The Best of the Midwest: My 2013 Year in Review

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ChadHarrison
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The Best of the Midwest: My 2013 Year in Review

Post by ChadHarrison » November 7th, 2013, 7:52 pm

It's sweater season here in Illinois, so I think it's about time to sit down, have a beer, and write up my first "year in review" post on this forum. This year was a fantastic year; one full of some really spectacular lifers. I'm quite sad to see it end, as I didn't finish out with some big target species. Herps including Farancia abacura, Sistrurus miliarius streckeri, Ambystoma annulatum, Clonophis kirtlandi, Opheodrys vernalis, etc. still remain some of the last midwestern herp species I haven't seen in the wild. However, I was fortunate enough to really clean house on the rest of the cool midwest herp species. Oh well. Lets get to it!

NOTE: Any TNE species pictured here were either left in-situ or handled with the necessary permits.

The year started out cold, with a snowy salamander trip to the Eastern border of Illinois.

The first salamanders seen were these Spotted Salamanders (Ambystoma maculatum)
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A few logs later revealed the rarest salamander in the state, and quite a treat.

The Silvery Salamander (Ambystoma platineum)
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Distinguishable from the Smallmouth salamander by the leaner body, longer toes and face, and the lack of lower jaw protrusion
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Some more Spotted Salamanders and a Smallmouth Salamander (Ambystoma texanum) made an appearance
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A glade in Missouri turned out to be quite unproductive, as I'd expected. For as early in the year as it was, I'm surprised we even found this little Speckled Kingsnake (Lampropeltis getula holbrookii)
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Of course, the obligatory Western Slimy Salamanders (Plethodon albagula)
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Later on, another very rare find. Illinois only Desmog. The Spotted Dusky Salamander (Desmognathus conanti)
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I quickly learned that I am the worlds worst salamander photographer.

Later on, some more Southern Illinois antics brought some of the usual suspects.

The "Shawnee" Kingsnake, an ugly Speckled Kingsnake/Black kingsnake intergrade
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Marbled Salamanders (Ambystoma opacum)
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Northern Slimy Salamanders (Plethodon glutinosus)
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This next animal has eluded me for years, so I was quite thrilled to pick up a trap in a road side ditch to see his big ugly mug.

The Lesser Siren (Siren intermedia)
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Slimy little bastard.
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And of course, the plethora of Cottonmouths that LaRue has to offer.

Agkistrodon piscivorus leucostoma
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A Wild Peter Paplanus appears!
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This next one was a real thrill to see, as well. A group including myself, Peter Paplanus, Carl Koch, James Mick, and Justin Elden trudged through the freezing night time water in a duck marsh in search of this frog. It sucked. But it was a great time, and certainly not in vain. We were rewarded with another rare midwestern species,

the Crawfish Frog (Lithobates areolata circulosa)
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The Eastern Massasauga Rattlesnake, for me, has always been the one animal in the field guide that was particularly captivating to young Chad. Flipping through that book as often as I did often lead to the extended gawking at the very last pages, daydreaming about seeing such an incredible snake when I grew up. Well I eventually grew up. However, in those 15 or so years, the Eastern Massasauga populations had decreased dramatically. Thankfully, some researchers were so kind as to let us search with them and successfully made my whole year.

The Eastern Massasauga Rattlesnake (Sistrurus catenatus catenatus)
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One of the researchers spotted this snake buried deep in the grass. Mid-stride....Wearing sunglasses. Only a few scales were even distinguishable from the substrate. It was seriously impressive.
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After some SERIOUS searching, I thought are day would be up and I would never get to spot one on my own. Dylan Cebulski and I were about the only two left searching after everyone had given up. Persistence eventually paid off when I spotted this large adult tucked up against a cluster of Blue Stem after the sun tucked itself behind the clouds.
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The same adult
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And another individual
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Same snake
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What a thrilling and excellent learning experience! Thanks again to the gentlemen that made it possible.

NOTE: If you haven't seen it yet, I have thrown together a donation to help the endangered Eastern Massasauga. All the proceeds will go towards any and all research being conducted on the Eastern Massasauga Rattlesnake in Illinois. Read more about it here, you will find all the specifics: http://www.fieldherpforum.com/forum/vie ... =2&t=17830

Back on track with several Common Snapping Turtles (Chelydra serpentina)
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Midwestern Wormsnakes were common (Carphophis amoenus helenae)
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Even ran into some strange toad from Mars. Turned out to be an Eastern Spadefoot

Scaphiopus holbrooki
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Being a goofball
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Met up with Todd McKinney one morning and turned up this beautiful Red Milksnake

Lampropeltis triangulum syspila
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Todd shooting the milkshake
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Dale with a large Black Racer (Coluber constrictor priapus)
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And then something really cool happened. We happened upon a population of Flat-headed snakes. A species not known to the area until Ryan Thies turned one up in 2012. I have since found 10 individuals at this location.

Tantilla gracilis
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Love the venter on these dudes
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Black Ratsnakes were in no shortage this year

(Scotophis obsoletus)
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One spring morning, James Mick, Justin Elden, Peter Paplanus and I hit our favorite glade in Southeastern Missouri and just totally nailed it. Species included:

The Great Plains Ratsnake (Pantherophis emoryi)
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Justin feeling cheeky
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The Eastern Collared Lizard (Crotaphytus collaris)
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An ugly, in shed yearling Speckled Kingsnake (Lampropeltis getula holbrookii)
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The real treat of the day happened just as we all realized how exhausted we really were. I flipped a big rock, using most of the energy I had left, to reveal this 5 and 1/2" Eastern Coachwhip

Coluber [Masticophis] flagellum
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I may or may not have been really stoked.
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Incredible beasty. I guess the snake was okay, too.
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Another small rock revealed this nice Red Milksnake
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Another outing with just Peter and I produced some nice glade inhabitants as well

Speckled Kingsnake
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Lined Snake (Tropidoclonion lineatum)
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Ventral view
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Osage Copperhead (Agkistrodon contortrix phaeogaster)
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Western Slimy Salamander and his buddy the Cave Salamander (Eurycea lucifiga)
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Tarantulas are never hard to come by on the glades
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More Osage Copperheads
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Prairie Racerunner (Cnemidophorus sexlineatus viridis)
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Western Wormsnake (Carphophis amoenus vermis)
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Osage Copperhead with what looks like a funky fungal infection (Hopefully not Ophidiomyces sp.)
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Red Milkshake
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Some other odds and ends. Here is another Flat-headed snake from another outing
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I wonder why they're called Copperheads?
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Mink buddy! Taken with an 18-55mm lens, to give you some reference how much personal space was invaded.
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Blue Racer (Coluber constrictor foxii)
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Juvenile Blue Racer
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Rough Green Snake (Opheodrys aestivus)
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Prairie Kingsnake (Lampropeltis calligaster)
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Eastern Hognose Snake (Heterodon platirhinos)
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I spent some time in Northwestern Illinois in the Nachusa Grasslands, a natural area and project by the Nature Conservancy. I worked as a Herpetological Field Technician, radio tracking Ornate Box Turtles. It was an awesome experience. Some of the encountered critters include:

The Fox Snake (Pantherophis vulpinus)
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Move over, ragweed. The Ornate Box Turtle is in town!

Terrapene ornata
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E-NORM-OUS Eastern hognose
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Ornata profile
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The Blue Racers up north were very interesting
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I spent some quality time playin' in the sand with wildman, Sean Childers. We turned up some interesting stuff:

Eastern hognose
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A cranky Bullsnake (Pituophis catenifer sayi)
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The rain brought out some Eastern Milk Snakes (Lampropeltis triangulum triangulum)
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Boxie in habitat
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Ornate Box turtle
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One hungry Western Hognose (Heterodon nasicus)
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And one....not so hungry Western Hognose
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Nice mask on this Blue Racer
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More milkshakes
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The Slender Glass Lizard (Ophisaurus attenuatus) was an interesting find
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The dudes with some milkshakes
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A nice fox snake cruised one night
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I took a trip up to Wisconsin to give Carl Koch a visit. We had a blast!

Here is a Butler's Garter Snake (Thamnophis butleri)
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We ran into this big girl along with two other WAY prettier individuals; all about ready to burst with little babies.

The Timber Rattlesnake (Crotalus horridus)
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Female Eastern hognose burrowing
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Gravid Red-bellied snake (Storeria occipitomaculata)
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Nice sized hoggie
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Me with the Eastern Hognose
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Spent some time tracking the Blanding's Turtle (Emydoidea blandingi) as well
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Here is a Three Toed Box turtle because why not?
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In late June, Justin Elden, Will Condit and I packed up and headed for New Orleans to attend IHS. We met a lot of great people and heard a lot of spectacular talks. We also saw some herps! Even though the weather was absolutely ATROCIOUS.

Ran into this little homie crossing the road

Alligator mississippiensis
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If I'd have known we weren't going to see any LIVE snakes, I'd have taken better photos of what we did see.

Here is a Broad-banded watersnake (Nerodia fasciata confluens)
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Eastern narrowmouth toad (Gastrophryne carolinensis)
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Diamondback Watersnake (Nerodia rhombifer)
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Into Mississippi!

Gulf Coast Box Turtle
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Buncha Copperheads
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Northern Scarlet Snake (Cemophora coccinea copei)
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The evening before we hit the road for the NAFHA 2013 trip to NC, I decided to stop off at Snake road for an hour or so.

Western Cottonmouth
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Timber rattlesnake number 1
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Timber number 2
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The second one had some interesting pattern going on
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Oh. More copperheads.
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Into NC!

Golden Orb-Weaver
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Some big ugly ratsnake intergrade
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Spotted turtle (Clemmys gutatta)
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Corn Snake (Pantherophis gutatta)
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Eastern Cottonmouth (Agkistrodon piscivorus piscivorus)
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This lovely Eastern Kingsnake was found (Lampropeltis getula)
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Eastern Glass Lizard (Ophisaurus ventralis)
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And of course, the treasure that made the whole (relatively unproductive) trip worth it:

The Carolina Pygmy Rattlesnake (Sistrurus miliarius miliarius)
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Comparison between a couple individuals
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If I'd have known this was the only one to be found, I'd have taken better pictures. But alas, there was road cruising to be done.

Scarlet Kingsnake (Lampropeltis elapsoides)
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Fancy photo session with an Eastern Gartersnake
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Larger Eastern Glass Lizard
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Young and EXTREMELY uncooperative Corn Snake
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Go ahead and try, little buddy.
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Young Southern Copperhead
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Quick stop in the Smokies!

Blue Ridged Two-lined Salamander (Eurycea wilderae)
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I have no idea which Desmog. this is. ID's are welcome!
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Again, ID's are welcome
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Pygmy Salamander (Desmognathus wrighti)
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And some final Southern IL odds and ends:

Copperheads a-plenty!
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More Tantilla!
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Rough green snake
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Big ugly Red milkshake
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A beautiful young Timber Rattlesnake
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A nice Green Tree Frog (Hyla cinerea)
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Another Shawnee Kingsnake (Lampropeltis getula holbrookii X Lampropeltis getula nigra)
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A pleasant surprise was this lovely Bird-Voiced Tree Frog (Hyla avivoca)
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Thank you all for taking the time to look. I hope you enjoyed the post! We'll end on a good note with the final Timber Rattlesnake seen this year. My best to all of you

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- Chad

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MattSullivan
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Re: The Best of the Midwest: My 2013 Year in Review

Post by MattSullivan » November 7th, 2013, 8:08 pm

nice job dude, pretty kick ass year. im jealous of 95% of your finds

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DracoRJC
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Re: The Best of the Midwest: My 2013 Year in Review

Post by DracoRJC » November 7th, 2013, 8:12 pm

Good stuff homie. Hope I can herp with yall again sometime!

Ryan

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Tuataurifer
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Re: The Best of the Midwest: My 2013 Year in Review

Post by Tuataurifer » November 7th, 2013, 8:25 pm

The best part of the year for me was meeting you guys and getting to consider yall as some of my best buds. Also, that gross, pink haired Dude in NOLA.

Awesome year bro, lets make next season even better! :beer:

ChadHarrison
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Re: The Best of the Midwest: My 2013 Year in Review

Post by ChadHarrison » November 7th, 2013, 9:27 pm

Tuataurifer wrote:The best part of the year for me was meeting you guys and getting to consider yall as some of my best buds. Also, that gross, pink haired Dude in NOLA.

Awesome year bro, lets make next season even better! :beer:
Best part of mine too, mane. Lets rip it up in florida this spring.

Ben
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Re: The Best of the Midwest: My 2013 Year in Review

Post by Ben » November 7th, 2013, 10:54 pm

Awesome looking year, man! I need to get back east again sometime. I'm jealous of a good many of those finds. Wish we could have made the Texas thing work out and gotten you some western stuff to add. Maybe next year! :)

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Todd McKinney
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Re: The Best of the Midwest: My 2013 Year in Review

Post by Todd McKinney » November 8th, 2013, 4:27 am

Damn dude did you have time to eat or sleep during this epicness!

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peterknuteberg
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Re: The Best of the Midwest: My 2013 Year in Review

Post by peterknuteberg » November 8th, 2013, 6:19 am

Chad, I thoroughly enjoyed your post. I too had looked at books and dreamed of seeing an E. Massasauga. It is a shame that they have disappeared so quickly and that society, for the most part, doesn't even care or even know. Am I imagining or did I see your photography skills improving as the year progressed?

It is also good that you still have some animals on that list of "seeking and have not found--YET". This will keep you looking and enjoying the great outdoors. Nice work. Hope to see you out in the field next spring. Peter.

Heaven
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Re: The Best of the Midwest: My 2013 Year in Review

Post by Heaven » November 8th, 2013, 7:49 am

WOW, so much variety. I'm jealous! Thanks for sharing.

ChadHarrison
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Re: The Best of the Midwest: My 2013 Year in Review

Post by ChadHarrison » November 8th, 2013, 8:11 am

Thank you for the kind words, everybody.
peterknuteberg wrote:Chad, I thoroughly enjoyed your post. I too had looked at books and dreamed of seeing an E. Massasauga. It is a shame that they have disappeared so quickly and that society, for the most part, doesn't even care or even know. Am I imagining or did I see your photography skills improving as the year progressed?

It is also good that you still have some animals on that list of "seeking and have not found--YET". This will keep you looking and enjoying the great outdoors. Nice work. Hope to see you out in the field next spring. Peter.
Peter, your eyes did not deceive you. I had just purchased my new camera this January. So I am still getting the hang of the DSLR world. It was good to meet you at the Road this year. Hope to see you again, as well.
Ben wrote:Awesome looking year, man! I need to get back east again sometime. I'm jealous of a good many of those finds. Wish we could have made the Texas thing work out and gotten you some western stuff to add. Maybe next year! :)
Thanks Ben. I was pretty bummed we couldn't make that happen. Next year, it's going down for sure. I'll let you know!

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justinm
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Re: The Best of the Midwest: My 2013 Year in Review

Post by justinm » November 8th, 2013, 10:38 am

Chad,

You've had a great year, worth celebrating. I like your enthusiasm for sure. Thanks for throwing in the smaller hard to photo fossorial snakes, I really do love seeing those even vicariously. Sorry that I didn't get to see you this year.


Justin

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IllinoisGuy
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Re: The Best of the Midwest: My 2013 Year in Review

Post by IllinoisGuy » November 8th, 2013, 1:58 pm

Wow, you totally killed it this year. Hands down, great post!

-Edward

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Tuataurifer
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Re: The Best of the Midwest: My 2013 Year in Review

Post by Tuataurifer » November 8th, 2013, 7:13 pm

For the record, Guy was around for the IHS LA/MS trip.
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ChadHarrison
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Re: The Best of the Midwest: My 2013 Year in Review

Post by ChadHarrison » November 8th, 2013, 11:01 pm

Yeah he was! Guy rocks. I'm glad we ran into him. There are a lot of photos of people I'd have loved to include in this post, but there were too many herps to include. It was already large enough. I wanted to keep it relatively controlled.

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DaneConley
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Re: The Best of the Midwest: My 2013 Year in Review

Post by DaneConley » November 9th, 2013, 8:15 am

Dude, pretty sweet post and I am thoroughly jealous of pretty much everything.

Next year we going herping and finding some real snake this time okay? Ok.

ChadHarrison
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Re: The Best of the Midwest: My 2013 Year in Review

Post by ChadHarrison » November 10th, 2013, 6:27 pm

DaneConley wrote:Dude, pretty sweet post and I am thoroughly jealous of pretty much everything.

Next year we going herping and finding some real snake this time okay? Ok.
Word. I need to see Rainbows. I might die if I don't.

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Brian Willey
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Re: The Best of the Midwest: My 2013 Year in Review

Post by Brian Willey » November 11th, 2013, 1:04 pm

Oh yea, you definitely had an awesome season! There's a few animals there I would love to find!

ChadHarrison
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Re: The Best of the Midwest: My 2013 Year in Review

Post by ChadHarrison » November 20th, 2013, 10:50 pm

Thanks Brian!

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Re: The Best of the Midwest: My 2013 Year in Review

Post by Barry R » November 23rd, 2013, 10:51 am

great post! congrats on the IL. Tantilla

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Re: The Best of the Midwest: My 2013 Year in Review

Post by herper1 » November 24th, 2013, 11:43 am

Wow, great year, great finds, and great pics. Have you added them up to see how different species you saw this year. Has to be an impressive number!

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Jared Cain
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Re: The Best of the Midwest: My 2013 Year in Review

Post by Jared Cain » November 26th, 2013, 11:22 am

That was an awesome post! So many cool animals and nice photos, too!

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pjfishpa
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Re: The Best of the Midwest: My 2013 Year in Review

Post by pjfishpa » November 28th, 2013, 4:14 pm

Wow! You really found a lot of species! Great post an, thanks or putting it together.

ChadHarrison
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Re: The Best of the Midwest: My 2013 Year in Review

Post by ChadHarrison » February 10th, 2014, 4:00 pm

pjfishpa wrote:Wow! You really found a lot of species! Great post an, thanks or putting it together.
Thank you! It really was a great year. Planning on making the current year one hell of a lot better!

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Re: The Best of the Midwest: My 2013 Year in Review

Post by Soopaman » February 10th, 2014, 4:34 pm

Nice stuff, Chad. I really liked the calligaster (find more of those!) and the massive hogs.

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Re: The Best of the Midwest: My 2013 Year in Review

Post by Trey » February 11th, 2014, 11:46 am

Great year dude

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Re: The Best of the Midwest: My 2013 Year in Review

Post by muskiemagnet » February 11th, 2014, 2:52 pm

i'm interested in the saugas. by the way, i really liked the last photo. do you know how SFD is affecting them in illinois as far as mortality? i know that they seem to struggle with a different fungus strain as it seems. most snakes are usually affected only skin deep. i've read the illinois snakes are being eaten alive(tissue/bone). i've only seen them in an area of canary grass. it would be awesome to see them in a natural habitat that contained blue stem. i'll be working closely with the boys in wisconsin on SFD this year and your thoughts on illinois would be appreciated. many NE states are going ahead with "head-start" programs for timbers. i wonder if it should be considered for saugas as well. again, your thoughts? PM me.

-ben

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Re: The Best of the Midwest: My 2013 Year in Review

Post by walk-about » February 14th, 2014, 11:10 pm

Excellent post Chad. Loved it! Very impressive pics. Lined snake easily my favorite. Siren shots always a personal favorite; I loved how you included habitat in the background. Congrats on so many lifers - shots of the Crawfish Frog also impressive. Kirtland's in 2014 for sure! THanks for sharing.

Rock ON!

Dave

ChadHarrison
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Re: The Best of the Midwest: My 2013 Year in Review

Post by ChadHarrison » February 15th, 2014, 10:38 am

Thanks, y'all! Ben, I'm always down to discuss 'saugas. PM'ing you now.

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Mike Pingleton
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Re: The Best of the Midwest: My 2013 Year in Review

Post by Mike Pingleton » February 17th, 2014, 1:07 pm

Most excellent. TWO timbers on a random SR visit? Dang dude.

-Mike

ChadHarrison
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Re: The Best of the Midwest: My 2013 Year in Review

Post by ChadHarrison » February 22nd, 2014, 2:15 pm

Mike Pingleton wrote:Most excellent. TWO timbers on a random SR visit? Dang dude.

-Mike
Yeah it was something else. I only went to kill time before we left for NC, as I arrived in the area a couple hours early. Walked the road for a bit, didn't make it very far and turned back. Both were found on the way back just a few minutes apart. There was another individual by the south end gate that wasn't having my funny business though. Homebody didn't plan on sticking around for any of my bullcrap. So I only counted the two.

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Re: The Best of the Midwest: My 2013 Year in Review

Post by dthor68 » February 22nd, 2014, 4:54 pm

So what is Ophidiomyces? I googled it and only came up with one small article stating that the first to test positive for it came from Spartanburg Co. SC. Last May I found an adult Milk Snake in Greenville Co. SC (Next door to Spartanburg Co.) eaten up with some sort of fungus similar to your Copperhead. I just figured it happened during hibernation, maybe the conditions were too damp. Can anyone explain this disease a little further so I will know what to do the next time I see it.

BTW, nice work Chad. It looks like you had a great year.

ChadHarrison
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Re: The Best of the Midwest: My 2013 Year in Review

Post by ChadHarrison » February 23rd, 2014, 8:27 pm

dthor68 wrote:So what is Ophidiomyces? I googled it and only came up with one small article stating that the first to test positive for it came from Spartanburg Co. SC. Last May I found an adult Milk Snake in Greenville Co. SC (Next door to Spartanburg Co.) eaten up with some sort of fungus similar to your Copperhead. I just figured it happened during hibernation, maybe the conditions were too damp. Can anyone explain this disease a little further so I will know what to do the next time I see it.

BTW, nice work Chad. It looks like you had a great year.
The Chrysosporium fungus was recently reclassified as Ophidiomyces. I would check out the 2011 paper on Chrysosporium infections in Eastern Massasauga Rattlesnakes by C. Phillips et. al.

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