Family trip out to Cape Hatteras

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kevin h
Posts: 98
Joined: January 18th, 2015, 3:04 pm

Family trip out to Cape Hatteras

Post by kevin h » July 21st, 2015, 3:58 pm

Hey guys, this is my first actually post so stick with me here and I'm sorry it's so long. Ok, so in late June me, my dad and my mom went out to the Outer Banks to just do a family vacation and no real herping, however I did see a couple of really interesting stuff and several lifers for me considering I'm a mountain boy. Lets begin, on the first day we arrived in Avon, NC and since it had been a long drive out from Lexington, KY we decided to go get some nice seafood to eat. On the way walking there we stumbled upon an eastern mud turtle crossing the sidewalk.
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I was really excited as this was a lifer for me and I love turtles. I turned him back towards the woods so he wouldn't become road burger and we continued on. Later that night I did hear squirrel tree frogs calling but was not able to find any.

The next day I walked out to the dunes that were close to our house that we were staying in to see if I could find anything. There were several six lined racerunners (another lifer) scurrying about but I was unable to get any photos cause they're so darn fast! After that we went on down to Hatteras Island to see the lighthouse there and do other touristy things.
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View from top of the lighthouse.
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From the top of the lighthouse we could see several ponds close to the beach and since I very much wanted to see a terrapin we figured it'd might be a good place. When I walked down to the waters edge of the pond I saw several turtles although I couldn't tell what species they were. That is until the started to come out of the water to greet me!
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These yellowbelly sliders were obviously very tame and once you'd pick one he'd thrash and claw you until you put him down. Once you'd done what he wanted he'd waltz back into the water without a care in the world.
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There were also some very pretty southern leopard frogs around the pond.
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After that we wanted to go on a hike despite the sweltering heat, so we asked a ranger what hike she preferred and after some quick directions we arrived at the site and I began to herp. Within a few short minutes I flipped up a eastern narrow toad which was a pleasant surprise.
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At about the same time my dad saw another very unphotogenic racerunner that escaped, and later throughout the hike we saw many small fowler's toads.
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This concluded our day besides more squirrel tree frogs that mocked me for the rest of our entire stay.

The next morning I tried again around our house to photograph a racerunner and again failed. Then my mom made the suggestion to go north to a National Wildlife Refuge which we agreed on. On our way up we stopped at a place to see Pemlico Sound and I again failed at photographing racerunners, those little guys were really starting to rub me the wrong way by now. We continued up the island and arrived at the visitor center to discuss hikes to do. The nice volunteers there told me of a pond not far where there were redbelly, mud, yellowbelly and snapping turtles. This peeked my interest so we went on that hike. On the board walk over said pond we saw several more yellowbelly sliders who were also very tame, two snapping turtles underwater and a large redbelly turtle which was another lifer for me.
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Snapper underwater.
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Redbelly asking for a handout.
After that we finished our hike seeing some cool birds like oyster catchers and some blue crabs. Then we went further north to the Bodie Island lighthouse which was very cool but sadly closed by the time we got there.
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Soon went back to the house being very tired and I had a nice meal of shrimp.

The next day we went north again this time to Roanoke Island to visit the lost colony and after going through the visitor center and overhearing a very nice presentation by toddler on "how giant cat people from Venus took them" it was time to go on another hike. On a trail to the old fort I spotted what I think is a southeastern five line skink but it might be a broadhead skink. I don't believe five lines have been found on the island strangely. Any ideas?
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I admit its a bad photo so it's hard to count the lip scales. Sadly that's the only thing I saw on the island, however we decided that after we ate supper that we would go road cruising on the mainland for black bears at another National Wildlife Refuge since they are know to be prevalent there. As it started to turn to night we saw a small snake cross the road and my dad stopped so I could get some photos.
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It turned out to be a banded water snake. We continued on down the road till it dead ended and we got out. Unfortunately the flies there are the worst I've ever seen and I only got a quick shot of another southern leopard.
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On the way back up the road was more productive. We saw another snake that turned out to be a plainbelly water snaked which was another lifer that I lost as it dove into some reeds. The last herp of the night was another more dull banded water snake that I did manage to get photos of.
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We also saw many more frogs and toads but the flies were so bad I didn't feel like stopping for them and since both our car and us were running on fumes we decided to head back.

The next was for the most part herp free as we took a ferry south to Ocracoke Island as my mom and dad wanted to relive some honeymoon locations. We went to the lighthouse there and I got to see where my parents were famously devoured by mosquitoes.
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Spectacular ocean sunset from the ferry, and no I did not see a green flash.
On our way back we did come across a DOR eastern ribbon but I don't like photographing those things since it makes me sad.

The next day we went north again to visit stuff around Nags Head, NC. On our way up I want to stop again at the Pemlico Sound area as the racerunners there seemed more tame than the others and I was determined to get a photo where you could actually see the animal. I slowly crept up to one and snapped a trash photo of a six lined racerunner! :thumb:
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Seeing that my lifelong goal since four days ago was accomplished we continued north and our first stop was at a Park with huge dunes, here I discovered that eastern hognose snakes are more common than racers or rats! This of course means that I didn't get to see a single snake there. However I did stumble onto some more racerunners and later after being told by some people that they'd seen a box turtle found it ourselves.
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Another trash photo of a racerunner.
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Eastern box turtle.
That pretty much ended my day of herping with some more searching of a terrapin to no avail.

My family's last day on the outer banks was spent heading north again this time to the Wright Brothers National Memorial. This day was again not a very herp diverse day with me seeing only one racerunner from about 200 yards away as some tourists got excellent photos of it. But it was still a fun day for me considering I also love history.
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Wright Brothers National Memorial.

On our way back to Black Mountain, NC to visit my two aunts I pleaded with my dad to stop once again at the road cruising site since we drove right past it and he eventually conceded. There were numerous yellowbelly sliders and redbelly turtles in the canals on the side of the road but what I saw next crossing the road was the find of the trip.
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A spotted turtle!!!!! This was naturally another lifer for me and I was elated. But our time at the refuge was not over yet so we continued down the road after helping the little fella across it. At the end a trail began and we figured we would follow it until the flies bothered us too much. We spotted several more southern leopard frogs, a couple of southern cricket frogs and a southern toad.
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Southern cricket frog.
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Southern toad.
After that we drove back out seeing more turtles and the first and only painted turtle of the trip that dove in before I could pull my lens cap off. When we arrived at Black Mountain me and my dad decided to go herping the next day while my mom spent time with her sister.

The next day we got up early so we could meet a good friend of mine and green salamander researcher, Alan Cameron but plans fell though and it couldn't be done. However he was gracious enough to provide us with some snorkeling gear to go search for hellbenders in a nearby river famous for them. As expect the water was very, very cold and we saw squat, so we then decided to go to a flood plain site that I had been to earlier that month on a trip with my herper buddy Ananth, in the hopes of mud salamanders and bog turtles. Me and my dad soon discovered that this site was well know and unfortunately mistreated. This place was also very seasonal and was considerable drier than when I was last there. Still though we managed to hit the jackpot with an eastern mud salamander which was a subspecies lifer for me. We also found another box turtle and a ringneck snake.
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Eastern mud salamander(Ananth was very impressed).
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Another eastern box turtle.
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Ringneck snake.
After that we ready to meet back up with my mom and my aunts for some food. While eating some marvelous BBQ I persuaded one of my aunts to go with me behind their house to a seep that I knew contained a good variety of species. Before we went down there I saw the quick flashes of both a eastern fence lizard and skink of some sort on their log pile as they dove to safety. While down there I found several duskies with one carolina mountain dusky and two or three seal salamanders.
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Carolina mountain dusky salamander.
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Seal salamander.
The next day we packed up and head back to the good old town of Lexington and thus concluding our awesome trip out to the Outer Banks and back to the Blue Ridge. Once again I apologize that this is so long and that I didn't get a better racerunner photos. I'll try to post more in the future.

Thanks, Kevin Hutcheson.

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Aneides Aeneus
Posts: 47
Joined: November 15th, 2014, 8:54 am
Location: Lexington, KY

Re: Family trip out to Cape Hatteras

Post by Aneides Aeneus » July 21st, 2015, 4:19 pm

Hey Kevin,

Glad to see you're on the forum now! Nice photos, and of course nice finds (as always, you did well with turtles). Hopefully I can see an eastern mud at that spot on our next Blue Ridge trip.

-Ananth.

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mtratcliffe
Posts: 533
Joined: January 19th, 2014, 4:34 pm
Location: Springfield, VA

Re: Family trip out to Cape Hatteras

Post by mtratcliffe » July 22nd, 2015, 1:54 am

That's a good selection of herps for a short trip. We don't see too many posts from that stretch of NC - thanks for sharing!

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Noah M
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Joined: November 3rd, 2012, 6:00 pm
Location: Gainesville, FL
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Re: Family trip out to Cape Hatteras

Post by Noah M » July 22nd, 2015, 5:05 am

Yes, it was a wonderful post. And welcome to the forum. I may ask though that you be a bit less specific about your locations. It is generally a good habit to get into.

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kevin h
Posts: 98
Joined: January 18th, 2015, 3:04 pm

Re: Family trip out to Cape Hatteras

Post by kevin h » July 22nd, 2015, 5:08 pm

Yes, it was a wonderful post. And welcome to the forum. I may ask though that you be a bit less specific about your locations. It is generally a good habit to get into.
I agree with you there about the less specific locations and I'll try to make them more general next time.

Thanks, Kevin Hutcheson.

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