How would you schedule a snake Big Year?

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Terry
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How would you schedule a snake Big Year?

Post by Terry » September 23rd, 2013, 2:56 pm

This summer, while browsing a used bookstore, I stumbled upon Chris Scott's Snakelover's Lifelist and Journal and thought it would be a fun project to begin recording the species I find from now on. Little did I know my "fun project" would quickly become an "obsessive distraction." I'm a frequent globetrotter and salivate over the snakes I may find during an international trip to the tropics. But now I believe recording every subspecies of ringneck snake here in the USA would feel like more of an acomplishment than coming across an anaconda in the Venezuelan llanos.

I know I'm not going to find every snake in the USA in one year-it is a life list by the way-but I would really like to put a big dent in it by going hard for one year. The question then is this: Where would you go and when to find the highest diversities of snakes throughout the year?

I'll narrow the focus of the question even further by saying if you could take four trips, each two weeks in duration, when and where would they be?

Terry

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Nshepard
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Re: How would you schedule a snake Big Year?

Post by Nshepard » September 23rd, 2013, 4:55 pm

Terry wrote:I know I'm not going to find every snake in the USA in one year....
Finding every snake would be impossible.



But as far as timing, it depends on two things, 1) how variable a year it is (2013 has not be normal) and 2) where have you seen the most diversity already (unless you're just looking at total numbers of species seen in one year vs. most species you can life list in a year).

txherper
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Re: How would you schedule a snake Big Year?

Post by txherper » September 23rd, 2013, 5:40 pm

West Texas, Arizona, Snake Road and Florida.

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Re: How would you schedule a snake Big Year?

Post by justinm » September 23rd, 2013, 6:35 pm

I would want to hit the Pacific Northwest, SoCal, Az, New Mexico, and West Texas, Snake Road, all of Kansas and Missouri just because, the Smokies, then the gulf coast, and finish off in Florida. That's how I would run my big year maybe not in that order though.

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Re: How would you schedule a snake Big Year?

Post by Zach_Lim » September 23rd, 2013, 8:44 pm

Recently got that book, as well, as a gift. Fun stuff.

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azatrox
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Re: How would you schedule a snake Big Year?

Post by azatrox » September 24th, 2013, 7:52 am

If you could only herp 4 places in a year and max out on species diveristy, I think the four places would be (in no particular order):

Arizona
Florida/S. Georgia area
S. Illinois
West Texas

Keep in mind, even with the amazing diversity of these four areas, you're missing a ton of diversity in the Pacific Northwest, Midwest, etc....

You could conceivably hit the areas you missed in Year 2 and knock out the lion's share of species....

-Kris

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azatrox
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Re: How would you schedule a snake Big Year?

Post by azatrox » September 24th, 2013, 7:54 am

BTW I got that book back in the late 90s at a show....Chris signed it for me. Cool book, even if some of the info isn't completely accurate.

-Kris

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Dr. Dark
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Re: How would you schedule a snake Big Year?

Post by Dr. Dark » September 24th, 2013, 9:41 am

First on the list has GOT to be Costa Rica! In two weeks there, with some effort you could easily knock out 20-30 species of snakes, if not more! Then I would hit Florida/Georgia, Arizona and Texas.

Aaahhh, just noticed the USA qualification...my bad! Throw in Kansas then!

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Andy Avram
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Re: How would you schedule a snake Big Year?

Post by Andy Avram » September 24th, 2013, 9:48 am

Dr. Dark wrote:First on the list has GOT to be Costa Rica!
Dave, I know you love Costa Rica (rightly so) but Terry will have to wait until Costa Rica becomes the 52 state in the union for this to work.

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Re: How would you schedule a snake Big Year?

Post by txherper » September 24th, 2013, 9:54 am

Wait - I thought there were already 57.

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Re: How would you schedule a snake Big Year?

Post by will lattea » September 24th, 2013, 10:20 am

Assuming you have all the time during the year...

Start in South Texas, make your way around the gulf towards Florida and up through Georgia by March, head North up the East Coast a bit as the Spring arrives, cross over to the mid west hitting up places like Kansas before it gets too hot, then ballz to the wall up to the North West during Summer, then make it down to areas around the border in CA, AZ and NM for the monsoon season in late July/ early August, then head to West Texas around September, then make your way back through the desert hitting areas like the Great Basin and Mohave depending on what you missed during the monsoons. Then spend the winter finding a blind snake in Hawaii and hit up Puerto Rico for more blind snakes, boas, a racer, and a garter.

:beer:

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Re: How would you schedule a snake Big Year?

Post by chrish » September 24th, 2013, 8:01 pm

I have to disagree about having West Texas on the list. It is a cool place for looking for snakes, but diversity and numbers are not its strong suits. Particulary if you are going to do AZ where you would see many of the same species.

I would probably go for:

Florida (some south, some north, spring or winter, although SC/GA in the April might be produce more species overall)
South Texas (high diversity plus species that don't occur elsewhere, early spring)
Kansas (flipping in late spring can produce a fair diversity of species you would not get in the other places, late spring)
Arizona (late summer) - doing the SE and western parts of AZ would really help your species totals

If you spent a week in each of these places, you could probably maximize your species total. You could get more subspecies by traveling more, but counting subspecies is for people who can't find different species. :lol:

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Terry
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Re: How would you schedule a snake Big Year?

Post by Terry » September 25th, 2013, 1:01 pm

Thanks for the input everyone. It seems like the common thread is:

Arizona,
Florida,
W. Texas
Illinois
and Kansas making an honorable mention

Schedule-wise then, I would assume;
Arizona during the fall monsoons,
W. Texas in June (Sanderson Snake Days!),
Illinois/Kansas in the spring
and Florida in February/March?
Does that sound about right?
azatrox wrote:You could conceivably hit the areas you missed in Year 2 and knock out the lion's share of species....
I like where your mind is at!
Terry

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Re: How would you schedule a snake Big Year?

Post by chris_mcmartin » September 25th, 2013, 1:24 pm

Terry wrote:W. Texas in June (Sanderson Snake Days!),
It's actually in May next year. :shock:

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Re: How would you schedule a snake Big Year?

Post by chrish » September 25th, 2013, 2:36 pm

Terry wrote:W. Texas in June (Sanderson Snake Days!),
Snake Days is a great event, and I thoroughly recommend it, but it isn't going to be "snake diversity festival" by any means. You might get 5 species if you have a decent night. You also might see no snakes in a night of hunting. Of course, the snakes you might get can be cool.

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chris_mcmartin
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Re: How would you schedule a snake Big Year?

Post by chris_mcmartin » September 25th, 2013, 5:53 pm

chrish wrote:
Terry wrote:W. Texas in June (Sanderson Snake Days!),
Snake Days is a great event, and I thoroughly recommend it, but it isn't going to be "snake diversity festival" by any means. You might get 5 species if you have a decent night. You also might see no snakes in a night of hunting. Of course, the snakes you might get can be cool.

Individually, yes. Collectively this year from all who contributed data, I'm counting 19 species that I had reported, and there might be one or two that I don't have "officially" (like a bairdi).

There are also some cool lizards and even turtles, as well as toads.

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Re: How would you schedule a snake Big Year?

Post by justinm » September 26th, 2013, 6:10 am

Terry wrote:Thanks for the input everyone. It seems like the common thread is:

Arizona,
Florida,
W. Texas
Illinois
and Kansas making an honorable mention

Schedule-wise then, I would assume;
Arizona during the fall monsoons,
W. Texas in June (Sanderson Snake Days!),
Illinois/Kansas in the spring
and Florida in February/March?
Does that sound about right?
azatrox wrote:You could conceivably hit the areas you missed in Year 2 and knock out the lion's share of species....
I like where your mind is at!
Terry
I would change Kansas to the Spring, Illinois in the Fall. That's how I would work it Illinois can be really wet in the Spring, and cold it's hit or miss.

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Re: How would you schedule a snake Big Year?

Post by hellihooks » September 26th, 2013, 7:09 am

San Diego rocks in Winter (Jan/Feb) with great diversity. That's the place to start your year... :) jim

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chrish
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Re: How would you schedule a snake Big Year?

Post by chrish » September 26th, 2013, 10:13 am

chris_mcmartin wrote:
chrish wrote:Individually, yes. Collectively this year from all who contributed data, I'm counting 19 species that I had reported, and there might be one or two that I don't have "officially" (like a bairdi).
There are also some cool lizards and even turtles, as well as toads.
Hey, I'm a big believer of Snake Days, but I'm not sure how finding lizards and toads helps with a big snake year unless you need bait. :lol:

A big HERP year would be more interesting, IMHO and you could pretty much go 12 months of they year. But the suggested locations would need to change. I would trade west texas for the southern Appalachians in that case.

I say for your big snake (or herp) year to be "official" every taxon you count has to be vouchered into the HERP database. We could make this a continual annual contest.

Actually, if I were trying to schedule a big snake year, I would just follow Brian Hubbs around for a year. :lol:

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Re: How would you schedule a snake Big Year?

Post by Fieldherper » September 26th, 2013, 11:33 am

My "Big Snake Year" within the U.S. would be as follows:

January/Feb-Florida/Georgia
March-Coastal Southern CA / CA desert
April-CA mountains/ AZ
May-Kansas, Nebraska, Missouri, Iowa
June/July-W. and South Texas/NM
August-Mid September-AZ/UT
Mid Sept-October Carolinas
November-Georgia/Florida
December-South Texas


Some repeats, but I feel that this is optimum timing for diversity/numbers.

Oh to have the time and $

FH

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Re: How would you schedule a snake Big Year?

Post by chris_mcmartin » September 26th, 2013, 1:08 pm

chrish wrote:Hey, I'm a big believer of Snake Days, but I'm not sure how finding lizards and toads helps with a big snake year unless you need bait. :lol:
Just trying to broaden the aperture a bit. 8-)

I say for your big snake (or herp) year to be "official" every taxon you count has to be vouchered into the HERP database. We could make this a continual annual contest.
Interesting idea...I'd be willing to pay to play on that, with first/second/third finishers getting a cash prize and plaque, and the proceeds going towards some sort of conservation/education measure. Of course, I would have no chance of winning, but I think people besides myself would contribute.

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Terry
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Re: How would you schedule a snake Big Year?

Post by Terry » September 26th, 2013, 6:11 pm

quote="chris_mcmartin"]
chrish wrote:I say for your big snake (or herp) year to be "official" every taxon you count has to be vouchered into the HERP database. We could make this a continual annual contest.
That sounds a lot like the Big Year birders have from my understanding. Its a good idea.
Fieldherper wrote:My "Big Snake Year" within the U.S. would be as follows:

January/Feb-Florida/Georgia
March-Coastal Southern CA / CA desert
April-CA mountains/ AZ
May-Kansas, Nebraska, Missouri, Iowa
June/July-W. and South Texas/NM
August-Mid September-AZ/UT
Mid Sept-October Carolinas
November-Georgia/Florida
December-South Texas
I think this is a good start. Let the planning begin!

Terry

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Re: How would you schedule a snake Big Year?

Post by cbernz » September 27th, 2013, 6:35 am

Does anyone know what the record is for finding North American snakes in a year? Or for herps in general?

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Re: How would you schedule a snake Big Year?

Post by justinm » September 27th, 2013, 7:50 am

Pingleton or Hubbs usually have that honor, you can check their NAFHA records, these two manage to get out and around a lot.

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chrish
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Re: How would you schedule a snake Big Year?

Post by chrish » September 27th, 2013, 7:39 pm

chris_mcmartin wrote:I'd be willing to pay to play on that, with first/second/third finishers getting a cash prize and plaque, and the proceeds going towards some sort of conservation/education measure. Of course, I would have no chance of winning, but I think people besides myself would contribute.
Interesting idea again. I think we should expand it to several categories:

- Big Herp Year
- Big Snake Year
- Big Reptile Year
- Big Amphibian Year, etc.

We would have to set some geographic boundaries. I think having Mexico in there would be fun, but unfair for anyone who had the opportunity to herp there.

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Re: How would you schedule a snake Big Year?

Post by Coluber Constrictor » September 28th, 2013, 7:13 am

Not quite a Big Year, but my dream herping year would probably be the Everglades and keys in Jan/Feb, Gulf states in March/April, summer in the Southern Appalachians, Snake Road in early fall, then back down to the Gulf Coast.

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Re: How would you schedule a snake Big Year?

Post by Mike Pingleton » October 5th, 2013, 4:29 pm

I've had this Big Year discussion with a number of field herpers over the years. I'm still tempted to try it in a few years when I retire. However, I wouldn't limit the effort to snakes - I'd go for ALL the herps. All of them. Go big or go home. (Yes I know, that's not bloody likely, but you gotta dream big).

I would be in south Florida on January 1st, and probably depending on the kindnesses of friends and strangers from day one :)

-Mike

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