New Territory

Last year, after the close of the Hellhole gathering, I scouted an area of the forest that I had never visited, but which looked interesting on a map. I decided to visit this area first this year. It turned out to be very productive. This area was similar to Hellhole Road in that it has a forest road bisecting the bay. This area was not part of the wilderness area, which was evidenced by the trash that was deposited in many locations.

I came upon the first of many Wild Turkeys that I would see during the weekend. These turkeys wanted to run.

Each day during the weekend, I returned to this area and found something new.

Like Hellhole, the long straight road was constructed with ditches on each side. The area was drying up faster than Hellhole, but still contained enough water to sustain some aquatic life, at least for most of the weekend. These tadpoles were staring death in the face. In another area, I found hundreds of fingerling Bowfin Fish facing the same fate.

The natural stress being levied upon the water-bound species created a smorgasbord for predators to feast upon. Great Egrets, Great Blue Herons, and Wood Storks stuffed themselves. By Sunday morning, they had apparently consumed so much that they just roosted in the trees rather than feeding.

A Raccoon came to the ditch while I watched. It was so busy feeding that it paid little attention to me as I snapped images from my van window.

Under a discarded piece of carpet on the roadside, I found a male Five-lined Skink, a young Southern Ringneck Snake, and an Eastern Narrow-mouth Toad.

Each day during the weekend, I returned to this area and found something new.

Saturday morning, I found a large Cottonmouth caught in an abandoned fish trap. I had seen the trap Friday and the snake was not in it. I pulled the trap from the water, and with the help of fellow participant, Ellen, I freed the snake from the trap. Also in the trap were about a dozen small bream, all alive, and three empty turtle shells.

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SC Reptiles and Amphibians: Hellhole 2007