2015 year in review

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justinm
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2015 year in review

Post by justinm » December 6th, 2015, 6:04 pm

I had the wonderful opportunity to go to meet with the Orianne Society, with the HerpMapper.org team. The Orianne Society is working on habitat restoration and conservation of Herps, with the Georgia sites being mostly about the Eastern Indigo (Drymarchon couperi). They’re wonderful people doing great work worthy of your consideration if you feel inclined to support a conservation group. Having said that this is where my herping year started in January. I didn’t get out nearly as much as I would have liked, work got in the way all too often. At any rate here’s a few of the things I saw in sort of a chronological order, give or take.
Marbled Salamander (Ambystoma opacum). These for me are an Autumn species, so seeing them in the Winter was great.
ImageAmbystoma opcacum by Justin Michels, on Flickr
Walking bottomland Swamp we found a lifer Pine woods tree frog (Hyla femoralis)
ImageHyla femoralis by Justin Michels, on Flickr
Habitat shot of the bottomland swamp. This was a really cool area to walk through.
ImageSouth Georgia bottomland swamp by Justin Michels, on Flickr
Chris Smith rolled a piece of firewood right outside the cabin for the first lizard find of 2015. It was a very cold morning so the lizard posed for us nicely. Green Anole (Anolis carolinensis)
ImageAnolis carolinensis by Justin Michels, on Flickr
That first day we split off in two groups, to maximize our survey results. The group did really well with regard to finding Eastern Indigos. Bringing in new specimens to the study. Including this gravid female I could claim as my own find.
ImageDrymarchon corais couperi by Justin Michels, on Flickr
ImageDrymarchon corais couperi by Justin Michels, on Flickr
Here are a few of the Orianne Society Scientists, and Charlie the Snake sniffing dog. I had the pleasure of spending a day with Charlie and watching him find two Indigos, it was really incredible.
ImageDrymarchon corais couperi by Justin Michels, on Flickr
Here I am mugging with three snakes found in 5 minutes! Thanks Charlie!
ImageDrymarchon corais couperi by Justin Michels, on Flickr
ImageDrymarchon corais couperi by Justin Michels, on Flickr
ImageDrymarchon corais couperi by Justin Michels, on Flickr
We were either herping or sleeping so we were out day and night, night and day doing our damn’est to find anything we could even in cold rain.
Southern Toad (Anaxyrus terrestris)
ImageAnaxyrus terrestris by Justin Michels, on Flickr
Rainy nights did make the number of species climb. Southern Chorus Frog (Pseudacris nigrita)
ImagePseudacris nigrita by Justin Michels, on Flickr
Squirrel Treefrogs (Hyla squirrela) seemed at first to be difficult to find, until we looked around light poles. Then they were everywhere at night.
ImageHyla squirella by Justin Michels, on Flickr
Ornate Chorus frogs (Pseudacris ornata) have to be one of the best of the genus, we found Green and Tan color phases and saw amplexus and egg laying in January.
ImagePseudacris ornata by Justin Michels, on Flickr
ImagePseudacris ornata by Justin Michels, on Flickr
Common back home but still nice to see were the Southern Leopard frogs (Lithobates sphenocephalus)
ImageLithobates sphenocephalus by Justin Michels, on Flickr
The smallest frog in North America and by far the hardest I’ve tried to photograph, the aptly named Little Grass Frog (Pseudacris ocularis). I couldn’t count how many I saw but only a few photos came out at all. Dark, windy, rainy nights are like that for shooting a 3mm frog.
ImagePseudacris ocularis by Justin Michels, on Flickr
The Dwarf Salamander (Eurycea quadridigitata) another critter that’s aptly named. This was found at the Orianne Society’s preserve the day we arrived.
ImageDwarf Salamander (Eurycea quadridigitata) by Justin Michels, on Flickr
Here’s a “Squatch” destroying habitat while the other guys watch.
ImageIMG_5126 by Justin Michels, on Flickr
Something you rarely see anyone get to do legally, bagging an Eastern Indigo. This juvenile was the first juvenile found at the site and was new to the study! Go Citizen Science.
ImageDrymarchon corais couperi by Justin Michels, on Flickr
All the Indigos are worked up by the Orianne Society staff. Here’s one new to the study getting a pit tag.
ImageDrymarchon corais couperi by Justin Michels, on Flickr
They check the tags to make sure it reads correctly before being let go at the burrow they were found near.
ImageIMG_5176 by Justin Michels, on Flickr
The snakes are all measured, weighed and sexed. “Doing science”
ImageIMG_5181 by Justin Michels, on Flickr
This is the Juvenile being released.
ImageDrymarchon corais couperi by Justin Michels, on Flickr
Back home from there in the Spring the usual suspects were found. Northern Zig Zag Salamander (Plethodon dorsalis)
ImageNorthern Zig Zag Salamander by Justin Michels, on Flickr
Another Salamander a male, you can see his mental gland under the chin here.
ImageNorthern Zig Zag Salamander, showing male's mental gland. by Justin Michels, on Flickr
Cottonmouth (Agkistrodon contortrix) in ambush. I know some people are easily bored with these snakes and in the right habitat they’re scary common. I haven’t gotten tired of them yet.
ImageWestern Cottonmouth by Justin Michels, on Flickr
Here’s one doing its best impersonation of a Cobra. I had never seen this before.
ImageWestern Cottonmouth by Justin Michels, on Flickr
Fresh out of the hibernacula a Yellow Bellied Watersnake (Nerodia erythrogaster flavigaster)
ImageYellow Bellied Watersnake by Justin Michels, on Flickr
I met up with Jeremy Schumacher and Mike Pingleton for some harder to find stuff. We did really well on this night, if not for all the effort it took.
Tiger Salamander (Ambystoma tigrinum), in a woodland vernal none of us were expecting to see it here. I guess it didn’t read the field guides.
ImageEastern Tiger Salamander by Justin Michels, on Flickr
Another cool Ambystomid Mole Salamander metamorph (Ambystoma talpoideum)
ImageMole Salamander metamorph by Justin Michels, on Flickr
This frog, THIS frog… I can’t tell you how frustrating these are to photograph. I saw so many it wasn’t funny but getting one in your camera’s viewfinder is miserable. We worked our butts off like nobody has seen for this one lousy frog. Pingleton said you have to eventually find a dumb one. We did.
Northern Crawfish Frog (Lithobates areolatus)
ImageNorthern Crawfish Frog by Justin Michels, on Flickr
Babies were out later in the year, I love the yellow tails. Cottonmouth
ImageCottonmouth by Justin Michels, on Flickr
This turtle caught me totally by surprise I jumped back, they’re not often seen out of the water. Eastern Musk Turtle (Sternotherus odoratus)
ImageSternotherus odoratus by Justin Michels, on Flickr
I set off on this day to find some box turtles, and I did. What I found here in situ totally knocked my socks off. For a long time I had been jealous of people seeing Indian Pipe. So to see it just like this was really cool. Terrapene carolina/Monotropa uniflora
ImageTerrapene carolina/Monotropa uniflora by Justin Michels, on Flickr
I wasn’t so artsy as I’ve been in the past but this shot came out pretty well I think. Western Ribbon (Thamnophis proximus)
ImageWestern Ribbon Snake by Justin Michels, on Flickr
Crummy shot of one of 5 Copperheads seen at the Road this year, in situ. They’re harder to find there than most people realize. Agkistrodon contortrix
ImageSouthern Copperhead by Justin Michels, on Flickr
Michael Cravens and I walked the road together for the first time in years. He had his newest herper with him. I was very glad to meet her.
ImageP1030526 by Justin Michels, on Flickr
Fielding and the World Famous Quinn.
ImageP1030535 by Justin Michels, on Flickr
Black Rat snake (Pantherophis obsoletus) on the road. I love how they get all kinked up.
ImageBlack Rat Snake by Justin Michels, on Flickr
Cave Salamanders (Eurycea lucifuga) are almost a given if you know where to look.
ImageP1030543 by Justin Michels, on Flickr
I saw silly amounts of Green Treefrogs (Hyla cinerea) and even more Bird Voiced (Hyla avivoca) this Fall. I think that’s pretty lucky.
ImageAmerican green tree frog (Hyla cinerea) by Justin Michels, on Flickr
ImageBird Voiced Treefrog (Hyla avivoca) by Justin Michels, on Flickr
I saw this guy sleeping in the trees, just before giving up for the night. It was getting late when I finally found him. Rough Green Snake (Opheodrys aestivus)
ImageRough Green Snake (Opheodrys aestivus) by Justin Michels, on Flickr

Well that’s mostly it. I hope you enjoyed it. Happy Herping! If you want to see anything full sized my flickr page is https://www.flickr.com/photos/jmichels/

Justin Michels

mikephoto
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Re: 2015 year in review

Post by mikephoto » December 6th, 2015, 7:46 pm

Great stuff Justin. Those Indigo photos are killer. Really like the boxie and ribbon photos too.

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MichaelCravens
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Re: 2015 year in review

Post by MichaelCravens » December 6th, 2015, 9:36 pm

Heck of a year Justin! Let's not wait so long this time before getting together again. I want to meet those boys of yours.

Michael

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BillMcGighan
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Re: 2015 year in review

Post by BillMcGighan » December 7th, 2015, 5:50 am

Excellent post, JM; reminiscent of post crash days! :thumb: :thumb:

MCHerper
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Re: 2015 year in review

Post by MCHerper » December 7th, 2015, 8:16 am

Awesome!!

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Gary2sons
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Re: 2015 year in review

Post by Gary2sons » December 7th, 2015, 9:01 am

Truly awesome post Justin! :thumb:

The indigo's were something else!

Epic posts like this are what we need here! :thumb:

Gary

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justinm
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Re: 2015 year in review

Post by justinm » December 7th, 2015, 9:13 am

Thanks everyone, I left a lot of things out for brevity. I saw a lot of turtles, and some small fossorial snakes. I guess looking back I didn't post any rattlers and that's ok too. The only Eastern Diamondback a real bruiser I didn't get a shot of, as it was going into a burrow and we didn't want to harass it. I think Pingleton and Chris got pics though. There were a lot more salamanders and newts, all kinds of things really but I'm short on time and most weren't great pictures to be honest. Thanks for the kind words I'm hoping a few people decide to do a year end wrap up. It's not that hard if you put it into Word first guys!

Justin

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Jeroen Speybroeck
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Re: 2015 year in review

Post by Jeroen Speybroeck » December 7th, 2015, 12:15 pm

Great mix, thanks!

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Josh Holbrook
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Re: 2015 year in review

Post by Josh Holbrook » December 7th, 2015, 4:35 pm

Thanks for posting, Justin - Good stuff! I'll be doing my end of year soon to follow suit.

Tamara D. McConnell
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Re: 2015 year in review

Post by Tamara D. McConnell » December 8th, 2015, 3:58 am

Beautiful post!

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walk-about
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Re: 2015 year in review

Post by walk-about » December 8th, 2015, 7:38 am

Justin,

Great shots of an awesome year!! Those Indigos look beautiful! That pic of you with the three wrapped around your neck is epic. Too Cool! I understand about what you are saying about attempting to get any quality night pic of a Crawfish Frog. I know, I know. Try to get one 'calling'!! I have even gone as far as to set up a blind with a chair inside waiting them out to come surface and call. So when I do see a quality pic of such an event, I take note. Kaptain Kory has some great pics of Arkansas specimens calling. Anyways, that 'Zig-zag' would certainly pass for a 'Redback' here in KY? Is that from southern ILLinois area? Thanks for posting brother.

Dave

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justinm
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Re: 2015 year in review

Post by justinm » December 8th, 2015, 10:41 am

Dave,

The Zigzag was from Southern Illinois. There's geographic ranges for those and redbacks, even though they look the same. Thanks for the kind words.

Justin Michels

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orionmystery
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Re: 2015 year in review

Post by orionmystery » December 12th, 2015, 12:38 am

Great post, Justin. I get all jelly whenever I see sallies! :thumb:

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Berkeley Boone
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Re: 2015 year in review

Post by Berkeley Boone » December 15th, 2015, 8:47 am

Nice review, Justin!

I wish I had known you guys were going to be down in my neck of the woods for the Orianne surveys. It would have been nice to meet up with you fellas! Oh well. Next time!

--Berkeley

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