SC Reptiles and Amphibians


July 2008

Gene's Notes:

At the farm, we did not get any significant rain during June. July began with the flow in the large creek bordering the farm disappearing. On July 02nd, there was only a trickle of flow (right). Our farm is about 8 river miles below a multi-use reservoir. Having the same situation occur last summer, I suspected that the dam operators for the reservoir had failed to open or had shut off a flow release gate. Since the July 4th holiday was close at hand, I immediately drove to the reservoir and confirmed that no flow was being discharged. After speaking with the dam operator, the gate was opened to allow a small amount of water release.

On Sunday, July 06th, while checking on our tomato garden, I spotted a Yellowbelly Slider digging a nest hole (left). I immediately stopped my truck and sat there for 45 minutes while she completed digging, laid her eggs, and then covered the nest. After she had finished, the location of the nest could only be discerned by the increased moisture left in the soil (below). Female turtles start their hunt for a nesting location with an over-full bladder. The turtle empties her bladder into the soil to soften the soil so she can dig a nest hole.

Later, I drove to the large creek "to see what I could see." On a large sandbar, I saw a clutch of about 20 eggs laid by a Gulfcoast Softshell Turtle. The eggs were uncovered. Upon inspection, I was surprised to see that the eggs had not been raided. The eggs were dry and appeared to have been laid some days earlier. I surmise that the female had been frightened away before she could cover the eggs.

On Wednesday, July 09th, Win called me at home and told me to get my camera and come down to his house asap. When I got there, he said a Black Rat Snake (aka, Chicken Snake) was raiding the nest of one of his "free range" hens. Win said the hen was still on the nest when he first saw the snake. Win snapped a good image of the snake eating the first of two eggs in the nest (right). I saw the snake moving the first egg down its throat. I took some images as the snake ate the remaining egg.

Deer have been active around the farm. On Thursday, July 17th, I was fortunate to capture an image of a doe and her 2 fawns near my house (left).

The continuing dry weather greatly retarded snake activity, although I did see a Northern Water Snake foraging in the farm pond on the 17th. Most of my nature photography has focused upon insects, especially dragonflies.

On July 22nd, we finally received a good rain, approximately 1 inch. The next day, I found a dead Redbelly Water Snake in one of the vegetable gardens. I expect it was the same one I had seen a week or so earlier as it darted out of the garden into the woods. I saw no injury marks on the snake. I left it there. Durng the day, ants feasted on the carcus. The next morning the carcus was gone, probably carried away by a larger scavenger.

The next evening, July 24th, I cruised local roads and found a young AOR Copperhead. The following evening, Friday, July 24th, I took my granddaughter with me as we cruised about "to see what we can see." Very quickly we found a young adult Black Rat Snake crossing the road. We saw a rabbit and many Fowlers Toads. Our final observation was an Opossum.

The next morning, my granddaughter found a Stag Beetle on the porch. On the evening of July 30th, I road cruised again, finding another young Copperhead.

On Thurday, July 31th, I visited Musgrove Mill State Historic Site. Win had presented a herp program there the day before and told me that the students pointed out bats roosting in the porch rafters. I could not resist getting some images of the bats (right). I found two groups of bats on adjacent sides of two rafters. There were a dozen or more bats. I think the bats were Little Brown Bats, Myotis lucifugus.

Win has finished the last of 7 herp talks he made to various camp groups around the western piedmont.


July 31, 2008
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