We're Not Out of The Woods Yet (TX,LA,MS,AL,FL): 2015 EOY

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Soopaman
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We're Not Out of The Woods Yet (TX,LA,MS,AL,FL): 2015 EOY

Post by Soopaman » January 1st, 2016, 12:47 pm

Hello again folks, I hope everyone had a fun and satisfying 2015. This past year has been another great year for herping, and life in general. I traveled all over Texas and Louisiana, and ventured further east to Mississippi, Alabama, and Florida. I saw many lifers, from east and west (and south!) and spent a lot of time with some great folks that I've come to really appreciate having in my life. A big thanks to Blake and Armin for all the time we've spent together, and all the work we've done setting up future herping spots throughout the southern US.


I'll approach this fairly chronologically, though I won't be specifying exact dates. As always, more information can usually be found about a particular photo by clicking on the photo and following the link to it's page on my Flickr. Exact locale information is not disclosed, though in a few cases I've disclosed the county/parish, as it was interesting or at least noteworthy to myself.

Link to Entire 2015 Flickr Album

Late Winter - 2015

In January, Armin and I got together one weekend to just see what was up that early in the year. We knew of milk snakes being found on particularly warm days in January/February, so we wanted to give it a shot.

Driving through, it was a pretty cool and frosty morning, but it would warm up to the upper 60's later in the day.

ImageMisty Morning Frost by Kyle, on Flickr

No milk snakes showed up for us, but we did hike up a ribbon snake in the afternoon.

ImageThamnophis proximus proximus (Orange-striped Ribbons Snake) by Kyle, on Flickr

ImageThamnophis proximus proximus (Orange-striped Ribbons Snake) by Kyle, on Flickr


As time allowed, I took a few weekend jaunts to south Texas and the coastal barrier islands in both January, February, and early March. In the right weather, most species can be found active at this time. Here's a few things from that late winter period.

ImageCoastal Sunrise by Kyle, on Flickr

ImageCoastal Dune Swale by Kyle, on Flickr

ImageCrotalus atrox by Kyle, on Flickr

ImageAgkistrodon piscivorous leucostoma (Western Cottonmouth) by Kyle, on Flickr

ImageMasticophis schotti schotti (Schott's Whipsnake) by Kyle, on Flickr

ImageMasticophis schotti schotti (Schott's Whipsnake) by Kyle, on Flickr

ImageMasticophis schotti schotti (Schott's Whipsnake) by Kyle, on Flickr

Backyard Frog:
ImageHyla cinerea (American Green Tree Frog) by Kyle, on Flickr

ImageDestroyed House by Kyle, on Flickr

ImageRusted Truck by Kyle, on Flickr

ImageRusted Truck by Kyle, on Flickr

ImageVirginia striatula (Rough Earth Snake) by Kyle, on Flickr

ImageLeft Behind by Kyle, on Flickr

ImageMasticophis schotti schotti (Schott's Whipsnake) by Kyle, on Flickr

ImageDrymarchon melanurus erebennus (Texas Indigo Snake) by Kyle, on Flickr

ImageDrymarchon melanurus erebennus (Texas Indigo Snake) by Kyle, on Flickr

ImagePantherophis emoryi meahllmorrum (Thornscrub Rat Snake) by Kyle, on Flickr

ImageLampropeltis getula ssp. by Kyle, on Flickr


In late February, I met up with Armin and his buddy Pat for a quick trip to South Texas. It was Armin's birthday, and we planned to celebrate with some south Texas specialties. We did pretty well and got to see several new species for all of us.

ImageThornscrub Debris by Kyle, on Flickr

ImageTexas Patchnose Shed by Kyle, on Flickr

ImageCrotalus atrox (Western Diamond-backed Rattlesnake) by Kyle, on Flickr

ImageMasticophis schotti ruthveni (Ruthven's Whipsnake) by Kyle, on Flickr

ImageConiophanes imperialis imperialis (Black-Striped Snake) by Kyle, on Flickr

ImageMasticophis schotti ruthveni (Ruthven's Whipsnake) by Kyle, on Flickr

ImageMasticophis schotti ruthveni (Ruthven's Whipsnake) by Kyle, on Flickr

ImagePat and Armin by Kyle, on Flickr

On our last day, we had a cold front blow in overnight, and temperatures plummeted into the 40°F's. We woke early, as usual, but Pat was a bit difficult to get motivated. He said we weren't going to find any snakes and it was "Lord of the Rings Marathon weather." Still, after some prodding, we got out and donned our heaviest clothing and did some flipping. Our hands were freezing cold, and the 10-15mph winds weren't helping. Under the first piece of tin, we got a nice chilly atrox, and I think it lifted Pat's spirits a bit.

ImageCrotalus atrox (Western Diamondbacked Rattlesnake) by Kyle, on Flickr

Shortly after, a small patchnose:

ImageSalvadora grahamiae lineata (Texas Patchnose Snake) by Kyle, on Flickr

And then, a few minutes later while navigating what looked like Africanized Bee central, I flipped this cool snake under a 1ftx1ft piece of plywood.

ImageLeptodeira septentrionalis (Northern Cat-eyed Snake) by Kyle, on Flickr

ImageLeptodeira septentrionalis (Northern Cat-eyed Snake) by Kyle, on Flickr

Finding that leptodeira was certainly the highlight of the trip, and a good omen for things to come this year.

We continued to herp up the way back towards Houston.

ImageLampropeltis getula ssp. (Speckled/Desert King Intergrade) by Kyle, on Flickr


I continued to spend weekends down there when I could, and a few more things turned up. Barrier island milks are always neat to see, and several showed up this year.

ImageLampropeltis triangulum annulata (Mexican Milk Snake) by Kyle, on Flickr

ImageLampropeltis triangulum annulata (Mexican Milk Snake) by Kyle, on Flickr

ImageLampropeltis triangulum annulata (Mexican Milk Snake) by Kyle, on Flickr

ImageLampropeltis triangulum annulata (Mexican Milk Snake) by Kyle, on Flickr

ImageLampropeltis triangulum annulata (Mexican Milk Snake) by Kyle, on Flickr

ImageLampropeltis triangulum annulata (Mexican Milk Snake) by Kyle, on Flickr

ImageLampropeltis triangulum annulata (Mexican Milk Snake) by Kyle, on Flickr

ImageLampropeltis getula ssp. (Speckled/Desert King Intergrade) by Kyle, on Flickr

ImageLampropeltis getula ssp. (Speckled/Desert King Intergrade) by Kyle, on Flickr

I spent a bit of time with Blake, near the southern tip of Texas. We had a good bit of fun and found some cool things.

ImageDrymarchon melanurus erebennus (Texas Indigo Snake) by Kyle, on Flickr

ImageDrymarchon melanurus erebennus (Texas Indigo Snake) by Kyle, on Flickr

ImageCrotalus atrox (Western Diamondbacked Rattlesnake) by Kyle, on Flickr

ImageTexas Tortoise by Kyle, on Flickr

ImageInland Dune by Kyle, on Flickr

ImageInland Dunes by Kyle, on Flickr

ImageInland Dunes by Kyle, on Flickr

ImageInland Dunes by Kyle, on Flickr

ImagePrickly Pear Cactus by Kyle, on Flickr

ImageIndian Paintbrush and Texas Bluebonnet by Kyle, on Flickr

ImageResaca by Kyle, on Flickr

ImageFoggy Dunes by Kyle, on Flickr

ImageGreen Anole by Kyle, on Flickr

ImageDrymobius margaritiferus (Speckled Racer) by Kyle, on Flickr

ImageDrymobius margaritiferus (Speckled Racer) by Kyle, on Flickr

ImageDrymobius margaritiferus (Speckled Racer) by Kyle, on Flickr

ImageDrymobius margaritiferus (Speckled Racer) by Kyle, on Flickr

ImageDrymobius margaritiferus (Speckled Racer) by Kyle, on Flickr

One day, we flipped another one of these at the spot I discovered:

ImageLeptodeira septentrionalis (Northern Cat-eyed Snake) by Kyle, on Flickr

And then cruised one of these not far away:

ImageLampropeltis triangulum annulata (Mexican Milk Snake) by Kyle, on Flickr


Spring - 2015

Being a calligaster nut, I jumped at the chance to go see mole kings with Tamara and Ray in Alabama. We talked a bit, and then I spoke to Armin about it. What started as a quick weekend jaunt to Alabama turned into a multi-day excursion to Florida, Alabama, and Mississippi, and it ended up being one of the most memorable trips I've had, an possibly will have. We did some careful planning, and google mapping, and found some flip sites to target. Our first day was going to be with Diamondback Dave, where he'd show us around his neck of the woods and hopefully we'd get to see some diamondbacks.

I ended up leaving my house in Houston around 1-2am, to get to Armin's in Baton Rouge by 5-6am. We then zipped over to Florida, and I got a quick nap. Close to noon, we were at Dave's and herping. While no diamondbacks showed up at Dave's, and we got rained on most of the day, we still had a really good time and got to see some lifers.

ImagePantherophis spiloides (Grey Rat Snake) by Kyle, on Flickr

ImageColuber flagellum flagellum (Eastern Coachwhip) by Kyle, on Flickr

ImageAgkistrodon piscivorous conanti (Florida Cottonmouth) by Kyle, on Flickr

ImageColuber flagellum flagellum (Eastern Coachwhip) by Kyle, on Flickr

ImagePantherophis spiloides (Grey Rat Snake) by Kyle, on Flickr

The following day, we headed back west to meet with Tamara. Our goal was to herp the way back, and then be at Tamara's house around 10pm. We were really wanting to flip a mole king, but I can't complain with how the day went instead.

One of the first finds of the day was this copperhead. We actually saw a couple, which is surprising considering they're supposed to be difficult to find in Florida.

ImageAgkistrodon contotrix contotrix (Southern Copperhead) by Kyle, on Flickr

We cruised a grey rat during the day:

ImagePantherophis spiloides (Grey Rat Snake) by Kyle, on Flickr

The main attraction of the day, however, was one we expected to see the least. I copy/pasted this story directly from the Flickr Photos.
Armin and I had planned for this trip thoroughly, and had located many abandoned houses and barns that supported large amounts of artificial cover in good habitat for our targets.

Until you get there, however, you never really know if it's truly abandoned. Such was the situation when we pulled up to this driveway situated adjacent to the drive for an obviously occupied residence. Upon examining the gate, I noticed a layer of leaves covering the bottom of it. It clearly hadn't been opened in a while.

I signaled Armin that we were in the clear, and he turned off the truck and we quietly crept in, making sure not to make too much noise and alert the neighbors. We walked onto the property and saw it was lacking in the cover we had hoped it would have. Still, we had come this far, why not poke around some more?

In the back of the property we came upon a large barn roof/side, laying flat on the ground, that was about 25x25ft. It was fashioned from tin, on top of plywood, supported by 2x4s on the bottom. It was very heavy, and were only able to peak under corners.

As we worked our way around this mightiest of flips, trying to get a peak under the edges, I saw the dirty coil of a large, rough scaled snake slink further under the cover. I shouted to Armin "Big snake! I think it's our diamondback!"

With renewed effort, we heaved to lift this monstrous bit of flip and see what was underneath. Barely getting an edge 3ft off the ground, Armin was able to lean down and rest it on his shoulder and look at the snake, which was now situated about 6-8ft to my right. I couldn't see at all, from where I was lifting.

Through the dust and harsh light, Armin couldn't make out exactly what it was, but he told me "it's either a cotton or a pine, go get it!"

Getting down on my belly I crawled towards it, only part of a dark coil visible to me, no pattern was apparent, and in the light it was truly hard to tell what it was. Hoping it truly was a pine, I gave it a quick poke to see what would happen. With that slight touch, this 4ft pine snake whipped around and we heard a sharp "Hssssssssss!"

The classic "snake noise" in movies was played out before us as this pine snake hiss and tried to scare us away. With that, we quickly grabbed it and danced away victoriously.
And here's the star of that day:

ImagePituophis melanoleucus mugitus (Florida Pine Snake) by Kyle, on Flickr

ImagePituophis melanoleucus mugitus (Florida Pine Snake) by Kyle, on Flickr

ImagePituophis melanoleucus mugitus (Florida Pine Snake) by Kyle, on Flickr

Our trip was made, even if we hadn't seen our target! We finished off the day with a scarlet king that was in-shed (no photos).


We made it in Tamara's, and were treated to some heaping bowls of ice cream, and got to talk herps with some of the most enthusiastic herp people I've ever met. Both Tamara and Ray were great hosts, and it was a real treat to get to go out with them. I can't thank them enough for their hospitality and their part in our exciting adventure.

The following morning we woke and Tamara and Ray took us to their mole king spot. We looked around and saw quite a few snakes, but no calligaster showed up. Still, we were having a great time!

Along with this corn snake, we saw another rat, a racer or two, and a pinewoods snake.

ImagePantherophis guttata (Corn Snake) by Kyle, on Flickr

After that, we hit another area, hoping for a mole, EDB, or lodingi. We poked around, but nothing showed up. I started looking on google maps for more junk nearby that may have been missed by us. I spotted some stuff, and we drove over to it. We turned up a dirty looking king (one of a couple for the day). Way off down the road in the woods, however, was another few things. Spurred by Tamara's excitement, we made the trek out to it, and got yet another big surprise for the trip.
Again, I've copied the story from the Flickr photo, and pasted here.

In early spring, Armin and I met Tamara and her husband Ray to look for Black Pines and Eastern Diamondbacks in southern Alabama.

While both are present in the area, they are by no means a guaranteed find. With that in mind, Tamara took us to an area she had seen them before.

We flipped some trash along a sandy road. A place locals deemed fit to dump couches and old mattresses. An eyesore for sure, but delightful for us. We poured through it, with no snakes to be found. Not even a rat snake!

I pulled out my phone and looked at the satellite images around us, making sure we had thoroughly covered the area. I noticed that just down the road, along a thin dirt road, was a small patch of stuff. Tamara hadn't been there before, and we were excited for new cover to flip.

We arrived, and saw that it was a private drive with "No Trespassing" signs. It looked like the locals paid no attention to this, as there was a well worn path around the gate. No fence hopping required. As they say, when in Rome...

Approaching the small pile of trash we spied a mattress and some old cans and bottles. Not a lot of good flipping material. Turning the mattress yielded an in-shed kingsnake.

Once more, I pulled out my phone, and spied a couple more potential spots that appeared to be fallen hunting stands, about a 1/4 mile down the private drive, along a powerline right-of-way. Tamara, as enthusiastic as ever, led the charge. We arrived to the first of the two spots, and there was only a single 1x4ft board there, and flipping it yielded nothing.

Nearby, however, through the woods was the other spot. We waded through the thick tangle and stumbled into a sunny clearing. We could see some good cover. Two large 4x4 sheets of plywood, propped up by 2x4s laid on the ground, and a layer of three 2x4 sheets of plywood leaned up against it. Excellent looking cover for a large snake like a pine or a diamondback!

With our eyes on the prize, we approached and turned everything over, and much to our chagrin this great looking cover yielded nothing!

Turning to leave back to the car where Ray was waiting for us, Tamara stopped suddenly. "There! There's a snake!"

It took a minute for my eyes to adjust, but as they focused, the form of a large 5ft black snake became apparent to me in the grass we had just walked through. There it was, a big black pine snake, plain as day, and we had walked right by it! The snake had apparently been using the cover over night, and had come out as the sun began to peek over the treeline. Luckily, it didn't leave after we walked by it!
As seen:

ImagePituophis melanoleucus lodingi (Blacke Pine Snake) by Kyle, on Flickr

ImagePituophis melanoleucus lodingi (Blacke Pine Snake) by Kyle, on Flickr


That afternoon, Tamara and Ray took us to their hunting property where she has a few bits of cover. This was really excellent looking habitat. Some of the best managed long leaf pine forest I had been in. If we were gonna hike up an EDB, it was here!

We found nothing under cover, but had the rest of the day to explore and see what we could find. We turned up a hognose and a gorgeous scarlet king in short order.

ImageHeterodon platirhinos (Eastern Hognose Snake) by Kyle, on Flickr

ImageLampropeltis elapsoides (Scarlet Kingsnake) by Kyle, on Flickr

ImageLampropeltis elapsoides (Scarlet Kingsnake) by Kyle, on Flickr

At one point, I came across an burned down barn/shelter of some sort, and it had tons of tin around it. Looking through it, yielded nothing. I began to strategically spread some of it out, thus bringing upon the last big find of our trip.

Last little story, taken from my write-up earlier on the Flickr page:
While hiking on well managed private property among mixed hardwoods and longleaf pines, I came across a barn whose timbers had been burned down, so most of the roofing tin was laying on the ground. Hoping for an <i>adamanteus</i>, I began searching under the tin.

Unfortunately, there was nothing taking refuge and thermoregulating under the warm tin. Seeing as it was not in an ideal position, I began spreading it around in strategic areas, so Tamara and Ray could come back in the future and potentially find some neat snakes under it.

I spread a few sheets out, then began to look for Tamara and Armin. I found them about 100 yards off, told them about the barn, and they came to help spread out more tin. A few minutes of that passed, and I wandered around in search of more snakes, turning up a juvenile corn snake under bark.

I took it back to Tamara and Armin, who were standing near some tin I had set out before meeting them. I showed them the corn snake, and we looked at it for a moment. Armin turned to head off, back in the direction of the barn, and stopped before he took a step and said:
"Oh my God, is that a...?!"

Not 5 feet from where we were talking, at the base of a pine tree we had all walked by several times, was this 5ft eastern diamondback curled up and calmly watching us.

It must have been there for 30minutes or more as we trampled around and bumbled by it.

Needless to say, we were all very excited to have one of our final targets of the trip come in on the third day!
The baby corn:
ImagePantherophis guttata (Corn Snake) by Kyle, on Flickr

The EDB:

ImageCrotalus adamanteus (Eastern Diamondback) by Kyle, on Flickr

ImageCrotalus adamanteus (Eastern Diamondback) by Kyle, on Flickr


The final day of the trip we herped our way through Mississippi. We didn't turn up anything huge, but we did find a few things. Early in the morning we flipped a hognose, and then ended up with a scarlet king, and a speckled king later in the day.

ImageHeterodon platirhinos (Eastern Hognose Snake) by Kyle, on Flickr

ImageHeterodon platirhinos (Eastern Hognose Snake) by Kyle, on Flickr


From around Houston, I turned up some of our local animals.

ImagePantherophis obsoletus lindheimeri (Texas Rat Snake) by Kyle, on Flickr

ImageHeterodon platirhinos (Eastern Hognose Snake) by Kyle, on Flickr

ImageAgkistrodon contortrix contotrix (Southern Copperhead) by Kyle, on Flickr

ImageColuber constrictor etheridgei (Tan Racer) by Kyle, on Flickr

ImageDiadophis punctatus stictogenys (Mississippi Ringneck Snake) by Kyle, on Flickr

ImageDiadophis punctatus stictogenys (Mississippi Ringneck Snake) by Kyle, on Flickr

ImageLampropeltis calligaster calligaster (Prairie Kingsnake) by Kyle, on Flickr

ImageLampropeltis calligaster calligaster (Prairie Kingsnake) by Kyle, on Flickr



I met up with Ryan (DracoRJC) one day in April to go find pygmies. It turned out to be really good day, with lots of numbers. We started off the morning with about a half dozen milk snakes, of which I don't think I got any good photos of. But we did turn up my second calligaster of the year, some pretty coppers, coachwhips, and a pygmy.

ImageLampropeltis calligaster calligaster (Prairie Kingsnake) by Kyle, on Flickr

ImageAgkistrodon contortrix contotrix (Southern Copperhead) by Kyle, on Flickr

ImageColuber flagellum flagellum (Eastern Coachwhip) by Kyle, on Flickr

ImageSistrurus miliarus streckeri (Western Pygmy Rattlesnake) by Kyle, on Flickr

ImageSistrurus miliarus streckeri (Western Pygmy Rattlesnake) by Kyle, on Flickr


One early spring weekend I drug Blake to west Texas, promising him we could have a great time flipping snakes in spring. Maybe we'd find some good stuff, and it's bound to be more fun than the redundant cut shining and road cruising that dominates the eastern Trans-Pecos herping style that you do in the summer.

I was right about it being more fun, but it didn't produce much variety. We saw coachwhips, and central texas whips, patchnose, lots of sonora and tantilla. The most interesting finds where a regal ringneck that we cruised at dusk, and a juvenile Baird's rat snake we found on a cut shortly after dark.

ImageWest Texas by Kyle, on Flickr

ImageWest Texas by Kyle, on Flickr

ImageDiadophis punctatus regalis (Regal Ringneck Snake) by Kyle, on Flickr

ImageColuber flagellum testaceus (Western Coachwhip) by Kyle, on Flickr

ImagePantherophis bairdi (Baird's Rat Snake) by Kyle, on Flickr

ImagePantherophis bairdi (Baird's Rat Snake) by Kyle, on Flickr


Another weekend I met with Armin and Brennan in central Louisiana, and we had a pretty good day. We flipped our first LA calligaster, hiked a gorgeous can, and cruised a buttermilk.

ImageColuber constrictor anthicus (Buttermilk Racer) by Kyle, on Flickr

ImageColuber constrictor anthicus (Buttermilk Racer) by Kyle, on Flickr

ImageBrennan, Armin, and Kisatchie Diva by Kyle, on Flickr

ImageCrotalus horridus (Canebrake Rattlesnake) by Kyle, on Flickr

ImageCrotalus horridus (Canebrake Rattlesnake) by Kyle, on Flickr

The following week, we started our "actual" spring trip, the one we had been planning since the previous October. How all the other mini-trips got started, I'll never know. This time it was four of us, and we were headed up to north Texas for massassaugas. Armin, Sean, Pat, and I met in the northeastern part of the state to look for pygs on the first day. We turned up a bunch more milks, much to everyone's delight.

ImageMilk Mania by Kyle, on Flickr

ImageLampropeltis triangulum amaura (Louisiana Milk Snake) by Kyle, on Flickr

ImageLampropeltis triangulum amaura (Louisiana Milk Snake) by Kyle, on Flickr

ImageLampropeltis triangulum amaura (Louisiana Milk Snake) by Kyle, on Flickr

We ended up spending most of our time herping in this kind of stuff, near the panhandle.

ImageRocky Prairie by Kyle, on Flickr

ImageRocky Prairie by Kyle, on Flickr

Under the rocks, we turned up tons of Variable Ground Snakes, and Blind Snakes. We got a couple of Texas Night Snakes, and some Great Plains Rats as well. The saugas we ended up cruising about one every night.

ImageHypsiglena torquata jani (Texas Night Snake) by Kyle, on Flickr

ImageSonora semiannulata semiannulata (Variable Ground Snake) by Kyle, on Flickr

ImageSonora semiannulata semiannulata (Variable Ground Snake) by Kyle, on Flickr

ImageLeptotyphlops dulcis (Plains Blind Snake) by Kyle, on Flickr

ImageLampropeltis getula holbrooki (Speckled Kingsnake) by Kyle, on Flickr

ImageLampropeltis getula holbrooki (Speckled Kingsnake) by Kyle, on Flickr

ImageSistrurus catenatus tergeminus (Western Massassauga) by Kyle, on Flickr

ImageSistrurus catenatus tergeminus (Western Massassauga) by Kyle, on Flickr

ImageSistrurus catenatus tergeminus (Western Massassauga) by Kyle, on Flickr

ImageSistrurus catenatus tergeminus (Western Massassauga) by Kyle, on Flickr

On one of the last days, we ended up with such bad weather that the only place to go was north into Oklahoma. We spent the day in the mountains hiking around. I ended up flipping a lined snake under a cow patty (no photos) and we saw a coachwhip and a couple of DOR saugas. The big attraction here was the booming boomers! Man, these lizards are something else! I'd never seen collared lizards before, and I don't think I'll ever see any better looking ones.

ImageCollared Lizard by Kyle, on Flickr


The rest of my spring mostly consisted of a couple hours here and there around Houston. Here's a few highlights from that time.

ImageColuber constrictor flaviventris (Yellowbellied Racer) by Kyle, on Flickr

ImageLampropeltis getula holbrooki (Speckled Kingsnake) by Kyle, on Flickr

ImageLampropeltis getula holbrooki (Speckled Kingsnake) by Kyle, on Flickr

ImageHeterodon platirhinos (Eastern Hognose Snake) by Kyle, on Flickr

Another Texas glossy from the eastern edge of their range showed up for me. This time a nice large adult:

ImageArizona elegans arenicola (Texas Glossy Snake) by Kyle, on Flickr

ImageColuber flagellum flagellum (Eastern Coachwhip) by Kyle, on Flickr

ImageRegina grahamii (Graham's Crayfish Snake) by Kyle, on Flickr

ImageFarancia abacura reinwardtii (Western Mud Snake) by Kyle, on Flickr

ImageRegina rigida sinicola (Glossy Crayfish Snake) by Kyle, on Flickr

ImageLampropeltis calligaster calligaster (Prairie Kingsnake) by Kyle, on Flickr

ImageCrotalus horridus (Canebrake Rattlesnake) by Kyle, on Flickr

ImageLampropeltis calligaster calligaster (Prairie Kingsnake) by Kyle, on Flickr

ImageColuber constrictor etheridgei (Tan Racer) by Kyle, on Flickr

ImageColuber constrictor etheridgei (Tan Racer) by Kyle, on Flickr

ImageLampropeltis calligaster calligaster (Prairie Kingsnake) by Kyle, on Flickr

ImageLampropeltis calligaster calligaster (Prairie Kingsnake) by Kyle, on Flickr

ImageLampropeltis getula holbrooki (Speckled Kingsnake) by Kyle, on Flickr

This pair of Louisiana milks was turned up one afternoon in late spring. They were huge! It was like holding a big south Texas annulata. Measuring the largest, the male, came out to right at 34 inches. I was sure I had the record, as the length listed in Werler and Dixon's texas snakes is, as I recall, 31inches. It turns out there's a more recent record of a DOR that was 35.5inches. Still, this mega-milk was exciting to see.

ImageLampropeltis triangulum amaura (Louisiana Milksnake) by Kyle, on Flickr

The female that was with him:

ImageLampropeltis triangulum amaura (Louisiana Milksnake) by Kyle, on Flickr

I don't see Slowinski's corn snakes as much as I'd like. Matter of fact, in the past couple of years I've only seen DORs. This year, I managed to find a large adult that had just been hit. She was still alive, but barely.

ImagePantherophis slowinskii (Slowinski's Corn Snake) by Kyle, on Flickr


I took a couple of day trips to Louisiana in May. It turns out, in a certain area, the calligaster are nearly solid black (yet have light colored bellies). These were some very cool animals to see, and a fun habitat to herp. We turned up these, buttermilks, LA milks, and black rats while in search of LA pine snakes.

ImageLampropeltis calligaster calligaster (Prairie Kingsnake) by Kyle, on Flickr

ImageLampropeltis triangulum amaura (Louisiana Milk Snake) by Kyle, on Flickr

ImagePantherophis obsoletus obsoletus (Black Rat Snake) by Kyle, on Flickr

ImagePantherophis obsoletus obsoletus (Black Rat Snake) by Kyle, on Flickr

ImageLampropeltis calligaster calligaster (Prairie Kingsnake) by Kyle, on Flickr

ImageLampropeltis calligaster calligaster (Prairie Kingsnake) by Kyle, on Flickr

ImageLampropeltis calligaster calligaster (Prairie Kingsnake) by Kyle, on Flickr

ImageColuber constrictor anthicus (Buttermilk Racer) by Kyle, on Flickr

ImageLampropeltis calligaster calligaster (Prairie Kingsnake) by Kyle, on Flickr


In early June, I made the trek to South Texas for Snake Days. Ashley, Blake, Sky and I herped together for the majority of the time. We turned up a lot of good stuff and, overall, had a lot more fun herping out there this year. We made sure to avoid the stuff around Sanderson and to the east. Finding nearly 20 snakes a night in the mountains and down by the river was a lot more fun that the couple days I spent staring at limestome bluffs all night, hoping I'd see a snake.

ImageCathedral Mountain by Kyle, on Flickr

ImageWest Texas Grassland, by Kyle, on Flickr

ImageCraugastor augusti (Barking Frog) by Kyle, on Flickr

ImageBogertophis subocularis (Trans-Pecos Rat Snake) by Kyle, on Flickr

ImagePantherophis emoryi (Great Plains Ratsnake) by Kyle, on Flickr

ImagePantherophis emoryi (Great Plains Ratsnake) by Kyle, on Flickr

ImageSalvadora grahamiae grahamiae (Mountain Patchnose Snake) by Kyle, on Flickr

ImageCrotalus ornatus (Eastern Black-tailed Rattlesnake) by Kyle, on Flickr

ImageCrotalus scutulatus (Mojave Rattlesnake) by Kyle, on Flickr

ImagePituophis catenifer affinis (Sonoran Gopher Snake) by Kyle, on Flickr

ImageThamnophis marcianus (Checkered Garter Snake) by Kyle, on Flickr

Much to everyone's surprise, we turned up two of these Lyre snakes, one right after the other, one night. It was exciting to see one of my favorite west Texas snakes again.

ImageTrimorphodon biscutatus vilkinsonii (Chihuahuan Lyre Snake) by Kyle, on Flickr

ImageTrimorphodon biscutatus vilkinsonii (Chihuahuan Lyre Snake) by Kyle, on Flickr

And, to top off the trip, I finally caught a porcupine! With the help of Sky, we managed to wrangle this guy, and get some photos.

ImageErethizon dorsatum (Porcupine) by Kyle, on Flickr



Summer - 2015


Summer consisted of much less herping, though when I did go out it was focused on searching for horridus in east Texas and Louisiana. I made a couple of trips to Armin's property. It's always fun hiking up horridus in pristine hardwood forest. That said, I saw nearly as many in east Texas this year as I did out there.

ImagePantherophis guttatus (Corn Snake) by Kyle, on Flickr

ImageCrotalus horridus (Canebrake Rattlesnake) by Kyle, on Flickr

ImageCrotalus horridus (Canebrake Rattlesnake) by Kyle, on Flickr

ImageCrotalus horridus (Canebrake Rattlesnake) by Kyle, on Flickr

ImageCrotalus horridus (Canebrake Rattlesnake) by Kyle, on Flickr

ImageCanebrake by Kyle, on Flickr

ImageTrinity River Bottom by Kyle, on Flickr

ImageOrb Weaver by Kyle, on Flickr

ImageBullfrogs by Kyle, on Flickr

ImageAgkistrodon piscivorous leucostoma (Western Cottonmouth) by Kyle, on Flickr

ImageKisatchie Bayou by Kyle, on Flickr

ImageNerodia rhombifer rhombifer (Diamondbacked Water Snake) by Kyle, on Flickr

ImageRomalea microptera (Eastern Lubber Grasshopper) by Kyle, on Flickr

ImageLongleaf Pine Upland by Kyle, on Flickr

ImageRegina rigida sinicola (Gulf Crayfish Snake) by Kyle, on Flickr

ImageCrotalus horridus (Canebrake Rattlesnake) by Kyle, on Flickr

ImageCrotalus horridus (Canebrake Rattlesnake) by Kyle, on Flickr

ImageCrotalus horridus (Canebrake Rattlesnake) by Kyle, on Flickr

ImageCrotalus horridus (Canebrake Rattlesnake) by Kyle, on Flickr

In early August, I took a weekend trip to west Texas to visit Sky and look for leps. There was no shortage of them! It was a great weekend, and I got to see some more neat crotes that I don't get to experience much.

ImageCrotalus ornatus (Eastern Black-tailed Rattlesnake) by Kyle, on Flickr

ImageCrotalus ornatus (Eastern Black-tailed Rattlesnake) by Kyle, on Flickr

ImagePituophis catenifer affinis (Sonoran Gopher Snake) by Kyle, on Flickr

ImageCrotalus lepidus lepidus (Mottled Rock Rattlesnake) by Kyle, on Flickr

ImageCrotalus lepidus lepidus (Mottled Rock Rattlesnake) by Kyle, on Flickr

ImageCrotalus lepidus lepidus (Mottled Rock Rattlesnake) by Kyle, on Flickr

ImageCrotalus lepidus lepidus (Mottled Rock Rattlesnake) by Kyle, on Flickr

ImageStarry Cut by Kyle, on Flickr

Back out east:

ImageCrotalus horridus (Canebrake Rattlesnake) by Kyle, on Flickr

ImageCrotalus horridus (Canebrake Rattlesnake) by Kyle, on Flickr

ImageThamnophis sirtalis sirtalis (Eastern Garter Snake) by Kyle, on Flickr

ImageCrotalus horridus (Canebrake Rattlesnake) by Kyle, on Flickr

ImageThamnophis sirtalis sirtalis (Eastern Garter Snake) by Kyle, on Flickr

ImageCrotalus horridus (Canebrake Rattlesnake) by Kyle, on Flickr

ImageCrotalus horridus (Canebrake Rattlesnake) by Kyle, on Flickr


This shot, "Cane Break'em" has been something we talked about doing for a long time now. We finally decided to quit joking around and actually do it this year. No snakes were harmed in the making of this pun.

ImageCane break'em by Kyle, on Flickr

ImageColuber constrictor anthicus (Buttermilk Racer) by Kyle, on Flickr

ImageLampropeltis triangulum amaura (Louisiana Milk Snake) by Kyle, on Flickr

ImageArmin and Milk by Kyle, on Flickr

ImageColuber constrictor etheridgei (Tan Racer) by Kyle, on Flickr

ImageAgkistrodon contortrix contortrix (Southern Copperhead) by Kyle, on Flickr

ImageCrotalus horridus (Canebrake Rattlesnake) by Kyle, on Flickr

ImageSistrurus miliarus streckeri (Western Pygmy Rattlesnake) by Kyle, on Flickr

ImageSistrurus miliarus streckeri (Western Pygmy Rattlesnake) by Kyle, on Flickr


Fall - 2015

With the onset of Fall, I really didn't get out much. I was too busy with my first semester of graduate school. I did manage a couple of outings, but mostly I wouldn't get out until this December.

ImageAgkistrodon contortrix contortrix (Southern Copperhead) by Kyle, on Flickr

ImageOpossum by Kyle, on Flickr

ImageMicrurus tener tener (Texas Coral Snake) by Kyle, on Flickr

ImageMicrurus tener tener (Texas Coral Snake) by Kyle, on Flickr

ImageLampropeltis getula holbrooki (Speckled Kingsnake) by Kyle, on Flickr

ImageLampropeltis getula holbrooki (Speckled Kingsnake) by Kyle, on Flickr

Early Winter - 2015

With the unusually warm weather this year, I decided to make some trips down south again. Mostly, to get out and away from chemistry books, but also to visit Blake and start work on spots for next (this) year.

ImagePituophis catenifer sayi (Bullsnake) by Kyle, on Flickr

ImageLampropeltis triangulum annulata (Mexican Milk Snake) by Kyle, on Flickr

ImageThamnophis marcianus (Checkered Garter Snake) by Kyle, on Flickr

ImagePantherophis emoryi meahllmorrum (Thornscrub Ratsnake) by Kyle, on Flickr

ImagePituophis catenifer sayi (Bullsnake) by Kyle, on Flickr

ImageOphisaurus attenuatus (Western Glass Lizard) by Kyle, on Flickr

ImageOphisaurus attenuatus (Western Glass Lizard) by Kyle, on Flickr

ImageOphisaurus attenuatus (Western Glass Lizard) by Kyle, on Flickr

ImagePituophis catenifer sayi (Bullsnake) by Kyle, on Flickr

ImageMasticophis schotti schotti (Schott's Whipsnake) by Kyle, on Flickr

ImageLampropeltis triangulum annulata (Mexican Milk Snake) by Kyle, on Flickr

ImageLampropeltis triangulum annulata (Mexican Milk Snake) by Kyle, on Flickr



Happy new year and best wishes to everyone this coming herping season. Sweet Spring '16 is just a couple months away!

Russ Jerome
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Re: We're Not Out of The Woods Yet (TX,LA,MS,AL,FL): 2015 EO

Post by Russ Jerome » January 1st, 2016, 3:47 pm

WOW! Great pictures, all of them!

What lens(s) for close shots? Great stuff.

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Aneides Aeneus
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Re: We're Not Out of The Woods Yet (TX,LA,MS,AL,FL): 2015 EO

Post by Aneides Aeneus » January 1st, 2016, 6:01 pm

Amazing finds - those mexican milks are gorgeous!

-Ananth

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Mike VanValen
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Re: We're Not Out of The Woods Yet (TX,LA,MS,AL,FL): 2015 EO

Post by Mike VanValen » January 1st, 2016, 7:49 pm

I've seen some of your photos on facebook groups. Always impressive. The lemon yellow on that speckled king sticks in my memory. Great stuff.

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Mark Brown
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Re: We're Not Out of The Woods Yet (TX,LA,MS,AL,FL): 2015 EO

Post by Mark Brown » January 2nd, 2016, 1:57 am

Epic post - sure makes me want to finally get around to a far south Texas trip and/or a visit to the coast. Somehow, west Texas always seems to win out......

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Soopaman
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Re: We're Not Out of The Woods Yet (TX,LA,MS,AL,FL): 2015 EO

Post by Soopaman » January 2nd, 2016, 7:54 am

Russ Jerome wrote:WOW! Great pictures, all of them!

What lens(s) for close shots? Great stuff.

Thanks, Russ. I use a 50mm macro, or a 135mm w/ extension tubes for most of my close up photographs.
Aneides Aeneus wrote:Amazing finds - those mexican milks are gorgeous!

-Ananth
Those are some of my favorites! I like the LA milks alright, but annulata are always impressive.
Mike VanValen wrote:I've seen some of your photos on facebook groups. Always impressive. The lemon yellow on that speckled king sticks in my memory. Great stuff.
Thanks, Mike. Some of those coastal kings can be really vibrant.
Mark Brown wrote:Epic post - sure makes me want to finally get around to a far south Texas trip and/or a visit to the coast. Somehow, west Texas always seems to win out......
Get down south sometime! Nothing quite like finding 60+ snakes on the road at night. To me, it sure beats the socks off staring at cuts.

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Mark Brown
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Re: We're Not Out of The Woods Yet (TX,LA,MS,AL,FL): 2015 EO

Post by Mark Brown » January 2nd, 2016, 8:37 am

Soopaman wrote:Get down south sometime! Nothing quite like finding 60+ snakes on the road at night. To me, it sure beats the socks off staring at cuts.
Oh, I spent many hours cruising down south before the fracking operations came along and trashed everything. But I really need to get farther down south and see some of those Mexican specialties for myself.

So is the traditional south Texas road herping back now that gas prices have put a lot of the fracking on hold?

Tamara D. McConnell
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Re: We're Not Out of The Woods Yet (TX,LA,MS,AL,FL): 2015 EO

Post by Tamara D. McConnell » January 2nd, 2016, 10:02 am

This is such an epic, spectacular post! Your photos are amazing.

Rman
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Re: We're Not Out of The Woods Yet (TX,LA,MS,AL,FL): 2015 EO

Post by Rman » January 2nd, 2016, 9:04 pm

This post really reinforced for me how much fun we had last year. I'll never forget these adventures and will not feel surprised when they somehow keep getting better. Outstanding photography as always!

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DracoRJC
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Re: We're Not Out of The Woods Yet (TX,LA,MS,AL,FL): 2015 EO

Post by DracoRJC » January 3rd, 2016, 6:50 am

Good stuff dude. Hope we can get out again this year, it's been too long!

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Soopaman
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Re: We're Not Out of The Woods Yet (TX,LA,MS,AL,FL): 2015 EO

Post by Soopaman » January 3rd, 2016, 7:09 am

Mark Brown wrote:
Soopaman wrote:Get down south sometime! Nothing quite like finding 60+ snakes on the road at night. To me, it sure beats the socks off staring at cuts.
Oh, I spent many hours cruising down south before the fracking operations came along and trashed everything. But I really need to get farther down south and see some of those Mexican specialties for myself.

So is the traditional south Texas road herping back now that gas prices have put a lot of the fracking on hold?

I couldn't answer that. I never was around for the pre-fracking herping. Most of my time has been spent flipping, but the few times I cruised it's been nothing but fun. The traffic was never very bad, excepting closer to towns, but there's still lots of DOR atrox. It may be that I was just in a different area that that which has been most affected by oilfield traffic.
Tamara D. McConnell wrote:This is such an epic, spectacular post! Your photos are amazing.
Thanks Tamara. I hope we can get out again in the next couple of years. Y'all's part of Alabama was one of my favorite places I visited this year!

Rman wrote:This post really reinforced for me how much fun we had last year. I'll never forget these adventures and will not feel surprised when they somehow keep getting better. Outstanding photography as always!
With all the work we've put into future herping, I'm sure this year will be as unforgettable as the last!

DracoRJC wrote:Good stuff dude. Hope we can get out again this year, it's been too long!
Absolutely! I plan to spend lots of time down south this year.

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DracoRJC
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Re: We're Not Out of The Woods Yet (TX,LA,MS,AL,FL): 2015 EO

Post by DracoRJC » January 3rd, 2016, 10:05 am

I'm feelin' a lot of west and central Texas this year, but I'm still lacking a lot down south and out east that is long overdue. Concerning the valley, I'm getting a little tired of the usual spots in Willacy and Cameron counties and looking to head a little more westward down there.

Not to mention Mexico...

rtdunham
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Re: We're Not Out of The Woods Yet (TX,LA,MS,AL,FL): 2015 EO

Post by rtdunham » January 3rd, 2016, 5:09 pm

Your canebrake & starry night photo is one of the most memorable pics I've ever seen on the forum. Could you explain what you had to do to achieve that? Great work throughout, btw

Tamara D. McConnell
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Re: We're Not Out of The Woods Yet (TX,LA,MS,AL,FL): 2015 EO

Post by Tamara D. McConnell » January 3rd, 2016, 10:06 pm

Thanks Tamara. I hope we can get out again in the next couple of years. Y'all's part of Alabama was one of my favorite places I visited this year!
Anytime, Kyle. We had so much fun and learned a lot from you guys.

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Re: We're Not Out of The Woods Yet (TX,LA,MS,AL,FL): 2015 EO

Post by Jeroen Speybroeck » January 4th, 2016, 12:29 am

Fantastic 2015! I'm so jealous about how you can find things practically throughout the entire year...

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Re: We're Not Out of The Woods Yet (TX,LA,MS,AL,FL): 2015 EO

Post by bushmaster W30 » January 6th, 2016, 1:26 pm

Wow... That was an amazing year. After seeing those South Texas herps I can't wait for spring so I can get out there. This is going to be my first year down here so I'll be happy with a quarter of your species list. :beer:

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Re: We're Not Out of The Woods Yet (TX,LA,MS,AL,FL): 2015 EO

Post by Daniel D Dye » January 6th, 2016, 6:39 pm

Stunning post! I'm speechless!

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justinm
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Re: We're Not Out of The Woods Yet (TX,LA,MS,AL,FL): 2015 EO

Post by justinm » January 7th, 2016, 7:45 am

Epic, that's just plain amazing. Great stuff Kyle.

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Re: We're Not Out of The Woods Yet (TX,LA,MS,AL,FL): 2015 EO

Post by Hadar » January 7th, 2016, 12:04 pm

Daniel D Dye wrote:Stunning post! I'm speechless!
I second that! Although I'll add an "awww" at the porcupine.

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Re: We're Not Out of The Woods Yet (TX,LA,MS,AL,FL): 2015 EO

Post by Tamara D. McConnell » January 7th, 2016, 2:40 pm

The porcupine is definitely wonderful. I'll second that "awwww."

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Mike Pingleton
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Re: We're Not Out of The Woods Yet (TX,LA,MS,AL,FL): 2015 EO

Post by Mike Pingleton » January 8th, 2016, 3:15 pm

Holy crap, Kyle. I needed a cup of coffee and a pee-break to finish this epicness.

Dang.

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Soopaman
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Re: We're Not Out of The Woods Yet (TX,LA,MS,AL,FL): 2015 EO

Post by Soopaman » January 9th, 2016, 8:51 pm

Thanks everyone!
rtdunham wrote:Your canebrake & starry night photo is one of the most memorable pics I've ever seen on the forum. Could you explain what you had to do to achieve that? Great work throughout, btw

For that photo I blended two shots together. I took a flash shot of the canebrake, and that illuminated the snake, and the log and tree he was on, but kept the background black. I then took a long exposure photo with camera on a tripod, in the same spot as the first photo, with the focus on infinity. I then took the two photos and blended them together in photoshop, simply substituting the starry background for the black one in the flash photo.
bushmaster W30 wrote:Wow... That was an amazing year. After seeing those South Texas herps I can't wait for spring so I can get out there. This is going to be my first year down here so I'll be happy with a quarter of your species list. :beer:
Good luck! There's a lot of cool stuff to see and explore. It's fun to learn the area and figure out how best to find the snakes down there.

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Soopaman
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Re: We're Not Out of The Woods Yet (TX,LA,MS,AL,FL): 2015 EO

Post by Soopaman » January 9th, 2016, 8:53 pm

A few more shots. This was a Leptodeira from down in the valley, the day after Christmas.

ImageLeptodeira septentrionalis (Northern Cat-eyed Snake) by Kyle, on Flickr

ImageLeptodeira septentrionalis (Northern Cat-eyed Snake) by Kyle, on Flickr

ImageLeptodeira septentrionalis (Northern Cat-eyed Snake) by Kyle, on Flickr

ImageLeptodeira septentrionalis (Northern Cat-eyed Snake) by Kyle, on Flickr

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Re: We're Not Out of The Woods Yet (TX,LA,MS,AL,FL): 2015 EO

Post by Tamara D. McConnell » January 9th, 2016, 9:05 pm

So amazingly beautiful!

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Re: We're Not Out of The Woods Yet (TX,LA,MS,AL,FL): 2015 EO

Post by Rman » January 9th, 2016, 9:27 pm

Cat eye candy!

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Re: We're Not Out of The Woods Yet (TX,LA,MS,AL,FL): 2015 EO

Post by mfb » January 17th, 2016, 11:16 am

Absolutely fantastic post!

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Re: We're Not Out of The Woods Yet (TX,LA,MS,AL,FL): 2015 EO

Post by Roki » January 17th, 2016, 6:08 pm

Cool post. You really cleaned up on the canebrakes.

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Re: We're Not Out of The Woods Yet (TX,LA,MS,AL,FL): 2015 EO

Post by HerpMan ATL » January 17th, 2016, 6:33 pm

Fantastic photos and what a year. Impressive to say the least.

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Re: We're Not Out of The Woods Yet (TX,LA,MS,AL,FL): 2015 EO

Post by DevinBergquist » January 20th, 2016, 3:46 pm

Kyle,

What a great year and excellent photos as well. I really like the Leptodeira photos, I got jealous every time I saw you post one on Flickr, they are so unique and different from any other US snakes.

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Re: We're Not Out of The Woods Yet (TX,LA,MS,AL,FL): 2015 EO

Post by dwakefield » January 22nd, 2016, 5:51 pm

Awesome photos and finds! Canebrakes, Speckled Kings, and that gorgeous Speckled Racer were highlights for me.

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Soopaman
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Re: We're Not Out of The Woods Yet (TX,LA,MS,AL,FL): 2015 EO

Post by Soopaman » January 24th, 2016, 8:42 pm

Thanks for the kind words everyone.
DevinBergquist wrote:Kyle,

What a great year and excellent photos as well. I really like the Leptodeira photos, I got jealous every time I saw you post one on Flickr, they are so unique and different from any other US snakes.
Thanks, I really enjoy seeing those leptodeira. Prepare to see a lot more pop up on Flickr this year! They're one of my favorite Texas natives and I plan to target them on a lot of future south Texas trips.

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Re: We're Not Out of The Woods Yet (TX,LA,MS,AL,FL): 2015 EO

Post by Stohlgren » February 9th, 2016, 2:13 pm

Great animals and great photos, as usual, Kyle. Crazy how different those Leptodeira are from the ones further south.

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Re: We're Not Out of The Woods Yet (TX,LA,MS,AL,FL): 2015 EO

Post by ahockenberry » March 4th, 2016, 9:46 am

Stunning array of amazing species, photos and habitat!
amazingly captured and displayed. Bravo !!

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Re: We're Not Out of The Woods Yet (TX,LA,MS,AL,FL): 2015 EO

Post by ahockenberry » March 4th, 2016, 9:50 am

Of particular interest is the: Drymobius margaritiferus (Speckled Racer)
My personal favorite of the series

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Re: We're Not Out of The Woods Yet (TX,LA,MS,AL,FL): 2015 EO

Post by justinm » March 4th, 2016, 9:59 am

I've seen most on Facebook or Flickr but it's just plain silly to see them all together. Wow, you're pretty amazing. Thanks for the visual feast.

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