SC Reptile and Amphibians
The new year started with a continuation of very cold weather. I measured -4 oF one morning during the first week. Ice on local creeks and ponds serves as a visual indicator of how much continual cold weather we have had. Even the upper tributaries of Lake Greenwood have been iced from shore to shore! Flocks of Ring-billed Gulls have been begging food at local shopping malls.
My daughter and son-in-law are taking good care of a special gift...my first grandchild. She was born on December 29th. It won't be long before I will be teaching her how to go herping!
Win reported hearing Chorus Frogs singing in Greenwood on Wednesday (1-17-01). I have not heard any frogs singing around the farm yet but expect to soon. Greenwood is only about 15 miles south of home.
On Thursday (1-18-01) I had a little free time and decided to check some wetlands for signs of salamanders. We have had about a week with temperatures staying above freezing; yesterday the temperature rose to near 60oF. I did not find anything but insects in any of the vernal pools. In a partially isolated pond (the one shown frozen in the linked picture above) I used a dip net to search the grass and debris hanging in the water on the sides of the pond. I netted a Red-Spotted Newt. There are a good population of newts living in this pond and I can usually find one when I wish. I also netted several very small catfish, probably fingerling Bullheads. I need to get a fish field guide.
The warm weather continued the next day (01-19-01). Gentle rains fell all day and into the night. About 8:30 pm, I drove to a nearby section of blacktop road which runs along side the river bottomlands. Temperatures remained in the mid 50s oF. With my flashlight in hand, I walked about a quarter mile of road. There were many earthworms crossing the pavement, the ocassional snail, and a few small moths flying about. I found 3 live Spring Peepers and a couple of DORs. I did not hear any frogs singing. I decided to drive a circular route which I often follow when cruising for snakes in warmer weather. On the ridge portions of the route I found 2 live American Toads and 2 DORs. I also saw a medium-sized frog but could not stop because of the danger of traffic. It appeared to be a Green Frog. I had despaired of finding any salamanders and was heading back home when I found a live Southern Two-Lined Salamander.
The remainder of the month I did no herping. We have had some nice weather, but I have still not heard any frogs sing. An Opossum has been stealing my cat's food. I found it prowling at my back door one night. I have tried to get closer to photo a few hawks (Red-Tails, Red-Shouldereds, and Marshes), but they would not tolerate my approaches. On Super Bowl Sunday afternoon (1-28-01) there was a clear weather "rainbow" in the sky.
We always have a spell of good, warm weather about the middle of February. I am looking forward to it.
Week ending 1-7-01
Happy New Year to All!
2000 was nice. Had a great time. Hope you all did also. But it's gone. Time to move ahead with 2001.
This week I've not seen a single wild herptile. It was very cold most of the week. So cold in fact that the Enoree River was frozen all the way across in several areas. This almost never happens! The little branch on campus was solid. Several students (teenagers) with rocks the size of pineapples couldn't break the ice! If a teenager with rocks can't break it........it's really solid!
We have seen some nice birds: Robins, Eastern Bluebirds, Slate-Colored Junco, Shrike, and the usual songbirds, hawks, crows, etc.
While out with a class on campus, we found a series of Beaver dams along the larger creek. I knew there were Beavers in a pond farther up stream, and the creek flows into Duncan Creek, which also is populated with Beaver, so it comes as no surprise, but I was glad to find them so close and handy.
In the 12 months ahead, I hope to pack lots of nature time! I still have 20 counties of SC in which I've never found a snake (must do something about this). I still have yet to catch: Eastern Milksnake, Timber Rattlesnake, Rainbow Snake, Glossy Crayfish Snake, and Southern Hognose Snake Just would like to catch one of each to mark off on the life list. I've not been to Jasper County in over a year (got to go!). I would dearly love to take a winter trip to Florida to Blue Springs or Crystal River to enjoy some warmth and spend some time in and under the water. I still would love to herp in Alabama/Virgina, which are both close, and yet I've never caught a snake in either state. I need to go to Kentucky also. Never caught a snake there (reason enough to go) but also my wife would like to attend the National Quilt Show held in Paducah in late April. This would make for a nice trip for herping in Kentucky (with John Hewlett) plus nearby Ill. and Mo. (never scored a snake in either of these states). At work, I am planning to use available educational funds to expand my little "nature library" of books and videos. I'd also like to keep adding to the dragonfly collection. No shortage of plans for 2001.
May 2001 be exciting and full of nature for each of you.
Week ending 1-14-01
Been outside a bit this week and found my first herps of 2001!
On Monday (1-8-01) I went to the river and walked/drove a bit. Under logs by the tributaries and backswamps I found Marbled and Spotted Salamanders that had been around since the week before Christmas. Still in those exact same places. On Friday (1-12-01) at work I found 3 Green Anoles. One was deep in the forest under a log but the other two were in an open sunny area and out on the ground. 100 yards made the difference between basking and hibernating! I've listened for Chorus Frogs but haven't heard any. I even went by several wetland areas on Saturday because it seemed like they should be calling, and still I heard nothing.
Mammals? Here and there as one drives about deer are to be seen and squirrels are everywhere also. We've had little success trapping this week on campus (not the best place for small mammals) but have been able to come up with a couple of White-Foot Mice. Nice little mammals.
Birds? Nothing cool comes to mind. Pretty much the same stuff from previous weeks.
Fish? Had a funnel trap set in the little creek but have had no sign of minnows. Are they dormant?
Inverts? Bugs under logs. A few small grasshoppers in sunny open areas. A few small spiders in sunny areas.
Not much else going on. I do take relief in the fact that it's now mid January. That puts March at a mere 6 weeks away! Plus as weather permits there'll be things going on here! I may even have a few plans about warmer climates/latitudes! I'll just have to see what I can work out.
Week ending 1-21-01
This week we've had warmer weather and some warm rains. Not enough, but some. On Monday (1-15-01) I worked, and at work, we found 5 or 6 Green Anoles. These make nice feeder items for the baby Everglades Ratsnakes. We took them inside and tossed them into a large aquarium with the dozen or so 'glades babies. Almost immediately, one of the babies (who was partially concealed under a scrap of pine bark) began to wave his tail! The little snake was not shifting its position. It was not vibrating its tail. It was CAUDAL LURING! This was the exact same motion I've seen in videos of Death Adders and Cantils! No mistaking it! I knew many snake species did this, even our own local Pygmy Rattlers, Copperheads, and Cottonmouths, but I'd never heard of any Colubrid doing this! I got in touch with a colleague, who put me in touch with a colleague of his, who told me this very topic had been published just a couple of years ago. Oh well. I think perhaps in the everglades, there would be loads of lizards (and small frogs) and very few baby rodents. The little ratsnakes would be inclined to prey heavily on the lizards and frogs, and a caudal lure would help insure survival. Any thoughts?
We got back outside on Friday (1-19-01) and went to the Enoree River to look for Salamanders. Found 2 Marbleds and 2 Spotteds but we also heard Spring Peeper and Upland Chorus Frogs calling! First frog calls of the year for me.
Nothing else of interest occurred this week, either inside or outside. Same old birds.
Week ending 1-28-01
Been a slow week for outside stuff. Weather has not been that bad at all. Just been tough to get outdoors.
On Wednesday (1-24-01) my class went to the small creek on campus and turned rocks. We found several Dusky Salamanders and under a plywood coverboard in the woods found a Slimy Salamander. That was it for outdoor herpetology.
On Friday (1-26-01) a live-trap set on campus had scored a male Opossum. It amazes me to see teenage boys afraid of such a beast. My philosophy towards such "hazardous" animals: "Out-smart it!" Yet they seem to be amazed that it can be easily picked up/handled. I guess I grew up different. I think it to be by far the easiest mammal, of its size, to handle.
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