Herping in Hellhole with Holmes - 2004

By Gene Ott

Saturday afternoon, May 22, 2004

After rest and refreshment at the motel, we gathered again at the campground about 5:00 P.M. A few other attendees (including Jeff's sister, Jackie, and Kevin Leftwich,freshwater ecologist with the National Forest Service) had now increased our numbers. Jeff told us of Yellow Rat Snakes and other herps he had seen while we had been napping. I asked Jeff to save the next Rat Snake so I could get some new pictures for the website. We divided into three or four groups and setout cruising again.

Our first find was a good-sized, beautiful Yellow Rat Snake.

We drove back through the wetter areas of Hellhole Road. More small Alligators were seen. (I never was able to get my camera setup in time to catch an image of a gator.)

We headed to the location where we had found the fighting Cottonmouths this morning. Ed immediately called out a Cottonmouth sighting. It was basking in the dry ditch on the opposite side of road from where the males had been this morning. This was now the sunny side of the road.

While the rest of the group were getting a better look at the Cottonmouth, I searched under some dead wood and trash along the roadside. Under a discarded piece of drywall, I found an adult Southern Ringneck Snake.

The others joined me to view the Ringneck while Win walked back to the van. While taking some pictures, I saw a large, dark snake crossing the road about 300 feet away. I called and motioned for Win to come quickly. Win drove past us and corralled the snake. It was a large Cottonmouth.

After dark, we made the final find in our trifecta of swamp snakes, the Glossy Crayfish Snake. The little snake lay rigid in the road. At first, we thought it must be a very large Black Swamp Snake, but a look in light quickly told us otherwise.

We continued looking for herps and other wildlife until about 10:00 P.M. I do not remember any new finds. Returning to the campground, we prepared supper. We ate hotdogs and relaxed. Jeff brought out his guitar and sang to us. His congestion and sore throat limited his performance to about six songs. He thought his voice was not up to par, but I thought he sounded great.

Good herping, good company, and good entertainment...it don't get no better than that!

Continue To Sunday morning, May 23, 2004

May 31, 2004
Contact: South Carolina Reptiles and Amphibians