SC Reptile and Amphibians
Week ending 10-28-01
No herping by me this week. The temps were warm early in the week but retreated before the weekend. On Sunday (10-28-01), while driving to Greenwood to help Win prepare to open his new restaurant I saw the Fuji Blimp floating about a mile away. I decided to try to get a picture since sightseeing in a blimp looked like such a pleasant activity to be doing on a Sunday morning. I was surprised how hard it was to catch up to the blimp. Everytime I got closer, it darted ahead. It was like trying to follow a Harrier Hawk. I finally realized that it was headed for the Greenwood Airport and was able to snap a picture of the Fuji Blimp as it landed.
The prime season for reptiles throughout most of SC has now past. As in past years, I will switch from weekly to monthly postings of observations for the months of November, December, January, and February. There will still be some sitings, just not as many as in other months. For example, the fall/winter salamanders have begun to move. Winter is a good time to get pictures of birds. I will add pictures and other info to the site as they are developed, so please check the "What's New" listing. Winter is a good time to get pictures of birds, so if you are interested, you might wish to check the SC Birds pages from time to time.
Have a good Thanksgiving.
Week ending 10-28-01
It has been a very slow week. Temps have been down, with frost most mornings. Sunset is earlier and earlier each evening. I have also had to be dependent on others for transportation most of the week and lost a lot of outdoors time. Oh well.
Fence Lizards and Green Anoles can be found easily in warm, sunny areas. Cricket Frogs are no problem either. Not much I know.
I got my truck out of the shop on Friday (10-26-01). I recall paying less for my first vehicle than I did for these repairs! Ouch!
Cold weather is coming. What to do? I plan to enjoy the winter-breeding amphibians. Many salamanders will be active (I just heard that several Eastern Muds were found over near Clemson), as will several frog species. There should also be time to plan, scheme, and dream about the up-coming spring-summer. Perhaps a trip to warmer latitudes could be worked in. Winter birding is fun. Warm rains could still be productive. Any rains would be appreciated.
Week ending 10-21-01
Temperatures dropped Monday evening and remained cool until Saturday. Saturday and Sunday were beautiful, warm days.
On Monday (10-15-01) I found on my trip home after work a DOR Eastern Hognose, black phase, male, 25.5 inches, and DOR a young Black Rat Snake.
On Saturday (10-20-01) I was busy with other responsibilities most of the the day. However, I did take a short walk about the farm. I found a juvenile Black Racer under a piece of metal. It was obviously one of this year's hatchings, but was now almost black. I checked the spring well for Three-Lined Salamanders. I saw only one. There were about 2 dozen spermatophores attached to objects in the water. Usually there are more salamanders in the well by now.
Sunday (10-21-01) was another beautiful day. I spent most of my time with family. I did notice a juvenile Ground Skink scurrying on the patio, so I caught it and took its picture. By the way, I first noticed the Ladybugs yesterday. Today they were crawling all over the windows and landing on anyone who went outside. This annual invasion leaves no building un-entered.
Week ending 10-21-01
Not much outdoors time this week but a few interesting things came up.
Sunday (10-14-01), After I sent out last week's report, a colleague dropped by for a visit. He had been in the SC lowcountry a bit. There is a fellow in the lowcountry that shoots snakes and freezes them, also throwing in road-kills as he finds them. My colleague stops by this fellow's place and raids the freezer. My generous colleague shares the bounty with me. My students will get to learn how to skin and tan snakes. Well, when we started going through the buckets of dead stuff we found the expected common stuff (ratsnakes, watersnakes, cottonmouths, copperheads), but inside we also found a beautiful Southern Hognose and big Glossy Crayfish Snake. ARRRRRRRRGGGHHH! Two of my fantasy-dream species just lying dead in a bucket. At least I know they exist and have a bit of an idea about where to look!
Monday (10-15-01), Went into Union and Chester Counties, found Six-Lined Racerunners and Fence Lizards, saw an AOR Eastern Box Turtle. I also found and collected some Tiger Beetles (Cicindela tranquebarica) that had not been collected there previously. Cool.
Tuesday (10-16-01), My truck started spewing white smoke from the exhaust. Smelled like radiator coolant. Blown Head-Gasket. Will be having to catch rides here and there and double-up/borrow till I get my wheels back.
Wednesday (10-17-01), Sad about my truck.
Thursday (10-18-01), Miss my truck, may go by the repair shop and visit it.
Friday (10-19-01), Took my kids off campus for a bit. We saw a few Butterflies/Dragonflies/Tiger Beetles/Lizards/Turtles. Best thing we saw was a Striped Skunk ambling across the road. Most of my students had never seen a live, wild, Skunk. Cool!
Saturday (10-20-01), Clemson lost against UNC.
Sunday (10-21-01), Family time in Hendersonville, NC. We saw a Groundhog and collected a few Tiger Beetles (C. tranquebarica). No big deal.
Hope to have a better week this week and hope you are all doing well!
Week ending 10-14-01
I finally found some snakes this year. I did a little local night time road cruising on Thursday and some serious cruising on Saturday. The temperatures have been flipping from warm to cold and have spurred snakes to moving about.
Thursday evening (10-11-01) was the warmest evening we have had for a couple of weeks. I drove some local roads hoping to find some snakes about. I first came upon a DOR baby Black Rat Snake. Baby Rat Snakes seem to like to visit roads just after dark. As I continued my circuit, I found an AOR Baby Black Rat Snake about a mile from the first one. My last find of the evening was an AOR adult Eastern Garter Snake.
The weather forecast was for rain on Saturday and sun on Sunday. I planned a field cruise for Sunday. However, Saturday morning was partly cloudy and with a warm wind from the south west. My planned activities for the day were canceled. So I decided to do my herping this day. Fortune smiled on me, for as I headed toward the south and Aiken County, the clouds thinned and the temperatures rose. Back home clouds continued to rolled in and temperatures remained on the cool side.
Because I had changed plans, I did not leave home until about 9:30 am. A few miles from home I spotted my first DOR. I was moving at traveling speed, not herping speed, so I had to turn around and return to ID the snake. It was a young adult Eastern Garter. I setoff again and within a few hundred yards spotted another DOR and had to do the reversal routine again. This one was a baby Black Rat.
I was torn between stopping for DORs and getting to my destination sooner. Since I did not have any other deadlines hanging over me this day and because one can never tell what may turn up, I decided that I would stop for every DOR. It took me over 2 hours to reach the beginning of my destination area, the Sandhills. In addition to the baby Black Rat Snake and Eastern Garter Snake, on the trip down I also found DOR: a Copperhead, an Eastern Kingsnake, a Corn Snake and another Black Rat Snake, adult.
There were several species I was hoping to find in the Sandhills, but my greatest desire was to find a live Pine Snake. In the past couple of years I have found about 4 or 5 dead Pines, but I have never found a live one. It was not to be this day either; however, I did make some very good finds.
My first find in the Sandhills was a DOR large, male Canebrake Rattlesnake, about 48 inches. Someone had stopped to bash its head in after running it over. For a trophy, the rattles had been removed.
In the next couple of hours, I found DOR another Corn Snake, Copperhead, and juvenile Black Rat Snake.
About 3:30 pm, on an unpaved road, I came upon a DOR large Eastern Kingsnake. Most of the snakes I had found thus far had been dead for several hours. This King appeared to have recently been run over, although it was not moving. If felt like I was getting closer to finding a live snake.
About 15 minutes later, I came upon a young Canebrake Rattlesnake, about 30 inches in length. It had been struck and lay dying. It could not move its body, but did give a feeble rattle. I was on the track of a live one! Snakes were now moving about.
A short while later, I found DOR, an adult Southern Hognose Snake, 15.5 inches. It was fresh, but whatever had hit it had caused massive damage. I could not even determine its sex. Even though it was dead, I considered this a good find. The last Southern I had found was at least 20 years ago.
Finally I found a live snake. It was a very little one and I almost missed seeing it. It was a baby Southern Hognose! With their sharply upturned snouts, Baby Southerns are probably the cutest snakes in the world. They are the "Teddy Bears" of the herps.
While the sun was still up, I found a piece of a DOR Slender Glass Lizard. It was not a recent kill, but about a foot long section of the body.
Since I had spent the day, I decided to stay in the Sandhills for the change from day to night, the crepuscular period. I only found one snake but it was a very good find for me. It was an AOR young Eastern Ribbon Snake. My first live specimen. Correction (10-16-01), it was not a Ribbon Snake but an Eastern Garter. Hopeful thinking on my part!
On the trip home, I found a DOR young Redbelly Water Snake.
Although only 2 of the 15 snakes I found were alive, I consider the day to have been spectacular. I believe I set a new personal record of finding 8 snake species in a single day. "
Sunday (10-14-01) was devoted to other activities, but I did see a DOR Eastern Kingsnake.
Week ending 10-14-01
I have had a good week. I have had some great outdoor/nature time. I have found some super animals, and been to some cool places. Let us begin.
Monday (10-8-01), A Tiger Beetling friend had e-mailed me and asked if I could find him some female Cicindela nigrior. He gave me locations in Aiken County (very few locations for this species in SC) and off I went. Along the way, I stopped in Saluda County and collected a Dragonfly (Whitetail Skimmer) since I had none from that county. Also found a few frogs and an Eastern Painted Turtle. I made another stop near my destination/location and found some Cicindela punctulata (Tiger Beetles) and a good-sized Eastern Kingsnake (under debris). Then it was time for the McD #3 combo (super-sized) to give me strength to go up against my prey. Tasty! Around the location I found plenty of territory to search and walked quite a bit. I found another C. punctulata. I also found what I think is nigrior. I'll have to send it off to my friend to make sure, as there are two kinds in that area that look a great deal alike. I decided to give Edgefield County a check since I was close, and there at a boat ramp I found C. repanda (a new county record). Then it was on to McCormick County, where I found C. trifasciata (another new county record). A couple of things took hold of my attention on this little trip: In Aiken County, on I-20 at mile marker 14, west-bound, I found a DOR Armadillo, and in Edgefield County at a boat ramp on Stevens Creek, I found Bald Cypress Trees and Spanish Moss. Seemed odd, in what I have always considered an up-state county. This was a very good day.
Tuesday (10-9-01), Just a regular day at work.
Wednesday (10-10-01), Collected some Dragonflies with my class. Found a Black Ratsnake under some debris. Had an Opossum wander across the road later in the evening hours.
Thursday (10-11-01), After work/school, my son and I went to the creek and enjoyed the C. repandas we found. Made a brief stop at a dirt road and found our first Cicindela tranquebarica (Oblique-Lined Tiger Beetle)! Very cool beetle! Later, I found a pretty Copperhead AOR as I was making a Pepsi run to the store at sunset. Helped her reach the safety of the tall grass. Fun day!
Friday (10-12-01), Off campus with my class, we found tons of young Cricket Frogs and a Northern Watersnake by the reservoir. In another location, in Laurens County, we found another C. tranquebarica (another new county record!). Moving on into the edge of Newberry County we found "tranks" in good number at an old quarry. All my kids got to catch 2-3 each and had fun (Future Tiger Beetlers?). After work, I picked up my son and nephew, and we went to another place in Laurens County (open dirt-quarry type place and we all collected some more "tranks". Now, we are not just doing this for fun. Many of the beetles/dragonflies collected this year will ultimately end up in the South Carolina State Museum collections. Nice to make a contribution to science.
Saturday (10-13-01), Typical day at work. In the classroom, our new wounded Mole King has shed but refused a fuzzy mouse. We gave him 15 cc of mixed liver and egg in a tube feeding. He still seems sporty, and the wounds do not look the least bit infected. Maybe he will make it. Clemson won their ball game against NC State! Caught a AOR Redbellied Snake on the way home. Don't even know how I spotted it, but I am glad I did. It is not tan-phased. It is not gray-phased. It is both. Typical dark gray but has a tan, mid-dorsal stripe (between its dark "pin-stripes"). Very pretty. I have caught two others with this same pattern but have yet to see a published photo of one with this look. All three have come from within 1 mile of each other, and all in the last 12 years. Odd, but very neat!
Sunday (10-14-01), Overcast and rainy now (noon), but I may get outdoors a bit later. If I find anything neat, I'll put it on next week's report.
Week ending 10-07-01
Until Saturday, the weather this week was beautiful. The week started on the cool side, but warmed up by Wednesday. I took a few day off from work for relaxation and to help with the final preparations for Win and Hope's wedding.
On Wednesday (10-03-01), I went to Abbeville to take care of a few details. It was a beautiful, warm day so I also took a couple of hours and road cruised some areas in McCormick County where there is a good population of Carolina Pigmy Rattlesnakes. I found a fresh D.O.R. specimen. Even though it was dead, I was thrilled because it was my first Pigmy Rattlesnake find. I took it home and made some closeup images.
On Thursday (10-04-01), I found a D.O.R., male Copperhead (36.5 inches) on a local road.
On Friday (10-05-01), while running errands I found an A.O.R. Black Rat Snake (about 48 inches) and a D.O.R. one (about 30 inches). I went by the wedding site, a beautiful restored villa located in Laurens on the grounds of a retirement home. I found an A.O.R. Copperhead about 200 feet from the villa. I collected it in order to move it to a safer location for the residents and itself.
On Saturday (10-06-01), while driving to the wedding, I saw another D.O.R., adult Black Rat Snake.
Win and Hope were married in a beautiful ceremony on Saturday morning. Although it poured rain most of the morning, all last minute preparations went well and the sun appeared throughout the time of the ceremony and reception. I have gained an intelligent, lovely daughter, who also likes reptiles and amphibians.
Sunday (10-07-01): The rain stopped and overnight temperatures dipped into the 30s. I saw another D.O.R., adult Black Rat Snake. I found a Walkingstick clinging to my home office door.
Week ending 10-07-01
This week has seen cooler, yet sunny weather. I did get outside a fair bit.
Monday (10-1-01), I traveled to Sumter County. I wanted to visit a site legendary in SC Tiger Beetle field work. I had no trouble finding the site (as directed by my maps and a paper published in '75) and was delighted with the habitat there. The sky was blue. The forest was green. The ground was carpeted in rich brown leaves and pine needles but had large open patches of white sand. All these colors were very intense. I prowled the site for an hour (10 to 11 AM) but was a bit early in the day for my target species and was late in the year for several other desirable species. I did find Skinks, Fence Lizards, and Green Anoles common. I caught a Blue-Faced Meadowhawk (Dragonfly). One other thing was on my mind. I was constantly aware of military jets from Shaw Airforce Base doing practice runs overhead. I wondered about the pilots inside and prayed for their safety. Well, I really enjoyed my time at this site, but my schedule soon forced me to leave. I do have plans to return in the spring. I made a stop on the Wateree River at Hwy 378. There, at a boat ramp on the Sumter County side, I found Tiger Beetles. I collected a few C. repanda and a C. trifasciata. Crossing the river, I checked the boat ramp on the Richland County side and caught a few repandas and a trifasciata. I made a couple of stops in Lexington County but found nothing. Waste of time. I would have been better off to drop my canoe into the Wateree for a few minutes of fun.
That evening at home on Discovery, I watched a show about tracking North America's pit vipers. Part of the show featured SC researchers, Wade and Steve. Nice stuff. I particularly enjoyed the action-scenes featuring Wade's truck.
Thursday (10-4-01), Took a few spare minutes to herp a bit with my class on campus. We found two Black Racers under our tin.
Friday (10-5-01), Took my class off campus. We collected a few Dragonflies, not so much for the locations as for the date. We did get a Yellow-Legged Meadowhawk, new species for me. We also found two Black Racers and a Midland Watersnake, all under cover. Inspired, I made a few stops on the way home. I found but lost two more racers. Caught a Black Ratsnake and a Mole Kingsnake (all under cover). The Mole King was snake #159 for the year and we beat our record set in 1995! I collected it out of compassion. It had a serious wound on the belly, with skin torn and muscle exposed over an area about the size of a nickle. He is pre-shed and crusty. He will never survive in the wild is this condition at this time of year. We will be keeping in a "sterile" cage with newspaper substrate, and treating the wound with antibiotic ointment. We will also try to feed but expect he will need to be tube fed for a while. Even with all our efforts, he may not survive, but still has a sporty attitude which is encouraging.
Saturday (10-6-01), Happy occasion today! Fellow herper Win Ott got married in a nice civil ceremony in Laurens. I took off work for a couple of hours and enjoyed the wedding. Win, Hope, you are both special and I wish for you a wonderful lifetime of love and happiness!
Sunday (10-7-01), The world is in turmoil. I pray for peace.
Take care and enjoy fall,
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