2014 EOY report...KS, MO, OK, TX...

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chad ks
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2014 EOY report...KS, MO, OK, TX...

Post by chad ks » January 12th, 2015, 1:21 pm

Hello Folks. My end of year report doesn't compare to many of the ones folks have been putting up, but I thought I'd share it anyway. After moving back to northeastern Kansas I decided that I would focus my energy and efforts on NW MO.

Eastern KS is a wonderful place to herp, as many of you know. The pickens are anything but slim because the herps are widespread and dense. Western MO, on the other hand, is more glaciated and densely wooded. The herping isn't as productive and the ticks are like a plague. If you meet a MO herper, respect them, if for no other reason than the sheer amount of ticks they have to endure just to pursue their favorite animals. I've spent a lot of time herping in MO with native friends and I've seen some great days packed with high numbers, but we always had to earn our way to good finds.

The herping season started out with some very nice mass migrations of Ambystoma texanum. We ended up seeing them migrate well into late March and I even found a few crawling around in early April...

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In early March I met up with a nomadic naturalist and we decided to flip a few early season rocks just in case the Lampropeltines wanted to make an early appearance. I was overjoyed when Aaron "Belulz" peaked under a medium sized lime stone platter and discovered his lifer Speckled Kingsnake:
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...moments later, a juvenile syspila:
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Aaron set up his photography tools for a special kind of photo he called "meet your neighbors"...
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We also found a Coal Skink. These critters are not common.
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My girlfriend Michal and I decided to pursue a plan of action to fill in some gaps in between the known localities for a number of KS herps this year. We started with Necturus.

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Spring rains brought out my favorite early season regulars...

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Crawfish Frogs were snoring it up...
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American Toads and Chorus Frogs...
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Before too long the ringnecks showed up en masse, and then all of the springtime regulars...
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WARNING: prepare for sustained red and orange for the remainder of the post.

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Here's an early season Timber back in a crevice with Courtney Gaverth...
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It was nice to herp some of my favorite old school early season syspila sites with Matt Jeppson and his crew of young herpers...
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While collecting Morels, my good buddy Little Rob found the first example of an Eastern Hognose from NE KS in 40 years. It was a county record and an all around amazing accidental find. Now that we know where these guys can be found, we plan to put in some effort to monitor them (without interacting) this year.
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Here's an E KS bull snake in situ. These snakes aren't common and this one was a very pleasant surprise...
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Prairie Kingsnake, E KS
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The Kansas Herpetological Society field trip was a lot of fun...and productive.

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Chris McMartin spotted this adult Massasauga while we were hiking and chatting it up...
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Dan Fogell captures an image...
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MO herping was a lot of fun this year, with some surprises. I was able to spend a lot of time in the field with one of my best buds Brandon Decavele. It was like old times.

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Here's a massive calligaster in situ...
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This calligaster was under a board with an ant colony...
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It's a treat to be able to see Prairie Kings on the reg after living in western KS for years, where calligaster are a rare treat.

more MO red...
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KS speckles...
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I didn't mean to interrupt the party in western KS when I flipped a small rock and found these gentilis copulating underneath...
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couple more from that visit:
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Michal kept seeing these nice looking holbrooki...
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This Tantilla nigriceps was a county record...
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We managed to spot a few rattlesnakes as well...
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Morel season was pretty limited unfortunately. I was walking along a property owned by a friendly farmer who informed me that morels and black snakes could be found along the creek at the back of his property, I had no idea that I would nearly trip over a couple of combating horridus. I couldn't find a rock to save my life, or a morel mushroom for that matter. The temps were in the low 40s and it was raining lightly earlier that morning before the sun came out and then I stepped up to a pair of Timbers wrastlin. I managed to get my camera out for one or two quick shots before they just disappeared into the ground. I looked all around and noticed a network of holes running all over the squishy ground overlooking the creek, and I learned that horridus can aggregate in densites using a few baseball-sized holes in a grove of cottonwood and elm trees. Cool.

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After the first one ^ ducked out into a hole, the larger of the two snakes stuck around for a moment before retreating down the same hole...
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Later that week my buddy Brandon and I set out for a central MO field trip...
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...the glades were poppin.
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Back to NE KS, a favorite boardline produced:

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I managed to do a whole lot of Timber watching this year at a few localities, but primarily at a den site where they're plentiful but difficult to access. Courtney Gaverth has done a superb job of mapping out this locality's timber population and for that I am grateful.

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MO reds...
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Here are some more syspila...
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Here's a neat little Fox Snake:
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Jim and Jeff came out for a visit, we managed to see some things...
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I made it a project to spend as much time as possible herping in northern MO, mostly in the central and western regions. I managed to locate a Timber den where I found 11 rattlesnakes and a few copperheads out sunning in between rain showers, and I also managed to see this holbrooki from just S of the Iowa border...

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...and some other interesting sights...
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I freed the poor (loud) little goat before his over seer came to investigate and threaten me...

I think he's an outside dog...
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My buddy Brandon came to visit for a week or two before we headed south for the BOTPV conference with Chip Cochran. We managed to see all targets.

This little milk was out crawling across the road, they don't usually do that but road cruising season was in full swing...
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pinky up!
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Here's some red of another kind...
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subadult splendor...
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back to E KS:
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...and this female was out in shed...
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We headed S for the conference and managed to see five or six Pygmies as well as the other pit vipers native to the area...
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After that (awesome) trip I continued with my MO visits...
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Garret Craft came and visited from Florida in the mid summer when things were hot, but it cooled enough for us to find a few critters. He comes with luck...
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I was fortunate to accompany Rusty Dodson and Mike Rochford to TX this year (on two trips) to see what we could find. I spent a lot of time with my buddy Tim Burkhardt as well, and we managed to see critters...
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Mike started racking up the pit viper lifers early in the trip...
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...not to mention his colubrid lifers...
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BAM!!!
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More pit viper lifers, I think we found three of these...
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I lost count of ornatus, it was a good year for them...
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Tim and Mike experienced an insane moment of luck when they were night walking for sleeping lizards in southern Presidio County. She's a looker!
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Texas was good to us this year. I was overjoyed to see so many critters and for Michal and Mike to see their first wild alterna. It was an extra special moment because I was with those two.
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I had a nice fall but it was herping light because I had the pleasure of interning with a governor's campaign and that kept me extremely busy. However I didn't mind after such a loaded herping spring, and a fruitful year with lots of surprises and unforgettable moments with the people I love.

Happy New Year! :beer:


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Soopaman
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Re: 2014 EOY report...KS, MO, OK, TX...

Post by Soopaman » January 12th, 2015, 2:24 pm

Good looking year, Chad. I may have to take you up on coming up there at some point.

As always, I love the calligaster. Those milks sure are lookers. Great find with the pair copulating, I really like the look on both of them too.

I guess those alterna are pretty neat ;)

-Kyle

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IllinoisGuy
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Re: 2014 EOY report...KS, MO, OK, TX...

Post by IllinoisGuy » January 12th, 2015, 3:13 pm

Wow, always a great post when there's so much syspila! Your timbers and speckled kings are also worth noting. Thanks for posting!

-Edward

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Mike Rochford
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Re: 2014 EOY report...KS, MO, OK, TX...

Post by Mike Rochford » January 12th, 2015, 3:47 pm

Damn dude. Didn't realize you had seen some of that stuff. The mud hole timbers combating is ummmmm... Like.... Holy shit! Glad we got to do the TX stuff. Best trip in years. You're really fine tuning your Midwest herping skills at this point. You should just rack up County records in 2015.

Mike

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Josh Holbrook
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Re: 2014 EOY report...KS, MO, OK, TX...

Post by Josh Holbrook » January 12th, 2015, 4:55 pm

Great stuff. What kind of microhabitat do you turn up Necturus in out there - leaf litter, under rocks?

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Mike VanValen
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Re: 2014 EOY report...KS, MO, OK, TX...

Post by Mike VanValen » January 12th, 2015, 6:56 pm

I really like that in situ bullsnake. That scene just screams "field herping" to me.

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Eric East
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Re: 2014 EOY report...KS, MO, OK, TX...

Post by Eric East » January 13th, 2015, 3:36 pm

Chad you know I hate milk snakes! :lol:

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chris_mcmartin
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Re: 2014 EOY report...KS, MO, OK, TX...

Post by chris_mcmartin » January 13th, 2015, 6:00 pm

Were the valeriae and the vulpina found anywhere cool/interesting, distribution-wise?

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Jeroen Speybroeck
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Re: 2014 EOY report...KS, MO, OK, TX...

Post by Jeroen Speybroeck » January 14th, 2015, 5:27 am

Nice! I like the pictures that show a little extra besides the herps themselves too.

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justinm
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Re: 2014 EOY report...KS, MO, OK, TX...

Post by justinm » January 15th, 2015, 9:20 am

One of the Masters of the Midwest, boom what a post! I can't ever get tired of anything you've posted here. Really well done, as I expect. Hope to see you in 2015, it's been too long.


Justin Michels

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Andrew G
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Re: 2014 EOY report...KS, MO, OK, TX...

Post by Andrew G » January 15th, 2015, 1:21 pm

Well done, sir! I enjoyed all those milks and the combating timbers! Seems a strange place for them to den up, but it seems that the species can show up in some unusual places in this portion of their range. Your post also reminded me that I am going to have to put some effort into finding pygmys this year...

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walk-about
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Re: 2014 EOY report...KS, MO, OK, TX...

Post by walk-about » January 15th, 2015, 6:57 pm

Chad - what an incredible post! Those midwest Red Milks are so stunning!. What is the story behind all those dang Diadophis????

Dave

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Brian Willey
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Re: 2014 EOY report...KS, MO, OK, TX...

Post by Brian Willey » January 16th, 2015, 12:18 pm

Another very productive year for you I see!

chad ks
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Re: 2014 EOY report...KS, MO, OK, TX...

Post by chad ks » January 16th, 2015, 7:11 pm

Soopaman wrote:Good looking year, Chad. I may have to take you up on coming up there at some point.

As always, I love the calligaster. Those milks sure are lookers. Great find with the pair copulating, I really like the look on both of them too.

I guess those alterna are pretty neat ;)

-Kyle
Thanks Kyle! Yeah I guess the alterna were neat after 3 years of seeing ZERO orange or gray with two trips a year! Come on up, you'll enjoy it.
IllinoisGuy wrote:Wow, always a great post when there's so much syspila! Your timbers and speckled kings are also worth noting. Thanks for posting!

-Edward
I agree. I really appreciate all of the exotics that populate this forum now days, it's really grown as a global community. But I still love seeing those species from home. Thanks!
Mike Rochford wrote:Damn dude. Didn't realize you had seen some of that stuff. The mud hole timbers combating is ummmmm... Like.... Holy shit! Glad we got to do the TX stuff. Best trip in years. You're really fine tuning your Midwest herping skills at this point. You should just rack up County records in 2015.
Mike
Yeah, that's about right. I have to thank Travis Taggart for loaning me the traps and guiding my efforts, and Curtis as well. I hope you miiiiight be able to come visit us in KS this springtime with the pinky Rochford, by then a fuzzy?
Josh Holbrook wrote:Great stuff. What kind of microhabitat do you turn up Necturus in out there - leaf litter, under rocks?
My experience with them is limited, but it seems they prefer deep but moving water with canopy over head. Lots of rock, lots of underwater leaf pack. Thanks!
Mike VanValen wrote:I really like that in situ bullsnake. That scene just screams "field herping" to me.
Agreed. It's the perfect combination of human waste meets a nice herpy looking field.
Eric East wrote:Chad you know I hate milk snakes! :lol:
You and me both bud!
chris_mcmartin wrote:Were the valeriae and the vulpina found anywhere cool/interesting, distribution-wise?
The vulpina was nothing special but the Virginia was from Johnson County. Always a good find here.
Jeroen Speybroeck wrote:Nice! I like the pictures that show a little extra besides the herps themselves too.
Thanks!
justinm wrote:One of the Masters of the Midwest, boom what a post! I can't ever get tired of anything you've posted here. Really well done, as I expect. Hope to see you in 2015, it's been too long.


Justin Michels
Ummm, "one of the"?! ha, kidding. We definitely need to get together this year Justin, how can we make that happen?
Andrew G wrote:Well done, sir! I enjoyed all those milks and the combating timbers! Seems a strange place for them to den up, but it seems that the species can show up in some unusual places in this portion of their range. Your post also reminded me that I am going to have to put some effort into finding pygmys this year...
Thanks amigo. The timbers were a genuine surprise, and I forgot to mention they were on the MO side. Let's do pygs in July?
walk-about wrote:Chad - what an incredible post! Those midwest Red Milks are so stunning!. What is the story behind all those dang Diadophis????

Dave
Thank you Dave. The ring necks just aggregate like that, it's such a trip. It's a famous element of springtime herping in KS.
Brian Willey wrote:Another very productive year for you I see!
Yessir, but I can only dream about finding the quality syspila you've been uncovering out your way. Like I've said, you have officially found the absolutely perfect syspila and I couldn't be more jealous.

Thanks for looking!

KevColubrid
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Re: 2014 EOY report...KS, MO, OK, TX...

Post by KevColubrid » January 22nd, 2015, 5:20 am

https://scontent-a-dfw.xx.fbcdn.net/hph ... 1251_o.jpg

I had to do a double take on that one. That's a whole lot of nice red, but that one in particular reminds me why I love Missouri so much. :-) You had a great year, and hopefully I'll see you up here next year for some Nebraska fun. :-)

Kevin

Matt Cage
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Re: 2014 EOY report...KS, MO, OK, TX...

Post by Matt Cage » January 22nd, 2015, 12:23 pm

The Lampro king! Loved this!

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chris_mcmartin
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Re: 2014 EOY report...KS, MO, OK, TX...

Post by chris_mcmartin » January 22nd, 2015, 1:04 pm

chad ks wrote:
chris_mcmartin wrote:Were the valeriae and the vulpina found anywhere cool/interesting, distribution-wise?
The vulpina was nothing special but the Virginia was from Johnson County. Always a good find here.
Indeed...I was hoping maybe the vulpina was somehow in the NE KS area. 8-)

Did you let the Pisani Posse know about the smoothie? http://people.ku.edu/~gpisani/SWGflyer.doc

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JEDDLV
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Re: 2014 EOY report...KS, MO, OK, TX...

Post by JEDDLV » January 25th, 2015, 3:18 pm

Great pics, really enjoyed your post

Y.Morgan
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Re: 2014 EOY report...KS, MO, OK, TX...

Post by Y.Morgan » January 28th, 2015, 9:15 pm

Hey Chad! Looks like you had an awfully good year from where I'm sitting - great post! :beer: Obviously, all the tricolors and timber dens and W. TX finds are amazing, but I have to give special props to that lovely juvie hoggie and to the mass of ringed necks! Thanks for taking the time!
York

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Kent VanSooy
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Re: 2014 EOY report...KS, MO, OK, TX...

Post by Kent VanSooy » January 29th, 2015, 12:35 pm

Great post - loved the variety, loved the color, loved those graybands! And one of those syspila could have almost passed for a grayband. I dig seeing the ringneck piles too.

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Brandon La Forest
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Re: 2014 EOY report...KS, MO, OK, TX...

Post by Brandon La Forest » January 30th, 2015, 8:57 am

Great post! It was a pleasure to herp with you and I appreciate your help in locating all my targets! :D

Cheers!

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