SC Reptile and Amphibians


May 2004

Week Ending 05-30-04

Gene's notes

I spent most of my time this week working. While commuting I did see a few DOR Black Rat Snakes. At home, my wife pointed out a pair of Barn Swallows building a nest on a vent pipe. At the farm pond, Fowlers Toads continue to sing.

Notes from my herping trip to Hellhole are now posted. click here

Gene Ott


Joey's notes

Monday (5-24-04), I went to the River Pasture after work. I gathered my traps, and moved them to the Pond. Optimistic? Not really. The pond is about dry and grassing in. It might pay off.

Tuesday (5-25-04), I took a small group of students with me to check the traps. We had a small Redbelly Watersnake. Later I rambled locally. I flipped some tin and found two Black Racers.

Wednesday (5-26-04), Work, as usual. Little time outdoors. The traps yielded nothing of interest.

Thursday (5-27-04), The traps did a little better. I had two watersnakes (N. sipedon). One looked like a textbook “Northern” and the other like a textbook “Midland”. That is how they are here. Just a blend. Both were small. Another trap held something my students needed to see. A “real” watersnake! A full sized female Redbelly. Beefy and about 4 feet long, they would notice this animal! Also some sad news. My air-conditioner died. It was a sweaty night in the Holmes house.

Friday (5-28-04), The air conditioner will have to be replaced. Due to the upcoming holiday, Tuesday (June 1) is the best I can hope for. Five more days of hot, humid, SC in the late spring is a bit of a handful. Ugh. At any rate, the students liked the Redbelly! After work, I picked up some classroom supplies (books, pumps, lights, and filters) that I had been needing. Fun to get new stuff. After work, an errand put me on local roads at twilight. It was bright, but a nice looking AOR Copperhead was found (and released)

Saturday (5-29-04), No time outdoors. Sweaty indoors (at least with the AC dead).

Sunday (5-30-04), No time outdoors. Sweaty indoors (at least with the AC dead). I considered going to the Tyger River to cool off, and hunt watersnakes and/or Queen Snakes. No use. The morning was cloudy and the afternoon demanded that my attention be focused elsewhere.

So much for another week. I hate to whine about the heat, but it has been steaming. Hard to get used to open windows and a tiny fan after so many years of cool comfort. I know my Grandfather never spent a day of his life in air conditioning. Makes me seem/feel totally spoiled. Maybe I just prefer to sweat outdoors, while collecting herps and bugs.

Joey Holmes

Week Ending 05-23-04

Gene's notes

I spent the first four days of the week working and getting ready for the weekend. On Friday, Win (my adult son) and I headed to Hellhole Bay in Francais Marion National Forest for a gathering of music lovers and amateur herpers. The event was arranged by Jeff Holmes, recording star and naturalist. It was loads of fun. We had great success in seeing herps. We found 4 species of lizards, 7 species of frogs, 1 salamander, 4 species of turtles, alligators, and 14 species of snakes! Look for my notes and pictures to be posted soon under Herp Tales.

Gene Ott


Joey's notes

This week has brought some WARM weather. We are dry and hot, with temps reaching the low 90s. A little rain fell in parts of nearby Union County on Saturday, and we had a brief storm here in lower Spartanburg County on Sunday. Other than that, it is VERY dry.

Monday (5-17-04), Back at work after being away 2 weeks. Most of the critters were in good shape. I did have a Mole Kingsnake (my only female) to die. Bummer. Other than that, great thanks to the co-workers who tended my animals.

Tuesday (5-18-04), Took a walk on campus with students, after breakfast. We flipped tin. Found a gravid Black Racer, an Eastern Worm Snake, and an adult male Mole Kingsnake! Not particularly pretty, but still a neat find.

Wednesday (5-19-04), Work as usual. No time outdoors.

Thursday (5-20-04), At work, my Bullsnakes seemed to finally be in love. We observed active breeding. Now our fingers are crossed and we are waiting for eggs! In the evening, I went with my family to nearby Greenville, SC, to a neat little music hall called “The Handlebar.” There we enjoyed a nice meal and a concert by Arlo Guthrie. He did lots of great old folk songs and told lots of funny stories (sometimes at the same time). We met him afterwards and got him to sign some old albums and pose with the kids for pictures. It was a very fun evening and I would recommend it to anyone.

Friday (5-21-04), Work as usual. No time outdoors.

Saturday (5-22-04), I had some family obligations, but by evening the heat broke and rains in Union County lured me out. I went to the river (pasture) and put out 7 funnel traps. The river was low and the tributaries dry. I had little hope to succeed. Then I cruised in Union County a while and found a Black Ratsnake and Eastern Garter Snake, both AOR. There were also a lot of frogs/toads on the road, but little else.

Sunday (5-23-04), My son and I went to the river to check traps. The traps held a few frogs, a few minnows, and a few crayfish. All released. Along the way we picked up a Black Ratsnake and saw (briefly) a Black Racer. Lots of Dragonflies were out. Turtles were basking on the logs, falling into the water as we approached. We saw a few Wild Turkeys and a family of Wood Ducks. It was just nice to get out and walk the great outdoors with my son! Back home, I checked my tin and found an Eastern Worm Snake.

It has been a busy week. Unfortunately, so busy that I missed a nature gathering my brother put together in the SC lowcountry. I hear that it went well and the folks found lots of snakes. Cannot wait to read about it!

Joey Holmes

Week Ending 05-16-04

Gene's notes

Monday night (05-10-04), Bullfrogs, Cricket Frogs, and Fowlers Toads sang at the farm pond. This year I am seeing more Bullfrogs at the pond than ever before. Another creature which I have been seeing more frequently is the Bobwhite Quail.

Tuesday evening (05-11-04) at twilight I flipped a piece of tin at the farm and found a large, female Broadhead Skink curled up for the evening. Under the board where I found 2 worm snakes last sunday, the same two snakes were still in residence. As the light dwindled, I crusied local roads and found my first-of-the-year Copperhead. It paused and then scurried off the road.

Saturday (05-15-04) I looked under the same piece of tin where I earlier found a Broadhead Skink. In the very same spot, I found an adult Six-lined Racerunner. I checked the Worm Snake boards and found a gravid female under one board and 2 under the other board. A couple of Easatern Narrowmouth toads also hide under the boards.

Sunday (05-16-04) my granddaughter spent the day with me while Mom, Grandmother, and little brother went shopping. I took her to the board where the two Worm Snakes had been the day before. Sure enough they were still there. I let her capture both and take them over to show Mom before she left to shop. Then she returned them to the board. We left the gravid female in peace. Under piece of farm equipment we found 3 American Toads. We also saw an adult male Broadhead Skink poking its red head from under a loose piece of siding on a shed. We chased a Racerunner, but it escaped us. We checked the Bluebird box. The first brood had left over a week before and I had removed the old nest. Now a new nest was in place and 4 eggs.

That evening after my visitors had gone home and night fallen, I cruised local roads. The temperature stayed above 70F and the night was moonless. It seemed like a good night for snakes, but I did not see any live or dead.

Gene Ott


Joey's notes

South Carolina in May, and I have the week off. Box Turtles, Racers, Ratsnakes, Kingsnakes, Watersnakes, and Copperheads are all starting to move and showing up dead on the roads.

Monday (5-10-04), I mowed the lawn. Noticed two Broad-head Skinks (in different parts of the yard) as I mowed. Nice to have such creatures here close. Later, I had business in Laurens. As I drove towards town, I found a wounded Mole Kingsnake on the road. He had been run over, and would die shortly, but had been active, on the move, at about 4 PM. May means Mole Kingsnakes!

Tuesday (5-11-04), No outdoors time.

Wednesday (5-12-04), I wanted to spend some time afield. I wanted to catch snakes in Lee, Darlington, and Dillon Counties. I had a plan. I would drive to Lee, put out two minnow traps in a wetland area, and hunt a bit. Then do the same in Darlington. Then do the same in Dillon, get a room, clean up, take a nap, and road cruise the evening hours. The next day I could get up, and checking the traps work my way back home. I thought it might be a plan that would work! I had spent a lot of time looking at my maps, knew of a lot of dirt roads, wetlands, and boat landings. It had to work! I got up early and got on the road towards Lee County. I knew a wetland area, near a road and stopped, setting two minnow traps. I then started prowling, and at an old house site, about 2 miles away I flipped a piece of debris to reveal a Copperhead. Great! First score at 8:30 AM! I decided to leave the traps in place, after all, I would have to come right by there on the way home. On to Darlington. I stopped at a fishing lake with a boat ramp. Lots of people were there. I walked by the water, then by the woods and found my second snake of the day, a Corn Snake. He was a nice adult, crawling, out in the open. Super! Second score at 9 AM! I would now have lots of time and 4 traps to put out in Dillon! On to Dillon. At my first stop, off I-95, I found an old truckstop. There, under a scrap of tin, was the Dillon County snake! A Black Racer! Third score, all objectives met by 9:30 AM! I turned towards home. No point in wasting money on a hotel and more gas when I had accomplished my goals. I stopped at an Oxbow lake in Darlington that had a boat ramp. I walked the edge of the lake and soon found a “Greenish” Ratsnake. Cool, doubles in Darlington! I stopped by a little park in Lee, and stopped to move another “Greenish” Ratsnake off the road. Cool, Doubles in Lee. By this time I was beginning to feel a little cocky. Heading into Columbia on I-20, I had a wild thought. Go on to Edgefield County! I started in Trenton and worked my way north. I found a nice set of roads in the northern part of the county and started cruising. A DOR Cornsnake, AOR Box Turtle, Broad-head Skink under some debris. but NO LIVE SNAKES. I did stop and marvel at a small patch of (apparently wild) Palmetto bushes. Pretty neat for northern Edgefield County! I got home at a reasonable hour. I put 550 miles on the car (cheapest gas I saw was $1.73/gallon in Greenwood) and had a great success rate. Now I have caught snakes in 44 of South Carolina’s 46 counties! Now, to just complete Edgefield and Barnwell!

Thursday (5-13-04), I saw a DOR Longtail Weasel in Laurens County near Gray Court. Rambled by the pond after dark and found 2 Northern Watersnakes (caught and released one) and found plenty of Bullfrogs, Gray Treefrogs, Green Treefrogs, Cricket Frogs, and Red-spotted Newts. Nice to spend some time by the water at night.

Friday (5-14-04), No outdoors time

Saturday (5-15-04), Found a DOR Eastern Coachwhip in Laurens County! Only the 3rd Coachwhip I have ever seen in Laurens (dead or alive). Inspired, I came home and checked my tin. Southern Ringneck Snake. Still inspired I went for a little road cruise and found nothing but deer and possums (2 of each).

Sunday (5-16-04), No outdoors time.

It has been a pretty busy week,

Joey Holmes

Week Ending 05-09-04

Gene's notes

We moved into Summer this week. Temperatures topped 90 F several days.

I saw a few DOR Black Racers and a DOR Black Rat Snake while commuting to work. Thursday evening (05-06-04) while driving home, I saw a Red-tailed Hawk do a controlled fall from about 50 feet to the ground. It grasped a small Eastern Cottontail Rabbit and took a low flight away. It was immediately pursued by a Mockingbird. Then a couple of Crows took over the chase. I pulled off the road and marked the spot where the hawk dropped into the tall grass to eat its prey. Grapsing my camera, I pursued the hawk. I got close enough to snap a picture of it flying away.

Friday morning (05-07-04), I moved an Eastern Mud Turtle off the roadway.

Saturday evening (05-08-04), temperatures held in the low 70s after dark. I road cruised a while. I found an AOR Worm Snake, DOR Rough Greensnake, and DOR juvenile Black Ratsnake that still showed its birth pattern.

Sunday, my wife and I joined our daughter and her family in Abbeville for a Mothers' Day brunch. On the way over, I saw a couple of DOR Black Racers and a couple AOR Eastern Box Turtles. Back home in late afternoon, I flipped the wormsnake boards. Under the board that hide a Northern Red Salamander last week, 2 Eastern Narrowmouthed Toads now huddled. Under the other board, I there were 2 Eastern Worm Snakes.

Gene Ott


Joey's notes

Normally when May begins, I am excited because to me, May means Mole Kingsnakes and Giant Stag Beetles. This week, I am in Clearwater, Florida at a great resort, attending seminars/meetings, and getting outdoors as I can. The Mole Kings and Stags must wait until I return to the South Carolina upstate.

Monday (5-3-04), My meetings were over at lunch. I get in the car and head up US 19, away from town. I was seeking vacant lots, closed factories, abandoned businesses and rural countryside. Unfortunately, “town” follows US 19 for MILES! I drove and drove and never seemed to get away from the sprawl. I did find one lot with bushes, sand, lots of debris, etc and I searched it well but found nothing. Nothing but ants. If anyone out there has been worried about how the ants are doing in Florida, rest assured they seem fine. I turned inland. I quickly entered cattle country where there are no buildings and everything is fenced off at the road. I prowled a little, mainly right by the highway, but found little. I did get a Tiger Beetle (Cicindela trifasciata) and found a DOR Yellow Ratsnake. I returned to the resort after a lot of driving, a little dejected. Best thing of the day? Sandhill Cranes! One pair even had a little fuzzy knee-high chick out foraging with them. Pretty cool.

Tuesday (5-4-04), We had lots of sessions to attend. That was fine, I saw lots of old friends and made some new ones. From the window, during a session I should have been paying more attention to, I saw several green Parrots carrying nesting materials as they flew around the yard. Likely Monk Parrots. After lunch I strolled the grounds and by the Croquet Lawn I was surprised to see an Eastern Garter Snake! Then a Greenhouse Frog. Then a DOR Garter Snake! Wow, this place is getting cool. After dark I prowled a bit with a flashlight and found a Gecko and a Corn Snake! The Corn was ugly. The red was not very red, the yellow was not very yellow and the black was very limited. Its color looked generally washed out, and that seems common in the Tampa Bay area. Hey, I drive around and find nothing, stay at the resort and have a good day. Go figure.

Wednesday (5-5-04), Cinco de Mayo! I attended more sessions (William Glasser was interesting) and found nothing more interesting on the grounds than tons of Brown Anoles (a standard at Florida resorts). I went around after dark again but found nothing interesting. There were some police/security when I returned to the lobby, so I slipped the flashlight into my pocket and strolled up to my room. I hope nobody had reported me as suspicious. Guess I had better cut out the night hunting just in case.

Thursday (5-6-04), After the sessions, I went down to the water with some friends from one of our Florida programs. We saw Roseate Spoonbills (a first for me) Yellow-Crowned Night Herons, Snowy Egrets, and other neat birds. I caught a Four-Spotted Pennant and some Tiger Beetles (C. trifasciata) on the mud flats as the tide went out. It was fun to be amongst the mangroves and mud flats!

Friday (5-7-04), We had a brief morning session, hellish freeway traffic in Tampa, and a long hot highway home. One stop in Georgia yielded some Tiger Beetles (trifasciata) but the other stops I made were unproductive. I worked a beautiful tin field and found a few skinks but nothing else. I had supper in Wren, Ga and when I came out there was a neat beetle in front of the restaurant. It was a Ground Beetle, Calasoma scrutator. Smelly little beast. A DOR Eastern King in Laurens County completed my trip. I even got home before midnight.

Saturday (5-8-04), Family time.

Sunday (5-9-04), Mothers Day. Love, honor, and respect to Moms everywhere!

Glad to be back in SC,

Joey Holmes

June 03, 2004
Contact: South Carolina Reptiles and Amphibians

Return to SC Reptiles and Amphibians Observations Page

Return to SC Reptiles and Amphibians Home Page