SC Reptile and Amphibians


July 2004

Week Ending 08-01-04

Gene's notes

This week we had some heavy rainfalls. Thankfully we did not get the torents which caused damaging floods in Greenville.

I hoped the rains would bring out some snakes, but I did not find any while taking short, local, nighttime road cruises. The rains did bring a few Box Turtles on to the roads during the day.

My wife found an adult Great Blue Heron dead on the ground near an electric pole near our driveway entrance. I could not determine what killed it, possible electocuted or hit by a car. It was missing one foot, which could have been an older injury.

Saturday (7-31-04) afternoon,I walked around the extended yard with my granddaughter. Temperatures were in the low 90s. I did not expect to find many animals. We located a new Mockingbird nest in the grape vines. Three eggs. We walked around the shore of the pond. I turned the canoe over and a large Bullfrog hopped out. It made the mistake of turning from its path toward the pond and tried to hide under the canoe again. My granddaughter caught it all by herself while I re-lifted the canoe. She was very proud. After showing it to Grandmother and Mommie, she released back under the canoe.

Sunday (08-01-04) morning, my granddaughter and I walked about again to "see what we can find." A couple of newborn lizards frustrated us by quickly darting into crevices. Near the bottom of the driveway, my granddaughter found a dead Shrew. I suspect our farm cat battered it to death. My granddaughter insisted on carrying it to the house to show Grandmother.

At the large culvert that carries a branch beneath the driveway, we saw "Snake Doctors" (Damselflies). I do not know the origin of the "Snake Doctor" name. Perhaps it comes from their liking for heavily vegetated creek banks that look like "snaky" areas. Maybe there is some truth, for closeby I saw one of the water snake species dive into the branch.

Gene Ott

Joey's notes

This has been another week of summer weather. Hot, humid, a few storms. Just standard stuff. We are coming up on a full moon but cloud cover made bug hunting somewhat successful.

Monday (7-26-04), I arrived at work, checked under my big light, found a female Hercules Beetle. After work, amid rain/storms, I checked some tin/debris and found a lone Southern Ringneck Snake.

Tuesday (7-27-04), Another morning, another female Hercules Beetle.

Wednesday (7-28-04), The Mole Kingsnake from Edgefield county is looking worse. Her skin is blistered and unhealthy. She had been constricted and at least 10-12 inches were swallowed (by the Eastern King). It seems the chewing and stomach juices are breaking her down. I tube fed her about 25 cc of blended chicken livers and eggs. She vomited some a few hours later.

Thursday (7-29-04), The sickly Mole King threw up more of the tube-feeding mix. Looking worse. Another problem is afoot. Mites. We sprayed snakes and cages most of the day. Hope we did some good.

Friday (7-30-04), It was a normal day. We restored the cages we had disturbed when spraying for mites and fed snakes.

Saturday (7-31-04), The Holmes family headed uphill to the Mountains of western North Carolina. We planned to canoe and kayak the French Broad River but found the conditions poor due to recent rains. We decided to shop a bit and relax in the beautiful Pisgah National Forest. No exciting animals to report, but a fun family day in the outdoors. We left North Carolina after sunset. I wanted to check out a store in Greenville County that I knew had a lot of lights. It was not far out of the way, and worth the effort. I found several nice Scarabs, several nice Carabids, a Tiger Beetle (Megacephala virginica), and a male Hercules Beetle. Good stuff in spite of the full moon! In fact, it was a BLUE moon.

Sunday (8-1-04), Lazy. I did VERY little!

Joey Holmes

Week Ending 07-25-04

Gene's notes

Thursday (7-22-04) evening, my wife, daughter, daughter-in-law, and I went to see my son, Win, in a benefit play opening at Lander University. In fact, it was the world premiere of the play, "Possessed By The Past." Win did a great job as always. The entire play was a quality production with excellent performances by all. Following the play, there was a reception hosted by Michelle Phillips (formerly of The Mamas and The Papas). Michelle's son, Austin Hines, made his acting debut as co-star with his father, actor/director Grainger Hines. Other celebrities in attendance were the author, Raleigh Marcell, and Michelle's daughter, singer Chynna Phillips. It was a very enjoyable evening.

Friday (7-23-04) evening, my granddaughter and I cruised local roads but did not see any herps (other than toads) or mammals. At home Mayflies were having another mass emergence. The Mayflies were so numerous that they would swarm the flashlight and the illuminated spot.

Saturday (7-24-04) morning, my granddaughter and I went out again looking for herps. No luck. We stopped at a friend's farm. My granddaughter enjoyed looking at the chickens and chicks, turkeys, guinea fowl, peafowl, goats, and cow. A large flock of Canada Geese flew in to feed in the pasture. Saturday afternoon, we took our granddaughter home to Abbeville so she could go with her mom to see daddy in the matinee play at the Opera House. While my wife babysat our grandson, I drove to the nearby national forest and Lake Thurmond. Did not see anything of note, except the thermometer reading 98 F.

Sunday (7-25-04) morning, while working in the yard I found an adult Black Rat Snake.

Gene Ott

Joey's notes

Another week of 2004 is gone. Where do they go? Why do they go by so fast?

Monday (7-19-04), I arrived at work and checked my snake eggs. The Corn Snake eggs are slitting! New babies almost here!

Tuesday (7-20-04), At work, four Corns have hatched. Later, I had my students ramble outdoors a bit and we found an Eastern Worm Snake and a Redbelly Snake. Later still, my friend Greg called. He had found an Eastern King in Edgefield Co, SC outside his office. It was about 52 inches, a male, a bit lean, and it was in the act of constricting an adult, female Mole Kingsnake! (He regrets not having a camera.) His co-workers wanted both snakes dead. They were insistent! They were even trying to get a guy in a trash truck to drive across the lawn and run them over. Greg simply picked them up and put them in a container. The Eastern King released the Mole King, and he then put them in separate containers. I now have the Mole King from Edgefield County and even though it is VERY lean, and was roughed up a lot, I will see if it will take food. Greg kept the Eastern, until he could get it back into the wilds of Edgefield County.*** At sunset, I was paused for a minute outside a store (getting a battery installed in my Jeep) when I realized a Tiger Beetle, Megacephala carolina, was running down the sidewalk, right towards me! I snatched it up. A carolina from Laurens County!

Wednesday (7-21-04), Arriving at work, I found a couple of neat beetles (Pseudolucanus and Dorcus) in the canoe I keep under a big yard light. Inside, I got the new Mole King set up in a cage and offered it a skink. No response. Hmmmm.

Thursday (7-22-04), A Tiger Beetle, Megacephala virginica, was in the dining room at work. Neat, they are coming inside now! In my classroom, the skink in the new Mole Kingsnake cage is still un-touched. Hmmmm. For the evening hours, I rambled around some and found little to nothing that thrilled me (a handful of virginica and a dead Hercules at a local gas station).

Friday (7-23-04), My students and I checked our minnow traps (collecting fish and crayfish as feeder items) and found a small Midland Watersnake. Inside, we also took the skink out of the new Mole Kingsnake cage and dropped in 4 pinky mice. She took them without hesitation! I think she will make it! Now to put some weight on her!

Saturday (7-24-04), I was slack, sorry, worthless, and did little, inside or out!

Sunday (7-25-04), Got outdoors after dark and prowled a bit. Found some neat bugs. Imperial Moth, Royal Walnut Moth, and various beetles. There was a Pseudolucanus (to pinch), a Calasoma scrutator (to smell bad), and a Bombardier Beetle (to spray boiling acid out of his butt! Ouch!).

The moon is getting bright now, and unless we have cloudy/rainy/stormy nights, bugs and herps will be few and far between. Okay, I suppose I could use some rest.

Joey Holmes

Week Ending 07-18-04

Gene's notes

This week I started noticing newborn lizards scurrying about home.

Friday (7-16-04) morning, my wife, granddaughter, and I attended Hope's (my daughter-in-law) graduation from Police Academy in Columbia, SC.

My son, Win, was scheduled to do an educational herp program next week. On Saturday (7-17-04) evening, I roads cruised around home for about 2 hours hoping to collect some snake specimens he could use. I expected to find a Copperhead, but only found a Brown Snake.

Sunday (7-18-04) morning, still trying to gather specimens for my son's program, I looked under the Worm Snake boards at home... and found a Worm Snake.

Gene Ott

Joey's notes

The summer doldrums are here. Snake activity is low. They have no reason to be very active. No breeding season, no birthing season, no egg laying, no hatching, no rush to or from hibernation areas, no need to bask (it is already hot), and plenty of places to hide (tin/debris/coverboards are unnecessary). Oh well. I was off work this week, and had plenty to do anyway. The local ARTS COUNCIL was holding an art camp and the whole family was there, pitching in/helping out. Lots of fun. Our local Art Co-op (where Mrs. Holmes has her photography business) is moving, and the new building needs a lot of work, so I spent a lot of hours helping with that. But I did get outdoors some.

Monday (7-12-04), After sunset, I prowled my yard with a flashlight, looking for nocturnal Tiger Beetles and found six Megacephala virginica. Was neat to find that many. I have never seen more than one or so at any particular time and they were few and far between.

Tuesday (7-13-04), After sunset, I went to Union County to set out a black light trap and poke around a bit. Something went wrong with the light. It drained the batteries almost instantly and by dark was useless. I hit the road instead and found one small Copperhead AOR but nothing else worth mentioning. Before I went home, I stopped by a local gas station, to check out the scene under the big lights and found a male Hercules Beetle, Dynastes tityus. When I got home I found a Tiger Beetle, M. virginica, in my yard.

Wednesday (7-14-04), No time outdoors.

Thursday (7-15-04), Only a few minutes spent outside, after sunset. One M. virginica.

Friday (7-16-04), Up and on the road early. I still wanted to catch a snake in Edgefield County, and had some sites there (and in adjacent Aiken Co) that I thought might produce Tiger Beetles, Cicindela abdominalis and C. gratiosa. These seemed like worthwhile goals. Well, during the day I drove over 250 miles, walked several miles, flipped a lot of tin/debris, floundered in deep mud, and found ABSOLUTELY NOTHING! Well, a few common Tiger Beetles, C. punctulata and two DOR Black Racers. With gas at $1.70 per gallon, it is an expensive way to goof off like that without any decent catches.

Saturday (7-17-04), Mrs. Holmes and I celebrate her birthday, and our 21rst wedding anniversary! 21 years and we are just getting started!

Sunday (7-18-04), I went to Union County. I road cruised, but found nothing but a few frogs/ toads. I stopped at a rural church, prowled the grounds and found two Tiger Beetles, M. virginica. Slow night.

Slow week. Could be worse,

Joey Holmes

Week Ending 07-11-04

Gene's notes

Another hot week. I did not get to any herping until the weekend. I saw a few DOR snakes while commuting: Corn, Black Rats, Eastern King, and Copperhead.

Friday (07-09-04) afternoon, on my way home from work I found a small AOR Copperhead not far from my farm.

Saturday (07-10-04) morning, I took my 3-year old granddaughter with me to a nearby quick stop to get biscuits for breakfast. We looked for interesting animals along the way. First we saw a group of Wild Turkey poulets; then we had to wait for a train to go by; while getting gas at the quick stop, she rescued a Mayfly from a spider web; on the way back we found a group of Black Vultures eating something on the side of the road; we saw numerous rabbits, one stayed on the side of the road while we took a good look; we found a young DOR Copperhead (this was the first time she had seen one); and we found a DOR Worm Snake.

Sunday (07-11-04)morning, Tim Kalbach and his wife came to the farm to help my son and I identify a bird. Tim is an excellent birder. We had heard the bird many times making its song consisting of a series of short whistles. As usually happens in such cases, with Tim present the bird was not heard. We walked in the woods a little and Tim identified several new birds for us by sight or sound, including the Hooded Warbler, Black and White Warbler, White-eyed Vireo, and Great Crested Flycatcher. Finally, as were about to dispair of hearing the mystery bird, its call was heard one time. It was a Yellow-breasted Chat. Tim had earlier identified the Chat while it sang its normal chattering, squawking song. The series of whistles was a less frequent part of its repititoire.

Gene Ott

Joey's notes

A sweaty hello to Everyone,

July is trying hard to live up to its reputation! It is succeeding. Hot. Humid. Frequent storms. Yes, it is July in South Carolina.

Monday (7-5-04), Hot and humid. No outdoors time/nothing to report. We did gather some toads on campus to feed our Garter Snakes. We offered one to the new Florida Green Water Snake, but he ignored it

Tuesday (7-6-04), Hot and humid. No outdoors time/nothing to report.

Wednesday (7-7-04), Found a male Giant Stag Beetle dead on the ground at work. Students and I placed minnow traps in the creek on campus, and flipped some tin. Found a Southern Ringneck Snake and Green Frog. My son brought me a Tiger Beetle, Megacephala carolina, that was found at Church. Nice to have one from Laurens County.

Thursday (7-8-04), We Checked our traps. Had plenty of crayfish and minnows. We offered minnows to the Florida Green Water Snake and he gobbled two up quickly. So, he is a fish eater. Should be easy enough! The Glossy Crayfish Snake also enjoyed a good, traditional meal, courtesy of the traps.

Friday (7-9-04), We checked and pulled in the traps. We released all crayfish and kept the minnows, feeding the Ribbon Snake, Brown Water Snake, and an Eastern Garter Snake.

Saturday (7-10-04), I set out some lights in the back yard. One mercury-vapor and two black light traps. Had a lot of small stuff fly in. Some big Saturnidae Moths, one Imperial Moth, and three neat Tiger Beetles, Megacephal virginica.

Sunday (7-11-04), Driving to Laurens I had a pleasant surprise. When I crossed the Enoree River on SC 49, I glanced over towards the river and was shocked to see a Bald Eagle! Seen plenty of Osprey along the River, but never an Eagle! Very cool!

Does not seem like much of a week. There seems like so little to report, but I have walked a good bit, flipped a lot of debris/tin, and enjoyed nature as much as possible. Seldom do I go through a day without seeing various Skinks (there are four species here), Fence Lizards, Anoles, Frogs/Toads, and Tiger Beetles. Some days, I have to take care to avoid stepping on Tiger Beetles (Cicindela rufiventris) as I go to and from classes. I also noticed several other Tiger Beetles, C. sexguttata, and pretty Dragonflies seem to be everywhere you look. The world is beautiful indeed. Life is good.

Have a good week,

Joey Holmes

August 04, 2004
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