These are the first notes I have posted this year so they are a collection of observations for 2006 until now. I appreciate very much the many emails from visitors wishing me well and encouraging me to resume posting observations. For the remainder of the year, I hope to be able to post notes at least monthly.
I spent all of January recovering from surgery and was not able to make any noteworthy field observations. However, I took advantage of my "free" time to undate the formatting of the Turtle and Lizard pages and add thumbnail images to the Snake index page. On January 30th, a warm sunset light illuminated our new home (we moved in October 2004, 10 years to the day after our previous dream home was completely destroyed by fire).
During February, I saw many wintering hawks but could not get any decent images.
By March, most all the lizard species were moving about, but I did not see any snakes. Win captured some images of an old adult male Green Anole, showing its black eyes and nape crest. The last Saturday in March, Win and I attended the Palmetto Sportsmen Classic in Columbia. I worked as a volunteer at the herpetology exhibit and Win split his time between helping at the children's fish rodeo and the herp exhibit. All day long there was a steady stream of visitors to the herp exhibit. I believe the quality of questions and comments made by visitors was above the grade of previous years.
As in previous years, the visitation to SCRA website began increasing greatly in March. Since the vast majority of visitors are inquiring about snakes, graphs of the website usage provides a strong indication of snake activity.
Throughout March we had very little rainfall. As April has begun, we are still dry and warm. The longrange forecast for the Piedmont of SC is drought. The first weekend in April I started up a pump at the branch to begin watering our planned garden and store water in the pond. It was at this time that I found my first snake of the year. It was a large, very orange (back and belly) Redbelly Water Snake. Win found his first live snake of the year, a Worm Snake, under a piece of trash. Hope also found her first live snake, a young Eastern Kingsnake.
During the second week of April, I made a business trip to Asheville. Along the way, I saw many live and dead Woodchucks. I tried to get a picture of one standing sentinel but did not succeed. I arrive early for the meeting so I paid a visit to the North Carolina Arboretum. The air was fragrant and the Redbud Trees hummed with bees. When I returned home, Win had a beautiful Rough Earth Snake for me to photograph. The next evening I road cruised locally at twilight. I did not see any herps, but did get a picture of a Barred Owl. On Saturday, I spotted a Black Racer crossing the road in front of me. I swerved to miss it. A car was close behind. Seeing me swerve, the following driver also swerved. The snake made it across safely. On Easter morning, while doing his fish survey in Lake Thurmond, immediately below the Lake Russell dam, Win saw a handful of Northern Water Snakes along the riprap. One pair swimming in the lake appeared to be a female followed by a smaller male.
The annual herping/music outing at Hellhole Bay Swamp in the Francis Marion National Forest is scheduled for Memorial Day weekend next month. The timing is related to the period of the dark moon rather than the holiday. The outing is always great fun and fellowship.