RFI: Savannah and Okefenokee

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mtratcliffe
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RFI: Savannah and Okefenokee

Post by mtratcliffe » September 7th, 2015, 6:12 pm

Hey everyone: for those of you who do not know, I will be deploying for 6 months starting in October. That means my last hurrah for herping the SE United States for quite sometime is drawing near. My wife and I are planning a trip to Savannah later this month, and we will be bringing our toddler with us. While a good portion of the trip will involve sight-seeing in the city, it is understood that at least one day in Savannah will be dedicated to nature-related activities. Additionally, we will be spending two nights in cabins just outside of Okefenokee NWR.

For Savannah, I am currently working on setting up a trip down to Jekyll Island, and hopefully receiving a private snake-tracking session. If that falls through, we may check out Harris Neck NWR or Oatland Island Wildlife Center. Does anyone have any experience with these places, or something to recommend? At most, I only expect two dedicated herping sessions during this portion of the trip.

For Okefenokee, I am planning on taking a boat ride at the eastern entrance to the swamp on our way to the cabins, then kayaking at Stephen C. Foster State Park the next day. We will also be checking out some boardwalks and trails in those areas as well. Given the time of year and our son's bedtime, roadcruising will be limited to daytime while traversing from one area to another, or immediately before and after sunset. I'm guessing that 177 is the main roadcruising venue there, as I do not see any other roads that transect the swamp. If anyone has any recommendations on which outfitters to go through for a boat tour, I'd love to here. Also, I feel like I might be missing something with things to do in Okefenokee, so please let me know if I am.

As always, please PM me if you do not wish to broadcast any specifics out in the open. I appreciate any input you all have! Thanks.

- Matt

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Noah M
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Re: RFI: Savannah and Okefenokee

Post by Noah M » September 8th, 2015, 4:21 am

I'm not too familiar with the area, and if I'm wrong hopefully somebody call me out on it, but I suspect because of the time of year, day cruising could be very productive. You may consider looking for sandy roads, and try cruising in the morning and late afternoon (4pm-sunset). If it is cool enough, you could even cruise mid day, or take a break to do some hiking and get lunch.

You may also consider log flipping or AC flipping if you find any.

simus343
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Re: RFI: Savannah and Okefenokee

Post by simus343 » September 8th, 2015, 6:03 am

As far as Jekyll Island, I'm not aware that they do snake-tracking stuff, but I do know they do loads of work with Carolina Diamondback Terrapins. Earlier in May when our larger Eastern Indigo Snake at work has a mysterious illness, we took her to the Sea Turtle Center to see Dr. Norton, the head veterinarian there. At that time, they had dozens if not hundreds of freshly hatches Diamondback Terrapins...so...many. Reason being mother terrapins were coming onto land, crossing roads to lay eggs, and getting crushed by cars. The vibe I picked up on the island is a grand majority of the work of biologists on the island goes towards the terrapins. Jekyll Island is a place well worth the visit while there if you go, especially the sea turtle center.

As far as everything else, I've got no idea as I've only been to GA on the trip to take our Indigo to Jekyll Isl. I can give a tip though, is 177 looks "wet" then try early in the morning as well, as you won't be out late cruising. I have a lot of luck cruising wet areas during late summer right before sunrise to 30 mins after it fully breaks the horizon.

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kevin h
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Re: RFI: Savannah and Okefenokee

Post by kevin h » September 8th, 2015, 3:49 pm

PM sent.

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mtratcliffe
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Re: RFI: Savannah and Okefenokee

Post by mtratcliffe » September 10th, 2015, 2:17 pm

simus343 wrote:As far as Jekyll Island, I'm not aware that they do snake-tracking stuff, but I do know they do loads of work with Carolina Diamondback Terrapins. Earlier in May when our larger Eastern Indigo Snake at work has a mysterious illness, we took her to the Sea Turtle Center to see Dr. Norton, the head veterinarian there. At that time, they had dozens if not hundreds of freshly hatches Diamondback Terrapins...so...many. Reason being mother terrapins were coming onto land, crossing roads to lay eggs, and getting crushed by cars. The vibe I picked up on the island is a grand majority of the work of biologists on the island goes towards the terrapins. Jekyll Island is a place well worth the visit while there if you go, especially the sea turtle center.

As far as everything else, I've got no idea as I've only been to GA on the trip to take our Indigo to Jekyll Isl. I can give a tip though, is 177 looks "wet" then try early in the morning as well, as you won't be out late cruising. I have a lot of luck cruising wet areas during late summer right before sunrise to 30 mins after it fully breaks the horizon.
Appreciate the info! I actually do have a tracking session set-up exclusively for EDBs, so I damn well better turn up my lifer! Hopefully we'll turn up some other things as well. I'd love to see a Terrapin, too, but I'm not counting on it.

Do you think early morning road cruising will be productive that time of year? Overnight lows will dip to somewhere between 68-70, I'd say, if not lower. To me, that seems like it might be too "cold" for anything to be on the roads, but I could be wrong.

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Stohlgren
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Re: RFI: Savannah and Okefenokee

Post by Stohlgren » September 10th, 2015, 3:18 pm

Track Hannibal if he's still around. That's my snake.

For terrapin, point a pair of binoculars at the creeks along the Jekyll causeway and you can probably spot some heads. That's going to be your best opportunity.

Now is a great time to cruise in the mornings as well as the afternoons into the evening.

Image

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Berkeley Boone
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Re: RFI: Savannah and Okefenokee

Post by Berkeley Boone » September 11th, 2015, 3:11 am

I agree with what Kevin said above. The research staff there most certainly is tracking snakes (several species), and the next few weeks will be fantastic for road (or bike) cruising.

It's been a while, but I have been to Oatland Island too. Enjoyed that facility as well.
I sent you a PM, too.
--Berkeley

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Noah M
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Re: RFI: Savannah and Okefenokee

Post by Noah M » September 11th, 2015, 4:26 am

Overnight lows will dip to somewhere between 68-70, I'd say, if not lower. To me, that seems like it might be too "cold" for anything to be on the roads, but I could be wrong.
Sounds like a great temperature for stuff to be on the road trying to sun itself to warm up. Also, some snakes can handle some pretty cool temps.

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mtratcliffe
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Re: RFI: Savannah and Okefenokee

Post by mtratcliffe » September 11th, 2015, 10:02 am

Stohlgren - Hannibal is still around, though they aren't tracking him. Is he a whopper of an EDB? I also appreciate the Terrapin advice.

Noah - I agree that those are good temps for having the roads warm up, but I was referring to before sunrise occurs. Though my kid likes to wake up early so I may be up then anyway!

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Stohlgren
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Re: RFI: Savannah and Okefenokee

Post by Stohlgren » September 11th, 2015, 2:36 pm

He wasn't anything special in terms of size, maybe a 4 footer or so, but that was back in 2012. Very pretty snake, though. Glad to hear he is still around. Found him in some really dense, nasty stuff, that nobody in their right mind would have any business walking through. This photo is more or less as found:
Image

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mtratcliffe
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Re: RFI: Savannah and Okefenokee

Post by mtratcliffe » September 11th, 2015, 4:15 pm

Stohlgren wrote:He wasn't anything special in terms of size, maybe a 4 footer or so, but that was back in 2012. Very pretty snake, though. Glad to hear he is still around. Found him in some really dense, nasty stuff, that nobody in their right mind would have any business walking through. This photo is more or less as found:
Image
That's an awesome diamond pattern! Were you part of the tracking/monitoring program back then?

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Stohlgren
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Re: RFI: Savannah and Okefenokee

Post by Stohlgren » September 12th, 2015, 5:44 am

No, I was conducting my own research, but luckily they were able to incorporate the snake into their work, which was just getting off the ground at the time.

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mtratcliffe
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Re: RFI: Savannah and Okefenokee

Post by mtratcliffe » September 19th, 2015, 3:44 pm

Thanks again to everyone who gave me some advice. We are heading up to Savannah tomorrow and will be back this time next week. I hope to have a great trip report to give after then!

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mtratcliffe
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Re: RFI: Savannah and Okefenokee

Post by mtratcliffe » September 27th, 2015, 10:50 am

Well, we are back from our trip, and we had a great time! Next to the trip I took out to New Mexico last August, this was probably my second best trip for herping yet. I turned up three lifers and my target species of Eastern Diamondback Rattlesnakes! I hope to have a trip report posted later this week - lots of neat finds on this trip.

Stohlgren - I didn't see Hannibal, but I did meet Joseph who is a grad student at UGA. He said he knew you.

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Stohlgren
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Re: RFI: Savannah and Okefenokee

Post by Stohlgren » September 27th, 2015, 6:24 pm

Yeah, I know Joseph. He's a good guy. I look forward to your post.

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