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 Post subject: spring break 2k17
PostPosted: April 27th, 2017, 4:33 pm 
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Joined: January 18th, 2015, 3:04 pm
Posts: 94
So I figured why not do this monster post while the memories are still fresh in my mind and it's not like I got finals to study for. So about two weeks ago my dad, my friend Ananth and I went down to the good ol' sandhills of North Carolina to meet with an old friend of ours who used to live in Lexington and herp with us. Most of the time Ananth and I plan these trips down to the pinhead details but this time we put all our trust in our good buddy and he did not let us down. Before I get too far into this rant I want to thank our friend so much for taking the time off work and away from his family to spend time with us. He is not only an amazing herper with a deep appreciation for the animals but one of the nicest guys I know. Ok now to get started on the trip. We decided to stop on the way to pick up a lifer Valley and Ridge Salamander in WV. After some quick herping at our site we found three of our target along with a bunch of other salamanders.

ImageValley and Ridge Salamander by Kevin Hutcheson, on Flickr

The next day we decided to stop again this time for the Flat-headed Salamander a lifer for me but not Ananth. These guys were pretty ubiquitous and found one pretty quickly. After that we continued on our way and met up with our friend in Fayetteville and proceeded to do some afternoon flipping which produced a very nice Corn. I get the impression that a lot of coastal herpers don't consider a Corn to be the best find but they're one of my favorite species so I was already having the time of my life. After that it was getting dark but one of top priorities of this trip was the undescribed sandhills eurycea so he took us to one of the sites where he knew he could show us larva. Surprisingly when we got there we had discovered some recent ATVs had gone through and destroyed some of the habitat but miraculously that didn't stop our bud from finding an adult! This also happened to be Ananth's 100th salamander lifer so congrats to him for still being 4 ahead of me I guess. Not long after that did I work my way around the stream and found a lesser siren washed up on the road from where the ATVs had gone through. I was certain this poor guy was dead but as I started to pick him up he began to moved and seemed totally fine after a bit thankfully. After a quick photography session and another sandhills eurycea adult we called it a night and headed to the hotel.

ImageFlat-headed Salamander by Kevin Hutcheson, on Flickr

ImageCorn Snake by Kevin Hutcheson, on Flickr

ImageSandhills Eurycea by Kevin Hutcheson, on Flickr

ImageLesser Siren by Kevin Hutcheson, on Flickr

The next day our friend decided to target spotted turtles and a pinewoods snake he had seen under a board the week before having known Ananth's obsession with that species. Once we got to the site we were not disappointed as we flipped the snake right where he said it would be. Continuing around the property we came across Atlantic Coast Slimy Salamanders another lifer for me and a rough green snake another of my favorite species. Unfortunately we did come across any spotted turtles but we did see a chicken turtle and only realized it when we looked back through Ananth's photos. We then turned back to something we knew better which was salamanders and began searching the sphagnum along a ditch for mud salamanders. Amazingly we ended up coming across four species just by using this method which were: mud, northern dusky, chamberlain's dwarf and four toed as well as the only ringneck of the trip flipped nearby. By this point in our trip my mind was beginning to slip with all these incredible finds for a KY mountain boy. Next thing we knew the day was almost half over and AC had gotten too hot to flip. The forecast had shown a storm front incoming for that afternoon so we decided to wait for it to hit and cool things off by eating some local BBQ which was very appetizing. Once the rain hit we moved into floodplain forest hoping to turn up a Mabee's salamander but only ended up with dwarf salamanders which still made me happy. The following night didn't produce much in the roadcruising spectrum besides a mud turtle and the largest bullfrog I had ever seen so we ended the day and got some much needed sleep.

ImagePinewoods Snake by Kevin Hutcheson, on Flickr

ImageAtlantic Coast Slimy Salamander by Kevin Hutcheson, on Flickr

ImageRough Green Snake by Kevin Hutcheson, on Flickr

ImageChamberlain's Dwarf Salamander by Kevin Hutcheson, on Flickr

ImageDwarf Salamander by Kevin Hutcheson, on Flickr

The next day the temps were going to be high so our expert guide for the week suggest to hit the roads. We started out with our hopes high and ready to find some simus but as the hours grew longer it felt as if we'd wasted our day. Then we came across a single snake sitting in the middle of the sand road perfectly positioned. Not knowing what it was I jumped out of the car and saw before me a northern pine snake! I screamed "Pine!!!" and turned around to see our friend falling on the ground with joy. Afterwards he asked if anyone had seen his glasses and I looked down to see a pair of DOR prescription lenses mashed flat in the road. :lol: But he couldn't have cared less. Saying that we were stunned with our find was an understatement even with me having always been more of a salamander man. Jack White put it best when he said "I had a brain that felt like pancake batter." Having now seen a pine we decided to end the trip right there and head home.

ImageNorthern Pine Snake by Kevin Hutcheson, on Flickr

As if! After we took about a million photos we continued cruising but turned up nothing which was fine. As day turned to night we flipped some AC in our friends neighborhood find my lifer southeastern crowned snake, a couple worm snakes, a narrow-mouthed toad and a banded watersnake which ended this magical day.

ImageEastern Narrow-mouthed Toad by Kevin Hutcheson, on Flickr

ImageSoutheastern Crowned Snake by Kevin Hutcheson, on Flickr

ImageBanded Watersnake by Kevin Hutcheson, on Flickr

The next day predicted to be a little cooler than the other with rain mid-day so we planned to start out looking for scarlet kings but this only turned up another prettier crowned snake. After that we headed out to flip some AC as the rain began to come down. Amazingly we were still able to find another crowned and a juvie corn under tin and by bark shinning despite the dampness. Unfortunately as the day grew on weather only got worse so we sat out the rest of the day time hours waiting for night to fall so we could cruise some salamanders. However it seemed that the forecast lied to us as it usual does and preferred only to rain during the day. Still our fruitless salamander search produced another banded water, several cottonmouths and some carpenter frogs.

ImageSoutheastern Crowned Snake by Kevin Hutcheson, on Flickr

ImageCorn Snake by Kevin Hutcheson, on Flickr

ImageCarpenter Frog by Kevin Hutcheson, on Flickr

The next day we decided to try flipping for Mabee's instead of cruising dry roads like we had done before. The temps were again a little on the chilly side for snakes and unfortunately our friend wasn't able to join us this day. He was still able to send us in the right direction though but the site we were given by our friend had been totally clear cut and Ananth and I were scratching our heads as to what on earth would we find. Believe it or not under one of the first logs flipped was our lifer. I was awe struck that these beautiful salamanders were living in basically a bombed out wasteland but I guess that just shows you how resilient life can be. Our next stop was a halfhearted attempt at many-lined and aquatic salamanders which only produced a couple of cooters but some very nice scenery. After that we scheduled to meet back up with our friend but again things fell through and we ended up wasting time waiting night to fall by looking for scarlet kings again. However our meandering through the pine forest led us to a seep where Ananth flipped a gorgeous mud salamander. Having our spirits lifted we decided to waste some more time by heading down to a nearby stream for dwarf waterdogs. Not knowing what the hell I was doing I began dipnetting and about the forth time came up one in net which just goes to show ya wasting time can be amazingly productive sometimes. I think it was after photographing this individual that how awesome our trip had been so far hit me and I was just speechless for the rest of the night.

ImageMabee's Salamander by Kevin Hutcheson, on Flickr

ImageLumber River by Kevin Hutcheson, on Flickr

ImageEastern Mud Salamander by Kevin Hutcheson, on Flickr

ImageDwarf Waterdog by Kevin Hutcheson, on Flickr

The next day was our last in the sandhills so we decided to make it count by checking out some gorgeous carolina bays and trying for our last salamander target the many-lined. Scouting out a nice looking road ditch on google maps it didn't take long before we nailed our last caudate along with another four toed, a broken striped newt and some Atlantic coast slimies in nearby woods. After this we were finally able to meet back up with our bud who by pure happenstance passed some nice AC not far from where we were. We loaded up in his car and under the first sheet was a gorgeous eastern king that had recently eaten about 5 racers from the looks of it. My dad had also spotted another good looking abandoned house so we headed to that next and under the last board was a beautiful coachwhip that nearly escaped us. Reflecting back on the events that led up to those moments I should've bought a lotto ticket next. While the pine may have been the rarest snake my personal favorite might have been the coachwhip. After that amazing side stop our friend wanted to show us Lake Waccamaw so we grabbed some lunch/dinner and drove on down to look for turtles and brown watersnakes. At one spot we stopped at we shined a rat snake inside some corrugated metal piping on a bridge. Looking further this was followed by a racer and brown water which was a lifer for the three of us. Sadly because of the tough situation no photos were taken of any. We next tried for greater sirens considering all other targets had been reached but knew nothing about their habits and unlike the waterdog logic kicked and we failed which then made us call it a night.

ImageMany-lined Salamander by Kevin Hutcheson, on Flickr

ImageEastern Kingsnake by Kevin Hutcheson, on Flickr

ImageEastern Coachwhip by Kevin Hutcheson, on Flickr

The next day we started our trip home and made our bitter sweet farewells to our gracious host who I still can't begin to thank enough. However before we really got on the road Ananth wanted to give spotted turtles one last shot considering the site was so close to our hotel. I'm glad that he convinced me too cause this time around we found three and got one crap photograph of one. Now actually on the road we planned to stop on our way back for the south mountain gray-cheeked salamander which was the last of the gray cheeks we had yet to see. Back in our kind of habitat we were able to just wing it and found a gorgeous adult along with some very nice scenery. What can I say it's good to be back in the mountains!

ImageSpotted Turtle by Kevin Hutcheson, on Flickr

ImageSouth Mountain Gray-cheeked Salamander by Kevin Hutcheson, on Flickr

ImageHigh Shoal Falls by Kevin Hutcheson, on Flickr

The next day was our last of herping so we stopped at a very familiar site and picked up three reds. after that we fought traffic all the way back to Lexington and ended the best herping trip I've ever been on.

ImageBlack-chinned Red Salamander by Kevin Hutcheson, on Flickr

The final counts were 27 salamander species, 15 snake species and 5 turtle species. Obviously we also found lizards and frogs but I don't remember those counts off the top of my head and me being a teenager am too apathetic to count them up. Anyway that's all for now thanks for looking and sorry about all the grammar mistakes I refuse to use commas. I hope everyone has a productive spring and keep on herping! :beer:

Kevin.


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 Post subject: Re: spring break 2k17
PostPosted: April 28th, 2017, 5:36 pm 
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Joined: June 7th, 2010, 6:59 am
Posts: 454
Location: UTAH
Very cool.
I love that kingnsnake. I am so curious what kind of snake it has is its stomach.

Image


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 Post subject: Re: spring break 2k17
PostPosted: April 29th, 2017, 4:26 pm 
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Joined: January 18th, 2015, 3:04 pm
Posts: 94
jdustin wrote:
Very cool.
I love that kingnsnake. I am so curious what kind of snake it has is its stomach.

Image


It was a very pretty individual for sure and if I had to place my bets I'd stick with a racer in it's stomach considering how many we found at the same site.


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 Post subject: Re: spring break 2k17
PostPosted: April 29th, 2017, 4:49 pm 
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Joined: November 30th, 2012, 7:45 am
Posts: 492
Location: Fayetteville, Tennessee
I'm still baffled that y'all were able to knock out all of those goal species in a single trip. Congrats to you and the team!


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 Post subject: Re: spring break 2k17
PostPosted: May 3rd, 2017, 4:10 pm 
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Joined: January 18th, 2015, 3:04 pm
Posts: 94
Rich in Reptiles wrote:
I'm still baffled that y'all were able to knock out all of those goal species in a single trip. Congrats to you and the team!


Me too! :lol: :lol: Thanks Bethany I'll let them know.


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