SC Reptiles and Amphibians


November 2009

Gene's Notes:

During the three weeks of November, the leaves around home were gorgeous. Then we received the heaviest rainfall in many years, 4 inches in one day. The farm pond filled and many leaves were knocked down. The latter part of the month presented alternating warm beautiful days and cold rainy days.

November 3rd, was a beautiful, warm day. I traveled to the Aiken State Natural Area to see if I could find some herps. I did not see many herps, but had an enjoyable outing. I found a little caterpiller (right) hanging form a silk thread. While looking around near the South Edisto River which borders the park, I heard a loud splashing sound. At first I thought a deer might be swimming across the swollen river. However, the sound continued repetitively as a splashing followed by silence. Upon investigation I found a tree log which was caught at just the right position for the rushing water to sink it and then release it to pop back above the surface.

On November 15th, Win found a "crazy" American Coot (below) in Lake Thurmond. The Coot undoubtedly was sick with avian vacuolar myelinopathy (AVM). AVM causes the birds to fly or swim erratically. Bald Eagles find sick Coots easy prey and become sick themselves from eating them. The end result for infected birds is death. Win gave the sick Coot to agency biologists.

Caterpiller found hanging by a thread.

Probable AVM infected American Coot.

On November 19th, a large flock of Wild Turkeys passed through my front yard.

On November 20th, I traveled a few miles to Ware Shoals to see the heaviest load (below) ever transported over SC roads, 1.9 million pounds. The load consisted of 2 stators for a new Duke Energy coal-fired steam generator in North Carolina plus the frame used to cradle the stators. The load was supported by a many-wheeled barge on its front and rear. Propulsion was provided by 2 large trucks pulling at the front and two more pushing the rear. The load and its many support vehicles formed an impressive parade. I viewed the load as it was being manuvered along a short detour around a bridge over US highway 25.

I decided to get a new camera, a DSLR. To get it, I mortgaged my Christmas and birthday presents for many years to come. I got a Nikon D90, plus a 100-300 mm telephoto lens. The D90 is not a full professional level camera, but close. I received the camera before Thanksgiving, but did not have time to really use it until after the holiday. I am pleased with it and hope to make an order of magnitude improvement in the quality of images that I can make.

My wife and I spent several days preparing for a family dinner on Thanksgiving Day, November 26th. I believe the dinner was a success, but the two of us were very tired afterward. I used my new camera for a few pictures and let my 8-year old granddaughter use the better of my older cameras to make some images. She is turning into a good photographer.

As my daughter and family left to go home about 4 pm, they found a young Eastern Rat Snake, about 3 feet long, in the road near our driveway. Unfortunately the snake had been run over and was in its death throws.

My granddaughter stayed over with us Thanksgiving night. The next morning, I was thrilled to capture good images of a "V" formation of Canada Geese (below). In the afternoon, my granddaughter and I walked about the farm to see what we could photograph. We took some images of a Carolina Wren as it scurried about exposed tree roots along a stream bank. Then, we found a large Slimy Salamander (below, right) under a coverboard. My granddaughter was thrilled to find the bones of a dead bull. Later, we found a Green Anole basking in the last sunlight of the day.

Early the next workweek, a fellow worker brought to Win a Brown Snake that was found over the holidays.

Massive load being moved.

Canada Geese Formation.

Slimy Salamander.

In the morning on November 28th, I visited the Saluda River at Ware Shoals to try out my new camera on birds. After leaving the river, I stopped at a public boat ramp on Lake Greenwood. I captured some good images of ducks, geese, Turkey Vultures, Red-bellied Woodpecker, Pine Warbler, Eastern Phoebe, and a Gray Squirrel.

That same afternoon, I searched some local roads hoping to find some wintering hawks. I saw a Kestrel, but it was too far off the road to get a good image. Then, I came upon a group of Black Vultures eating a roadkill Raccoon (right). Although not what many consider a beautiful image, I thought the scene was poignant.

Black Vultures eating Raccoon.

December 04, 2009
Contact: South Carolina Reptiles and Amphibians

Return to SC Reptiles and Amphibians Observations Page

Return to SC Reptiles and Amphibians Home Page