SC Reptile and Amphibians


February 2002

Gene's notes

February weather was a generally dry and warm. Rains came at the beginning and end of the month. Local frogs serenaded most every night, predominantly Upland Chorus Frogs; Southern Leopards and Spring Peepers added their voices. Right at the end of the month a cold front strolled through dropping overnight temperatures to 5 deg F and silencing the frogs temporarily.

Although we had many warm days, I did not see any reptiles in the wild during February, not even a basking turtle.

During the month, I made some additions to SC Birds. As expected, hawks were about. My most exciting addition was the Cooper's Hawk. These hawks are usually only glimpsed darting across woodland clearings. However, one day as I pulled into the parking lot at my office in Greenville, a male was perched in a small tree beside the lot. I was able to get my camcorder and tripod setup and catch a few seconds of tape before it flew off. This was the last week in February. I have since seen a female there. I am hoping they will successfully nest nearby and perhaps I can get some more pictures.

I have noticed several DOR beavers. Beavers must be making a lot of overland trips this time of year. Just off the road on my route to work, there is the neatest, best maintained beaver dam I have ever seen.

One warm day near the end of the month, I set out to find a Golden Mouse (Ochrotomys nuttalli). Golden Mice are beautiful little golden-orange mice that build nests of shredded bark in vine-covered schrubs. A typical nest is about the size of a softball. I was not successful but will keep looking. They should start breeding in March. I did find a Hispid Cotton Rat's nest of grass clippings hidden beneath a piece of metal. While I was taking a picture, the occupant sneaked out and went under another piece of metal. When I lifted the second piece of metal, the rat ran into the matted fescue grass which was all around.

Gene Ott


Joey's notes

Week ending 02-03-02

It has been a most delightful week. It was very warm during the week (temps into the mid-upper 70's) but has cooled off for the weekend.

Monday (1-28-02), For my day off I tried to take advantage of the beautiful weather. I went to the sandbar bay a local creek and actually found a Tiger Beetle (Cicindela repanda). I know this is within season for this species but it was neat to find him anyway. At the backswamp in the river pasture, I found plenty of Marbled and Spotted Salamanders, and a Southern Leopard Frog. Upland Chorus Frogs were calling loudly.

Tuesday (1-29-02), At work, I saw a Mourning Cloak Butterfly. They hibernate, but will come out on warm days.

Wednesday (1-30-02), With students, I went back to the river pasture and we saw even more salamanders than on Monday! Saw another Mourning Cloak, Ground Skinks, Green Anoles, and the frogs sounded great. On the logs, plenty of River Cooters were basking in the sun. My students seemed to enjoy the time outdoors. Later, after dark, I stopped by the pond alone and found a tremendous breeding frenzy of frogs. Upland Chorus Frogs, Spring Peepers, American Toads, and Southern Leopard Frogs were all going. The Leopard Frogs were the most intense and numerous. At one point I aimed my flashlight beam into the water and, holding it steady, counted 20 Leopard Frogs! Just in the area of my flashlight beam! I wonder how many could be counted had I moved the light around! Plus many others would be underwater as they called and wouldn't be visible at all. Great night for the Frogs!

Thursday (1-31-2), Nothing interesting comes to mind.

Friday (2-1-02), My son and I stopped at the river pasture and checked on the Spotted Salamanders that stay under the "good log". We had been seeing Spot #1 and Spot #4, but last week Spot #4 was gone and a new one, Spot #5 was there instead. Well, today our old friend Spot #1 was gone (into the water perhaps?). Spot #5 was still there, and our surprise was to find Spot #2! I have not seen him since April 19, 2001. He seems fine. Just been gone underground for a while. Very cool!

Saturday (2-2-02), The weather turned cool, and for the first time this week, long pants seemed like a good idea.

Sunday (2-3-02), The weather continues to turn. It didn't get out of the mid 40's and drizzled a bit. Nasty day.

Nasty weekend or not, it has been a beautiful week. The exact kind of thing I need to get me to Spring.

Week ending 02-10-02

This week we have had cooler temps. We even had some light sleet on Wednesday (2-6-02) morning. It turned to rain and we had two days of slow, cold, rain.

Wednesday (2-6-02), Cold and rainy. We set some traps on campus.

Thursday (2-7-02), Cold and rainy. We checked the traps and had a nice little male Opossum. We marked and released him.

Friday (2-8-02), Warmer. We checked the traps and had a White-Footed Mouse in a Sherman Trap. Released. Saw a Mourning Cloak Butterfly.

Saturday (2-9-02), Warm. Checked the traps and had a Wren in a Sherman Trap. Released immediately. Saw another Mourning Cloak. After work the Holmes family took a little ride up to Ashville NC to a club called the Grey Eagle to see and hear my brother Jeff in a Holmes Alone concert. Nice visit. Nice Concert.

This week I got a copy of Living in South Carolina magazine and it listed its top ten BBQ places in the state. Several are in close proximity to some good nature areas. Let's see:

(Gene's note: I count 15 restaurants in the list. It's easy to get carried away by BBQ!)

What does all this have to do with Field Herping? You gotta eat somewhere! Give them a try and report any additions if you'd like.

Week ending 02-17-02

Monday (2-11-02), I went to the river pasture and found the expected Salamanders, including Spot #2 and #5 under the "good log"

Friday (2-15-02), We recaptured the male Opossum we had caught a week or so ago (I am too lazy to look up the exact date right now). Later I took my class to the river pasture where they found many Spotted and Marbled Salamanders, and an American Toad, around the backswamp. We looked for Tiger Beetles on the sandbar but found none. We did see a River Cooter basking on a log in the river. Later in the evening I saw a Gray Fox in the back yard here at home.

Saturday (2-16-02), We looked around campus and found some Fence Lizards, Ground Skinks, and Green Anoles. No Tiger Beetles, but we did see a few Mourning Cloak Butterflies and caught a Question Mark Butterfly.

Sunday (2-17-02), Had a family picnic at the little waterfalls in Cross Anchor (nice sunny rocks and sandbars by the creek). We saw Mourning Cloaks, and my nephew and I both caught Tiger Beetles (Cicindela repanda). Neat stuff for a winter day!

Week ending 02-24-02

The temps have been fairly consistent this week. Not unpleasant, but not really Spring either. I have not had much time to devote to outdoors/nature.

Monday (2-18-02), Went down to Columbia to the SC State Museum. The Museum is closed on Mondays, but I had made prior arrangements with Jim Knight to visit. Jim was going to be in the office, and it seemed to be a good time to look into the museum's insect collections. Neat stuff! After leaving the museum I went down to a little spot in lower Lexington County that I thought might have a Tiger Beetle. Nothing. Went to a spot of recreation beach at the lake Murray Dam thinking a Tiger Beetle might be out there. Closed for the winter. Oh well.

Thursday (2-21-02), Beautiful day! Saw our first Spring Azures (Butterflies) of the year. After work/school, my son and I went to the river pasture and he took the kayak for about a 1 mile float. Lots of Mallards on the river.

Saturday (2-22-02), Caught another male Opossum in the traps on campus. This is the second male, male #2, so we painted 2 red rings around his tail with fingernail polish and let him go.

Sunday (2-24-02), Saw a Sulfur (Butterfly) in the yard. We're getting there.

Week ending 03-03-02

March already? Doesn't seem like it. The week started nice and warm, but quickly cooled off and stayed cold! Rainy and cold for the weekend. Not great for outdoors. Monday was the highlight of the week.

Monday (2-25-02), It was nice and warm, the kind of day to wear shorts and a T-shirt. I walked a trail by the Tyger River. Enjoyed the day. I saw no snakes, but did find many Fence Lizards out on the rocks. Closer to the water I found fair numbers of Tiger Beetles (Cicindela repanda) and collected a few for a friend.

Thursday (2-28-02), Got some Entomology stuff in from BioQuip. Storage boxes and insect pins.

Friday (3-1-02), Did some work on the trail on campus. Habitat enhancement for Tiger Beetles?

Saturday (3-2-02), Cold. Wet/rainy. Dreary. Birds were active and we saw some Downy and Red-Bellied Woodpeckers, Brown Creepers, Tufted Titmice, White-Throated Sparrows, Song Sparrows, Rufus-Sided Towhee, Chickadees, Eastern Bluebirds, Slate-Colored Juncos, Cardinals, Robins, and of course, Crows. Not much else going on.

I know that within a month snakes will be crawling, Turtles will be basking, Dragonflies will be flying, Tiger Beetles will be out, and my lawn will be in need of mowing! I cannot wait!

Joey Holmes


March 4, 2002
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