SC Reptile and Amphibians


April 2005

Week Ending 05-01-05

Gene's notes

Another "dry" herp week. I did finally get a good look at one of the elusive Yellow-breasted Chats that live in the thicket behind my house. It was a male who was engaged in a singing match with another male. Too involved to flit into the bushes.

Win showed me a group of Easter Lilies, or Naked Ladies, blooming at the foot of a hill on the farm.

Gene Ott


Joey's notes

The world, my world, is turning a most pleasant shade of green! Beautiful indeed. But this week has not been all warmth, fresh air, sunshine, and herping. I have been very busy with other duties, and the weather has been rather un-cooperative. I have flipped some tin/debris/ac, but not had much results.

Monday (4-25-05), Frost was on the windshield when I got in the car for my morning drive to work. Speaking of work, Sabbatical begins at shift change on Friday!

Tuesday (4-26-05), Cool and rainy.

Wednesday (4-27-05), A better day, in regards to weather, but still a bit cool. I took a class to collect some salamanders/crayfish at the creek on campus. We offered the Striped Crayfish Snake two small crayfish and a cranefly larvae. He hardly noticed. We offered some Dusky Salamanders to the baby Checkered Gartersnakes and observed one, lingual luring. I do not know for sure if this is the same individual that had lured when offered a Chorus Frog, but it is the same set of babies.

Thursday (4-28-05), Nature lovers got incredible news! Ivory-Billed Woodpeckers are NOT EXTINCT! Evidently the Cornell Ornithology folks had enough reason to believe the birds were still around, that they indeed existed, to send teams of field workers to Arkansas to track down and verify the birds. After two years of work, the field teams had sightings, video tape, physical evidence, and sound recordings. They worked up a conservation plan, land was purchased, and then they announced to the world (CNN covered it) the good news! Could other populations exist in other southern states?

Friday (4-29-05), I have waited years for this day. At shift change (4 PM) I was off work and do not have to return until May 30! Sabbatical! I am going to do some herping, and will look for Rainbow Snakes and Southern Hognose Snakes on the coast, and Timber Rattlers and Eastern Milksnakes in the mountains. I will also try to help out with the family business (photography) and learn to edit video and file digital images. Mrs. Holmes will supervise the photography work. So at shift change what did I do? I got off work, and went to work. Photography business at a local dance school. I did about 4 hours and 30 minutes worth of work, then called it a day.

Saturday (4-30-05), The dance school had a dress rehearsal and recital. We worked from about 11:30 AM until about 9:30 PM. It also rained much of the day.

Sunday (5-1-05), Part two of the dance school recital. Another 3 hours spent shooting video, plus the paperwork involved in book-keeping and processing orders here at home. Busy, busy, busy. I did sneak out back and turn my tin, finding only an Eastern Worm Snake and Southern Ringneck Snake. I will also mention that it was one year ago today that I started focusing on weight loss. Low-carb style. I lost about 48 pounds, gained back about 18 (backsliding a good bit around the holidays) and now seem to be about 38 pounds below where I was a year ago. Still the size of livestock, but at least these days I am trying!

As the next month goes by, I hope to get a lot done. Some of you may even see me zipping up or down the highway, or lurking around some boat landing on a blackwater river. Stop and say hello! I will also have to see if May lives up to its reputation for Mole Kingsnakes and Giant Stag Beetles!

Joey Holmes

Week Ending 04-24-05

Gene's notes

Absolutely no herping this week. Work, family, and weather occupied my time. My schedule does not look promising for next week either. I am really looking forward to joining Jeff Holmes at Hellhole during the first weekend of May.

Gene Ott


Joey's notes

This has been a nice spring week, but time and duties, combined with less-than-perfect weather and just plain-old bad luck have impacted my success outdoors.

Monday (4-18-05), Under tin at work, it was an Eastern Worm Snake that made our day!

Tuesday (4-19-05), Two Southern Ringnecks were under the tin here at home.

Wednesday (4-20-05), I walked around the pond after work. I found about a dozen newts under some cover near the water, and a small Midland Watersnake. Another watersnake dove off some vegetation by the water but I did not get a good look. At any rate it was either a Redbelly or Midland/Northern. Good sized snake (loaded with musk, I am sure!).

Thursday (4-21-05), The alarm clock rang early. 3 AM. I dressed and was off towards work quickly. When I got there, they had five students (pre-picked for interests and good behavior/cooperation) up and dressed. We tossed the food and gear into the (PWI) van and took off towards the swamp! We arrived at the national forest (outside Charleston) around 7:30 and flipped some tin/debris/AC but found nothing. We went by a picnic area and had some cold breakfast. Then we started working the road. We found a AOR Redbelly Snake, which is small and hard to notice on the road, so I was quite proud of myself for spotting it. From the van we also spotted 3 Eastern Cottonmouths. Caught and examined one, and that was it for snakes?!?!?! We did find a DOR Black Racer and Rough Green, Cricket Frogs and a Little Grass Frog, as well as various skinks, anoles, and basking turtles. The boys enjoyed the American Egrets and Tiger Beetles, Cicindela sexguttata, that patrol the road. We had lunch at the picnic area, and turne

Friday (4-22-05), We had a storm front come through about the time I left work. So I got a little wet. Wet, I flipped my tin at home but only found the same old Ringneck.

Saturday (4-23-05), Cool and windy, we (Holmes Photography) worked a local prom.

Sunday (4-24-05), Still quite cool and very windy, I had no ambition to spend a lot of time outdoors.

Sabbatical soon, and I can hardly wait! Actually I guess I can, as we only get one every seven years!

Happy Herping!

Joey Holmes

Week Ending 04-17-05

Gene's notes

DOR snakes are showing on local roads now, mostly black rats and racers. I did not get to do any herping during the week and had no incidental encounters with them either. Bandwidth on this website has increased dramatically since early March. This is a clear sign of increased snake activity. I am getting an email requests for snake ID just about every day.

A male Blue Grosbeak has been visiting our birdfeeder regularly this week.

Saturday (4-16-05), Win provided an educational snake talk with specimens at a birthday party. He said it was a success. Later in the day, he walked one of the forest paths at the farm. He encountered a couple of Whitetail Deer and was able to take a picture.

Temperatures fell on Saturday and Sunday, frosting each morning. The annual flowers which my wife and I set out last weekend were substantially damaged. The wild Wysteria, which was having a terrific bloom this year, was heavily burned. Fortunately, the freeze was not enough to hurt the new leaves on most trees. Daytime temperatures rose into the 60s.

Gene Ott


Joey's notes

Another week already gone by. My how time flies. I requested this week off quite some time ago, and it was a good move, as Mrs. Holmes had a major, week-long job in the photography business and I was needed, and fortunately I was able to help.

Monday (4-11-05), It was beautiful and warm. I found a DOR Mole Kingsnake about a mile from home. At home I checked my tin and found a Southern Ringneck Snake, Redbelly Snake, Eastern Worm Snake, and the old male Mole Kingsnake that I have seen before.

Tuesday (4-12-05), Cool and rainy, it was very different from the previous day. I still checked my tin and found a Southern Ringneck, and found that the Mole King had moved, and was under a piece of tin about 15-18 feet away from where he had been on Monday.

Wednesday (4-13-05), Again it was cool and rainy, and again I checked my tin, and once again I found a Ringneck Snake. It is likely that I have seen this same animal MANY times this year already and he may be there for some time to come. He is not marked, so it is difficult to tell him as an individual.

Thursday (4-14-05), Mrs. Holmes needed something picked up in Columbia by 6 PM. She had help at her photo shoot, and I had a day, or most of it, to ramble a bit. It turned out to be 340 miles worth of rambling. The day started cool and damp, but I figured it would be a good day to look under "stuff". Stuff like natural cover (bark, logs, rocks, etc) as well as artificial cover like tin, plywood, boards, carpet, and other debris, such is found around old stores, barns, house-sites, down dirt roads and dead end roads. Many people are calling this stuff "AC" which is short for "artificial cover" and I suppose that is a pretty good term.

I made my way to Aiken County and visited several spots I knew. Nothing. On to Barnwell County where I made several stops with no results, except a DOR Armadillo. By "no results" I do not mean that I saw nothing. I did see Cottontail Rabbits, Wood Rats, Cotton Rats, Skinks and Anoles. "No results" simply means "no snakes or Tiger Beetles".

In Bamburg County I made several stops without results (I did enjoy seeing an Anhinga at the Edisto River just north of the City of Bamburg) but then my luck changed, when down some lonely dirt road I found good “AC” and scored two Eastern Coachwhips. The first was a decent sized snake but was pre-shed and crusty, and most of his tail was missing (kind of ruins that whole “flagellum” concept) but the second was pretty. Smaller (4 feet), he was clean and un-scarred, making him a much prettier animal.

On into Orangeburg County, I marveled at the “UFO WELCOME CENTER” in Bowman. I had seen it on TV but it is much more impressive in person. It is a full sized, non-functional flying-saucer that a local man has built out of scrap boards, tin, aluminum foil, and Christmas lights. It looks like he just picked up stuff lying around his yard/trailer (and it looks like he has enough stuff still there to make several more flying-saucers) and made this thing, then proclaimed it the official welcome center for UFOs visiting Earth! It is worth the trip! Back to herping. I made a few more stops and by some little roadside building I found a dead pine with loose bark. I peeled a few pieces and out popped a baby Corn Snake, which is exactly what I expected! I peeled a little more and out popped another! Looking like litter-mates I left them enough bark to hide under as they continue to live out their little lives as predator and prey.

I made it to Columbia, picked up the supplies, and made it home without further excitement. Then I visited the pond. There I found a small Eastern Worm Snake. Back home I checked my tin and found the expected Ringneck Snake.

Friday (4-15-05), Clear, but still rather cool and a bit windy. I did succeed in finding two Southern Ringneck Snakes here in the yard, under tin, as expected.

Saturday (4-16-05), Another big photo shoot keeps us busy. Then we retreat to Columbia for an overnight get-away. I did notice lots of Tiger Beetle larval burrows along the river. Large holes, I assume that area will be busy with Megacephala later in the year.

Sunday (4-17-05), I got up, and since we were still in the Columbia area, I went for a morning drive. I visited some "AC" I know and found a small, pre-shed, crusty little Ratsnake but nothing else of interest. We got home after lunch, and I tinkered around the yard, checked the tin, and found the Ringneck (again). A late-afternoon drive found me checking some local "AC" where I found a medium-sized female Eastern King. Good musker too.

Back at work early Monday morning, but hey, the Sabbatical begins soon!

Joey Holmes

Week Ending 04-10-05

Gene's notes

Tuesday (04-05-05), the contractor was able to get gravel on my long driveway. Hooray! I got home early from work to inspect the work. Later, I flipped a few boards and found a juvenile Eastern Worm Snake. Finally, a snake for me this year.

On Friday (04-08-05), Win and Hope heard Fowlers Toads at the farm pond. They were able to observe a female approaching a male with a fine voice. He was in the water at the edge of the pond and she was approaching from the land. The female moved only while the male sang. She pounced upon him and they roled around in the water and emerged in amplexus.

Saturday (04-09-05) was a beautiful, warm day. Win had off from his restaurant and wanted to look for snakes. My granddaughter was staying over my wife and me. Win, later joined by Hope, went one way; my granddaughter and I another way. My granddaughter spotted some tadpoles in the wetlands. We heard Cricket Frogs calling. Later, I took her to the board where I had found the Worm Snake on Tuesday. It was there and she had the fun of catching it. Win, wearing a big smile, joined us at the house. He had caught a large (44 inch) Redbelly Water Snake. In the end, we had found the long and short of things. That evening, my granddaughter, Win, and I observed the Fowlers Toads at the pond.

Sunday (04-10-05) was another beautiful day. Most of my time was taken up with dinner and family visits. I walked about some but did not see any herps. Win and his brother-in-law fished in the farm pond. They were successful, catching five channel catfish of about 5 pounds each, plus bream and bass.

Gene Ott


Joey's notes

Been quite a week. I have thrilled at beautiful weather, and rejoiced from the opportunities to spend time outside! Dogwoods are blooming beautifully (they were pretty much over last week in Florida) as are Yellow Jessamine, our state flower. Wisteria is hanging, beautiful and purple in the trees around old house-sites. I have flipped a lot of tin, and many pieces more than once so I saw a number of snakes several times but this is nice, and I have learned a lot about certain animals by seeing them over and over again.

Monday (4-4-05), I took the long way home from work. It leads by old farms with tin, and dirt roads with debris. I found 2 Black Ratsnakes and 2 Black Racers. I was inspired so when I got home I checked my tin and found a Redbellied Snake and an Eastern Worm Snake. Not a bad afternoon.

Tuesday (4-5-05), A beautiful day. At work we flipped some tin, and found an Eastern Worm Snake and a Smooth Earth Snake. I have been needing one of each of these for friends to photograph but the Worm was kind of crusty and the Smooth Earth was a neonate. So I will keep looking. At home, my yard and tin yielded a Black Ratsnake, Eastern Worm Snake, Redbellied Snake, and Southern Ringneck Snake. A visit to the pond did not produce herps, but 3 pair of Wood Ducks and 3 pair of Blue-Wing Teal sure did help to finish off a nice day with a splash of color.

Wednesday (4-6-05), I had to take some students off campus for a community service project, and afterwards we had some time to look around a bit. We hit some of my regular sites and found 2 Black Ratsnakes, 3 Black Racers, and an Eastern Worm Snake. It was nice to get off campus.

Thursday (4-7-05), It was cool and rainy. But we did succeed in finding a Redbellied Snake on campus.

Friday (4-8-05), Cooler and rainy, but not bad. I heard Gray Treefrogs calling from the forests at work. After work I rambled by some of my regular spots and again found 2 Black Racers under cover. I checked my tin when I got home. The little Copperhead was out, lying on the wet leaves beside a piece of tin. Under the tin I found a Southern Ringneck and Eastern Worm Snake.

Saturday (4-9-05), It was a beautiful day. I took my pottery wheel to town and sat outside the Artists Coop and made bowls for several hours. Met some nice people. Didn't sell anything but it was pleasant. I still managed to steal some time to check my tin. Found two Ringneck Snakes and the little Copperhead. Actually I think I stepped on him. Hope I didn't hurt the little fellow. Town Haul, the TLC series filmed in Laurens aired its last episode. We attended a little gathering in town and watched with friends. We were in the crowd but none of us were featured. All over now, but being around the proccess was very interesting.

Sunday (4-10-05), Hunter and I walked in the river pasture looking for Marbled Salamanders. Only found one but it was pretty. Loads of turtles were basking. Later on I checked my tin and found Two Ringnecks and the male Mole Kingsnake I have caught several times before. I even saw two Tiger Beetles, Cicindela sexguttata, settled in for the night next to two Slimy Salamanders. May be a rough night for the Tiger Beetles!

I should also mention that Zebra Swallowtails and Tiger Swallowtails are starting to show up in good numbers, Green Anoles, Ground Skinks, Five-Lined Skinks, Southeastern Five-Lined Skinks, Fence Lizards, American Toads, and Slimy Salamanders are all frequently (or even daily) seen. While I don’t always mention seeing these species, they are neat animals and I enjoy encountering them.

This has been the kind of week that makes living in South Carolina special.

Joey Holmes

May 02, 2005
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