SC Reptile and Amphibians
Gene's notes from June 19 - 25
If you checked the notes this week, you saw that I did not get last week's notes posted. I was on vacation all week at the North Carolina Outer Banks or in transit. The notes are up now, so be sure to read them following this week's notes.
When we arrived at the Outer Banks on Monday night it was raining. I had noticed toads on the roads, so soon after unloading I took my two nephews and neice out to see what was about. We found adult and immature Southern Toads and Eastern Spadefoot Toads. These were the first Spadefoots I had ever found!
On Thursday, after several days of traditional beach activity, I decided to do a little herping. I visited the nature walk at the Pea Island Wildlife Refuge. There were Yellow-Bellied Sliders and Snapping Turtles in a small pond at the beginning of the walk. Although there were signs warning not to feed the wildlife, from the behavior of these turtles it was obvious the prohibition was not enforced.
Further up the trail, I found a female Snapping Turtle digging her egg nest. In the large pond beside the trail I could see numerous Diamondback Terrapins sticking their waxy, white muggs out of the water. All along the shoreline there were signs of turtle egg nests which had been raided and the eggs eaten.
Back on the trail I heard a rustle and saw a pair of Six-Lined Racerunner Lizards mating.
The biting Deer Flies were a nuisance, but the brisk wind helped keep them down. Seeing the other visitors in their traditional, skimpy beachwear swatting at the flies made me thankful I was wearing long pants and using plenty of repellent.
Returning back down the trail, I found a large Black Racer searching the path for lizards and birds.
After leaving the refuge, I visited The Nature Conservancy's Nagshead Woods. It was only open to visitors from 10 am to 3 pm, the hottest part of the day. I walked a couple miles of trails through the woods and was amazed at the size of the hills and valleys I crossed. It seemed like being back in the Piedmont! Unfortunately, I found only a Green Anole Lizard. I was hoping to find the Outer Banks Kingsnake. I asked the staff if they had seen any and was told that one had been killed on the road some weeks back, but that was the only one.
Friday, we started a leisurely trip back homeward. We toured the NC Aquarium at Manteo. I made some interesting pictures of a Loggerhead Sea Turtle. We stopped at another wildlife refuge at Mattamuskeet Lake. We drove down the nature drive and came upon a female Yellow-Bellied Slider digging her egg nest. I opened to car door to get out and take a picture, but was accosted by dozens of ravenous Deer Flies. I retreated and close the door. The flies lit on the windows and metal and tried to bite the car! The turtle left. We finished our tour by car only.
Saturday, we spent the night in Santee, SC. That evening I cruised the local roads. I found a DOR Cottonmouth and a DOR Integrade Black/Yellow Rat Snake. The only live herps I saw were Southern Toads and Green Tree Frogs.
Back home on Sunday afternoon, we had a light shower. I drove around the nearby roads and found 2 Box Turtles.
Win tells me we had reasonable rain at home on Tuesday afternoon. After the rain he walked about the farm and found 5 female Box Turtles digging egg nests.
Joey's notes from June 19 - 25
Very slow week. It's been very hot and dry here. The fields are brown. The small creek on the PWI campus flows only after we get a storm, and only then for a few hours. I have hopes for rains soon.
Monday (6-19-00): I checked my tin, saw a vole. I did collect a nice dragonfly here in the yard.
Tuesday (6-20-00): Just another hot, dry, summer day with no chance to get any herping done.
Wednesday (6-21-00): Took my class out to walk by the river. We saw basking turtles and under logs found 3 or 4 Eastern Narrowmouth Toads. Found several snake sheds, looked to be racer and ratsnake.
Thursday (6-22-00): Out with a class, we found an adult male Black Ratsnake under some rubbish down a dirt road. We also collected some feeder frogs and dragonflies at the pond.
Friday (6-23-00): Our dog Buddy was hit by a car and killed.
Saturday (6-24-00): On campus we collected a few feeder toads and found a Red-Bellied Snake. Best Reptile of the Week was right outside my classroom: A Green Anole! Not much? This one had 2 tails! I had a 2-tailed skink (Five Lined) a couple of years ago, so this is the second 2-tailed lizard I have seen. There is a slight problem in that it seems dehydrated, and very thin (drought?) but I think perhaps we can get it back on track. I hope to at least get some pictures taken (I have none of the skink).
Our visitor from Ireland will be arriving on next Tuesday, and we look forward to showing him around our little corner of the world. Ireland has no turtles or snakes, one species of Lizard, and one species of Salamander. These kids have never been exposed to a climate like ours with heat/humitity/sunburn being major factors. We'll do our best to make this a fun and educational trip for him.
Gene's notes from June 12 - 18
This was a very busy, non-herping week for us. We had out-of-state family visiting for most of the week. Saturday, we had a family reunion, a high school reunion, and two weddings to attend. Needless to say, we did not make it to all events. But, even with all this activity and the continued drought, I did see a few herps.
On Thursday night while walking our Golden Retriever who was recovering from a strained-muscle, I found a large Black Rat Snake in the yard.
On Friday, the Corn Snake I had found about 2 weeks earlier laid 3 eggs. She had shed her skin the day before.
Early Saturday morning we had a light rain sprinkle. Upon stepping out the back door, I found a female Eastern Mud Turtle searching for a place to dig her egg nest. While doing errands into town, I found a DOR Mole King Snake. It was the first one I had seen this year. Usually, Mole Kings are common. At home, a female Spiny Softshell Turtle was basking on the rock in the pond. I had not seen her on the rock for about a month. And, best of all, the Corn Snake had laid another 10 eggs. I placed all 13 eggs in damp vermiculite and hope to successfully hatch them. I plan to reward the female with a couple of mice and release her.
Joey's notes from June 12 - 18
Warm weather is certainly here. We have cooled off a bit and had some brief rains but still need more.
Sunday (6-11-00): We were home from the beach less than 24 hours and had to pack the youngster off to Boy Scout Camp in the mountains of Greenville County. Big adventure!
Monday (6-12-00): I had to go to Easley and talk to about 150 Cub Scouts about fossils (six 40-minute sessions). I told them all I know and then rambled for the other 35 minutes.
Tuesday (6-13-00): I had some time that evening to cruise. I went over to Union County. A few weeks ago I checked and found that I had caught snakes in about 22 of South Carolina's 46 counties and thought I could improve on that. I added Marion County while on vacation and since the Union line is a mere 6 miles from my house... Well, I got 2 AOR Eastern Garter Snakes. Checked off Union but it is nice with remote roads not far from here. I will go back. I did notice a large Walking Stick (AOR) with a much smaller Walking Stick on its back. It looked like a kind I had seen inside a rotting pine log recently. I had also borrowed the Tiger Beetle book from a friend and had a chance to ID the Beetles we brought back from Cherry Grove: Cicindela dorsalis media. Reading further, I noted they were listed as reasonably hard to find in that area so I contacted Dr, Shultz and Dr. Knisley (authors of the book) and let them know about my find.
Wednesday (6-14-00): Went up to camp to visit the Boy. He was fine and had caught and been bitten by a Northern Watersnake. I recall from years ago Timbers and 2 Eastern Milks coming from that area. I would still love to get these for my life list.
Thursday (7-15-00): The Everglades female at work laid 25 eggs. Also saw a Red Admiral.
Friday (6-16-00): Coming home from work found a 38 inch female Mole Kingsnake, DOR. She was fairly fresh dead and did not appear to be carrying eggs. Later at the pond I gathered some feeder frogs (found Fowlers Toads, Green Treefrogs, Southern Leopard Frogs) and also found some Eastern Mud Turtles and 3 Redbelly Watersnakes.
Saturday (6-17-00): Not much time for outdoors/herping. Got the boy home from camp. We had to wake him up for supper and then it was right back to sleep. He got 7 merit badges and had a wonderful time. Makes us proud!
I hope that we can get some more rains, cooler temps, and good herping this week. A colleague reports a nice Pine from the Okeefenokee area, and I know other things are happening out there and would love to hear about them.
Gene's notes from June 5 - 11
I saw no live herps this week other than a Green Anole scurrying across the road. The drought is still with us. At the end of the week the pump at the branch began drawing mud. I was able to add about a foot to the pond level.
I cruised after dark one evening and saw a few toads. A beautiful, fluffy Gray Fox crossed the road.
I did make a few pictures of song birds. The best sighting was a pair of Blue-Gray Gnatcatchers building a nest. They build really nice nests of spider webs and wood down and decorate the outside with Lichen. The nest looks like a large Hummingbird nest. I also got pictures of the Carolina Wren nest in the garden hose rack. I also photographed a male American Goldfinch eating seeds.
Joey's notes from June 5 - 11
Last Sunday morning, we loaded up the car and took off for the beach at Cherry Grove in upper Horry County. I hate traffic and crowds but my wife's family likes to rent a nice beach-house so I can put up with the hassles of Horry for a week. Plus there's the possibility of finding things not found here in Enoree!
Sunday (6-4-00): Drove down. Too many old barns for someone like me to pass. They would have made for better herping in the early spring. Now it's just hot and dry, but we did have evening storms that cooled us off and wet things down a bit.
Monday (6-5-00): Did some local AM herping around some dirt roads/sand pits between Wampee and the Intracoastal Waterway. Found a Black Racer and 2 wasp nest (I can still run fast when I really need to). Later in the Afternoon, I went around the corner from the beach house and by the little inlet found some super Tiger Beetles (I'll ID these later when I can get them to the book) that were unlike any I've seen here. Ivory with dark "zebra stripe" type markings. I collected 3. After dark, we had more storms, and I went back to the dirt roads/sand pits. I found Bronze Frogs, Bullfrogs, Southern Leopard Frogs, Little Grass Frogs, Southern Toads, Green Treefrogs, and Peepers. Best of all...Eastern Spadefoot Toads (my first) were out in numbers! At a small wetland area I watched some Banded Watersnakes prowl about. It was a busy day.
Tuesday (6-6-00): I goofed off; swam, played, ate, watched tv. At one point, while lying on the beach, some kind-hearted people came up and tried to push me back into the water (ha ha ha).
Wednesday (6-7-00): I went over into Marion County (I'd never caught a snake there) and herped some dirt roads in the southern part of the county. I collected some nice Dragonflies, caught a Viceroy Butterfly, saw some big Swallowtails and had a butterfly (looking somewhat like a Red Admiral) actually land briefly in my net and then flew out. I found some very pretty grasshoppers/crickets/grigs that were black with little yellow pinstripes (I kept one to ID). I found the deer flies to be about as bad as any I have ever encountered!!!!!!!!!! Horrible!!!!!!! I did find a DOR Ratsnake and Eastern Hognose. I also found 2 AOR Rough Green Snakes. That evening at the sand pits I found more Bullfrogs, Leopard Frogs, Southern Cricket Frogs, Carpenter Frogs, more Spadefoots, and a DOR Eastern Hognose and Copperhead.
Thursday (6-8-00): PM road cruising I found Southern Toads, Spadefoots, and an Eastern Narrowmouth Toad (first I'd seen on a road). Also another DOR Eastern Hognose.
Friday (6-9-00): More Tiger Beetles and more goofing off.
We snorkled/explored a good bit in the marsh, tide pools, and inlet throughout the week and found Blue Crabs, Fiddler Crabs, Flat-Clawed and Stripe Hermit Crabs, Warf Crabs, Sea Roaches, and watched the Barnacles and Anemones as they pulse and wave in the currents.
Birds were not really a priority this year but the various Gulls and Terns were there as were the Brown Pelicans and Sanderlings.
Saturday (6-10-00): After a long drive home, unloading, and settling in at home, I checked my tin. Found a very interesting Red-Bellied Snake. It is a gray phase, with a tan stripe on the back, lengthwise, sort of between the "pinstripes". I caught one like this about 10 years ago. It really is very neat. It also looks a bit gravid so I'll hang on to it for a while.
Wishing for rains
Gene's notes from May 29 - June 4
We have not had a very encouraging beginning to June. The refreshing effects of the light rain near the end of last week have whithered away this week.
On Monday (Memorial Day), Win reported seeing a Black Rat Snake safely exiting a busy 4-lane highway. A very lucky snake indeed.
After a nice midday meal of BBQ pork ribs, Win and friend and I did a little herping about the farm. Under a piece of tin which we had not checked at all this year, Win found a large Southern Ringneck Snake. While wading up the creek, Win saw a Midlands Water Snake but could not catch it. Win's friend saw one of the large skinks, perhaps a Broadheaded, but it eluded her. We also saw a Green Anole.
The remainder of the week was hot and dry. I started pumping water from the branch into the pond. At the rate the local streams are reducing, I expect the smaller branches will cease flowing in early July. With the return of drought this year, I decided to give up on gardening directly in the soil. Instead, this season I am growing tomatoes and peppers in large buckets. Friday, I connected drip irrigation to the buckets. While moving some boards around to straighten up the area, I found a large male Five-Lined Skink still showing bright red jaws. I tried to catch it for photographing, but I was too clumsy. Also, in a wall-mounted rack holding a gardent hose above the faucet, I found a Carolina Wren nest with eggs. I left the hose in place hoping not to frighten the birds into abandoning the nest. If they stay, I hope to make some pictures.
Here's hoping for more rain.
Joey's notes from May 29 - June 4
Not much to report this week. It is very dry and in the later days of this week, very hot.
I've stomped about a bit, and done some road cruising, without finding anything more noteworthy than a couple of Southern Ringneck Snakes. I have been busy with yard work (not that it shows, the yard is still a mess) and other duties this week.
I'm off next week, and may work in some out of town adventures. I sure hope so. Looking at the weather, rains may be coming this way and cooler temps as well. Could start up some herp activity.
I did see a Hackberry Emperor and the pond is buzzing with great dragonflies! (must learn more about these- where is that new Dragonfly Book?!?!?!?)
Lizards/turtles/toads are as easily found as expected.
Hope you all have a good week,
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