly spot-lighted two ringed salamanders sitting at
the bottom. At least we were not skunked. We got pictures of
one. We then headed over to another pool which we found was completely
dry. However, we still saw some eggs and it wasnít long before we
uncovered a nice ringed salamander. After pictures were taken, we once
again released in back in the leaf litter. The last salamander was
found under a sheet of tin laying next to another pool. It was a great
night. We salvaged what looked to be a horrible night. A total of 0 snakes.
|November 01, 2008
had a little envirothon training in extreme western St. Louis County Missouri,
so I tagged along because I wanted to see the area. While waiting for
his teacher to show up, I decided to roll a couple of logs in the woods next
to the parking lot. The first log yielded a very nice, but small spotted
salamander. I then continued on. A few logs later yielded another,
this time an adult, spotted salamander. I wanted to continue searching,
but we had to get him ready for his weekend stay. Later in the day
my family and I headed out to my grandparentís property in Warren County
Missouri because they were throwing a Halloween party. Here I found the
usual assortment of ring-necked snakes. I did however flip a real nice
smooth earth snake under a sheet of fiberglass. Later I flipped a garter
snake under a rock. These are hard to come by out there. It was
a good day. This was a lovely way to start out the weekend of what
would one of the best of my career. The totals were: 12 prairie ring-necked
snakes, a western smooth earth snake, and an eastern garter snake.
A total of 14 snakes.
|November 02, 2008
Melissa, and I decided to head down to a place in Stoddard and Wayne counties
in Missouri for some herping. We originally planned it for a salamanders;
however, it turned into a hybrid event. Salamanders were the goal early
on and then snakes the remaining part of the day. We started the day
by flipping a prairie kingsnake under a sheet of tin in St. Francois County
Missouri. This was a great find. It was dark and showing some
faint stripes as many older ones often do. We then continued.
We arrived at our destination around 10:30 give or take. While driving
down the road to our first site, we noticed a juvenile cottonmouth crossing
the road. This was a good sign. It was manipulated off the road
and we continued on. We got out of the car in a nice bottomland forest
where we started rolling logs. We immediately found several small-mouthed
salamanders. Followed by our first marbled and mole salamanders.
For the next hour or so, only small-mouthed salamanders were being seen.
Toward the end of the search we rolled a few marbled salamanders one of which
was with a clutch of eggs. After getting photos and very carefully
setting the log down, we continued on. Small-mouthed salamanders were
the last seen at this location. We checked the time and it was about
1:00 PM. We needed to look for snakes now. While in route to
our next location, we roadcruised another juvenile cottonmouth. Well,
we finally made it to our next spot. We immediately found a cottonmouth
coiled in the leaf litter followed closely with a huge broad-banded water
snake poking his head out of a hole. The next few hours was just scanning
our radii and counting the number of snakes seen. Many of the
cottonmouths were huge. They were bigger than the ones at LaRue anyway.
While scanning for snakes, I hear Brian shout out that he had found a lead-backed
phase of the red-backed salamander. I thought he was messing with me
until I saw the black salamander in his hand. This was my favorite
find of the trip. None of us had ever seen this color phase before.
I decided we needed to find a normal phased red-backed salamander to get
a comparison shot. However, I only rolled one more lead-backed salamander.
After getting some pictures, we moved back to the snake zone. There
was one instance where Brian spotted a nice broad-banded water snake coiled
on the hillside. While taking insitu shots, Brian started spotting
the neonate cottonmouths at our feet. Oops! Good thing they were
small. We were much careful the rest of the day. After, finding
two more lead-backed salamander together under a log we decided to head to
a different spot. Remember how I said we were more careful the rest
of the day. Well, that wasnít entirely true. When I grabbed the
lead-backed salamanders out from under the log, I failed to see the juvenile
cottonmouth coiled next to them. I was lucky I wasnít bitten.
Now we will be more careful. At the next spot we were walking in tall
grass when I suddenly noticed a rather large cottonmouth at my feet.
It was very hard to see. If I wasnít paying attention, I may have stepped
on it. Anyway, we hit a separate hillside and found two ring-necked
snakes and my second smooth earth earth snake in as many days. It was
now almost dark, but we decided to hit one last hillside. We walked
the hillside and found a few cottonmouths. We were set to leave, but
as we were walking to the car we realized that we had almost 100 hundred
snakes for the day. We wanted number one hundred. Remember when
I said, ďNow we will be more careful.Ē Well, I lied again. We
grabbed our flash lights and went back down the steep hillside. It
wasnít long before I spotted a couple snakes in a hole in the ground.
Then several more snakes were seen coiled around the hole. We were
in this area when we still had light and we missed these snakes. While
photographing these snakes, a couple of snakes actually crawled right by
us in route to the hole. We realized they were migrating and the fact
that it was dark was not deterring them. We finally called it quits
after seeing a few more cottonmouths and a couple of broad-banded water snakes.
The impressive totals were: too many to count small-mouthed salamanders,
5 marbled salamanders, 2 mole salamanders, 4 lead-backed salamanders, 98
western cottonmouths (1 DOR), 6 broad-banded water snakes (1 DOR), 2 Mississippi
ring-necked snakes, 1 western smooth earth snake, and 1 prairie kingsnake.
It was an awesome day! A total of 109 snakes.
|November 09, 2008
and I have a goal to find a tiger salamander this winter. We will go
out as many times as we can in order to get one. We originally made
plans to go look for one today, but the temperature kept getting downgraded
every day. Now the temps were barely forecasted to hit 40º.
We decided to head out anyway. We hit a spot in St. Clair County Illinois.
While in route we knew we would likely see a few small-mouths and maybe a
tiger, but we werenít overly enthusiastic about today. However, Brian
soon found our first find. It was a nice little small-mouthed salamander.
Soon another was found and then another and another. The number of
small-mouthed salamanders was quickly sky rocketing. We also found
a chorus frog and several leopard frogs of all different colors. The
shocker of the trip was when Brian and I rolled a log and saw a gray frog
tucked under it. We realized it was a gray treefrog. We were
surprised to see one so late in the year. We considered it a fluke
and a lucky find. However, throughout the coarse of the day we found
11 treefrogs. They obviously over winter under logs and in them.
I have never seen this many gray treefrogs in a day even during the breeding
season. I was thrilled with finding them. We never found a tiger
salamander but we got numbers amphibians that we werenít expecting.
Our totals were: lots of southern leopard frogs, 140 small-mouthed salamander
(2 DOA), 11 gray treefrogs, and 2 western chorus frogs. It was a very
enjoyable outing for this time of year. A
total of 0 snakes.