2014 in Missouri, Illinois, and Arkansas

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Soro
Posts: 39
Joined: June 6th, 2011, 7:24 pm

2014 in Missouri, Illinois, and Arkansas

Post by Soro » November 11th, 2014, 5:36 pm

I don't often post on here. That being said, I ended up with some spare time tonight, and given the temperature outside is below 35 degrees, I figured making a post would really give me closure for a good year. I had a lot of fun, met a few new friends, and found some cool stuff. Lifers were few and far between, but that's okay. I've found that finding my favorite snakes after a days hard work makes it all worth it.

I started the year off in late March. While training for a fight, I sustained a pretty bad cut to the inside of my lip that needed stitches. I decided to take a few days off to let it heal, and spent one of those days down in Southern Illinois finding crawfish frogs with Keegan and Ryan.

ImageNorthern Crawfish Frog (Rana areolata circulosa) by 2ndPeter, on Flickr

We saw and heard dozens of these big guys. Unfortunately they were ready for us, and most quickly disappeared into nearby burrows as we approached. Nonetheless, we got a few and had a great time.

Spring is a great time of the year to find ringed salamanders, surprisingly enough. One rainy night in April, Ryan, Kyle and I found dozens of ringed and spotted sallies. The most astounding observation that night was seeing five adult ringed salamanders breeding in a puddle on the side of a trail. Spermataphores and all.

ImageRinged Salamander (Ambystoma annulatum) by 2ndPeter, on Flickr

Another outing in early April to a rocky hillside yielded all common herps. Given the heavy Winter, everything we saw was welcome.

ImageWestern Smooth Earth Snake (Virginia valeriae) by 2ndPeter, on Flickr

ImageEastern Yellowbelly Racer (Coluber constrictor flaviventris) by 2ndPeter, on Flickr

My first milk of the year was found while I was by myself on a familiar glade.

ImageRed Milk Snake (Lampropeltis triangulum syspila) by 2ndPeter, on Flickr

As things warmed up in mid April, I took the time to find new dolomite glades on Google Maps. I found one that looked promising, and decided to check it out one cloudy Sunday afternoon. As I hiked the glade, I saw something I have always wanted to see: Two adult coachwhips sitting next to one another, heads aloft, under a ledge. There was a brief moment as the snakes and I wondered what to do. In one explosive lunge, I went for both. The one on the right escaped, but the one on the left I caught. It was the largest coach I have ever held, at somewhere between six and six-and-a-half feet long.

ImageEastern Coachwhip (Masticophis flagellum flagellum) by 2ndPeter, on Flickr

My year was off to a good start.

A night of cruising in the rain for tiger salamanders yielded my first lifer of the year:

ImagePlains Spadefoot (Spea bombifrons) by 2ndPeter, on Flickr

These are not a common sight in Eastern Missouri.

Something I learned this year is that of all the wonderful habitat throughout Missouri, I enjoy glades the most. Even a day of common finds is very fulfilling for me; almost spiritual. As such, I spent a lot of time on new and familiar glades carefully turning rocks and photographing the denizens underneath. On a warm morning in May, I was hiking a known glade looking for collared lizards. As I came to the edge of one of the glades, I looked down at a large flat rock covered by a low cedar. Coming out from under that rock was coachwhip #3 for the year. I was elated!

ImageEastern Coachwhip (Masticophis flagellum flagellum) by 2ndPeter, on Flickr

The time of year was perfect, so I planned an outing to the glade I found earlier in the year with a few friends. Chad, Kyle, Keith and I hit the glades hard that day. We found great plains rat snakes, racers, milks, collareds... and a coachwip, of course.

ImageEastern Collared Lizard (Crotaphytus collaris) by 2ndPeter, on Flickr

ImageEastern Coachwhip (Masticophis flagellum flagellum) by 2ndPeter, on Flickr

One day Ryan, Edward and I went to a spot for pygmy rattlesnakes. Though none were seen, we did see lots of milks and specks. Five and six, respectively.

ImageRed Milk Snake (Lampropeltis triangulum syspila) by 2ndPeter, on Flickr

ImageSpeckled King Snake (Lampropeltis getula holbrooki) by 2ndPeter, on Flickr

Igneous glades are always fun. In Eastern Missouri, there are a number of them worth hiking for the view and experience alone. They may not be quite as reliable for herps since there are fewer rocks to flip, but they are still densely populated with cool stuff.

ImageWestern Slender Glass Lizard (Ophisaurus attenuatus) by 2ndPeter, on Flickr

My first timber of the year was found on the aforementioned hillside that I visited in early April (the second visit, though). My second would be found nearby, this time with Ryan and Matt. It was a formidable snake; it rattled and struck until we placed it back under its boulder.

ImageTimber Rattlesnake (Crotalus horridus) by 2ndPeter, on Flickr

This beautiful milk was also seen. Ryan is red milk good luck charm!

ImageRed Milk Snake (Lampropeltis triangulum syspila) by 2ndPeter, on Flickr

Eastern collared lizards are something to behold in breeding season. The males are like bright jewels in the sun-- especially against igneous rocks! Here is one such male. My favorite thing about this shot is that I did not have to touch the lizard. I simply followed him around until I saw a nice opportunity.

ImageEastern Collared Lizard (Crotaphytus collaris) by 2ndPeter, on Flickr

Summer was upon us, and I switched my focus to night road-cruising and turtling. One day of both activities left us bummed out that our target could not be found. Our consolation prize was found in South Central Missouri while cruising. Did I mention it was also a lifer?

ImageWestern Pygmy Rattlesnake (Sistrurus miliarius streckeri) by 2ndPeter, on Flickr

Kyle, AKA 'The River Monster' (heh) showed me how to find some water turtles one day.

ImageCommon Map Turtle (Graptemys geographica) by 2ndPeter, on Flickr

And look at this bad boy! Ozark western cottonmouths are pretty... but this one was nuts! I was chasing a larger cotton for hopes of getting pictures, when this one dropped into the water to escape the fray:

ImageWestern Cottonmouth (Agkistrodon piscivorus leucostoma) by 2ndPeter, on Flickr

One last visit to the timber hillside in early Fall with my friend Edward would yield this very pretty timber.

ImageTimber Rattlesnake (Crotalus horridus) by 2ndPeter, on Flickr

This seasoned rattler had twelve segments! It was only three feet long, though.

Kyle and I took a trip to Arkansas just a few weeks back where we met up with Kory and a few of his friends. Though only common snakes were seen, we had a blast. I can't wait to make a return trip!

ImageBroadbanded Water Snake (Nerodia fasciata confluens) by 2ndPeter, on Flickr

ImageDiamondback Water Snake (Nerodia rhombifer) by 2ndPeter, on Flickr

ImageMarbled Salamander (Ambystoma opacum) by 2ndPeter, on Flickr

One last outing to Snake Road with my wife, Maddie, and we finished out the year. Many cottons and water snakes were seen near the bluffs. Nothing too crazy, though. I have never had a spectacular day at that location. I still love it, though. I can't wait for things to warm up again! I'm sure that much like this year, my ambitions will far outrun my achievements, but I'm gonna aim high anyways. Why not?

ImageGreen Tree Frog (Hyla cinerea) by 2ndPeter, on Flickr

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FloridaSerpent
Posts: 85
Joined: October 18th, 2014, 11:12 am
Location: South Florida

Re: 2014 in Missouri, Illinois, and Arkansas

Post by FloridaSerpent » November 12th, 2014, 2:29 am

Those coachwhips are absolutely gorgeous. Great finds

daniel
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Joined: July 2nd, 2013, 9:29 am
Location: California

Re: 2014 in Missouri, Illinois, and Arkansas

Post by daniel » November 12th, 2014, 5:24 am

Great post, the coachwhips are definitely my favorites. The second one is just awesome!

Soro
Posts: 39
Joined: June 6th, 2011, 7:24 pm

Re: 2014 in Missouri, Illinois, and Arkansas

Post by Soro » November 12th, 2014, 6:54 am

Hey thanks guys! They are my favoritest of snakes by far.

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chrish
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Re: 2014 in Missouri, Illinois, and Arkansas

Post by chrish » November 12th, 2014, 11:47 am

Agree with the others. That second coachwhip is probably the prettiest coachwhip I've ever seen. Stunning.

Great post, great photos. Thanks for taking the time.

Chris

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Gary2sons
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Location: Camden County, Missouri

Re: 2014 in Missouri, Illinois, and Arkansas

Post by Gary2sons » November 12th, 2014, 1:45 pm

Nice finds! :thumb:

Some really awesome coachwhips!

Gary

Soro
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Joined: June 6th, 2011, 7:24 pm

Re: 2014 in Missouri, Illinois, and Arkansas

Post by Soro » November 12th, 2014, 2:52 pm

Thanks! I'm really happy with all that I saw this year. It makes me optimistic about next year... and better able to focus on other things for a few months. These Midwest Winters are really not cool in my book.

Also: I was glad to see that you liked this post, Gary. I always enjoy your coachwhip themed reports!

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Brian Willey
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Re: 2014 in Missouri, Illinois, and Arkansas

Post by Brian Willey » November 13th, 2014, 5:10 pm

Wow that second Coachwhip is a real stunner! I like the look of that Cotton too.

Soro
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Joined: June 6th, 2011, 7:24 pm

Re: 2014 in Missouri, Illinois, and Arkansas

Post by Soro » November 13th, 2014, 7:16 pm

The second coachwhip really was surreal. The bright red bands looked stunning in real life, and my picture certainly did not do the snake justice.

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chris_mcmartin
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Re: 2014 in Missouri, Illinois, and Arkansas

Post by chris_mcmartin » November 13th, 2014, 7:16 pm

What state were the collared lizards?

Soro
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Re: 2014 in Missouri, Illinois, and Arkansas

Post by Soro » November 13th, 2014, 7:31 pm

Both were from Missouri.

KevColubrid
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Re: 2014 in Missouri, Illinois, and Arkansas

Post by KevColubrid » November 13th, 2014, 8:10 pm

Really good stuff here :-) It makes me miss my old stomping grounds in Missouri. Coachwhips in Missouri remained a white whale for me. I spent a lot of time in Missouri in good habitat looking for them, but the closest I ever got to one was a shed. Elusive little buggers :-)

Kevin

Y.Morgan
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Re: 2014 in Missouri, Illinois, and Arkansas

Post by Y.Morgan » November 13th, 2014, 9:27 pm

I agree with some of the other replies - those coachwhips are fantastic; especially the dark one with red trim! Very cool. That cottonmouth is also extra nice and the 2nd timber (in situ?) is a smoker! Thanks!
York

Soro
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Re: 2014 in Missouri, Illinois, and Arkansas

Post by Soro » November 14th, 2014, 5:25 am

Thanks guys! That timber was not in situ. It was definitely a good year for coachwhips. I invested a lot of time in getting good pictures of each one seen, since they are such a rare find for me. I spent a LOT of time targeting them this year. It helps that all those glades are within an hour of my apartment.

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