SC Reptile and Amphibians


November 2001

Gene's notes

11-04-01 through 12-02-01

On Sunday, 11-04-01, I flipped a couple of coverboards around home an found an adult Slimy Salamander and a juvenile Eastern Narrowmouth Toad. I checked the spring-well for breeding Three-lined Salamanders. Saw only one. I had checked it twice in October, finding only one each time. This doesn't bode well for the local Three-lined population. The weather continues to be very dry.

On Sunday (11-18-01) I checked the spring-well again for breeding Three-lined Salamanders. Did not see any.

The Sunday(11-18-01) edition of a local paper, The Laurens County Advertiser Extra, carried a front page photo and a nice article about Joey Holmes. Joey was recently recognized as a community hero in the 2001 Year of the Child campaign by SC Governor Jim Hodges and the South Carolina Year of the Child committee. Congratulations, well-deserved!

We finally received some rain Friday night (11-23-01). The temperature was warm through the weekend. More rain was forecast and I hoped to search for some salamanders on the roads at night during the rain. Unfortunately, we did not get any more rain on Saturday or Sunday. During the day on Sunday, the temperatures climbed into the 70s (F). I saw a couple of Ground Skinks on the patio. My son and daughter-in-law, Win and Hope, came over finish off TG leftovers. They flipped some tin but did not find any herps under any. They did find a Least Shrew under a piece near the pond. On the bank of one of the branches, they found an adult Redbelly Water Snake basking. This could be our last snake of the season.

Several days during the last week in November, weather forecasts called for rain. The temperatures remained warm. I hoped to look for salamanders on the roads one night while it rained. But the rain did not come, until after daylight on Friday morning (11-30-01) and the amount was small. By noon it was sunny again. There was no more rain on Saturday or Sunday, so no looking for salamanders.

Thursday night, really very early Friday (11-30-01), I found our cat toying with a small Brown Snake. I was able to rescue it before lethal damage occurred. If the warm weather extends into December, this may not be the last local snake of the year, either. I believe my record latest-of-year local snake was a male Mole Kingsnake found crossing my driveway in mid-December 1998. In 2000, November and December were very cold and we were thinking a very cold winter would follow. We have had mild winters for most of the last 10 years. However, after the first week, the temperatures increased in January and we experienced a mild winter.

I was able to leave work a little early on Friday (11-30-01) and was driving on a ridge road through recently replanted pine plantation land just at sunset. The western sky blazed with brilliant shades of red and gold. Against the dark blue overhead sky I spotted a Great Horned Owl perched in a leafless schrub tree. And, in the eastern sky the bright yellow, inflated, full moon floated above the horizon. I stopped and the owl silently took flight and soared into the setting sun. How I wish I could record such beauty.

Saturday night(12-01-01) about 10 pm, I stepped outside and saw a beautiful, but strange, sight in the sky. The bright, almost full, moon shone upon two vapor trails which crossed in an X at a point high in the eastern sky. Stars could be seen in the darkness behind. It was so unusual that I woke my wife, who had just gotten to sleep, and insisted she come look at the "sign." I used my handy camcorder to take a picture; but, to get a visible image from the recording, I had to apply much enhancement. Here is my Xmas picture, but it compares poorly to the image I saw.

On Monday (12-03-01) Win and Hope, my son and daughter-in-law, will be opening their new restaurant for business. It is named Rough House Hotdogs and is located in downtown Greenwood, SC, at 322 Main Street. Their planned hours are from 10:30 am until 7:00 pm.

Gene Ott


Joey's notes

Week ending 12-02-01

It is December! Hard to believe! Just where has this year gone?!?!?!?!? Well, we have had beautiful weather this week but I have been very busy with duties/subjects other than nature.

Anoles have been easy to find most days during the sunny hours.

Monday (11-26-01), I did snake/lizard talks to the kids at the local high school. Fun, but three 90-minute sessions is a lot on one's day off.

Saturday (12-1-01), to my surprise, one of my students uncovered 2 female Cow Killers (Velvet Ants) under a log. Seemed late in the year to be finding them. Seemed odd to find two together.

Other sightings? Slate Colored Juncos. Small birds that my dear Grandmother would have called "Snowbirds". I will always associate them with winter/snow/cold weather. The seasons are indeed changing, but then, isn't that what makes nature interesting!

Week ending 11-25-01

Happy Thanksgiving to Everyone!

I have had a fairly active week, for this time of year. Temps have been moderate, and we even had rain!

Monday (11-19-01), Had wanted to go to Aiken to hunt for Tiger Beetles (Cicindela nigrior) and Southern Hognose Snakes, but had some business to take care of here and didn't get make the trip. My son and I did poke around a bit locally. We found some Tiger Beetles (Cicindela repanda) and these were almost a whole month later than the records list. Cool. We put the canoe into the local reservoir and paddled around a while. Saw some ducks overhead and some basking River Cooters. Even saw a Dragonfly (appeared to be a Cruiser of some sort). Other notables that day were a DOR Black Ratsnake and a nifty little Dung Beetle.

Tuesday (11-20-01), Got a surprise at work. A 2 year old Bairds Ratsnake had dropped 4 HUGE eggs into her water bowl. I didn't have a clue she was gravid. She gets tossed in with the male briefly on rare occasions when her cage is needed. Nothing about this seemed right, and by Thursday (11-22-01) the eggs were obviously turning bad and were discarded. That evening, My wife and son gave me a very nice gift: one of those cool little computer microscopes that can take 10, 60, or 200 power magnification and presents video or still pictures onto the screen/monitor. From there they can be saved/filed/deleted/whatever. Cool little toy! Thanks!

Thursday (11-22-01), It is Thanksgiving and I have to work, but I am thankful to have a job, with the local economy being unstable. Many local industries (textiles in particular) have closed and budget cuts always loom on the horizon in my line of work. So I AM thankful. I am also thankful for family and friends, health and happiness, and for all the wonders of nature I have been able to enjoy this year. I have only gotten 1 new herp species this year (Clemson Salamander) but many new species of Dragonfly and Tiger Beetle. Buy a new field guide, take up a new group of animals; get tons of new species!

Friday (11-23-01), Low Pressure System moves in and we have rains by 2 PM. Moisture in from the Gulf. Refreshing.

Sunday (11-25-01), Still moist and overcast, but warm. I went to the River Pasture to look for Mud Salamanders (I know they are active at this time of year and hope my areas might produce one/some). No Muds. I did find 4 Marbleds and 2 Spotted Salamanders. The Spots were under my favorite log and I had to be very careful as there is also a Yellowjacket nest (the size of a head of lettuce) under the log on one end. I got the Spots out, without getting myself stung, and checking their head patterns. I found them to be two males I had seen under the log regularly last winter. Old friends. Neat. I also saw a handful of basking River Cooters, 3-4 Wood Ducks, some Canadian Geese, and 4 Hooded Mergansers. Near home a Kestrel was perched on the powerline. All very nice birds and a pleasure to see.

Still plenty of Anoles and Ground Skinks to be seen at work. Considering the season, not a bad week for nature.

Week ending 11-18-01

I am sorry, but there is just not a lot of cool stuff to tell you about this week. The days have been reasonable for this time of year, but my schedule has kept me inside for the prime hours of the day when good herps may have been active. Of course Green Anoles and Fence Lizards have been common and easy to see around the Piedmont campus/buildings. Not much else.

It has been about 25 days since we had rain and conditions are very dry. We are at high risk for wildfires now.

Enjoyed a few minutes of the meteor shower early Sunday morning (11-18-01).

Week ending 11-11-01

Not much to report this week. The only herps found were Anoles, Fence Lizards, Cricket Frogs, and Bullfrog tadpoles. Not much. I did get outside with a class on 11-9-01 and we found Tiger Beetles (Cicindela repanda) in one location. There are still a few small Butterflies active but most of the local cold blooded world is closing down.

Am I still enjoying autumn? Is it time to whine about cold weather?

Week ending 11-04-01

It was a most typical autumn week. Cool and frosty several mornings but most days warmed to pleasant temperatures. Shorts and T-shirts were still the comfortable thing to wear. The fall leaves have been beautiful.

I have not noticed any odd birds. Hooded Merganser and Eastern Meadowlark caught my eye. Not the least bit odd, but they happen to be some of my favorites. Mammals sighted were White-foot Mice, Cottontail Rabbits, Grey Squirrels, and Eastern Chipmunks. All pretty routine. Butterflies such as Buckeye have been around but not common. Seen very few Dragonflies, one zoomed by at work on Saturday but I only got a glimpse (it was large, Darner sized). On Friday (11-2-01) I took some students to an old quarry to look for Tiger Beetles (C. tranquebarica) but we failed to find any. On Sunday (11-4-01) I checked the sandbar by the river for Tiger Beetles (C. repanda) but failed to find any. Weather seemed reasonable in both cases, and both species have been found locally into mid October. I was just wanting to see if either was available in November. I suppose you prove about as much by not finding something.

Herps? Fence Lizards, Green Anoles, and Ground Skinks are easy to find. Sunday (11-4-01), a biology student from Clemson came over to herp around here a bit. He was interested in Marbled Salamanders and we had super luck, finding 17 under logs at the backswamp in the River Pasture. Nothing else by the river, but we did find a Black Racer under coverboards at a spot in Laurens County. Last snake of the year? Maybe, maybe not!

Joey Holmes


December 3, 2001
Gene Ott

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