SC Reptile and Amphibians


June 2002

Week ending 06-30-02

The notes were posted a week late because I was away on vacation.

Gene's notes

I did no herping this week. Spent my time working, getting my auto airconditioning repaired, purchasing a digital camera, and preparing for vacation at the beach.

I have putoff buying a digital camera for several years waiting for one to come along that had the features I wanted. I found one that has most of what I want, so I purchased it. It's a Fuji S602; just released for sale in June. It is as close as one can get to the features of an SLR film camera without paying the high costs for a professional model. I plan to learn to use it while on vacation.

At work, several co-workers found a large Black Rat Snake hunting at the base of the office building. One of them tossed it into the nearby woods. I was told that it was seen again later that same day.

Friday, we left for the beach. Saturday and Sunday, I took pictures of the family.

My son, Win, found a young Eastern Kingsnake under a coverboard beside the farm pond while fishing on Saturday.

Philip Nicholson sent me a picture of a juvenile Mediterranean Gecko he found in the Charleston, SC area on Wednesday (06-26-02). I did not know we had Geckos in SC. Philip did some checking and found that a range extension for this introduced species has recently been documented.

Gene Ott


Joey's notes

My wife and son went off to Beach Camp with the Church Youth Group (my wife as an adult leader, my son as a youth), so this week finds me "Holmes alone".

Monday (6-24-02), With the day off and my folks away, I took to the road. My truck was rolling by 5:15 AM.

I stopped in Lexington County early and flipped some fallen billboards for snakes. No luck.

In Richland County I hunted the intersection of US 76/ US 378 & SC 263 and found only a few Cicindela punctulata. Down the hill and at the Wateree River, I found a Megacephala carolina under a rock.

Crossing into Sumter county I found a few C. repanda by the water but did not collect any as I already had plenty from that location. Then it was time for the Tiverton Churchyard, with hopes for C. gratiosa and C abdominalis for the first time. Gratiosa was nowhere to be found, but I didn't even get the truck door shut before realizing that abdominalis were everywhere! I could have gotten 75-100! I limited myself to 3 (2 for me and 1 for my nephew). I worked my way down to Sparkleberry. There I found tons of M carolina. Under one rock there must have been 15-20! Again, I collected 3. I also picked up a C. punctulata in the parking lot at St Marks Church.

On to Clarendon County. Having never collected any Tiger Beetles and Dragonflies here, I made my way to Elliots Landing on Lake Marion. Eastern Pondhawk, C. punctulata, and M. carolina were all secured in short order. This was shaping up to be a fun day.

I still wanted a C. abdominalis from Richland, and again hunted the intersection. Nothing. So, I took off on 601 towards Camden (Kershaw County). On the way, I found a little church with a sandy parking lot and achieved my goal.

By the time I hit Kershaw County I was ready for anything, having never caught any snake, dragonfly or tiger beetle there. In a little sandy churchyard on 601 I got a pair of C. punctulata. At the Wateree on US 1 (between Lugoff and Camden) there is a boat landing. My M. carolina was there. My Midland Watersnake was there. And I collected a neat Clubtail Dragonfly. Kershaw done!

On my trip I polished off a lot of cold Pepsi from the cooler, drove about 315 miles, and was back in Laurens (so I could go to the bank) by 5 PM. Hot day. Long day. Good day.

Tuesday (6-25-02), The red-phase Eastern Garter in my classroom had 25 babies. She had been with a normal male. All the babies have normal coloring. The air conditioner in the mouse-house still working. Fingers are crossed.

Wednesday (6-26-02), Again I ventured out after work. No county records existed for a rather common Tiger Beetle (C. punctulata) in Greenwood and McCormick Counties. I had also never collected any dragonflies in McCormick. I accomplished these goals with very little difficulty.

Thursday (6-27-02), Found a female Hercules Beetle at a gas station before sunrise. At work I got a female Giant Stag. Later, goofing off locally, I wasn't home and missed a visit from a colleague. Bummer! By this point in the week I would have enjoyed a visitor.

Friday (6-28-02), My beloved wife and son returned from their trip. I told them that I was tired of going where I wanted to go, eating what I wanted to eat, watching what I wanted to watch, etc. Glad to have them home! My son even brought me a Tiger Beetle (M. carolina) that he had caught

Saturday (6-29-02), Another female Giant Stag Beetle and female Hercules early in the morning. After sunset, while out, we found an adult Black Ratsnake one the road and helped her to safety.

Sunday 6-30-02), Passing through Abbeville, we stopped for a little break and I collected a Tiger Beetle (M. carolina) under a small limb that was lying on the ground.

Been quite a busy week. Lots of really neat animals. I really enjoyed it.

Joey Holmes

Week ending 06-23-02

Gene's notes

I saw a few more DOR snakes this week than last. The most notable was a male Black Rat Snake which measured 77.75 inches. The regional Gray Squirrel population must be tremendous. They are constantly dashing across roadways. Many do not make it. In recent weeks I have seen many juvenile Eastern Cottontail Rabbits along the roadsides. Most of them seem content to eat the green grass on their side.

Locally, we received some light showers beginning Thursday (06-20-02). Just enough water to wet the roads and grass.

Saturday morning (06-22-02) I saw my first live snake in weeks, an Eastern Garter Snake. I also saw AOR a couple of Box Turtles and a Mud Turtle.

Sunday afternoon (06-23-02) I saw Mockingbirds feeding their nestlings. That night I cruised locally. Fowler's Toads were very plentiful and a few frogs also mixed in. I found a 36 inch male Eastern Kingsnake crossing the road.

The little bit of rain we received was a pleasant change from the hot, dry weather we have had most of the month. Perhaps we will get more rain this coming week.

With my new dragonfly field guide, I have identified the green dragonfly in the picture below as a female Eastern Pondhawk (Erythemis simplicicollis); the brown and cream dragonfly as a female Spangled Skimmer (Libellula cyanea); and the dragonfly with the white face, striped thorax and blue abdomen as a juvenile male Blue Dasher(Pachydiplax longipennis).

Gene Ott


Joey's notes

The upstate has been hot and dry, and outdoors time has been limited, but I have managed to enjoy nature a bit.

Monday (6-17-02), No outdoors time. I had a little stain on my finger from when a Bombardier Beetle had sprayed me (they have very impressive defensive chemicals). Visiting my Dermatologist, she took it for a new mole and started to examine/measure it. I then had to explain; "some beetles protect themselves with chemicals........." She didn't really seem to "get it". Oh well.

Tuesday (6-18-02), No outdoors time.

Wednesday (6-19-02), Took my class out walking on campus most of the day. We found a Five-Line Skink and eggs under the bark of a tree, and caught a Black Racer and Redbelly Snake.

Thursday (6-20-02), Disaster. The heat/air unit in my mouse building at work had malfunctioned. The building super-heated in the June sun and we lost all our rodents. Spent most of this day cleaning/disinfecting everything.

Friday (6-21-02), The heat/air unit is back in action now, and I went to the local pet store to barter out a deal. We traded an adult Boa Constrictor for enough breeding stock to get our mouse and rat farm back in action. The kids (my students) get to see how to overcome difficulty with resourcefulness.

Saturday (6-22-02), Average day at work. We did go into the forest to see what kind of insects come to a pile of dead mice/rats. Gross, but loads of flies/maggots and tons of Carrion Beetles, etc.. Death supports life.

Sunday (6-23-02), Time to myself, I went up into the edge of the mountains in Greenville County. Eastern Milksnakes, Timber Rattlesnakes, and montane Tiger Beetles are all still missing in my life. I did get a Smooth Earth Snake, Redbelly Snake, and Eastern Worm Snake (Milksnake food) and found plenty of common Tiger Beetles (Cicindela sexguttata) and even collected a couple of (Tiger Beetles) Cicindela rufiventris (new county record for that species in Greenville).

What will this week hold? Great things I hope!

Joey Holmes

Week ending 06-16-02

Gene's notes

Snakes are hard to come by locally. I did not see any live ones this week and only a couple DORs. We are very dry now. The farm pond is showing a lot of clean edge. On the positive side, the Cricket Frogs are still singing and the Eastern Narrowmouth Toads are in crescendo.

Thursday (06-13-02) evening the weather tempted me with a few rain drops. I cruised a while hoping to find some frogs to collect as feeders. I only saw one small frog and a few toads. Very little herp activity.

Win and Hope, my son and daughter-in-law, had better luck earlier Thursday. They went out wandering in the woods above the Saluda River. They rolled some logs and found 6 Narrowmouthed Toads, 3 small (2 inch) Slimy Salamanders and one small reptile egg. The egg was shaped like a hen's egg, but only a few centimeters long. It was laid under a pine log. It is probably a lizard egg. They hope to hatch it.

I forgot to mention in last week's notes that Win saw his first Fox Squirrel in the wild on Saturday morning (06-08-02) near his home. It was typical gray with a black mask. Later, while we were at looking around the National Forest in McCormick County, we found a dead Fox Squirrel that was black with a white face.

Sunday evening (06-16-02) my wife and I attended a Fathers' Day cookout hosted by my daughter and son-in-law at their home in Abbeville. Win gave me a copy of Dragonflies through Binoculars - A Field Guide to Dragonflies of North America by Sidney W. Dunkle. I'll use it to ID the 3 dragonflies in the picture at the bottom of this month's notes.

My wife and I returned home after dark. About 3 miles from home, I saw a white skunk amble across the road. At least, white was all I could see from my vantage above and behind the skunk. From its size, it must have been a Striped Skunk. I suspect it was not an albino, but rather one that has little or no black separating the two white stripes that run from head to back to tail. Ten years ago I saw another white skunk on the farm. It appeared several times during daylight. I was able to see that its head, back and tail were white, but its legs and belly were black.

Gene Ott


Joey's notes

I cannot believe it, but I have not caught a single snake this week. Many obligations, dry weather, and just bad luck have been in the way. Other herps - lizards, toads, turtles - seem plentiful. Just not snakes.

Monday (6-10-02), With the day to ramble, I headed off towards Lancaster County, an area I have seldom visited. I explored some boat landings on the Catawba River and easily found/collected Tiger Beetles (Cicindela punctulata) and Dragonflies (Eastern Pondhawks). My desire to catch a snake there will have to wait to be satisfied on another day. The only snake I saw was the expected AOR Black Racer, and as expected, he raced into the thick vegetation on the side of the road and was lost. Heading home, I made a stop in Chester County and caught a Tiger Beetle (C. punctulata).

Tuesday (6-11-02), At work, under my lights, 3 Adult male Giant Stag Beetles.

Wednesday (6-12-02), Nothing comes to mind. Work, etc.

Thursday (6-13-02), Got a male Giant Stag Beetle, and a female, while making my morning rounds prior to starting my workday. After work, a photographer/naturalist stopped by and we visited and toured the local stores where beetles/moths are easily found. We picked up one dead Giant Stag (male). Well, it was nice to get outdoors with a new friend.

Friday (6-14-02), Nothing comes to mind. Work, etc.

Saturday (6-15-02), Male and Female Giant Stags prior to work. While doing cage cleanup inside, we found a set of 10 eggs in the cage of a Great Plains Ratsnake. She had been in the company of a Jasper County male and this makes their third successful breeding. It may be interesting to note that she only breeds every other year.

Sunday (6-16-02), Fathers Day. The Holmes Family is up and off to the mountains of NC. We stopped briefly at the Green River in Polk County, NC and found tons of people and one Tiger Beetle (C. sexguttata) and one Dragonfly (Gray Petaltail). On to the nearby Pisgah National Forest where I found some Tiger Beetles (C. punctulata) and we had a wonderful family cookout and picnic. Other wildlife? Saw a Groundhog!

Go find yourself a Groundhog,

Joey Holmes

Week ending 06-09-02

Gene's notes

This first full week in June was pleasantly hot. I did not see many herps until we received a little rain on Thursday afternoon (06-06-02). Driving home from work, I stopped to remove a couple of Box Turtles from the roadway. Where the road passed by the big creek near my home, I saw many small Southern Leopard Frogs hopping about.

I cruised a little on Friday night (06-07-02) but saw only a few toads and frogs.

Several times during the week I saw deer on the roads during the daytime. On two occasions, I saw fawns. They were well-developed but still showing spots. I also saw a Wild Turkey with biddies on the road.

On Saturday (06-08-02), my son, Win, and I did a little cruising and walking in the National Forest in Abbeville, Greenwood, and McCormick counties. The temperature had dropped some and was very pleasant. We thought we would find some diurnal snakes about for sure but had no such luck. In the lakes we saw many basking turtles; we also saw several Racerunner and Fence Lizards. I made pictures of 3 dragonfly species.

Our most exciting observation occurred very unexpectantly. In the unpaved road ahead we saw some dark shapes. We had already seen many scavenging Crows and Vultures on the road and this was my first thought. As we got closer, I thought we were seeing a cat and kittens. Then Win shouted "Otters!" and scrambled to raise the camcorder and turn it on. There was an adult River Otter and 3 babies. Before Win could begin recording the Otters loped up the roadside embankment and disappeared.

Gene Ott


Joey's notes

So it has been a hot week. It has also been a slow week for snakes. Other herps have been active; various Skinks, Toads, Fence Lizards, and basking Turtles are surely easily found, sometimes almost underfoot, but the common species soon draw little attention. Oh well. Slow for snakes but great for beetles. The moon is dark right now, and tons of beetles have been coming in to the lights at various local places.

Monday (6-3-02), my son and I found ourselves beating the heat by wandering the local Tyger River. Only saw/caught one Snake, a Northern Watersnake, but had fun anyway. Later, I happened to be in the edge of Greenville County, and collected a Tiger Beetle (Cicindela punctulata).

Tuesday (6-4-02), Work. But when I got there and checked under some lights, I found 3 male Giant Stag Beetles (Lucanus elaphus).. After work, some spare time was used for kayaking in the local reservoir, where I found no sign of herps other than a Musk Turtle and the voices of well hidden Cricket Frogs, Green Frogs, and Green Treefrogs. I cruised the local roads. Striped Skunk (I walked to within 30 feet as it prowled for bugs in a freshly mowed hayfield), Raccoon, Deer (of course), and a whopper of a Northern Watersnake (AOR) were all I found of interest.

Wednesday (6-5-02), On this mornings rounds, I found 1 male Giant Stag Beetle and a female Hercules Beetle (Dynastes tityus)! My Midland Watersnake popped out 16 babies in her tank in the classroom. I had never checked, but always had thought of it as a male!

Thursday (6-6-02), No Stags, but did get a cool Ground Beetle in the Genus Calosoma. Smelly bugger.

Friday (6-7-02), 4 male Giant Stags!

Saturday (6-8-02), 3 male Giant Stags! After work, I had some free time, went into nearby Newberry county, and collected a Tiger Beetle (C. punctulata). New county record.

Sunday (6-9-02), Saw an Osprey on the Enoree River. Not really any time spent outdoors.

Like I said, it was a great week for beetles. Lots of other neat species of beetles turned up, and some were collected but not mentioned in interest of time/space/interest.

Joey Holmes

June Scenes:

June 24, 2002
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