SC Reptiles and Amphibians


April 2009

Gene's Notes:

March rains bring April flowers. The Redbud Trees were beautiful during the last weeks of March. The first week of April brought warm weather and flowering Dogwood Trees, Mayapples, and Trout Lilies.

April 4th was a very nice day which I spent mostly working on the yard. I did take time to flip a few boards and logs. I found an adult female Worm Snake near a shed and a 2008 juvenile Worm Snake in a creek bottom. I also saw an adult Eastern Rat Snake (aka Black Rat) soaking up sun on the edge of a woodland road. All three snakes were in excellent condition.

On Easter Day, April 12th, we had a family midday dinner at the farm. Before we were ready to eat, Hope, my daughter-in-law, came into the house excitedly asking for binoculars. She had spotted a Scissor-tailed Flycatcher in the yard. Scissor-tails are infrequent visitors to South Carolina. We all rushed to see the bird. I was able to snap a few decent images before it disappeared. We have not seen it since.

On Friday, April 17th, I had the opportunity to briefly join Win on his survey of the Steven's Creek Reservoir located on the Savannah River between Augusta, GA and the Lake Thurmond Dam. This is a wonderful run-of-the-river hydro reservoir. I enjoyed seeing Ospreys fishing and many, many basking Cooters and Sliders. We searched the shoreline and found what we expected, basking Brown Water Snakes.

About a week later, April 23rd, Win performed another survey at Steven's Creek Reservoir. He saw a White-tailed Deer sporting emerging antlers on the shore. Near the boat ramp, he saw an old Eastern Box Turtle moving about.

The next day, April 24th, Win found a Cottonmouth in Lake Thurmond. Win has been performing fishermen surveys in the lake, year around, for about the last two years. This is the only Cottonmouth he has seen in the Lake.

On Monday, April 27th, Win conducted another survey at the Steven's Creek Reservoir. On his trip down to the lake, he spotted a very strange creature dead on the road. He stopped to get a better look and make a positive ID. It was a Patagonian Cavy! Patagonian Cavies are native to Argentina and are closely related to Guinea Pigs. They are sometimes described as a cross between a rabbit and a kangaroo. These animals have been seen running wild in the area over the years. Whether they are just recently escaped pets or a breeding population is not known.

While on the reservoir, Win spotted a large Cottonmouth hunting the shoreline. At the boat ramp, he heard the distinctive sound of a snake crawling in grass. Freezing in place, he waited until he spotted a large Black Racer. The snake had the tail of a Rough Green Snake protruding from its mouth. A few minutes later he saw a smaller Black Racer approach and travel a circuit around the first snake and himself. Win figured the smaller snake was a male scoping out a potential mate. Deciding that he was not going to be eaten, the smaller Racer approached the larger.

Before leaving the reservoir area, Win searched a nearby wetland. Beside a log, he found a juvenile Cottonmouth.

After the interesting sightings that Win made the day before, I decided to join him on Tuesday, the 28th, after he finished another survey at Steven's Creek Reservoir. In the interim between this visit and my visit eleven days previously a large Mulberry Tree had fruited. Cedar Waxwings were busy eating the berries. Walking around the boat landing, I saw an Eastern Ribbon Snake dead on the road. Herons, Egrets, and Cormorants were nesting in the adjacent wetlands. A cruise on the lake did not yield any sightings of snakes. We did see several deer on the shoreline and many Cave Swallows nesting beneath bridges.

On my journey to and from the reservoir, I saw a handful of DOR snakes, including a Mole Kingsnake, Eastern Kingsnake, and several black snakes which I did not stop to determine if racer or rat. I also saw a DOR Armadillo.

The last two weeks of April were warm and beautiful. The trees are fully clothed. Near my home, I have seen several DOR black snakes and several DOR Copperheads.

May 01, 2009
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