A short trip down snake road (10-7 -> 10-8)

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the_cw1
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A short trip down snake road (10-7 -> 10-8)

Post by the_cw1 » October 14th, 2016, 6:16 am

Hi all! I was down at Snake Road in southern Illinois last weekend. It was a nice trip and helped my sanity (grad school is tough!--who knew). I met some wonderful people and had a good change to connect with folks. I'll certainly be heading down again next Fall, and maybe in the spring. I would recommend it for anyone on the fence who would like to go.

If you were there, I was Derek (the copperhead guy)

ImageSnake Road by Derek Halm, on Flickr

The north end of snake road.

ImageNeonate Cottonmouth (Agkistrodon piscivorus) by Derek Halm, on Flickr

Lots of cottonmouths. It was cooler the two days I was there than it was supposed to be. Hurricane Matthew changed things up. Still, without particularly looking for them, many were to be found. This cute little guy thought he was a tree viper.

ImageGreen treefrog (Hyla cinerea) by Derek Halm, on Flickr

I'm not particularly into frogs, but when green tree frogs pose so wistfully you've gotta shoot. I saw some bird-voice tree frogs as well.

ImageSnake road swamp by Derek Halm, on Flickr

Sunset on the swamp.

ImageNeonate Copperhead (Agkistrodon contortrix) macro by Derek Halm, on Flickr

The first copperhead of the trip. I'm from Michigan originally and then lived out west, so I was more excited than I should have been to see this little guy. I liked how mellow the copperheads were and how vibrant their colors were.

ImageNeonate Western ribbon snake (Thamnophis proximus) in shed by Derek Halm, on Flickr

Lots of folks didn't see ribbons, but I had really good luck with them. The name of the game was timing: people saw ground snakes, but I got ribbons and it often was the case folks saw the thing they weren't looking for. Such is life.

ImageCopperhead (Agkistrodon contortrix) macro by Derek Halm, on Flickr

ImageCopperhead (Agkistrodon contortrix) by Derek Halm, on Flickr

I spotted this juvenile up on the bluffs hiding. He was super chill, both in terms of temperament and blood, so he was easy to work with. His deep orange-red color came out very well. A kid came by while I was shooting this snake and was super excited to see it. Glad to see I still have the mentality of an 8 year old, haha.

ImageRough green snake (Opheodrys aestivus) by Derek Halm, on Flickr

ImageRough green snake (Opheodrys aestivus) by Derek Halm, on Flickr

Some other folks had found this rough green snake and I was all too excited to see it. In Michigan, finding these guys is next to impossible. You have to take the chances you can. Like all the snakes on the trip, he seemed quite placid and just went about his business calmly.

ImageNeonate Cottonmouth (Agkistrodon piscivorus) macro by Derek Halm, on Flickr

ImageNeonate Cottonmouth (Agkistrodon piscivorus) by Derek Halm, on Flickr

Near the end of the second day lots of cottonmouths began showing up. The high was only 69f, so it had been slow going. That said, in a small area there were several neonates and one juvenile. The juv was, shall I say, not interested in getting its picture taken, so I took what I could.

ImageThe bluffs of Snake Road by Derek Halm, on Flickr

The bluffs. This is where all the snakes go to hibernate.

ImageNeonate Timber rattlesnake (Crotalus horridus) closeup by Derek Halm, on Flickr

I'm *so* glad I decided to hike the road one last time and got to see a baby timber. It was the first I've ever seen. Some other people found it, but I couldn't miss the opportunity. This was the highlight of the day for so many people. I happened to be hiking with a herpetologist at the time, so it made the opportunity even better.

ImageMorning before hiking by Derek Halm, on Flickr

Morning when I had to leave.


It was a fun trip and I hope to see some familiar faces next year. :)
Ideally, some of you interesting folks want to herp SW Michigan in the spring. Until then, however...

My list of species:
Black rat
Cottonmouth
Copperhead
Racer
Timber
Rough green
Western ribbon

Green tree frog
Cricket frog
Bird voice tree frog
Bullfrog
Leopard frog

Slimy salamander

abpaine
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Re: A short trip down snake road (10-7 -> 10-8)

Post by abpaine » October 15th, 2016, 3:23 pm

Derek,
Nice photos. Now study your Marx and get the kinks out of our oxygen tubes.
All the best
Anne and Warren

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Porter
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Re: A short trip down snake road (10-7 -> 10-8)

Post by Porter » October 15th, 2016, 4:10 pm

Nice series of up close head shots :thumb: Especially the Timber. You don't see people taking nice shots of Timbers very often. Seems like they are always far away to show the full body pattern, but don't showcase the beauty well. Or they're dirty, unshed. That's the one rattler outside of CA that I really wanted to see

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pjfishpa
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Re: A short trip down snake road (10-7 -> 10-8)

Post by pjfishpa » October 16th, 2016, 8:15 am

Nice pics man! I agree, if you are on the fence you should go and check it out. Being from NW Ohio I get super geeked over copperheads too!

NACairns
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Re: A short trip down snake road (10-7 -> 10-8)

Post by NACairns » October 16th, 2016, 2:03 pm

Great post, I love all the portrait style shots. I think you are in good company as far and liking copperheads, I've still yet to see one in my travels.
Thanks for sharing,
Nick

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Re: A short trip down snake road (10-7 -> 10-8)

Post by BethH » October 18th, 2016, 5:34 pm

How far from that bluff do the snakes range during the summer? Can they disperse over, say, 5 miles?

Beautiful pictures.

Beth

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Re: A short trip down snake road (10-7 -> 10-8)

Post by the_cw1 » October 19th, 2016, 6:33 am

BethH wrote:How far from that bluff do the snakes range during the summer? Can they disperse over, say, 5 miles?

Beautiful pictures.

Beth
It varies species to species and, indeed, individual to individual. I'm no expert, far from it really, so I won't venture a guess if 5 miles is possible. It seems a bit high from my cursory reading.

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Re: A short trip down snake road (10-7 -> 10-8)

Post by BethH » October 19th, 2016, 4:02 pm

Thank you for your answer. I guess that area has a pretty high density of all kinds of venomous creatures, then. I didn't realize different snakes migrate different distances, but that makes sense.

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fringe
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Re: A short trip down snake road (10-7 -> 10-8)

Post by fringe » October 19th, 2016, 5:22 pm

Some nice shots. I remember standing at a campfire somewhere near Snake Rd with a bunch of people singing happy birthday to someone by the name of Mike. It's all a blur now.

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