SC Reptile and Amphibians

RECENT OBSERVATIONS

September 2003

Gene's notes

Week ending 09-28-03

We received a decent amount of rain on Monday (09-23-03). Grasses and flowers revived.

Thursday (09-25-03) early nightime temperatures held in the low 70s F. I cruised local roads and found two Copperheads crossing the road. One was young, about 30 inches; the other was a full adult of about 42 inches.

Friday (09-26-03), I had the day off from work. I snapped up the opportunity to go herping. Headed south to the Sandhills.

Traveling mostly rural, but paved roads, my fartherest point was the little Town of Snelling in Allendale County. Along the way, I saw may DOR mammals, including Opossums, Gray Squirrels, Eastern Cottontail Rabbits, Raccoons, and a couple of Coyotes. The only herps I saw were a DOR Corn Snake and a DOR Black Racer.

I ate lunch at a little cafe in Barnwell and then visited Barnwell State Park. The park is very attractive. The central attraction are two large ponds. I walked the nature trail that encircles the ponds. Southern Leopard Frogs in large numbers hopped about the banks of the ponds and creek. I did not see any snakes, but I did spot baby Fence Lizards, Six-lined Racerunners, and a baby Ground Skink. I looked under a couple of logs and found some large Night Crawler Worms and a Slimy Salamander. Under a boat, I found a large, dark frog which did not remain still enough for me to ID or get a picture. However, I believe it was a species that I have not found before, possibly a River or Pig Frog.

While at the park, I made pictures of several interesting little orbed web spiders.

Leaving the park, I headed home. While still in the Sandhills, I drove on many unpaved roads, following a far from direct route towards home. Suddenly I saw it, a DOR Pine Snake. It was a 44 inch female, killed only a couple hours before. I have been searching for a Pine Snake for many years, but DORs are all that I have found. Looks like I will not fulfill this goals in 2003.

While at the park, I made pictures of several interesting little orbed web spiders.

Leaving the park, I headed home. While still in the Sandhills, I drove on many unpaved roads, following a far from direct route towards home. Suddenly I saw it, a DOR Pine Snake. It was a 44 inch female, killed only a couple hours before. I have been searching for a Pine Snake for many years, but DORs are all that I have found. Looks like I will not fulfill this goals in 2003.

Around home, shed Cicada skins seem to be everywhere.

Gene Ott

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Joey's notes

Week ending 09-28-03

It has been cooler this week. Not cold, just cooler. It has also been fairly dry. Monarch Butterflies are moving through the area. Seasonal change is obvious.

Monday (9-22-03), Found 2 small Midland Watersnakes on campus, in the little creek, while we were looking for crayfish and salamanders to use as feeder items in the classroom. Both the little watersnakes were babies from the 2003 breeding season. After work, I checked my tin here at home and found a Southern Ringneck Snake.

Tuesday (9-23-03), With some time after work, I hit the bushes. Flipped a lot of tin and plywood, but only found a smallish adult Black Racer.

Wednesday (9-24-03), Took an evening drive over into Union County. Found 2 Copperheads AOR. Also found a DOR Copperhead and DOR and a DOR Rough Green Snake.

Thursday (9-25-03), Work, as usual.

Friday (9-26-03), Work, as usual.

Saturday (9-27-03), Family business.

Sunday (9-18-03), Family picnic, at the waterfalls of the nearby Muskgrove Mills (Historic) State Park. Didnít see any herps, but did see some neat Dragonflies zooming by, and Tiger Beetles Cicindela repanda, were all around us. One even landed on the blanket while we were eating our picnic lunch! Of course the kids tried to dam up the creek, unsuccessfully, but with the warm sun, cool shade, and chilly water, we could not help but have a great day!

Hope you all can take advantage of the beauty of Autumn.

Joey Holmes

Gene's notes

Week ending 09-21-03

The last week of the summer was filled with signs of the coming season. Canada Geese are passing overhead; Gulf Fritillary and Cloudless Sulfur Butterflies are seeking the nectars from the autumn flowers; and orb weaving spiders abound.

We have had no rain for several weeks and the ground surface is very dry. The clear nights have been cool. I did not see any DOR herps while commuting during the week.

Monday (09-15-03), we finally experience an evening when air temperatures remained above 70 F after dark. I took the opportunity to cruise local roads. At long last, I found a beautiful, young Copperhead just crawling onto the road. Later, I also found a Brown Snake crossing the road.

The next few nights, the temperatures again plunged into the 60s F. Ever optimistic, I cruised the local roads again on Friday (09-19-03) and Saturday (09-20-03), temperatures did not fall as quickly, but I did not see any herps. In fact, I did not see any animals, other that insects, on the roads.

Sunday (09-21-03), was very warm, still dry but with increasing clouds promising rain. During the day, I walked about the farm. I flipped a few rotting logs and found a couple Slimy Salamanders. As the sun set, I went cruising again. Temperatures held around 73 F well after dark. Numerous White-tail Deer darted across the roads. Despite the good omens, I had not seen any herps after over an hour of searching. Then, a yearling Black Rat Snake scurried onto the road. I had been hoping to find a suitable snake to use in a school exhibit, so I collected the snake. Although young, it showed its adult coloration. I made 5 or 6 more passes along the most promising road, but did not see any more wildlife.

Gene Ott

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Joey's notes

Week ending 09-21-03

This week the temps have been down a bit. Early morning drives to campus are made more comfortable by the heater in the truck! By afternoon, air conditioning is greatly appreciated. Hurricane Isabel passed South Carolina, and high pressure was the norm. Weather matters. Now it is Autumn!

Monday (9-15-03), I checked the traps I had set (on Sunday 9-14-03) at the pond. Had an Eastern Painted Turtle, 4 small Bullfrogs, a small Redbelly Watersnake, a Giant Water Bug, and Predacious Diving Beetle. I reset the funnel traps. Under the tin, at the pond, were two Black Racers, one fresh and one crusty and pre-shed.

Tuesday (9-16-03), After work, I had a few minutes to ramble. I set out for nearby Newberry County, where I found and collected some Tiger Beetles, Cicicndela repanda and C. trifasciata, with the trifasciata being a new county record. I stopped by the pond and got my traps. I had a small Eastern Mud Turtle, a ton of small Bullfrogs, and again, the crusty-pre-shed Black Racer was still under the tin.

Wednesday (9-17-03), At work, we found a Smooth Earth Snake and a co-worker brought in a tiny Eastern Garter Snake she had found inside her home.

Thursday (9-18-03), At work, we found a Brown Snake and an Eastern Worm Snake under tin.

Friday (9-19-03), On the way home, a Grey Fox darted across the road. At the pond, I visited that crusty, pre-shed Black Racer again. He is looking better and will shed by the time I write this up on 9-22-03.

Saturday (9-20-03), Road trip. I got up and on the road at about 6 AM. I drove straight to Denmark, Sweden, Norway, and Finland! Let me explain. In the Orangeburg-Bamburg County areas, there are these little towns named after European countries! So I really did drive to Norway. Norway, South Carolina, that is! The others as well.

I was interested in catching a snake/Tiger Beetle in Bamburg County. Bamburg was the ONLY county in SC where I had never collected a Tiger Beetle, and I also wanted to catch a snake there. As I hunted a place the hunt, the snake was easily found AOR. It was an Eastern Garter Snake. Stripe-less, and looking reddish brown, I thought it worth keeping. The Tiger Beetles came a bit later. Cicindela punctulata that would make for a county record. Cool. Now I have caught Tiger Beetles in EVERY SC county! Objectives accomplished in Bamburg, I went over to Barnwell. Collected more Tiger Beetles, C.punctulata and (for another new county record) several C.nigrior. I flipped a lot of tin/debris, but found no snakes in Barnwell. That just means I will be back. In Aiken, I passed a nice looking BBQ hut but did stop at a Huddle House for a burger. My next business was in Edgefield County. Found and collected some C.punctulata and C.scutellaris (both being new county records). I found no snakes in Edgefield but that just means I will be back. Continuing on, I made a couple of half-hearted stops as I made my way through Saluda County, but my best find there was on the road, an AOR Eastern Kingsnake. Got home, after about 12 hours on the road. Lots of maps to make little notes on, lots of specimens to work up.

Sunday (9-21-03), Church day, family day. Fall begins.

Hope Fall treats us all well,

Joey Holmes

Gene's notes

Week ending 09-14-03

Again, no real herping this week. My daughter and new grandson are doing very well.

I did not notice any DOR herps while commuting this week. Nights seemed too cool for cruising. Around home, the basking turtles in the farm pond are on the rock each day. I saw Five-lined Skinks, Fence Lizards and a Green Anole soaking in the sun around the house.

Gene Ott

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Joey's notes

Week ending 09-14-03

The weather seems to be taking on a seasonal change. Animals are starting to move. Temps outside are more suited for human comfort. I like it.

Monday (9-8-03), Worked. Came home and mowed. Checked the tin. I found an Eastern Worm Snake and small Eastern King Snake. I checked the belly pattern of the King, and it was one I had found on 8-10-03. I am glad I started to photocopy the belly patterns. Makes things interesting!

Tuesday (9-9-03), At work, we found an Eastern Worm Snake under the tin on campus. After work, I set some traps down in the waters at the river pasture. I found lots of Tiger Beetles, Cicindela repanda. I also had a problem. I hit a stump, while driving in an area of the pasture I seldom visit. Back on the road I noticed that I had no oil pressure, or so said the oil gauge. I pulled over and checked the oil. It seemed normal, and there was no oil on the underside of the truck, so I came on home. Checked it again, it seemed normal. After consulting some friends, I believed it was a damaged oil pressure sensor.

Wednesday (9-10-03), Got up, looked under the truck. No oil on the ground. Checked the oil, it was fine. I drove to the repair shop and dropped it off. The oil was still fine. A co-worker picked me up and took me to work. At work, we had some spare time to take some kids off campus. We went to the river to check the traps. Had a Northern Watersnake in a minnow trap and in the turtle trap we had a Yellow Belly Slider and Eastern Painted Turtle. All released. We re-set the traps and enjoyed a beautiful day outdoors. The boys caught some Tiger Beetles, Cicindela repanda and we had a great time. Later, after work, I stopped off and got my (repaired) truck. It was the oil pressure sensor. Total repair costs; $106.00. Moral of the story; when driving in pastures, watch for stumps!

Thursday (9-11-03), Went back to the pasture (carefully driving where I knew it to be safe) to check and pull in my traps. Had nothing more exciting than a small Bullfrog. I also thought a lot about what this day means. My grief, shock, sorrow, and anger are all still there. Too many people died.

Friday (9-12-03), The Holmes family went to a high school football game. Laurens lost to cross-county rivals Clinton. Bummer. On the way home I noticed a fresh DOR Copperhead. Seemed a bit odd to see him out on a bright, moonlit night. Also had a Red Fox cross the road in front of us. Neat animals.

Saturday (9-13-03), Busy with family obligations

Sunday (9-14-03), I set out my traps at the minnow pond. Flipped some tin while there. Found a Southern Ringneck Snake and a crusty, pre-shed, Black Racer.

Stuff is starting to move, so I will try to stay outdoors as much as possible.

Joey Holmes

Gene's notes

Week ending 09-07-03

No time for herping this week. My daughter joked that she celebrated Labor Day by going into labor, prematurely (34th week). On Wednesday (09-03-03) my first grandson was born by Caesarian. Both mother and child are doing well.

Gene Ott

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Joey's notes

Week ending 09-07-03

Wow, September already! Still hot, as expected, but changes are coming soon.

Monday (9-1-03), In the classroom, the Bairds Ratsnakes are beginning to hatch.

Tuesday (9-2-03), We found a tiny baby Midland Watersnake in the tiny creek on campus.

Wednesday (9-3-03), I went to the river after work and put out some minnow traps. I paused to bother some Tiger Beetles, Cicindela repanda. It was nice to be outdoors.

Thursday (9-4-03), We got some serious rain in the early afternoon. By the time I arrived at the river to check the traps, the water level had come up enough to completely submerge two traps and drown a Northern Watersnake and Bullfrog. I did have a Southern Leopard Frog, numerous small fish, and a huge crayfish (species unknown).

Saturday (9-6-03) Sunrift Adventures (outdoors store) in Greenville county held their big summer sale. We went. Factory reps were there with hundreds of canoes/kayaks and there were scores of tents set up on the back lawn to look at. Inside, they had all the backpacks, sleeping bags, clothes, stoves, gear you can imagine! My son got a nice internal-frame backpack and a small tent. My nephew got a kayak. These kids are ready for the outdoors! It was also cool today, with temps only getting into the mid seventies. Clemson beat Furman.

Sunday (9-7-03), Again it was cool. Rained a bit also. Seems to be the type thing that will stimulate herps to start moving again. We will find out!

Joey Holmes



September 30, 2003
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