Been a lot going on. Last week, I sent out this report early Sunday morning, as I knew I had a big day ahead. Turned out to be true, so it is time to catch up.
Sunday (3-27-05), The Holmes family wishes all a very happy Easter! Not normal for us to miss church on such an occasion, we had to travel. Before we left I checked the tin in the back yard and despite the cool and drizzle I found the little Copperhead laying out near the piece of tin he is usually under. Back to traveling. It is almost always good to put wheels on pavement and head south, especially this time of year! I was due at a conference for work on Monday in Live Oak, Florida (near I-10 and I-75 in north Fla) and we planned to spend the night in the Okefenokee region of south Georgia. Intending to have some fun, I packed no pants, only shorts, T-shirts, and sneakers to wear! It was a bad day for driving and we had several hours of rain to endure. Along I-95 in South Carolina I missed several spots with tin and plywood that I normally check, because it was raining so hard. There were also six wrecks on I-95 in the course of about 100 miles of SC-Ga! We crept along, and all the nature we noticed were a few Storks and Ibis here and there near the highway. We got off the interstate at Woodbine, Ga and made out way towards Folkston. Made a brief stop (the weather calmed for just a minute) and checked tin around an old house site but only found one small Black Racer. The rain hit again, hard for about 45 minutes more then let us be. We swung around the east and south of Okefenokee and began to see butterflies and dragonflies as we drove. Even found a fresh DOR Cornsnake. We arrived in Fargo and checked into the “Gator Motel”. It is a fine establishment. Four rooms. No office. You make reservations by phone (they are unlisted, so you kind of have to get referred) and your name is on a door, the room is unlocked, and the key is inside. When you leave, you leave a check on the dresser, and leave the key there also, and lock the door behind you. SO cool! After checking in, I rode around and put some minnow traps out in the roadside ditches. After sunset I did some road cruising. Found 2 AOR Banded Watersnakes. Saw two Gray Foxes, and an opossum. It was a bit chilly so I went back to the Gator and hit the sack.
Monday (3-28-05), my son, Hunter, and I checked the traps and pulled them in while Mrs. Holmes walked around "downtown" Fargo and took pictures. We had one Bullfrog, a Giant Water Bug, and some small fish/crayfish/tadpoles. Breakfast at the Suwannee River Cafe in Fargo and on the road towards Live Oak. We arrived at the location (Cerveny Conference Center at Camp Weed) and checked in. Hunter and I explored the camp and set out the traps. The camp is beautiful (I had been there several time before and I had caught a Corns, Cottonmouth, Racers, and a Coral Snake there back in ’97) and crawling with herps. We saw tons of Anoles, Skinks, and Cricket Frogs. We saw a huge Black Racer but he was very fast and escaped. We looked at Gopher Tortoise burrows and Tiger Beetles, Cicindela scutellaris. Dragonflies and butterflies were EVERYWHERE! It was still cool in the evening,
Tuesday (3-29-05), Classes went well. We had a great group of staff to train in OUTDOORS skills and working with them was a pleasure. In spare time, I collected some Land Snails for a colleague and checked the traps. Along the way I saw 3 Black Racers (got one of them to show the class) and some Tiger Beetles (scutellaris was the only species there). The traps held minnows, crayfish, diving beetles, a Bronze Frog, and a Banded Water Snake. It was warmer so by evening Green Treefrogs were singing with the Cricket Frogs and Leopard Frogs.
Wednesday (3-30-05), I took the staff in our group on an outdoor nature walk. We looked at plants, animals, and fossils. We checked the traps and found a Two-toed Amphiuma (fun, and the group found it quite interesting), another Banded Watersnake, and loads of beetles/fish/crayfish. Along the way we saw a Black Racer, a Banded Watersnake and caught a baby Peninsula Ribbon Snake. We looked at the Tiger Beetles and Gopher holes. We caught dragonflies and butterflies. It was a good outing. That evening I rambled and heard Gray Treefrogs, Green Treefrogs, Cricket Frogs, Leopard Frogs, and Pig Frogs.
Thursday (3-31-05), We took a break from our group and joined the aquatics class for a float trip down the Suwannee River. The river was up, and currents and winds made paddling a bit difficult. Several boats flipped, and the 3 hour float took over 6 hours. Early on I stalked the Brown Watersnakes and caught some to show the group (I saw 12, caught 3) but the difficulty of paddling back up-stream soon convinced me to leave them alone. On a sandbar I saw some Tiger Beetles (likely Cicindela trifasciata). The best bird of the day was a Swallow-Tail Kite. Heavy rain started about the time we approached the take-out, and after 20 miles of hard paddling, Mrs. Holmes and I were very sore. Very tired. Very sore. We took some aspirin, and treated ourselves to a BBQ supper in town. (Ken's BBQ in Live Oak, FL. Pretty good stuff)
Friday (4-1-05), We finished our sessions, packed and loaded the car, and were on the road by 11 AM. We made the routine stops a family makes as we traveled. We even made a side trip over to Georgia’s Jekyll Island. It is a very pretty place and we hope to return someday. Then the rain hit. And the traffic crawled. It rained hard for about the next 100 miles, and for the next 60 miles the traffic crept on I-95. Never over 40 mph, many times we stopped altogether! Misery. Finally we started moving normally, and arrived home at 11 PM. It has been a long day, and from the heat of Florida (where we had the air conditioner on in our room) to the cool of South Carolina (where we had to turn the heat on in the house when we got here). Quite a day.
Saturday (4-2-05), Cool and very windy. I checked my tin. I found 3 Southern Ringneck Snakes, 3 Redbelly Snakes, and a MOLE KINGSNAKE! This one was an old friend and I recognized him at once due to some broken ribs that caused a dent in his side! I also have photocopies of his belly pattern. I have caught this snake 4 times before!
October 30, 2003
June 8, 2004
June 13, 2004
June 20, 2004
He has always been in an area of about 40 yards squared, and has shown up three seasons now. I hope this will continue for many years to come. I seldom see these before May so this was a nice treat.
(The TV series filmed in Laurens (TLC's TOWN HAUL) aired an episode that featured a lot of the local art gallery and had Hunter (playing mandolin and guitar) and several good friends/various family members. I even showed up in the background a time or two, but not intentionally.)
Sunday (4-3-05), Trying to get back into a family routine, I did not spend much time outdoors but did see turtles basking around noon as we crossed the river. Later I checked my tin and found the expected Ground Skinks, Southeastern Five-Lined Skinks, Slimy Salamanders, two Redbelly Snakes, and the little Copperhead. He was not under his usual piece of tin but was about 15 feet away, under a different sheet (of tin).
Been a busy week. Spring is upon us now, and I am really enjoying it so far!