SE Summer BBQ Herp-a-palooza - Manatee Springs (results)

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Noah M
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SE Summer BBQ Herp-a-palooza - Manatee Springs (results)

Post by Noah M » June 16th, 2015, 5:33 pm

Okay, so I'm not sure of the title, but I've been tossing around the idea with Matt about organizing a short summer gathering for SE members (or anybody really, bring the kids, bring the neighbors, just don't forget the drinks!). I'm Florida based, and so is Matt, so naturally we were leaning towards a Florida spot. Maybe a place with picnic tables or the option to camp (at least nearby) so if anybody wanted to make an overnight of it they could.

As the title suggests, we were thinking sometime in July, though I don't like the idea of the 4th. Seems like fireworks and herping don't mix. So I'm going to suggest the weekend of July 11th.

I was thinking a lunch gathering, maybe a bit more socializing than herping really. If anybody wanted to road cruise in the evening or hike during the day the certainly could. I don't have handling permits or anything, but if we can iron out a date and location, I can email the state herpetologist of our intentions and see what he says.

Here are a run down of places I've thought about.

Fanning Springs State Park
O'Leno State Park
Manatee Springs State Park
somewhere around Goethe State Forest

I welcome suggestions for locations. The date is not very flexible, but July 18th may be another option.

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Re: SE Chapter Summer July BBQ Herp-a-palooza

Post by double d » June 17th, 2015, 12:07 pm

July 11th sounds great , as for location , they all sound good so just post locale and im in!

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Re: SE Chapter Summer July BBQ Herp-a-palooza

Post by mtratcliffe » June 17th, 2015, 1:25 pm

As long as we find a place with plenty of shade! I think we should definitely make a herping trip out of it since some of us will be driving several hours. I'm willing to camp overnight if need be. Are we planning on making the cookout portion in the evening to beat the mid-day heat?

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Re: SE Chapter Summer July BBQ Herp-a-palooza

Post by Noah M » June 17th, 2015, 2:31 pm

mtratcliffe wrote:As long as we find a place with plenty of shade! I think we should definitely make a herping trip out of it since some of us will be driving several hours. I'm willing to camp overnight if need be. Are we planning on making the cookout portion in the evening to beat the mid-day heat?

As long as its early enough. I don't want to see cooking time compete with road cruising time, ya know?

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Re: SE Chapter Summer July BBQ Herp-a-palooza

Post by Noah M » June 19th, 2015, 11:03 am

Let's go with Manatee Springs, July 11th.

It has camping, showers, hiking trails, the spring, and I think canoe rentals. Fanning springs isn't that far to the north, for more exploration, and there are plenty of places to road cruise in the area, plus Fowler's Bluff Conservation area is next door.

I've also emailed the state herpetologist inviting him to join us, to let him know our intentions, and to ask if we need any special permits or anything.

From what I can tell on the FWC website the rules are as follows.

1. Anything in the park is hands off (it is a state park after all)
2. Any reptile or amphibian found outside the park that is not protected, venomous, or on a special list (including things like anacondas and pythons - http://myfwc.com/license/captive-wildli ... f-concern/) do not need a permit for personal possession. I only investigate this should anybody road cruise something and want to bag it to share with others or take photos in better lighting the following morning. I told him anything caputred would only be held for 24 hours.
3. Although it is not clear, I would assume anything captured and detained should not be released in the park itself.

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Re: SE Chapter Summer July BBQ Herp-a-palooza

Post by mtratcliffe » June 19th, 2015, 11:38 am

captainjack0000 wrote:Let's go with Manatee Springs, July 11th.

It has camping, showers, hiking trails, the spring, and I think canoe rentals. Fanning springs isn't that far to the north, for more exploration, and there are plenty of places to road cruise in the area, plus Fowler's Bluff Conservation area is next door.

I've also emailed the state herpetologist inviting him to join us, to let him know our intentions, and to ask if we need any special permits or anything.

From what I can tell on the FWC website the rules are as follows.

1. Anything in the park is hands off (it is a state park after all)
2. Any reptile or amphibian found outside the park that is not protected, venomous, or on a special list (including things like anacondas and pythons - http://myfwc.com/license/captive-wildli ... f-concern/) do not need a permit for personal possession. I only investigate this should anybody road cruise something and want to bag it to share with others or take photos in better lighting the following morning. I told him anything caputred would only be held for 24 hours.
3. Although it is not clear, I would assume anything captured and detained should not be released in the park itself.
Great! Is the plan to meet up that day and stay overnight? Looks like a great location for being close to a lot of great habitats. I'll have to look at my paddling guidebook about that stretch of the Suwannee River, as the river is quite wide there. Do they allow swimming in the spring?

I just need to confirm with the wife about the date - wish me luck! In the meantime, here's a humorous review from TripAdvisor:

"Had an amazing time but bring a gun (if legal) to kill the poisonous snakes!!! The canoe trip is amazing.... The alligators won't bother you but scary, scary snakes. Wondering why the park rangers don't have it under control?"

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Re: SE Summer July 11th BBQ Herp-a-palooza - Manatee Springs

Post by Noah M » June 20th, 2015, 6:00 am

I live close enough that I probably won't stay overnight, but it has camping for anybody who wants to. I figure the BBQ portion will occur Saturday evening, maybe 6ish. Then afterwards we should have plenty of time to road cruise the area - sunset isn't until ~8:30.

If anybody is coming in Friday night, I can probably meet up with them over in that direction in the evening sometime.

And yes, I'm pretty sure they allow swimming in the spring. I'm pretty sure you can swim at Fanning Springs too.

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Re: SE Summer July 11th BBQ Herp-a-palooza - Manatee Springs

Post by Noah M » June 20th, 2015, 5:59 pm

The state herpetologist confirmed that anything inside the park is hands off, but anything outside of the park (provided it isn't a protected species or venomous) is safe for handling. Even he needs a permit from the DEP to conduct surveys in state parks.

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Re: SE Summer July 11th BBQ Herp-a-palooza - Manatee Springs

Post by mtratcliffe » June 22nd, 2015, 5:52 pm

All right, I'm good-to-go! We need more people to chime in and say that they are coming!

For those who are attending, is anyone camping? Hotel? Or just driving back home that night?

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Re: SE Summer July 11th BBQ Herp-a-palooza - Manatee Springs

Post by BillMcGighan » June 23rd, 2015, 5:45 am

Good luck, Guys.
We can't make it, but I know you'll love Manatee SP.
You can swim and snorkel in the head of the springs.
There are herps to observe and get "in situ"s.
Use your Kayaks to get back into the cypress.

Image


It's our favorite place to camp in cool weather.

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Re: SE Summer July 11th BBQ Herp-a-palooza - Manatee Springs

Post by soulsurvivor » June 23rd, 2015, 9:25 am

I'd like to see the springs, but I won't be able to make it either, as that is one of two weekends in July I am participating in a turtle research project with a local grad student. Additionally, while I enjoy camping, doing it in the middle of summer in Florida is not my idea of fun. :-D

~Bree

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Re: SE Summer July 11th BBQ Herp-a-palooza - Manatee Springs

Post by Noah M » June 27th, 2015, 8:11 am

If anybody is coming in on Friday night and wants to meet up, PM me. Otherwise I'll try to get there sometime in the morning. Let's try to have the actual BBQ around 5:30. That should give us enough time to get hot coals, cook and eat a meal, and then road cruise our way to herp nirvana.

As far as camping or hotel - Chiefland is very close by (~10 min), and I'm sure there is a decent place to stay there.

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Re: SE Summer July 11th BBQ Herp-a-palooza - Manatee Springs

Post by Barry R » June 27th, 2015, 9:23 am

sounds interesting, but can't make it, good luck

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Re: SE Summer July 11th BBQ Herp-a-palooza - Manatee Springs

Post by mtratcliffe » June 29th, 2015, 2:39 pm

So, I don't think anyone will be camping (I'll be getting a cheap hotel for the night), but I plan on being at Manatee Springs by 10 AM to do some snorkeling and perhaps some kayaking. From there, I think Noah and I will meet up somewhere and check out aquatic spots until it gets too hot, where we might take a temporary reprieve to rest/buy food.

After that, it's grilling time! Once our bellies are full, we'll be hitting the roads for some primetime roadcrurising all over the area. I don't know about Noah, but I plan on cruising until at least midnight, even if that means finding frog choruses.

Feel free to join us for any of these portions!

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Re: SE Summer July 11th BBQ Herp-a-palooza - Manatee Springs

Post by BillMcGighan » July 8th, 2015, 6:18 pm

Just be out of the cypress swamps before dark when the swamp creatures emerge.... :roll:


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Re: SE Summer July 11th BBQ Herp-a-palooza - Manatee Springs

Post by double d » July 10th, 2015, 5:57 pm

Im going to be there around 7am , do some road cruising and herping under logs and pine bark / hiking through woods. If anyone gets there early as well text me and we'll hook up. 863 934 3450 name is david gilbert

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Re: SE Summer July 11th BBQ Herp-a-palooza - Manatee Springs

Post by double d » July 10th, 2015, 5:59 pm

Matt I agree about staying late , im going to hit hard all day , and do some hardcore shining late into the night

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Re: SE Summer July 11th BBQ Herp-a-palooza - Manatee Springs

Post by Noah M » July 12th, 2015, 7:00 am

Martt, David (double d), and I met up at the spring and spent the day together hiking, netting, and cruising. Here are a few of my pictures from the day. It was hot, but the morning and evening were productive. All around it was a fun trip.

Leopard Frog. I normally like tighter cropped pictures, but some reason this one works for me.
Image

Six-lined racerunner (a very young one). There were many race runners in the right habitat.
Image

Bill, you were right. Even with loud kids, SCUBA divers, and all kinds of commotion, there were at least 4 water snakes of 2 species hanging around the springs. In this 1st pic, if you look carefully, it appears to be the head of a fasciata resting on the body of a taxispilota.

Image

This guy was a bit higher in the branches, and clearly taxispilota.
Image

I think David had a more productive night of cruising. A couple of friends of mine from the department met up with us to cruise, and so we rode with Matt while David went on his own. I think the most exciting thing our party found was this not-quite-yellow Yellow Ratsnake. Around dusk I was distracted by a hawk outside the car :roll: , but Matt saw it and we were able to get some good pictures of it. It was a very cooperative animal.

Gulf Hammock Ratsnake, showing more yellow than gray
Image

Many other things were seen, and many other pictures were taken. I would like to see some of the other pictures from the rest of the group.

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Re: SE Summer BBQ Herp-a-palooza - Manatee Springs (results)

Post by mtratcliffe » July 12th, 2015, 4:44 pm

Thanks again, Noah, for organizing this outing! It was a great time, and we saw a decent selection of herps. I won't have my photos up until Monday or Tuesday, but in the meantime, here's a list of everything we found:

Me only:
DOR Gopher Tortoise
DOR Striped Mud Turtle
Loggerhead Musk Turtle (while snorkeling)
Pig Frog
Florida Cricket Frog
Green Anole (x2)
Eastern Fence Lizard

David only:
Eastern Glass Lizard (x2)
Alligator

As a group:
Florida Cottonmouth (Five DORs for me - I think David found two alive)
Florida Watersnake (at least four total, plus one DOR for me)
Brown Watersnake (at least two)
Gulf Hammock Ratsnake
FL Scarletsnake (1 AOR, 1 DOR)
Southern Black Racer (DOR)
Dusky Pygmy Rattlesnake (DOR)
Southeastern Five-lined Skink (x2, by far the largest ones I've ever seen)
Broadhead Skink
Ground Skink (no voucher)
Six-lined Racerunner (at least half a dozen)
Mediterranean House Gecko
Southern Toad
FL Leopard Frog (x2)
Bullfrog (several fled as we approached, but I was able to voucher a few)
Squirrel Treefrog (heard)
Pinewoods Treefrog (heard)
Oak Toad (heard very briefly)

Unless I missed something, that puts us at 27 species encountered in some fashion, whether dead or alive, or visually or aurally. Stay tuned for photos later!

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Re: SE Summer BBQ Herp-a-palooza - Manatee Springs (results)

Post by Noah M » July 12th, 2015, 6:09 pm

I didn't see any, but were there any cooters around?

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Re: SE Summer BBQ Herp-a-palooza - Manatee Springs (results)

Post by mtratcliffe » July 13th, 2015, 1:49 am

captainjack0000 wrote:I didn't see any, but were there any cooters around?
We didn't see any, but I'm pretty sure they can be seen along the spring run while it's sunny out.

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Re: SE Summer BBQ Herp-a-palooza - Manatee Springs (results)

Post by Noah M » July 13th, 2015, 3:26 pm

mtratcliffe wrote:
captainjack0000 wrote:I didn't see any, but were there any cooters around?
We didn't see any, but I'm pretty sure they can be seen along the spring run while it's sunny out.
Yes, I have seen them there before. I didn't know if anybody in our party actually saw them that day.
Thanks again, Noah, for organizing this outing!
I didn't organize anything. We organized it.

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Re: SE Summer BBQ Herp-a-palooza - Manatee Springs (results)

Post by mtratcliffe » July 14th, 2015, 4:36 pm

All right, I've finally got my photos uploaded to Flickr! All of the big highlights of Herp-a-palooza 2015 (best seen to date!) are included:

Manatee Springs - makes for a great dip on a hot day!

ImageDSCN8083 by Matthew Ratcliffe, on Flickr

I turned up this FL Watersnake before I even got in the water

ImageDSCN8084 by Matthew Ratcliffe, on Flickr

Divers at the spring head

ImageDSCN8085 by Matthew Ratcliffe, on Flickr

If anyone can ID the fish species shown in the pictures below, I'd appreciate it!

ImageDSCN8088 by Matthew Ratcliffe, on Flickr

ImageDSCN8097 by Matthew Ratcliffe, on Flickr

ImageDSCN8102 by Matthew Ratcliffe, on Flickr

Green Sunfish, I think

ImageDSCN8103 by Matthew Ratcliffe, on Flickr

ImageDSCN8107 by Matthew Ratcliffe, on Flickr

FL Watersnakes and Brown Watersnakes were congregating in this bush formation on the water:

ImageDSCN8112 by Matthew Ratcliffe, on Flickr

ImageDSCN8114 by Matthew Ratcliffe, on Flickr

ImageDSCN8115 by Matthew Ratcliffe, on Flickr

ImageDSCN8116 by Matthew Ratcliffe, on Flickr

Millipede found before our hike through the State Park

ImageDSCN8117 by Matthew Ratcliffe, on Flickr

Crayfish flipped under a log

ImageDSCN8121 by Matthew Ratcliffe, on Flickr

Raccoon skull

ImageDSCN8122 by Matthew Ratcliffe, on Flickr

Green Anole - it was starting to get hot around this time (11 AM or so)

ImageDSCN8131 by Matthew Ratcliffe, on Flickr

Another

ImageDSCN8133 by Matthew Ratcliffe, on Flickr

There were a good number of Six-lined Racerunners out enjoying the heat:

ImageDSCN8135 by Matthew Ratcliffe, on Flickr

ImageDSCN8140 by Matthew Ratcliffe, on Flickr

ImageDSCN8141 by Matthew Ratcliffe, on Flickr

ImageDSCN8145 by Matthew Ratcliffe, on Flickr

Trap Door Spider hole

ImageDSCN8137 by Matthew Ratcliffe, on Flickr

Male Great Blue Dasher, which were the most common dragonflies observed at the park

ImageDSCN8139 - Male Great Blue Skimmer by Matthew Ratcliffe, on Flickr

A monster of a SE Five-lined Skink found by the springs. We saw an even larger one in the woods during our hike (no voucher).

ImageDSCN8153 by Matthew Ratcliffe, on Flickr

After our hike and eating a quick lunch, we decided to drive through a nearby WMA in search of good dipnetting spots. Well, it turns out that the area hadn't received much rain recently, and most of the good spots were all dried up. We didn't have much luck, but I did turn up a few herps.

Found this fish in a shallow pool that was very warm and very muddy

ImageDSCN8155 by Matthew Ratcliffe, on Flickr

Likely a Bullfrog

ImageDSCN8157 by Matthew Ratcliffe, on Flickr

A brightly-colored FL Cricket Frog that posed nicely for me. I've never seen one that looked like this.

ImageDSCN8162 by Matthew Ratcliffe, on Flickr

Pig Frog tadpole

ImageDSCN8163 by Matthew Ratcliffe, on Flickr

This FL Leopard Frog was just out in the road in the middle of the hottest part of the day. I was very surprised to see a frog looking up at me while driving along.

ImageDSCN8165 by Matthew Ratcliffe, on Flickr

Another fish

ImageDSCN8168 by Matthew Ratcliffe, on Flickr

I found this juvenile Broadhead Skink in a dead tree back at the S.P. This little guy has seven stripes, which is how I came to that ID.

ImageDSCN8171 by Matthew Ratcliffe, on Flickr

I think this is an old female Great Blue Dasher. They are normally more yellow.

ImageDSCN8173 - Old Female Great Blue Dasher by Matthew Ratcliffe, on Flickr

After dinner at the park, we set out to roadcruise for the rest of the evening. Once we got to our target area, it didn't take long to turn up my lifer Gulf Hammock Ratsnake! It wasn't large for its species, but overall, it was a cooperative snake, despite giving Noah a bite to the arm.

ImageDSCN8177 by Matthew Ratcliffe, on Flickr

ImageDSCN8178 by Matthew Ratcliffe, on Flickr

ImageDSCN8179 by Matthew Ratcliffe, on Flickr

With artificial lighting

ImageDSCN8186 by Matthew Ratcliffe, on Flickr


ImageDSCN8188 by Matthew Ratcliffe, on Flickr

Rainbow

ImageDSCN8182 by Matthew Ratcliffe, on Flickr

Scarletsnake that David cruised:

ImageDSCN8183 by Matthew Ratcliffe, on Flickr

ImageDSCN8184 by Matthew Ratcliffe, on Flickr

A very small FL Watersnake

ImageDSCN8193 by Matthew Ratcliffe, on Flickr

A scrawny Southern Toad

ImageDSCN8197 by Matthew Ratcliffe, on Flickr

Mediterranean House Gecko found back at my hotel

ImageDSCN8198 by Matthew Ratcliffe, on Flickr

The next morning, on my way home, and I took another detour through Goethe State Forest, but mostly only turned up more DORs (Cottonmouths and FL Watersnakes). I made one stop at a trail and did find a few herps, plus a first for this year, pictured below.

Eastern Fence Lizard - perhaps one of the best-looking ones I've ever seen

ImageDSCN8213 by Matthew Ratcliffe, on Flickr

ImageDSCN8223 by Matthew Ratcliffe, on Flickr

Female Blue Dasher

ImageDSCN8218 - Female Blue Dasher by Matthew Ratcliffe, on Flickr

Possibly a male Little Blue Dragonlet

ImageDSCN8219 - Male Little Blue Dargonlet by Matthew Ratcliffe, on Flickr

Bullfrog

ImageDSCN8221 by Matthew Ratcliffe, on Flickr

Whenever you are hiking in Florida, you need to look up above eye level for Golden Silk Orb Weavers, as they like to make large webs between trees right over trails. We learned that lesson a few times during our hike at the State Park. Thankfully I saw these well enough in advance.

ImageDSCN8222 by Matthew Ratcliffe, on Flickr

ImageDSCN8225 by Matthew Ratcliffe, on Flickr

Juvenile Southern Toad

ImageDSCN8224 by Matthew Ratcliffe, on Flickr

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kevin h
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Re: SE Summer BBQ Herp-a-palooza - Manatee Springs (results)

Post by kevin h » July 15th, 2015, 9:04 pm

Beautiful finds guys, whether they were herps or not :thumb: . Although I have a question, how on earth do you get good photos of those racerunners! They always seem to scatter whenever I get close, even if I'm in "stealth mode".

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Re: SE Summer BBQ Herp-a-palooza - Manatee Springs (results)

Post by Tamara D. McConnell » July 15th, 2015, 11:04 pm

Looks like it was a wonderful time, productive and lots of fun fellowship.
Matthew, I love your fish pictures.

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Re: SE Summer BBQ Herp-a-palooza - Manatee Springs (results)

Post by Noah M » July 16th, 2015, 5:19 am

how on earth do you get good photos of those racerunners!
There were three of us, so we would chase the runners towards each other. The other thing I've had luck with is to sit still after spooking one. Some, not all, will run a short distance and then stop, thinking they are camouflaged. If you can see where it stops, creep up on it, taking pictures as you go, because eventually it will dart away again. If you are slow enough, sometimes you can get pretty darn close.

Thanks for the comments Tamara - it was a wonderful time.

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Re: SE Summer BBQ Herp-a-palooza - Manatee Springs (results)

Post by kevin h » July 16th, 2015, 8:13 am

Thanks so much now the next time I'm in a sandy area I'll know.

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