SC Reptile and Amphibians

RECENT OBSERVATIONS

August 2003

Gene's notes

Week ending 08-31-03

August ended much as it had been during the rest of the month... little herp activity. Of course, basking turtles are easy to find, and baby lizards scurry about. I did note an increase in the number of DOR snakes that I saw while commuting. September should yield a sharp increase in snake activity.

Gene Ott

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Joey's notes

Week ending 08-31-03

This week, the weather has been fairly dry. rather warm, but not too hot. Still very few herps prowling, few DORs. I have been outdoors a fair bit, flipped tin and been out on the roads before and after sunset. Just not much going on.

Monday (8-25-03), Found a live Hercules Beetle (female) at work.

Tuesday (8-26-03), After work, I went to the minnow pond to muck around for aquatic inverts. I fed a lot of leeches, and found a few small critters, such as water bugs, water scorpions, dragonfly nymphs, etc.

Wednesday (8-27-03), Found a Smooth Earth Snake on campus. Mid-morning, it was out in the open.

Friday (8-29-03), On the roads after dark, found nothing more exciting than a Striped Skunk ambling across the road.

Not much else.

Joey Holmes

Gene's notes

Week ending 08-24-03

One evening in early week, maybe Monday, I cruised locally and found aWorm Snake, AOR. The snake was the first one I have found cruising in quite a spell.

Around home, newborn Anoles and Fence Lizards have been scurrying about.

Sunday (08-24-03) I took my granddaughter to the Laurens County Park at Lake Rabon. This is a very nice faciltiy for picnicing. It has a playground and a fishing dock. We both had a good time and she was reluctant to leave. A fisherman landed a medium-sized Yellowbellied Slider. He was going to cut his line, but I offered to remove the hook. This was the first time I had attempted such. The turtle snapped and did not want me messing with it. I found it surprisingly easy to pin the turtle's head to one side. I ended up having to use a pair of plyers because the hook was so deep. I got the hook out without too much damage. The turtle scurried back into the water. At least it had a chance to survive.

Gene Ott

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Joey's notes

Week ending 08-24-03

Another hot week. Difficult to muster enthusiasm for any non-air-conditioned activities!

I think the highlight of the week may have been on 8-22-03 when I found a Southern Ringneck Snake at work. No, the highlight of the week may have come later that day when I arrived home to find that a neat book had arrived by mail. SNAKES AND THEIR WAYS, by C. H. Curran and Carl Kauffeld. Originally published in 1937, this work seems to have some great old information. Many things have changed in the years since, but it is great to pour through the pages and search for wisdom that may be overlooked in the age of computers and the internet. I do love BOOKS!

I had another highlight on Sunday 8-24-03. I had been wanting to catch a snake in Edgefield County. Since we were in a dark moon phase, I opted to ride down that way and look around. As I was driving across Laurens County, approaching Lake Greenwood (which makes the Laurens-Greenwood county line) I noticed something DOR that looked odd. I went back. It was still there. It was odd indeed. It was a DOR Armadillo! A Nine-Banded Armadillo in Laurens County! HA! WOW! Been around here all my life, and never seen them HERE. I first noticed them around 1980 in south Georgia, just below Savannah. Found my first SC evidence in 1984 in Jasper County, and since have seen them (alive or DOR) in Jasper, Hampton, Beaufort, Aiken, and Orangeburg. About 3-4 years ago a co-worked reported a Laurens sighting to me, but I never saw that particular animal. Now here is solid evidence that the odd little beast is indeed here! Wow! Oh, by the way, my efforts in Edgefield were not productive. I found nothing but deer, turkeys, squirrels, and a few frogs/toads. Did pick up a neat Ground Beetle (Calasoma scrutator) as I returned through Greenwood and stopped at a gas station in lower Laurens County to find a female Hercules Beetle.

The Armadillo was on US 221 about 1 mile north of the junction with SC 72, between Waterloo and Lake Greenwood, Laurens County SC August 24, 2003.

When the heat breaks a bit, Herptile activities will increase a bit. If this happens as the moon darkens in September, Herping may be very good indeed. Several species of Tiger Beetle are due out as fall cools off South Carolina, and I am eager to see the changes that will come to the plants and animals, large and small.

Joey Holmes

Gene's notes

Week ending 08-17-03

Finally, I was able to arrange a day to go herping! On Thursday morning, 08-14-03, I drove to the sandhills of Aiken County. I cruised some of the unpaved roads in the area. My first herp observation was an injured Eastern Musk Turtle. Farther on, I found a DOR baby Pine Snake. Then I found a large Snapping Turtle on the road. I stopped at a local, illegal roadside trash dump. Turning over a piece of metal, I found a Southeastern Crowned Snake. Later, I came upon a Turkey Vulture devouring a DOR Black Racer.

On-road herp activity decreased as noon approached. I drove to Aiken State Park and rested a bit. Then I began heading back towards home, cruising side roads. In a drying roadside puddle, I saw a mass of tadpoles racing for metamorphosis.

I decided to stop by Greenwood State Park on the way back. The Park has a rip-rap lined wall that is great habitat for water snakes. I spotted a Northern Water Snake dragging a catfish on to the rocks so that it could swallow it.

Friday morning, I headed to Abbeville to pick up my granddaughter for a weekend visit. On the way, I stopped by the Ware Shoals' city park at the shoals of the Saluda River. I saw the many basking turtles, mostly River Cooters, that climb onto the rocks. It always amazes me how successful these large turtles are living in such a turbulent environment. Canada Geese and Mallards foraged in the shallows.

At night these days back home, I hear katydids and crickets, but no frogs.

Gene Ott

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Joey's notes

Week ending 08-17-03

As seems to be the norm these days, my outdoors time has been limited. I do have a wee bit to report;

Monday (8-11-03), At work, I made photocopies of the belly pattern of the Eastern Kingsnake I found in my yard on 8-10-03. It proved to be an individual I had never seen. She was released into my yard after work.

Tuesday (8-12-03), Out about sunset, I needed to gas a Yellowjacket nest in my motherís yard. When my son and I entered the backyard at momís, we shined a pair of Whitetail Deer fawns standing there looking at us. Then, before we got to work on the nest we found another neat mammal, a Striped Sunk, ambling across the yard. We NEVER saw neat mammals like this when I was a kid living there! On the way home, a good road (on a rainy night) yielded a Copperhead AOR. I made another car wait while I safely escorted the snake into the tall grass by the road.

Wednesday (8-13-03), At work, we found interesting insects, including an Imperial Moth and a live male Hercules Beetle! Great Beetle!

Thursday (8-14-03), Work, as usual.

Friday (8-15-03), Found a live female Hercules Beetle at work

Saturday (8-16-03), Helped my wife video and photograph a big wedding in Greenwood.

Sunday (8-17-03), Had some family business in Sumter. I had a few spare minutes to drive to a famous Tiger Beetle collecting site, and easily found Cicindela abdominalis out in fair numbers. Collected a few for a friend and a couple for an study I am doing. It was a nice day to walk the open sands.

Joey Holmes

Gene's notes

Week ending 08-10-03

I made a couple of interesting observations this week, despite still not having time to go herping. One morning I found a large Snapping Turtle crossing my lawn. At my daughter's home, the Mourning Doves' eggs have hatched and two plump squabs fill the nest.

Gene Ott

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Joey's notes

Week ending 08-10-03

Returning from a vacation, there is always much family household business to attend. Such is the case this week. Outdoors time has been very limited. We are in a bright moon phase right now, so herp/bug activity should be slow and hopefully I am not missing much action. Evening thunderstorms darken the skies almost daily, and may provoke some activity, but few DORs are showing up.

Monday (8-4-03), Back at work. Got 21 Everglades Ratsnake eggs, all looking fairly good.

Tuesday (8-5-03), Work as usual. Very violent evening storm that lasted about 2 hours. Never checked the rainfall, but I did notice many local roadside ditches overflowing.

Wednesday (8-6-03), Got in twenty-one ďAcorn, the Nature NutĒ videos to use with my students. Mostly Herp episodes we could not get from BioQuip. Lots of neat information packaged into a fun format.

Thursday (8-7-03), Work as usual.

Friday (8-8-03), Work as usual

Saturday (8-9-03), my wife and son were out after dark and found a small Copperhead AOR and safely chased it off the road.

Sunday (8-10-03), Checked my tin (didnít get any farther than that) and found a Southern Ringneck Snake, a large Eastern Worm Snake, and a small (likely from the 2002 hatching season) Eastern Kingsnake. All very nice to see, but somehow rather routine. What was not routine was the fact that my son turned 16 today. Happy birthday! A father could not be prouder of his son!

Hope the new week will hold neat encounters with wildlife and exciting outdoor adventures for everyone.

Joey Holmes



September 4, 2003
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