Megolithic May

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Jefferson
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Megolithic May

Post by Jefferson » May 31st, 2016, 4:56 pm

Well, it's been quite a while since I've posted, but in that time, I have racked up nine lifers in the heavenly hills of Virginia, Tennessee, and North Carolina.

It all started with a spontaneous trip to a locale in the mountains of Southwest Virginia, meant only to test my car, which shockingly yielded my first Wehrle's Salamanders.

Then, on the inaugural outing of the newly-formed Washington and Lee University Herping Club, the high mountains of Northwest Virginia, among the gangly paper and yellow birch, gave up a Cow Knob Salamander and a Shenandoah Mountain Salamander amid a gaggle of Red-backs. Telling Shenandoah Mountain and redback salamanders in leadback phase apart was a nightmare until I learned a simple little trick-the belly of the former has hardly any pigmentation, while the red-backs have a "salt-and-pepper" belly. It was euphoria on the mountaintop: this trip was meant to ring in the herping club with a few creeks and a taste of high-elevation woodland salamanders, but never did I think we'd find both possible lifers for me up there!

The next lifer from Central Virginia is largely debatable. If you read any old Roger Hunt Conant field guide, it will split the Seal Salamander complex up into two subspecies: Appalachian Seal and Virginia Seal (D. monticola monticola and D. monticola jeffersoni). My spot had D. monticola jeffersoni, which is slightly different looking than the regular Seal Salamander.

The next five lifers were all seen on an epic end of semester trip down to Salamander Mecca: Western NC+Eastern TN. The trip was possibly the most fun I've ever taken in pursuit of herps and featured such old friends as Imitators, Red-Cheeks, Gray-Cheeks, Blue Ridge Springs, and Weller's as well as new ones: Southern Ravine, Black-chinned Red, Yonahlossee, Carolina Spring, Carolina Mountain Dusky. I missed Blue Ridge and South Mountain Gray-Cheeks, but in the process of missing them, I saw Lake Lure and some beautiful areas of Western NC's Blue Ridge that I had never before visited. All in all, the misty mountains were kind to me as usual. Still no Timber Rattlesnakes.

Pictures available on naherp.com!

Happy herping you all!
Jefferson

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Noah M
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Re: Megolithic May

Post by Noah M » June 1st, 2016, 6:03 am

Sounds like you had a great time. Congrats on all the lifers! I've been to Lake Lure a number of times, but never herped there. It is a beautiful spot. The Lake Lure Inn is pretty neat too. They have a wonderful, albeit expensive, Thanksgiving buffet.

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mtratcliffe
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Location: Springfield, VA

Re: Megolithic May

Post by mtratcliffe » June 1st, 2016, 4:54 pm

Those are some unique finds! Do you have any pictures?

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kevin h
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Re: Megolithic May

Post by kevin h » June 1st, 2016, 7:08 pm

I love those areas and just came back from a trip to Shenandoah Mountain, it is an amazing place. I didn't have the same success you did, seeing only P. virginia. I was wondering if it rained on you up there and that's why you found P. punctatus, if not count your stars cause that's a rare find. Lake Lure is also great and because of family in that area we are down there a lot. Let me know next time you're down in that area and I might be able to hook you up with some people overflowing with Timbers.

Jefferson
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Re: Megolithic May

Post by Jefferson » June 3rd, 2016, 3:57 pm

Thanks for the kind words, you all. As to pictures, there absolutely are pictures on naherp.com if you search records by me, "Nathan Richendollar."
Kevin: I don't want to give away my locale in NW Virginia, but I wasn't on Shenandoah Mountain per se. It did rain about a day and a half before my excursion up to the top, and I only found one punctatus in about a two hour window of searching. Thank you for the offer on Lake Lure! I'll definitely take you up on it at some point within the decade, because I have to be down there to see Plethodon amplus and meridianus anyhow..........until then, they'll be in my "Carolina Dreams" file (Marshall Tucker Band reference).

Happy herpin'!
Jefferson

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