SC Reptile and Amphibians
This November was not an active herping month for me. I have been really busy doing a construction project. The weather has been colder than in recent Novembers. At my home we did not get the sleet and snow which Joey mentions in his notes, but we did get a low temperature of 7 F. I hope we get some warm rainy nights in December so I can search for salamanders.
As I mentioned in the October notes, the Three-lined Salamanders returned to the spring again for breeding. October was very dry. The largest number I counted was six salamanders. On November 6th, I revisited the spring, thinking that the rains which had come a couple days earlier may have prompted more salamanders to arrive. However, I found only 1 salamander left in the spring.
I saw a DOR Black Rat Snake on November 15th. I did not see any other snakes after that.
On November 28th, I saw a DOR Striped Skunk and a DOR owl on the highway. The bodies were only about 20 apart. The owl was pretty messed up and I did not get out to examine it. It was large, probably a Great Horned. The proximity of the bodies suggests the owl may have been attacking the skunk when both were hit by a vehicle.
Speaking of hitting animals, about mid month I was driving my mother-in-law to a baby shower for my daughter when we collided with a White-Tailed Buck. Smashed a headlight, hood and fender. $2,000 damage! Just about daily, I have to slow to avoid hitting a deer. There are so many. The odds catchup eventually. I have a suggestion. The deer are owned and their population managed by the State for the hunting industry. I think the State should purchase a liability policy for damages caused by deer. The cost of the policy could be funded by selling a "deer stamp" to be use inconjunction with the hunting license. I think this would be a fairer approach.
Monday (10-30-00) Wrote up and edited field notes from Year 2000.
Tuesday (10-31-00) Killed the Green Tree Python, the one my boss kept in his office. After fighting mouth-rot since July, we gave up. Weeks of treatments, injections, tube-feedings, and vet bills. We made the choice. I bagged him and put him in the freezer. I never killed a $900 snake before! The skin, skull, other bones, were saved intact.
Wednesday (11-1-00) It's November? October came and went without a drop of rain here. Very very dry.
Thursday (11-2-00) We collected feeder Anoles, Ground Skinks, and even found a Fence Lizard. Under cover-boards we found a Northern Red Salamander and fair numbers of Slimys. We hit the creek and found a Two-Lined Salamander and a fair number of Northern Dusky Salamanders. Not bad for the amount of time we invested.
Friday (11-3-00) Saw a AOR Eastern Box Turtle.
Saturday (11-4-00) Very late in the day, it rained. For the first time in about 40 days it rained. It was fairly warm, and shortly after dark I made a quick cruise "around the block." I found a large female Southern Leopard Frog and a male American Toad. I was pleasantly surprised. Should have stayed out longer but the Clemson vs Florida State kick-off was at 7 PM so I had to get home. I should have stayed on the roads as it turned out.
Sunday (11-5-00) At the pond, I saw a strange bird. Mainly white. Egret size/shape, but with a curved bill and it had black bill/head/neck, and black towards the rear. It was smaller than a Wood Stork and bigger than an Ibis. I came home quickly, got my Peterson Guide and called a friend. We met back at the pond. The bird was still there. It did not shy away but fed in the shallows while we watched. We both agreed that it sure wasn't in the Peterson Guide. Twice we made it fly. The lower neck, entire body, and tail were white. (Wood storks have a black tail). On the wings there was a 2 to 3 inch band of black on the outer edge (just the tips) of the primary and secondary flight feathers (visible above and below)(Ibis have black on the primary feathers only and on storks the entire primary/secondary feather is black. The bird we saw had only black tips). The neck/head were extended in flight as were the legs. Since getting home I've seen some Internet pictures of something called "Sacred Ibis" of Africa. Looks a LOT like our bird. I just don't know. I do know it definitely is not in the Peterson Guide.
Saw a Gulf Fritillary in the yard.
I saw a newspaper report of a 594 lb Black Bear taken in Oconee County during the 2000 SC Bear season. In the taxidermy business I've mounted, rugged, fleshed, handled, and seen a lot of Bears but nothing like this.
We have had seasonal weather with cooler temps and some rain during the second week of the month. White-Tail Deer are moving a lot, and Gray Squirrels are everywhere it seems. I think we have a good acorn season and that may have much to do with their activity levels. Herps are less active.
We've seen our Green Anoles and Ground Skinks this week, plus Slimy Salamanders.
On Sunday (11-12-00) I saw River Cooters basking on logs in the Enoree River. Not much else.
I'm still a bit up about spotting the Sacred Ibis here in Enoree! My friend and I (with my son along) had at least fifteen minutes with it at fairly close range. We each drew it twice and made as many notes as possible. Everything about it is a perfect match for all pictures we've seen. I talked to the Bird Curator at Riverbanks Zoo and he said they are very common in zoos and private collections. He said they are hardy and if escaped, could live out their lives in the southeast. So we likely saw an escaped captive bird. Sort of puts it into the realm of spotting a parakeet in the park! Then again, could be the Cattle Egret thing.
Inside the lab all is well and we will likely feed the breeders one more time before cycling them down for the winter.
On Friday (11-17-00) evening I had the chance to meet and spend a few minutes with James Parnell. He taught for years at UNC Willmington and co-authored "Birds of the Carolinas" and "Mammals of the Carolinas, Virginia, and Maryland". Nice man. I 'd like to spend some time afield with him someday.
The weather has been cooler, with some rain. Appropriate for the season. I finally had to dig pants out of the closet and give up my shorts due to the cooler temps.
On Saturday (11-18-00) afternoon we got sleet.
On Sunday (11-19-00) we had more sleet. After lunch the sleet and rain give way to snow. I remember a few flakes once (as a child) on November 9th as being the earliest I've seen snow. This day we had more than a few flakes. It poured huge flakes! The cars got covered and the lawn frosted over! Wow! No doubt it will be gone soon but it sure seemed odd.
In the midst of the snow, I went herping. I needed a Salamander to show a group of 3rd graders on Monday. I know a very good spot for Marbleds and went to it. My "good log" let me down but the next log I rolled had just what I needed. A nice adult Marbled Salamander. I turned a few more logs (no more that 10 altogether) and found a Red-Spotted Newt and another Marbled that was sitting in a little depression with some water and a load of eggs.
I went by the pond while out and set out some Sherman traps to see if the Cotton Rats and Rice Rats were moving. Earlier in the week I met licensed bird bander in Greenwood who needed some rodents to use as bait for Raptors. He likes to use wild rats and mice. His trapping technique (he took time to explain it to me) is fascinating. I may have to tag along someday.
I checked the traps on Monday (11-20-00) and had 3 Hispid Cotton Rats and a Rice Rat. Four rats with 6 traps is not bad in my area. Hope the professor catches something. While checking the traps, my son and I were delighted to find about a dozen Green Anoles and a Ground Skink. This was in warm sunshine about 24 hours after a fairly heavy snowfall.
On Sunday (11-26-00) a colleague stopped by and had supper with us. It's always nice to have a visit from a herper friend.
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