SC Reptile and Amphibians


April 2004

Week Ending 05-02-04

Gene's notes

Commuting to work during the week, I saw DOR a Corn Snake, Black Rat Snake, and Black Racer. During the week I saw Anoles, Skinks, Fence Lizards, and Fowlers Toads around the house. At the farm pond, The Bull Frogs have begun to sing more enthusiastically and Northern Cricket Frogs supply the dominate background.

Wild Turkeys can be heard gobbling most every day. On Friday (04-30-04) I snapped a picture of a tom displaying its tail at sunset.

On Saturday (05-01-04) I saw two Eastern Box Turles (AOR) on the road. My first of this year. Later, after dark, I crised local roads for about an hour. We had some rain during the morning hours and I was hoping the wet would spur some herps in to movement. Temperatures held close to 67 F. There were many toads on the roads, most were small, about 1.5 surface.

Sunday (05-02-04) we had some more rain during the wee hours. The sun peaked through holes in the clouds in the late morning. I checked the Worm Snake Boards and found one underneath. I also found an adult Northern Red Salamander. Encouraged, I continued to look around the farm. Under a piece of tin, I found a large Northern Black Racer. I placed it in a bag for photographing and continued to look around. In the aluvial plain of a branch, I found a female Eastern Box Turtle. Shortly thereafter, I spotted an Eastern Mud Turtle foraging in the branch.

Gene Ott


Joey's notes

This week started slow, but ended with a bit of fun.

Monday (4-26-04), It was cool and rainy. My students and I flipped tin on campus and came up with 2 Eastern Worm Snakes and a Racer. After work, as I rambled, I found 2 Eastern Box Turtles.

Tuesday (4-27-04), Nothing to report.

Wednesday (4-28-04), I did a Snake/Lizard talk at a local high school.

Thursday (4-29-04), Nothing to report.

Friday (4-30-04), I flipped tin, but found nothing

Saturday (5-1-04), We had business in Columbia. I stopped in an outdoors store and bought a Tilly Hat. Should keep the sun off my head.

Sunday (5-2-04), I got up early and jumped in the car. Destination? Clearwater, Fla. I had a conference/symposium to attend and looked forward to herping and bugging a bit. I went due south, down US 221, as I needed to stop in Ga and pick up my boss. It was cloudy and warm, and along the way I found various sites to stop and explore but found little. I did see some interesting DORs. There were 3 Cornsnakes, a Cottonmouth, a Canebrake Rattler, and several smallish un-identified snakes, but the most interesting was a Rainbow Snake in Montgomery County just north of Mount Vernon. I picked up my boss near Douglas and we continued to travel and explore. He is also an avid outdoorsman. We stopped in the Valdosta area and flipped cover/debris finding a Southern Ringneck Snake. In Valdosta we picked up I-75 and committed ourselves to interstate driving. But that would not last long. We pulled off the highway a few miles into Florida, near the junction of I-10 and I-75, in the Live Oak area. There we stopped down a little road at a washed out bridge. The boss spotted a tan snake (actually it was just the tail, but it was tan). We cornered the snake in a small spot or bushes. The snake climbed to the tip of a small tree, maybe 8 feet high. I told the boss to keep him up that tree, which I would pull over until I could reach the snake by hand. This plan worked very well. I pulled the tree over, grabbed the snake, and was pulling him gently from the vines and branches when wasps started to come out to see what all the fuss was about! Now I was not about to lose that snake, but I also did not want to get stung. One wasp did land on and sting my Tilly (it is a hat, remember. Keep those minds out of the gutter!). Anyway, luck was with me. The snake pulled free and for the first time since 1982 I had caught an Eastern Coachwhip. Indeed, the snake in 1982 was my first/only Coachwhip (Allendale County, SC) although I did chase one around a few minutes in Arkansas in 1996. Neat snakes! We took a picture and released him. The rest of the drive was less fun. A few stops were made but sort of a DOR Yellow Ratsnake and Eastern Pondhawk in Lake Panasofkee, and a roadside Alligator, there is not much to more to tell.

So goes another week,

Joey Holmes

Week Ending 04-25-04

Gene's notes

I was able to arrange more bandwidth for the web site at an affordable rate. The site is now back online. I still do not know why it experienced such sudden, high usage from Japan. I would appreciate learning why if someone reading these notes knows the answer. I now have room for a good bit of growth, but I hope it will be less spectacular.

Monday (04-19-04) was my birthday. I rewarded myself by taking a day off work. I spent most of my time working on the new house, but at lunch I took a sandwich to a creekside. I saw a young (approximately 24 inches) Redbelly Watersnake in the creek.

Tuesday morning(04-20-04)before I left for work, I noticed a Double-crested Cormorant visiting the farm pond. The light level was low, so my pictures were fuzzy.

Days during the week have been warm, but temperatures are still dropping fairly quickly after sunset. A couple of evenings I cruised briefly on local roads but did not see any snakes and very few toads.

In the farm pond, the Fowlers Toads are slowing their spawning. I heard an occasional Bullfrog.

Friday afternoon(04-23-04)I heard a noise from the woodstove in the house. The stove has not been used for many years. I opened it and found a European Starling that had entered through the chimney pipe.

On Saturday (04-24-04) I saw a Black Racer dart across the highway and later saw a DOR Black Racer. I took my granddaughter wading in a branch on the farm. We dipped up crayfish, water scorpions, water striders, whirlygigs, and minnows.

Sunday (04-25-04) was another beautiful, warm day. In the morning my granddaughter and I looked around the yard for animals. We found newborn Bluebirds in a box, caught a Fence Lizard and Green Anole, chased a Five-lined Skink, checked the Worm Snake boards but did not find any, and watched a Black Racer basking. In the afternoon, we went wading in a creek. I spotted a very large female Gulfcoast Spiny Softshell Turtle basking in the large creek.

In the late afternoon, after our guests had left for home, I visited some drying wetlands on the farm. The mud was heavily tracked by Mud Turtles. I spotted one before it disappeared in the muck and caught if for a photograph. I revealed a small Green Frog hiding beneath a log. Small sandpipers were feeding in the mud. I got some decent pictures and later identified them as Lesser Yellowlegs. Woodcocks exploded from underfoot and squawked as they disappeared in flight.

Gene Ott


Joey's notes

Not much time outdoors, but it has been warm. We have had our Caiman in his outdoor pen all week to enjoy daily temps in the 80s.

Monday (4-19-04), I rambled down to the pond after dark. American Toads were finishing up their breeding season, migrating away from the water, and Fowlers Toads were showing up at the water, to begin their breeding season.

Tuesday (4-20-04), We (the boys at work and I) put out our minnow traps and found an Eastern Worm Snake on campus.

Saturday (4-24-04), I got up early and drove up to Ashville, NC to attend and speak at a NC Herp Society meeting. I found the location will little trouble, but when I tried to start my “powerpoint” presentation, the trouble started. The disk I had brought would not run on any of the laptops available at the meeting. Oh well, I have been speaking for about 20 years about Taxidermy, Herpetology, working with kids, etc. I have never used a powerpoint, why should this time be any different? I forgot about technology and went ahead with my program about AMI and Herpetology, using wildlife to help kids. I think it went okay. No rotten tomatoes or heckling! After my talk, I headed out the door and hustled back to SC. Holmes Photography (my wife’s business) was working a prom, my son was attending a prom, and I was needed. here. Did not even have time to stop and hunt Tiger Beetles while in the mountains.

Sunday (4-25-04), Flipped my tin and found nothing but Ground Skinks and a female Broadhead Skink.

During the course of the week we checked our minnow traps daily and had tons of minnows (Water Snake, Garter Snake, & Ribbon Snake food) and tons of crayfish (Glossy Crayfish Snake food) as well as some Green Frogs (released)

Got to spend more time outdoors!

Joey Holmes

Week Ending 04-18-04

Gene's notes

This week I was forced take temporarialy offline. Beginning in early April, the site began receiving many visits from Japan. The visits were overwhelmingly to just one image, one of a Florida Cottonmouth. I do not know why this picture became so popular. I doubt that it was event, the site quickly exceeded its allowed monthy bandwidth of 20 GB. Because I have to pay substantial amounts for overages, I could not leave the site online while I sought a solution.

On Sunday (04-18-04), we had a birthday cookout for me. It was a beautiful, warm day. My granddaughter was spending the weekend with us. In the morning we walked around the house looking for animals. We saw some lizards. Then I took her to the board where we had found Worm Snakes the week before. Under the board we found one molting. I let her pick it up to show Grandmother. Then I heard a rustling and saw a Black Racer dart to cover in a shed. About midday, Win and Hope came over. They looked around for an hour but did not find any snakes. I had a great birthday celebration with my family.

Gene Ott


Joey's notes

Been kind of a slow week here in the SC upstate.

Monday (4-12-04), It was a cool and rainy day. Outside at work, the boys and I found a Smooth Earth Snake.

Tuesday (4-13-04), It was a cool and rainy morning but the day improved. A colleague stopped by work as I was finishing up. We visited, flipped tin on campus, collected some land snails. We did find a Black Racer, but not much else in the way of herps.

Wednesday (4-14-04), Another Smooth Earth Snake on campus.

Thursday (4-15-04), Nothing to report.

Friday (4-16-04), Nothing to report.

Saturday (4-17-04), Holmes Photography (my wife’s business) worked a local wedding, then a prom. On days like this, I have to stay clean. No sweating, no bleeding, and most of all......NO MUSK!

Sunday (4-18-04), Back to the SC mountains. Greenville, Pickens, and Oconee counties. Finally stopped along the Saluda River and got a (Greenville County) Cicindela repanda (Tiger Beetle). I also saw two Woodcocks (neat little birds) and loads of C.tranquebarica and C. sexguttata. Over in Pickens county I saw a Black Racer. Not much else. Nothing of interest in Oconee. I have worked hard in the SC mountains lately but to no major success. I have flipped a lot of debris/tin/plywood but no Eastern Milksnake. I have poked around a lot of forests, but no Timber Rattlesnake. I have prowled a lot of open areas, but no rare Tiger Beetles (these of course being C. patruela, purpurea, and splendida). I may give the mountains a rest for now.

What is going to be next?

Joey Holmes

Week Ending 04-11-04

Gene's notes

This was a beautiful week, but dry. Temperatures dropped fast as the sun disappeared. I drove local roads a couple of times but found no snakes. I flipped the Worm Snake boards again and found one snake and the skink again.

I took a couple days off, but spent them working on our new house. Sunday was devoted to a family dinner.

Gene Ott


Joey's notes

Here is how this week has gone.

Monday (4-5-04), Spring break, off work, too cool, too much to do to get outdoors.

Tuesday (4-6-04), Spring break, off work, too cool, too much to do to get outdoors.

Wednesday (4-7-04), Spring break, off work, I get outdoors (mowing).

Thursday (4-8-04), Spring break, off work, I waste most of the day between the DMV, tax office (courthouse), and dealership, trying to get a tag for the jeep I got the other week. Pure misery. I stopped on the way home an flipped some tin/debris. Got a (very dinky) Smooth Earth Snake.

Friday (4-9-04), Spring break, off work, I fix a problem toilet. Fun.

Saturday (4-10-04), A warm and sunny morning lured me outdoors. I head to the SC mountains of Greenville/Pickens Counties. Looking for rare Tiger Beetles (C. patruela, C. purpurea, C. splendida), Eastern Milksnakes, and Timber Rattlesnakes. A roadside quarry yielded some Tiger Beetles, Cicindela tranquebarica, which I needed from Greenville county, and C. sexguttata, which I already had. Further up the mountain (US 276) I found a Corn Snake on the road. It was hit, but alive, but died later in the bag. It is relatively un-marred and will make a nice museum specimen. At the very top of Greenville County, around Caesars Head, I found two baby Eastern Garter Snakes. By this time it is starting to cloud over, has cooled off a bit, and the Tiger Beetling will be poor, so I headed west into Pickens County to hunt tin/debris for the snakes I seek. I found a Northern Ringneck Snake along SC 11, but nothing else (and I flipped a lot of stuff). I even visited Sassafras Mountain, the highest point in SC. There was a nice couple there. Sporting Florida tags, they called themselves “high pointers” and told me this was their ninth peak. Seems like a fun way/reason to travel. I traveled down, made a few more stops, found an Eastern Worm Snake, and came on home without having met my objectives. I did see a Wild Turkey, Black-and-White Warbler, and an Osprey.

Sunday (4-11-04), We hosted a large-ish family Easter Lunch here after Church. Lots of fun, but after everyone left, I still had things to do. I flipped my tin, found a Southern Ringneck Snake. I went to the pond, and checking the tin/debris there I found two adult Black Racers, asleep together under a board. I tried not to wake them.

So I had a week off, got a lot done, and even found a few critters. Could be worse. Could be 45 and rainy.

Joey Holmes

Week Ending 04-04-04

Gene's notes

Temperatures dipped this week. We had about a half inch of much needed rain. Then a hard frost. I thought I might see some reptiles on the road but did not. Even the basking turtles in the farm pond made themselves scarce.

Sunday (04-04-04) was beautiful and warmer. My herping buddy, my 3-year old granddaughter, was visiting for the weekend. I dumped the wet sand out of her sandbox. I short while later there were dozens of butterflies crowded on the sand. Most were smaller ones which I believe were Horace's Duskywings. There were also a number of Eastern Tiger Swallowtails. Most were the yellow form, but several were the black form. While taking some photos, I spotted a Green Anole eyeing the Duskywings. It made a lunge toward one but came away with only a mouthful of sand.

We checked on the Mallard that is nesting near the pond. She had moved the nest about a foot closer to the edge of the weeds. Later, my dog flushed her from the nest. I told her (the dog) not to do that again. There were at least 8 eggs in the nest.

My buddy and I took dip nets to the wetlands. We found snails, tiny clams, spiders, water boatmen, small crayfish, three sizes of tadpoles: tiny, small, and large, and one salamander larva. I intended to ID the salamander later, but a mishap between my granddaughter and the bucket prevented that.

In the late afternoon, I checked under two boards that yielded Worm Snakes last year, but none so far this year. The added moisture did the job. I found a Worm Snake under each board. There was also a juvenile Five-lined Skink under one.

My daughter-in-law, Hope, reported seeing a Northern Brown Snake. Win came up empty for snakes, but enjoyed birding. He reports seeing yellow-rumped warblers, yellow throated warblers,a blue gray gnatcatcher, canada geese, the obligatory crows and vultures, and a kingfisher.

A colleague at work gave me a picture of an Eastern Milk Snake that he had seen. I found the picture very interesting for two reasons. First, the snake was the size and coloration of a true Eastern Milk, rather than a Milk-Scarlet intergrade. From the picture, I could not see a triangle pattern at the back of the head from which the species name is derived. Secondly, the snake was seen on January 04, 2004 at Table Rock State Park in the mountains of SC.

Gene Ott


Joey's notes

Monday (3-29-04), Found a Luna Moth (first one of the year) on campus. The kids thought it was neat.

Tuesday (3-30-04), Nothing odd or unusual.

Wednesday (3-31-04), Flipped lots of tin/debris. I saw Cotton Rats, Voles, and Shrews, but NO snakes. BUMMER!

Thursday (4-1-04), No time outdoors.

Friday (4-2-04), At work, we fed/cared for our classroom animals. We also went down to the creek to collect some crayfish and salamanders. We got our salamanders (Two-lined) to feed a small Eastern Garter Snake and our Giant Water Bug. The salamanders were appreciated. We got our crayfish, but we also got a worm-ish creature (obviously the larva of something, but I do not know what it is the larva of) which we fed to the Glossy Crayfish Snake. He has eaten one of these things before, and he really gobbled up this one. He then ate a small crayfish. He has also taken dragonfly larva but refused Dobsonfly larva (hellgramites). It is neat to keep such an odd little snake, and he has done well for us for almost 2 years.

Saturday (4-3-04), No time for outdoors.

Sunday (4-4-04), No time for outdoors.

Joey Holmes

May 10, 2004
Contact: South Carolina Reptiles and Amphibians

Return to SC Reptiles and Amphibians Observations Page

Return to SC Reptiles and Amphibians Home Page