SC Reptiles and Amphibians


August 2007

Gene's Notes:

August was extraordinarily hot and dry. Locally, we had 13 days with maximum daily temperatures of 100 F or greater. The monthly-averaged daily maximum temperature was 98 F and the monthly-averaged mean daily temperature was 84 F. These temperatures are illustrated in the figure below.

During August, we did not receive any significant rainfall until the last day of the month when we got a little over and inch. For the year, we have received about 14 inches less rainfall than normal. Local rainfall data is shown in the figure below.

As the drought and heat persisted trees, scrubs, and grasses suffered greatly. Many dieing trees could be seen in neighborhoods and from roadsides. However, the native Prickly Pear Cactus did well.

Branches and smaller streams dried up. I became alarmed when Rabon Creek, a large creek flowing by my farm, ceased flowing. Water in the creek was limited to drying pools. The smell of death was in the air and vultures were about. A multi-purpose reservoir system exists in the watershed upstream of my farm. On Sunday (August 19th) I went to the closest access point on the creek below the largest and furtherest downstream dam. There was no flow in the stream; however, there was flow in the larger feeder streams upstream of the dam.

I knew that the dam had a required minimum flow release requirement, so Monday (August 20th)I contacted the dam operators. I was told that the required flow was being released and that I should pray for rain. Instead, I contacted several state agencies that I thought may be involved in the dam's regulation. Finally, on Tuesday (August 21st) I reached a person in the SC Department of Health and Environmental Control who agreed to followup on my concerns. The next day (August 22nd), I received a call from the ageny person. He confirmed that the dam did have a minimum flow release requirement of 9 cubic feet per second and said that he had contacted the dam operators and they had said the release was being made. I immediately visited the creek access below the dam and saw that the creek was indeed flowing again.

My farm is approximately 8.6 river miles below the dam. I knew that water would not reach the farm immediately. However, by Thurdsay (August 24th) the water still had not come. At the closest upstream bridge over the creek, approximately 2.6 miles upstream of my farm, I found flow in the creek. The next day (August 25th), the flow arrived!

As expected, the hot, dry weather really discouraged herpetological activity. Lizards remained active, but terrestrial snakes were hard to find. On August 12th, I found an adult Black Rat Snake entangled in some netting that I had placed around some peas to protect them from the deer. The snake must have been hunting during the night. Fortunately, I found the snake in the morning, before the sunlight had a chance to overheat it. Win and I cut it lose from the netting. The snake was not seriously harmed and made a fast retreat after being freed.

Gene Ott


September 25, 2007
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