SC Reptiles and Amphibians


April 2010

Gene's Notes:

On May 8 - 9th, I attended a SCAN field trip to the Marsh Wildlife Management Area in Marion County. The property borders the Peedee River and was formerly a hunting preserve owned by the Marsh Furniture Company of Highpoint, NC. The property is now managed by the SC DNR. Attendees were invited to spend the night in a rustic lodge facility on sight.

Around 20 SCAN members participated in the field trip. I believe we all had a wonderful time. Many plant, bird, and insect species were identified. We did not see as many herps as I had hoped, but we did see a respectable number. Female Yellowbelly Sliders were about in large numbers seeking to dig nests and lay their eggs. Anoles, skinks, and racerunner lizards were routed. On Saturday evening, we took a twilight cruise on property roads. We found a Mud Turtle, Black Racer, Southern Copperhead (right), and two Eastern Rat Snakes (aka, Yellow Rat Snakes). During an after dark visit to a wetland, a Banded Water Snake was found. On Sunday, I found a couple of Eastern Box Turtles. During the two days, we also saw and/or heard Green and Gray Treefrogs, Cricket Frogs, and Southern Toads. An expected snake species which we did not see was the Cottonmouth. An interesting bird species seen was the Mississippi Kite. I also was able to capture my first image of a Northern Parula Warbler.

Adult Southern Copperhead

Predator Apprehended

At the end of April, Win and I found that a predator was eating our laying hens. For several nights, I locked the remaining hens inside the coop and set a live capture trap blocking the entrance way. No capture but also no more losses. We had a day of thunderstorms and rain. I did not lockup the hens and set the trap. That evening, two more hens were eaten. Next I located the trap such that its entrance covered the hole under the wire through which we thought the predator was gaining entry in to the run. For several days there was no further predation and no capture. Then we found a large Opossum in the trap. We also found that two more hens had been eaten. When the trap closed, it opened a crack in the blockage to the entry hole. Either the predator had entered after the Opossum was captured or it had found another way into the run. We released the Opossum a distance away and blocked the entry hole under the wire. A day or two later, we found two more hens eaten. I went back to my original plan locked the remaining hens in the coop and blocked the entrance with the set trap. After a couple of days of this procedure, we found a Raccoon (left) in the trap. We had the Raccoon released on property several miles away. I made more reinforcements to the pen wire. We have had no more predation.

On May 17th, my wife and I watched four rabbits frolicking in our yard and flower garden in late afternoon (right).

Dragonflies and butterflies have been plentiful on the farm. I have been increasing my collection of their images. We had large hatchings of Question Mark and Mourning Cloak Butterflies at the farm.

On May 23th at Lake Greenwood, I captured images of Cliff Swallows collecting mud to build their nests.

On the farm and locally, we have seen a few snakes, including Eastern Rat Snakes, Black Racers, Eastern King Snakes, and Worm Snakes. Bullfrogs, Green Frogs, Cricket Frogs, Green and Gray Treefrogs have been singing.

From May 28th to 31st, I participated in the 9th annual "Under a Low Country Moon" Hell Hole Swamp nature intrepretive weekend. This year, my wife, Carolyn, and granddaughter, Greer, went with me. Win also participated.

More than 20 persons attended the weekend, and I believe we all had a great time. We did not see any new species of herps, but we did find a good number and variety. We also had several birders in attendance. I got some interesting photographs, including a ground-level, frontal image of a juvenile Alligator.

Frolicking Eastern Cottontails

June 09, 2010
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