SC Reptile and Amphibians


May 2003

Gene's notes

Week ending 06-01-03

Monday (05-26-03), I had the day off from work and decided to drive up into the high foothills in hopes of finding a Timber Rattlesnake or a Milk Snake. About 10 miles from home I saw my first DOR snake. I pasted it , thinking that it was an oddly colored Black Rat Snake. I drove back and glanced at it again; then drove back again and stopped. I examined the snake closely. It was very oddly colored and patterned. It was brown with darker brown blotches. I looked at its scales and could not see and keeling. I looked at the anal plate and could not see any division. It was a little longer than 2 feet. I got excited because I thought I had found an Eastern Milk Snake! This was way out of the Milk Snake's reported range. I took some pictures and then drove on. About 15 minutes up the road, I decided to go back, collect the snake, and put it on ice.

After I returned home later in the day, I looked at the pictures I had taken. The closeup of the scales revealed weak keels and the closeup of the anal palate revealed a division. It's tough getting old and not being able to see up close. My specimen was not a Milk Snake, but a rat snake. But the mystery was not solved. It was not apparent whether it was a Black Rat or a Corn. The pattern at the head just faded into darker color. Even under a magnifying glass and different lightings, I could not determine if the last blotches before the head ended or just faded away. I finally decide it was a Corn Snake, base upon the stripes underneath the tail. Peterson's that some Corns can be very brown, but this is the first such specimen I have ever seen. The specimen suffered considerable damage when run over, but here are some images of my Brown Corn Snake.

I saw only 2 live snakes during the day. Both were Northern Water Snakes, basking in bushes above a roadside stream at nearly the highest elevation that I reached this day. I saw many DOR snakes: about 10 Black Rats, several Black Racers, a couple Eastern Kings, a couple Copperhead, and a few others that I did not stop to ID.

A big, bushy Woodchuck ambled across the road in front of me. I had to stop in order not to run over it. I also found a DOR Longtail Weasel, the first I have found in SC.

On my way to work on Tuesday (05-27-03), I stopped twice to remove Mud Turtles from the road.

On my way home from work on Thursday (05-29-03) I removed a 15 pound Snapping Turtle from the road.

Saturday evening (05-31-03), temperatures remained above 70 deg F well after dark, so I cruised locally. I found a DOR Copperhead. The most interesting sighting was of a Coyote. It was in the road just across the bridge near my home. Instead of immediately bolting into the woods, it trotted down the road a little way, then moved off to the side and stared at me before going into the woods. It was the best look at a wild coyote that I have had. Its presence reminded me of having found the head and hind legs of a fawn last Sunday. Perhaps the fawn had become coyote food.

On Sunday (06-01-03) I picked up an Eastern Painted Turtle from the road. I passed on the road and saw that it was unharmed. I turned around and went back. In the meantime a Crow had flipped it on its back and was pecking at it. Walking around the farm, I found a small Worm Snake under a log.

This week, Steve Bennett of SC DNR sent me pictures of a Mabee's Salamander larva, a newly morphed Eastern Spadefoot Toad, a subadult River Frog, and a Bronze Frog.

During the week, I saw some more DOR Black Rat Snakes and Copperheads. Five-lined Skinks, Anoles, and Fence Lizards have also been active.

May has been a very good month.

Gene Ott


Joey's notes

Week ending 06-01-03

Been pretty busy this week. The weather has been just a bit cool, for herping and bugging at night, but the days have been splendid! I am still in need of a Smooth Earth Snake for a photographer friend.

Monday (5-26-03), After a routine day at work, I took a few minutes to visit the minnow pond. Loads of critters flying. I saw Spangled Skimmers, White-Tail Skimmers, Eastern Amberwings, Blue Dashers, Eastern Pondhawks, and Green Darners. All Beautiful Dragonflies. Better yet, there were several Comet Darners flying around! These big beautiful Dragonflies are one of those "WOW" species for me, and although I have seen them in several counties, I have never caught one. I may have to change that someday.

Tuesday (5-27-03), At work, we (my class and I) walked abit around campus. Found three Eastern Wormsnakes. Nothing else noted.

Wednesday (5-28-03), After work I prowled a bit locally and found nothing but a young Black Racer.

Thursday (5-29-03), Arriving early at work, I found a Luna Moth and a Polyphemus Moth under the lights on campus. In my classroom, two small snakes were waiting in containers for me. One was a Smooth Earth Snake, just what I had been looking for. The other was a Brown Snake, quickly and gently released in the edge of the forest. They had been caught by students who had been doing lawn work on campus Wednesday. Excellent!

Friday (5-30-03), Chris and Ben, grad students working out of SREL, arrived looking for Northern/Midland Watersnakes for a project. We went to a local spot and started putting out minnow traps/funnel traps/eel pots in likely areas. Fifty-Seven traps should produce something. I found a nice male Black Ratsnake but little else.

Saturday 5-31-03), Chris and Ben checked the traps. Nothing but some fish, crayfish, and frogs. It had been cool during the night. The traps stayed in place. We turned our attention to the local Enoree River. We prowled the shorelines and found plenty snakes. My son followed along in his kayak bringing empty catch bags and generally enjoying the rapids. Several large rapids sit right above a long stretch of flat, yet fast water. My son selected one that seemed rather challenging. I went below to offer assistance in case of a problem. Well, half way down he lost balance and overturned. Clutching his paddle he climbed out of the water but the kayak kept going. In fact, it evaded my attempt to pull it in. We all gave chase, Chris in the lead, but the extra water from recent rains (this is a wet spring) had the water flow pretty fast and my sonís red Old Town Otter Kayak was gone. It was getting late. We trekked back to the vehicles and drove to a couple of spots downstream where we could see the river but found nothing. My son was deeply troubled by his loss.

Sunday (6-1-03), I took an early ride by the river and looked, but no kayak. Chris and Ben checked the traps but again had nothing. So they resumed their search for watersnakes in the river, but this time it would be without me. I decided to take the canoe downstream and find my boyís kayak. I eased the canoe over the rapids, picking the easy routes. Being alone I did not want any more trouble out of the river. I took note of the area we had searched on Saturday and then ventured downstream into un-checked areas. It did not take long. I spotted the red hull pressed against a log-jam. The current holding it in place. Without leaving my canoe (the water was swift and fairly deep where the kayak was lodged) I eased it out and guided it downstream into shallow water where it could be emptied and tied behind my canoe. The last 4 miles or so, downstream to where my truck was waiting, were easy. I had time to enjoy the Deer and Woodducks, Herons and Kingfishers, that I saw along the way. Of course I saw many basking turtles, likely Eastern River Cooters. Also there were plenty of Watersnakes, but with two boats to tend to, I just went right by without trying to catch any. I was just relieved to recover my sonís kayak.

Ah, adventures! Could have been worse. I never heard banjos playing!

Joey Holmes

Gene's notes

Week ending 05-25-03

The first 4 days of this week were filled with rain.

A large, dark, stray German Shepard dog showed up at home on Tuesday and spilled some trash that night. The next day the county animal control brought out a trap and captured the dog. It was not too long ago that we had another stray shepard come to our home and have to be trapped. This week's one was not quite as big as the first one, but it was much larger than most shepards. Someone must be raising these large dogs and discarding excess stock near the bridge.

At work on Thursday (05-22-03), the adult male Cooper's Hawk that ocassionally visits the office windows sat in front of the windows for several hours. I was able to capture some good images as the bird suffered through the rain downpour. When I returned home, I saw evidence that flood waters had overfilled the large culvert in the driveway and spilled over the drive.

Friday morning (05-23-03) I saw that flood waters had again spilled across the drive during the night. Fortunately there was no substantial damage, but I will need to put more riprap in place The rains ended and the day was fairly pleasant. Today I loaded up the trash and took it to the local green box. Under one trash can, I found a female Deer Mouse with 2 very new pinkies. In late afternoon, I looked beneath a piece of farm equipment and found an adult Six-lined Racerunner. It is really great to see the local population of Racerunners recovering after the drought. After dark I cruised local roads and found a live, immature Southern Copperhead and a recently runover, dying baby Black Rat Snake.

Sunday (05-25-03) I barbequed ribs for my children and their families, plus a visiting out-of-town nephew and his family. It was a warm, humid day. At sunset I cruised local roads, finding AOR: an immature Copperhead, an adult Northern Brown Snake, and a baby Redbelly Water Snake. I also saw a DOR Rough Green Snake.


Joey's notes

Week ending 05-25-03

Been a lot going on locally this week. Weather has been fair, and I have had some good time outdoors.

Monday (5-19-03), After work I prowled about looking for a Smooth Earth Snake for a friend to photograph. No luck with the Smooth Earth, but I did find neat snakes. At a spot in Laurens County I flipped tin/plywood and found a Black Racer and Eastern Kingsnake. Moving on into lower Spartanburg County we checked the Minnow Pond and found Narrowmouth Toads, Marbled Salamanders, a Southern Ringneck Snake, and in a very small area (maybe 10 feet by 10 feet) we found 9 Scorpions! That is a lot for a small area like that.

Tuesday (5-20-03), Walked a bit on campus with my classes. We found a Racer, Eastern Worm Snake, a pair of Broadhead Skinks, and surprised/jumped a White Tail Deer Fawn. Tiny guy, I hated to disturb him but by the time we knew he was there, he was up and running. We found a baby Midland Watersnake in the creek behind my classroom. Later at the Minnow Pond, my son and I enjoyed the Dragonflies and set out some funnel traps. We flipped the debris at the pond again and found 3 more Southern Ringneck Snakes. I mowed for a while at home but did not get my allergies too worked up. Feeling well, I decided to check my tin. Mole Kingsnake! My tin RULES! Jazzed, I went back to the pond after dark. Caught 2 Redbelly Watersnakes. Awesome day!

Wednesday (5-21-03), Our Institute had a recreation day at the park. I walked around with a few students. We found an Opossum sleeping in a trash can (AKA giant pitfall trap). It was a female, with babies in the pouch and the kids were amazed to see all that up close. We scooped nets into a little pond, at the park, and had a look at baby Musk and Painted Turtles. We also found other neat stuff like Water Scorpions, Fishing Spiders, Red Spotted Newts, and tiny Toads that were emerging from the water. Great Dragonflies were zooming and the kids enjoyed trying their luck at netting Eastern Pondhawks and Blue Dashers. The Whitetail Skimmers and Green Darners were just too fast for beginners. After work I went to the Minnow Pond and found 2 more Southern Ringnecks (likely the same two from prior outings). The funnel traps only held tadpoles.

Thursday (5-22-03), Back at the pond in the rain, my son and I found a baby Redbelly Watersnake, more tadpoles and 3 Red Spotted Newts, all in our funnel traps. Water levels were rising so I pulled the traps. Near the pond, we found one Southern Ringneck Snake was under debris, and we found 3 adult Redbelly Watersnakes out feeding and one more baby under some debris.

Friday (5-23-03), Eastern Worm Snake at work. Eastern Worm Snake at home.

Saturday (5-24-03), Family fun day in the NC mountains. Asheville. Art Galleries. Antique Shops. Bar B Que for supper. Home, but tired, by sunset.

Sunday (5-25-03), Had a bit of time in the afternoon to ramble. At the River Pasture, I found a dead Black Ratsnake that some osteocephalic fisherman had bashed with a stick. In Laurens, I had a better find with an Eastern Kingsnake. It was likely the one I had found on Monday (5-19-03). Under the same scrap of plywood, a gravid female, pre-shed and crusty, with a healing sore on the middle of the back. Not hard to ID.

Never did get that Smooth Earth Snake, but I will keep looking! Other interesting things are likely to pop up along the way. I cannot wait to find out what they are!

Joey Holmes

Gene's notes

Week ending 05-18-03

Monday (05-12-03), I had the day off from work. In the morning when I walked to the van to run some errands, our cat appeared carrying a Black Racer in her mouth. It was about 30 inches long, rather large for a cat to capture. It was limp when the cat laid it down, but revived when it picked it up. It had a large gash its side, but it was lively enough to dash into the woods after I released it.

In the afternoon, I was photographing dragonflies beside the farm pond, when I noticed a small ripple in the water about 30 feet from shore. A disturbance this small usually indicates an insect that has fallen; however, this ripple was more rythmical. I moved to the nearest point on the shore to get a better look. It was a small snake, about 8 to 10 inches long. It stopped, floating motionless on the surface. I could not see it clearly, but my best guess was that it was a Rough Green Snake, but it could also be a an Eastern Garter Snake. I snapped a couple of pictures anyway. Then I stood still hoping it would resume swimming. I moved to the side and hid behind some bushes. But it remained motionless. I was concerned that a Largemouth Bass or Channel Catfish, or even a large Bluegill, would appear any moment and gobbled it. Such event would be a natural end to the snake's folly, but I wished to identify it. I hurried to my house to fetch my binnoculars. I returned within 2 minutes. The snake was gone. Later, viewing the snapshots, I was able to see that it was a Rough Green Snake.

Tuesday (05-13-03), on my way home after work, I visited Joey Holmes to photo the beautiful, unusual Mole King Snake he had caught (see last week's notes). While I was there, we flipped the tin near his house. We found an adult Northern Black Racer and an adult Black Rat Snake. We also found a Pine Vole.

Wednesday (05-13-03) evening,temperatures were about 70 deg F and there was a hint of rain in the air. I figured it would be a good evening to cruise. I headed out just before sunset and came upon e Turkey Vultures picking a DOR Eastern King Snake apart. I saw little else this evening.

Friday (05-16-03), during lunch hour I walked along some woodland trails near my office. I found a Northern Water Snake foraging in a ditch. At home after work, my granddaughter was there to spend the weekend. She wanted to look for snakes, so we flipped some boards near the shed. We did not find a snake, but we did find an Eastern Narrowmouth Toad and 2 Six-lined Racerunner Lizards.

While commuting during the week, I saw some other DOR snakes, including 2 adult Black Rat Snakes, a baby Black Rat Snake, and an adult Ringneck Snake.

May is the peak month for visits to South Carolina Reptiles and Amphibians. This month the amount of bandwidth usage on the sight has increased to almost double. I expect the usage is mainly associated with visitors searching to identify snakes they have seen. My site plan allows up to 20 GB per month. This month usage was projected to reach over 38 GB. Usage above the planned quantity results in substantial surcharges. Therefore, I made a decision to move SCRA from my site to a new site dedicated to SCRA. The SCRA site includes hundreds of pages and images. Moving the site and revising embedded hyperlinks required many hours of work. The new site is now working, but I am sure there are some bugs which will need to be fixed in the coming days.

The new site can be reached by going to as before. Because SCRA was formerly a virtual site on, when many pages and images were bookmarked by users, the bookmark would read Such bookmarks still point to the old virtual site which will not be maintained in the future. Many will still work, but users should redo their bookmarks and hyperlinks on their sites to the new locations. I know this change is causing some confusion to users, but it was necessary to keep the site working.

Gene Ott


Joey's notes

Week ending 05-18-03

I hope the week has gone well for everyone. I have had limited time outdoors, but enjoyed it when I could.

Monday (5-12-03), Work as usual. We did manage to find a Southern Ringneck Snake on campus. After work, my errands led me down some local roads where I found Black Ratsnake and Corn Snake DORs fairly close together. Leads me to wonder about the relationships of the local rat/mouse consumers. So many, with different ways of living in the same area.

Tuesday (5-13-03), Two Southern Ringnecks on campus. Ringnecks seem quite common this year! After work, Gene Ott visited and photographed my odd Mole Kingsnake (caught in Greenville County on 5-9-03). We flipped my tin and found a nice Black Racer and Black Ratsnake. The Ratsnake was digesting a large meal, but the racer was obviously asleep under tin at 6:30 PM. That is two full hours before dark. These Racers sure do seem to go to bed early.

Wednesday (5-14-03), My classroom is a quite complicated situation. During some cage shuffling and cleaning my fish were shifted to another tank, but were not able to cope with the stress and both died. Bummer! A Bluegill and Warmouth (Bream) I had kept them since 1999. The Warmouth came to be huge and would hand feed on large fuzzy mice. I guess I have to get more now. Perhaps a Largemouth Bass, or some Predacious Diving Beetles? Maybe a nice Mud Turtle? After work I lurked about at a local abandoned farm and found a very pretty Eastern Kingsnake. The pollen was horrible and really messed up my allergies.

Thursday (5-15-03), Work as usual. Nothing of interest noted.

Friday (5-16-03), Another Ringneck Snake at work. Dusky Salamanders and even a Northern Red Salamander were found in the small creek behind my classroom.

Saturday (5-17-03), Rains and cool weather were moving in. Tough to get motivated for outdoors activity. Had lots of other stuff to do anyway.

Sunday (5-18-03), Still cool. Still rainy. I checked my tin and found nothing. Not even a vole. Just a Slimy Salamander.

The cool rainy weather is predicted to stay around for a while. Great stuff for flipping tin but limits a lot of other things. I will try to make the most of it.

Joey Holmes

Gene's notes

Week ending 05-11-03

Tuesday morning (05-06-03), I saw a DOR Corn Snake.

Wednesday night (05-07-03), temperatures held steady at 73 deg F. I cruised local roads for about 2 hours. Toads and frogs were out in abundance. I captured a large Green Frog for photographing. I found a young adult Northern Brown Snake alive on the road. Most of its tail was missing from some prior injury. I also found a live Eastern Worm Snake in very gravid condition.

Thursday morning (05-08-03), on my way into work I saw a DOR Corn Snake and several DOR Eastern Box Turtles. I also moved a Mud Turtle to off-road safety. I left work early, about 3 pm, to attend a family visit with my mother-in-law. On the Interstate Highway, I saw a Corn Snake scrambling across the highway apron to the safety of the shoulder. After turning on to less traveled secondary roads, I found a very orange old male Eastern Box Turtle crossing the road. Sometime after 9 pm, while traveling home by the "long way" I saw an adult Redbelly Watersnake on the road. I stopped and tried to capture it, but it slipped away. Farther on, I found 2 DOR Copperheads.

Friday morning (05-08-03), I removed another Box Turtle from the road. After work, my wife and I left for a weekend trip to Palm Key located in Jasper County on the headwaters of the Broad River. The trip was my birthday present from my wife. Palm Key is a nature-oriented community of cottages underdevelopment. This weekend Rudy Mancke was to lead nature walks and Tradd Cotter was to discuss mushrooms. In order to be fresh for the activities on Saturday, we drove to Aiken and spent the night. Along the way, I saw many DOR snakes but did not stop to positively ID. I heard about the facility and the weekend activities on Rudy's weekday program, NatureNotes, on South Carolina Public Radio program.

Saturday morning (05-10-03) we completed our journey by traveling smaller, less traveled highways. I saw a dozen or so DOR snakes and many DOR turtles. The only DOR snake I stopped to ID was an adult Eastern Coachwhip. I did see a live Snapping Turtle on the road. I also saw 2 DOR Armadillos.

We arrived as planned about 11 am. Checking into our assigned cottage, we were very pleased with the accommodations. We had lunch in the on-site dining facility. The day was very warm and humid. Afternoon temperatures rose to 96 deg F.

From 1 to 3 pm, Rudy Mancke lead us and about 10 other guests on a nature walk. Rudy is an expert naturalist and can point out and discuss interesting nature observations in any location. Our walk only traversed about 300 feet; however, Rudy's observations, comments, and stories were fascinating and the walk was over before anyone wished. One of the first observations Rudy directed us to was that of a female Orchard Oriole building her nest of Spanish Moss. There were many other perching birds nesting around the small freshwater pond at the center of the main facility activity buildings. We saw Boat-tailed Grackles nesting in the Palm Trees and Red-wing Blackbirds in the reeds.

In the early evening, we enjoyed an oyster roast and lowcountry boil (shrimp, corn, and new potatoes). After the meal, Tradd Cotter presented an enlightening program on mushroom identification and culture using slides and locally collected specimens.

About 9:30 pm, I set out with high expectations on a cruise of local roads to look for snakes. The temperature had dropped into the low 70s. I drove for about 40 miles and 2 hours but found only 2 snakes: a DOR juvenile Eastern Diamondback Rattle Snake and a DOR young Eastern King Snake.

Early Sunday morning (05-11-03), I walked about the main cottage area. I spotted a Fox Squirrel, but the light was too low for photographing. After a delicious, hearty breakfast I drove to the next island. A causeway stretched across the marsh to the main river channel, a distance of more than a half mile. The causeway was built for a rail crossing, which has been abandoned. The rail and ties been removed and trees and scrubs have populated the slopes. It provided an outstanding linear habitat for many birds and other creatures. A disgruntled fisherman informed me that the county intended to make the causeway into a county park.

I had been told that Painted Buntings could be found on the causeway. I drove to the end, but did not see any buntings. At the end of the causeway, I found thousands of dragonflies hovering and darting about the leeward side. They looked like a cloud of giant mosquitoes. A pair of Great Crested Flycatchers chased after ocassional dragonflies. Climbing down to the base of the causeway, I found many of the dragonflies lighting upon the vegetation. All of the dragon flies appeared to be Common Green Darners.

On my way back to Palm Key, I found a juvenile Yellow Rat Snake that was dying from a head injury. After checking out, we began our journey home. I saw another dozen or so of DOR snakes. I stopped to checkout a DOR Eastern Mud Snake that lacked red pigment. It was lying on its back and looked like a black and white California King Snake. I saw another DOR Armadillo.

We stopped in Aiken for a late Mother's Day midday dinner at a very good restaurant located downtown on Laurens Street.

Gene Ott


Joey's notes

Week ending 05-11-03

I took this week off, to have a good time and enjoy spring. I had some goals, and planned a few miles on the road.

Monday (5-5-03), Off work and guess what? Stormy and rainy!

Tuesday (5-6-03), Off work and guess what? Stormy and rainy! I braved the elements anyway and went to the pond after dark to see what was moving. I found Bullfrogs, Green Treefrogs, Gray Treefrogs, Southern Leopard Frogs, Eastern Narrowmouth Toads, Fowlers Toads, Cricket Frogs, and I also found snakes... watersnakes. I found 4 Redbelly Watersnakes and 1 Midland Watersnake. I also saw a bird, out actively feeding in the darkness, that was the size and shape of a Night Heron, but was lacking any major markings, just plain gray/tan. Likely a young Night Heron.

Wednesday (5-7-03), Off work, still having storms/rain. I decided to get out anyway. Try my luck in Lancaster County, SC. Eastern Box Turtles were everywhere on the roads along the way. Some alive, many dead. This is common during warm, rainy weather. Anyway, I went to some boat landings on the Catawba River. Plenty of Dragonflies zooming by but I did not collect any. I did collect a Tiger Beetle, Cicindela repanda, and found what I was really after... snakes. First, I found two Brown Watersnakes basking on limbs over the water. The larger of the two quickly dove into the water and was gone. The second snake was less alert. I slowly approached and positioned a (bug) net under it, then bumped the limb slightly. The snake dove towards the water and right into the net. Unfortunately, there was a small hole in the net and he found it and was gone in an instant! Bummer! So I moved on. I prowled rural churchyards and dirt roads. At an old house-site down a dirt road I scored! Under tin I found an Eastern Worm Snake and a Copperhead. Mission accomplished! I had finally caught snakes in Lancaster County. On the way home I enjoyed seeing a Yellow-Billed Cuckoo and found road-killed Corn Snakes and Black Ratsnakes in Chester County.

Thursday (5-8-03), The weather seems to be improving a bit, so I decided to try over around Anderson/Abbeville Counties. Again, the road was littered with dead Box Turtles and some live ones. I also found a live Snapping Turtle on the road but there was no place to safely stop so I could move it. Heavy rains in recent days had caused high water on the Saluda River where I had planned to hunt watersnakes so I stayed in upland areas. In Anderson County I picked up a fresh DOR Mole Kingsnake but found little else. In Abbeville County I found DOR Black Racers, Redbelly Watersnakes, and Rough Green Snakes, and an AOR adult Black Ratsnake. I moved him off the road but hey , that counts! Scored my snake in Abbeville!

Friday (5-9-03), I went into the SC mountains with my friend Greg to look for Timber Rattlesnakes, Eastern Milksnakes, and rare Tiger Beetles (Cicindela patruela , C. purpurea, and C. splendida). We found the Rattlesnake, already killed on the road. The other animals we wanted were nowhere to be seen. We found plenty of common Tiger Beetles, C. sexguttata C, unipunctata, and C. tranquebarica, and several snakes. In Oconee County we found two Southern Ringneck Snakes, a Brown Snake, a Redbelly Snake, an Eastern Worm Snake, and a Black Racer. In northern Greenville County we found a most unusual Mole Kingsnake. It is a small adult male, and seems to be lacking yellow pigment. It is splotchy in color, and along the lower sides and belly where it should be a golden color, it has a fleshy pink color. Very odd. I should also mention that while Greg and I were near the SC/GA state line, we crossed over into Rabun County, GA and collected a Tiger Beetle, C. unipunctata, which was nice, because I had never collected any Tiger Beetles in Georgia.

Saturday (5-10-03), Tired from three days of rambling, I stayed home, mowed the lawn (abused my allergies), and helped my wife. I did notice an Osprey fly over as we visited a local lake.

Sunday (5-11-03), Happy Mothers Day! I checked my tin in the late afternoon and found an Eastern Kingsnake (same one from 4-28-03), Black Racer and Black Ratsnake.

Of course this week I have seen the usual lizards and birds. I did not mention these, but they seem so common to me.

I hope each of you is able to get out and enjoy the natural world.

Joey Holmes

Gene's notes

Week ending 05-04-03

Monday morning (04-28-03), I found the stray dog trap still set, but with the bait gone. That evening, I reset the trap.

Tuesday morning (04-29-03), I found the same pair of Raccoons caught in the trap. I guess they do not learn very well. I have not seen any signs of the stray dogs near the house lately. My wife saw one about a mile away, near other houses. I plan to reset the trap one last time this evening.

After taking care of errands in the morning, I decided to drive to the National Forest area in Abbeville and McCormick Counties and look for herps. I found a DOR baby Snapping Turtle, a DOR adult Box Turtle, and a DOR adult Black Racer Snake. The only live herp I saw was a male Fence Lizard basking on a brick wall surrounding a pictureque family grave yard located deep in the National Forest land.

At sunset, temperatures were still in the 70s and I smelled rain in the air, but not immenient. I drove roads near my home. At last, I found some live snakes on the roads after dark. My first find was an adult Eastern Garter Snake. A short time later I found an young adult male Mole Kingsnake, the first live one in several years. The last snake I found was an adult Southern Ringneck Snake. I also was able to observe a pair of Whip-poor-wills in the road for a moment before they flew off. I tried to get a photo, but there was not enough light. Numerous Fowlers Toads and Green Tree Frogs hopped on the roads.

Wednesday morning (04-30-03), Nothing was in the stray dog trap this morning and the bait was still in place. After work, I set out at sunset to cruise the same local roads as I did yesterday. Again, my first find was a live adult Garter Snake. Next I found an adult male Mole King Snake. Unfortunately, it had been run over and was dying. My last find was an adult Northern Brown Snake.

Thursday morning (05-01-03), I saw a DOR adult Mole King Snake. In the top of a tree across clear-cut timberland, I saw an Osprey. At my wife's urging, I set the dog trap again.

Friday morning (05-02-03), nothing in the dog trap, but the bait was gone. I saw a DOR Black Racer and a DOR Mole King Snake. On my way to work a Starling flew frantically across the divided 4-lane road while a Sharp-shinned Hawk grasped at its soft underbelly.

Saturday morning (05-03-03), I found the same two Raccoons caught in the dog trap again. I saw an AOR Mole King Snake. It was on the edge of the road surface but disappeared before I could reach it.

Sunday (05-04-03), my son and daughter-in-law, Win and Hope, came over for a visit. My daughter and granddaughter (2.3 years old) also came for the afternoon. We grilled steaks, onions, and peppers over charcoal for lunch. While I was cooking, Win and Hope flipped a few boards and found a Brown Snake and Worm Snake, which they released after showing them off. These were Win's first snakes of the year. After lunch, we took my granddaughter herping in the pasture. She found an earthworm and a Fowlers Toad. Later, I let my granddaughter release the Garter Snake, Mole King Snake and Southern Ringneck Snake which I collected Tuesday night for photographing. It was a good lesson for her. On her way back to Greenwood to help with the community theater, Hope saw a Mole King Snake on the road. It was too fast for her to catch.

Gene Ott


Joey's notes

Week ending 05-04-03

April is over now, and May is upon us. With May, I always expect the Mole Kingsnakes to appear, and later in the month, as the moon grows dark, Giant Stag Beetles. It really is a great time of year, so I have scheduled a week off work and hope to spend a good bit of time outdoors. Snakes are starting to show up often. Racers, Black Ratsnakes, and Copperheads are all commonly seen as road-kills. Gray Treefrogs call during the day and at night. Temps were in the low 80s and it has been humid.

Here is how the last week went for me.

Monday (4-28-03), After work (which was un-eventful) I checked my tin and found a female Eastern Kingsnake. A baby from the 2002 hatching season.

Tuesday (4-29-03), I took the little Kingsnake to work, put her on the copy machine and took a photocopy of her belly pattern. After work, I released her under the same piece of tin that she had been caught under. I will save the photocopy of here belly pattern and compare to the female Kingsnakes that turn up around here in future years. It would be nice to know her if I ever catch her again.

Wednesday (4-30-03), On the topic of mark and release, I had a group of students at work that marked Tiger Beetles! We caught, on campus, four specimens of Cicindela sexguttata, and we marked them with a tiny drop of red latex paint on the pronotum. All were caught right around the buildings, marked and released. It would be neat if we could find one in July or August, or a half mile up the trail.

Thursday (5-1-03), Work, just work.

Friday (5-2-03), At work, we found a big Ground Beetle, Calasoma scrutator. The kids learned a lot about smelly beetles! These things are beautiful but they really stink! Like bad cheese! Great protection from predators. Later, some after-dark driving turned up a Gray Treefrog, Raccoon, and Gray Fox.

Saturday (5-3-03), Mowing. Then I rambled a bit, finding an adult female Eastern Kingsnake under some tin that I like to check in Laurens County. She was lean, but had recently fed, so I did my best not to disturb her. Evening storms cooled us off but I set out the UV light trap for insects and .........

Sunday (5-4-03), Checking the trap I had a nice Luna Moth. Checking my tin, I found a Southern Ringneck Snake.

Like I said earlier, I hope to get outdoors more and see the neat animals that spring in South Carolina has to offer!

Joey Holmes

May 26, 2003
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