The Year in Photographs

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Nick Scobel
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The Year in Photographs

Post by Nick Scobel » November 29th, 2011, 8:52 am

Snow is starting to fall here in Michigan, and once again a year in the field has come to an end. I had an amazing year in the field with friends that I won't soon forget. I'll begin with a trip to Florida in March, despite visiting family I always manage to find time to get into the field. It was nice to encounter an EDB for the second year in a row, as well as some other common species I hadn't seen in Florida for a few years.

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Shortly after returning from Florida, warm temperatures brought out the first of the spring migrants in Michigan. For the second year in a row, I aided a biologist in some work with a population of Smallmouth Salamanders, an endangered species in Michigan. Several other species showed up at the site as well.

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As temperatures begin to rise in April, one of my favorite species emerges from hibernation. I was fortunate enough to observe massasaugas at several new locations this spring with Jason Folt.

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This individual was particularly interesting...

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In May, I finally got the chance to check out a few streams which are home to some interesting salamanders. Both species are on only found at one location in the state.

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The spring is also the best time to target some of Michigan's larger snake species, such as the Blue Racer. They are always enjoyable to find and often are quite happy to pose for the camera. This large one had taken a whack right at Jason's camera before this photo was taken.

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This spring also gave me the opportunity to get out and look for Michigan's least common turtle species, the Spotted Turtle. Several were found on one particular trip to a really nice area.

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One of the most exciting finds I made this spring was a species that had eluded me since my childhood within Michigan, the Eastern Hognose Snake. On a warm morning in May, I hit paydirt on some private property less than ten miles from my house.

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May also gave me the opportunity to travel a little bit. I swung down to the sand prairies at the Illinois/Indiana border in hopes of finding my first Bullsnake. I met up with Todd Pierson and his dad as well as some other herpers for a day. We found some of the common stuff and eventually turned up our bull around mid-day.

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Todd and his dad came up to Michigan for a few days in hopes of finding a Massasauga, Wood Turtle, Spotted Turtle, and Butler's Garter Snake. The weather ended up being horrible with the exception of our day on a river looking for woods, but we ended up getting all of their targets despite the wet, rainy conditions.

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On my last day in Michigan, I traveled down to the coastal marshes of southeast Michigan to look for one of my favorite Michigan snakes, the Eastern Fox Snake. I ended up finding four individuals between two sites, one being a new site for me.

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In May, I departed for the northeast where I took a position with the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service working with two endangered turtle species. My living quarters was ridiculously nice and I enjoyed the field work I conducted.

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There were some nice looking box turtles in the area.

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With so many areas within a few short hours, I traveled and herped most weekends. One my first weekend I traveled to the coastal marshes to find a turtle species I've wanted to see for a long time, I wasn't disappointed.

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I also spent some considerable time in the pine barrens of New Jersey this summer. It's a tough place to herp, but it is so reminiscent of the southeastern pinelands to me.

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On one of my first visits to the pines, I was able to find a pretty special frog that's been high on my list to see, Hyla andersonii.

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Return trips to the pines were very unproductive, and I ended up striking out on kingsnakes the entire summer. I did however find this beautiful snake with Jason Ksepka, eyez, and Darnell Brister on a warm day in early June.

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My biggest target for the summer was the Northern Pine Snake. I spent a lot of time looking for them and eventually hit paydirt one weekend in early July, seeing two in two days.

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Another target that showed up on this same weekend was a rattlesnake from the barrens. This adult was found basking next to an abandoned building on a sandy ridge.

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I made a trip home around the 4th of July to visit family & friends. And while home I managed to help the Michigan Natural Features Inventory with a massasauga survey. Several melanisitic individuals were found at this location, and I found several gravid females at another site.

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I returned to the northeast and found a few more of the common species from the region.

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In late July, I spent a weekend in the southern Appalachians to round out a few species I had missed out on the year before. I made a day stop in the Smokies to knock out some common species and to meet a friend of mine who was working at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory for the summer.

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After spending the day in the national park with my friend, I split for North Carolina in hopes of seeing an awesome species I've wanted to see for a long time. Before I reached my location, I bumped into this guy on the road late at night.

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At about midnight, I reached my location and set out with a headlamp along a slope in hopes of seeing a large Plethodontid out on the move, it didn't take long.

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I ended up seeing a dozen or so individuals, only grabbing one for photos. It was a satisfying trip, the next weekend I was on the move again, this time to West Virginia for some vipers.

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Five horridus and two copperheads later, and I was on my way home back to Michigan. My return home was well timed, as I arrived just in time for Massasauga birthing season.

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I got out on a few rivers this fall for wood turtles, but not as much as I would've liked to.

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September is probably the best time of the year to road cruise for snakes in Michigan as many of the species begin to move before winter. On a warm September day, I hit an area where I've seen Blue Racers in the past and ended up scoring my second hognose of the year in Michigan.

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October was also a good month, my friend Chris convinced me to tag along with him in southern Illinois as he had always wanted to go. It turned out to be a great trip with all three viper species, and my first mole salamander and diamondback water snake.

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The end of October yielded a few more late season saugas.

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Mudpuppy season should be heating up here before long here, so hopefully that will help me cope with the dropping temps. Thanks for looking.

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jdustin
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Re: The Year in Photographs

Post by jdustin » November 29th, 2011, 9:01 am

Awesome post. Makes me want to visit the east coast more often.
What was the coloring on the rattles on this image?
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Ruxs
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Re: The Year in Photographs

Post by Ruxs » November 29th, 2011, 9:04 am

Amazing, some really pretty snakes there! I'm possibly being dumb, but why did the Massa with its baby have pink and blue buttons on its rattle?????

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Mike Pingleton
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Re: The Year in Photographs

Post by Mike Pingleton » November 29th, 2011, 9:11 am

wow, Nick! Pretty good year!

Great photos as always.
-Mike

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Nick Scobel
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Re: The Year in Photographs

Post by Nick Scobel » November 29th, 2011, 9:12 am

The snake has been marked as part of a ongoing study at this site. Rattles are painted with unique color combinations to help identify individuals. It's less invasive that PIT tags, especially for a short term study that does not involve telemetry.

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Phil Peak
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Re: The Year in Photographs

Post by Phil Peak » November 29th, 2011, 10:55 am

Great selection of herps and excellent photography!

Phil

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Re: The Year in Photographs

Post by Zach_Lim » November 29th, 2011, 11:30 am

Excellent finds and photography! The different habitats you explored and herped are amazing.

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moloch
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Re: The Year in Photographs

Post by moloch » November 29th, 2011, 12:15 pm

A great report, Nick, with superb photos. Looks like a very successful year. Loved the shots of the salamanders in particular.

Regards,
David

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Don
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Re: The Year in Photographs

Post by Don » November 29th, 2011, 2:44 pm

All great stuff, but I REALLY like the black 'saugas!

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Carl Brune
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Re: The Year in Photographs

Post by Carl Brune » November 29th, 2011, 5:56 pm

Awesome finds and photography. Thanks for posting.

RobK

Re: The Year in Photographs

Post by RobK » November 29th, 2011, 7:58 pm

You and those saugas. Congrats on the Pines and Hoggies!
Hard to pick a fav out of that series, nice variety.

-r

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Norman D
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Re: The Year in Photographs

Post by Norman D » November 29th, 2011, 11:28 pm

Great photography Nick! Love all the crote shots! The Eastern Massasaugas are a real treat for me! I am used to looking for desert rattlesnakes and hiking out saugs seem like such a tough thing to do! Keep up the great work

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Rags
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Re: The Year in Photographs

Post by Rags » November 30th, 2011, 12:09 am

Enjoyable stuff, thanks for taking the time to put it together. What a great year.

Loved the turtle shots in particular, I never realised the North American species were as colourful as that!

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liucommajames
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Re: The Year in Photographs

Post by liucommajames » November 30th, 2011, 8:41 am

those turtles rocked.

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Re: The Year in Photographs

Post by DIAMONDBACK DAVE » November 30th, 2011, 2:46 pm

Nick, awesome post, I am envious of all those saugies when I have seen exactley zero over the years.........soon, oh yes,...soon

Hope to get a chance to herp with ya next year.

This is a DBD approved ...... :thumb:

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Re: The Year in Photographs

Post by J-Miz » November 30th, 2011, 3:44 pm

Looks like a pretty good year to me :thumb:

Awesome shots...I especially like the second Two-lined Sally, Red-cheeked Salamander, and the last (close-up) shot of the Pine snake.

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TNWJackson
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Re: The Year in Photographs

Post by TNWJackson » November 30th, 2011, 4:11 pm

Wow, ultra high quality photography! Too many awesome animals in there to pick favourites. It's really cool for an Aussie (a continent without caudates) to see such a diversity of salamanders photographed so beautifully.

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justinm
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Re: The Year in Photographs

Post by justinm » November 30th, 2011, 7:45 pm

Nick,

I've said it before, OMG so many good shots. I'm in awe of how effortlessly you make Sauga's and Woodies show up here.

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Re: The Year in Photographs

Post by mikemike » November 30th, 2011, 7:50 pm

Looks like you scored pretty good this year, Nick.
Thanks for posting, man.

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Nir
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Re: The Year in Photographs

Post by Nir » December 1st, 2011, 8:29 am

Wow great year you had!! Definately jealous about those pines!! Great photography too!

All those massassaugas and wood turtle pics make me itchy for spring!!

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Re: The Year in Photographs

Post by BillMcGighan » December 2nd, 2011, 6:22 am

Great stuff. Some serious diversity, Nick. Good year.....

dickbartlett
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Re: The Year in Photographs

Post by dickbartlett » December 2nd, 2011, 1:18 pm

Wonderful post, Nick. Beautiful photography and great subjects. Cheers/Dick

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Curtis Hart
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Re: The Year in Photographs

Post by Curtis Hart » December 2nd, 2011, 3:47 pm

Looks like a great year. I am quite jealous of some of the turtles you saw this year.


Curtis

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Josh Holbrook
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Re: The Year in Photographs

Post by Josh Holbrook » December 2nd, 2011, 3:57 pm

The diversity in this post is awe-inspiring. Thanks for posting Nick.

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Re: The Year in Photographs

Post by Daniel D Dye » December 2nd, 2011, 4:05 pm

I thoroughly enjoyed this post, Nick. The diversity of animals is mind boggling!

Over the years I've watched your photography skills improve to near perfection... :thumb:

It was great seeing you and all your cousins last Spring. Swing back by next year, and stay a few days.

Daniel

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Re: The Year in Photographs

Post by J.Janssen » December 3rd, 2011, 8:52 am

Amazing photos! Looks like you had a really good year!

Which lenses did you use for these photo's and what is your favorite for reptile photography?

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Re: The Year in Photographs

Post by Chad M. Lane » December 4th, 2011, 8:38 pm

How did I miss this post? Fantastic Nick! Always admirer your photography and you did it again!




Thanks,
Chad

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Nick Scobel
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Re: The Year in Photographs

Post by Nick Scobel » December 4th, 2011, 11:33 pm

DBD - Thanks for the kind words. I'll likely be down for the holidays, I'll give you a shout.

Jared - I'd like to swing down to OH next spring for a snake you seem to have a knack for finding. Btw, how about those Wolverines?

Curtis - As always, it was great getting out with you this year.

Daniel - Your hospitality is appreciated as always, I may take you up on that offer.

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Re: The Year in Photographs

Post by joeysgreen » December 5th, 2011, 6:22 am

I"m sure glad I opened this thread, thanks for the great pictures and you sure did come across an awesome variety. If I could only make a request would be to label the pic's with species for us not so great at recognising them. What was that "red backed" large plethodon?

Ian

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Re: The Year in Photographs

Post by ahockenberry » December 5th, 2011, 12:49 pm

Oh my gosh !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Amazing post of spectacular diversity of species -
Love all of the turtles - especially the Box and Spotted
Copperheads are awesome
Amazing array of Eastern Massasaugas
Salamanders are A+
Great work all around
Thanks for posting
Ashley

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Re: The Year in Photographs

Post by hellihooks » December 5th, 2011, 3:03 pm

I really, really enjoyed this post, start to finish... :thumb: What qualifications allow you to work in 'the field' like you do? Although I'm ready for Grad Programs in Bio Psych... I'm just about to the point of saying "screw psych" and go for something that involves field work... :roll: :D jim
BTW... no one's even going to mention the very pretty girl? :shock: She fit in very nicely in that section of 'artistic' shots... :thumb:

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Re: The Year in Photographs

Post by M.J.FRANETOVICH » December 5th, 2011, 3:48 pm

hellihooks wrote:I really, really enjoyed this post, start to finish... :thumb: What qualifications allow you to work in 'the field' like you do? Although I'm ready for Grad Programs in Bio Psych... I'm just about to the point of saying "screw psych" and go for something that involves field work... :roll: :D jim
BTW... no one's even going to mention the very pretty girl? :shock: She fit in very nicely in that section of 'artistic' shots... :thumb:

Don't you mean 'artistic shorts'? :lol: :lol: :lol:

GREAT POST!!!!! HANDS DOWN :thumb: :thumb: really enjoyed the crotes, all of them :mrgreen: all thow I am kinda' parcel to the saugies!

MEL :beer:

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Re: The Year in Photographs

Post by joeysgreen » December 5th, 2011, 4:25 pm

I made a day stop in the Smokies to knock out some common species
I just figured that the girl was one of them common species and thus all the more reason to hit the Smokies :)

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Re: The Year in Photographs

Post by hellihooks » December 5th, 2011, 5:18 pm

joeysgreen wrote:
I made a day stop in the Smokies to knock out some common species
I just figured that the girl was one of them common species and thus all the more reason to hit the Smokies :)
If she is... screw Ca... I'm moving to the Smokies... wherever the hell that is... :crazyeyes: :lol: :lol: jim

Brendan Murray
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Re: The Year in Photographs

Post by Brendan Murray » December 5th, 2011, 6:40 pm

this thread has turned really classy :roll: awesome photos and finds Nick!

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Nick Scobel
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Re: The Year in Photographs

Post by Nick Scobel » December 6th, 2011, 12:50 pm

Brendan Murray wrote:this thread has turned really classy :roll: awesome photos and finds Nick!
Brendan, how often are you in Michigan? We should get out in the spring.
joeysgreen wrote:I"m sure glad I opened this thread, thanks for the great pictures and you sure did come across an awesome variety. If I could only make a request would be to label the pic's with species for us not so great at recognising them. What was that "red backed" large plethodon?

Ian
My apologies, with so many photos and a lot to write I decided to skip species names. It is a Yonahlossee Salamander (Plethodon yonahlossee), a large Plethodontid endemic to the southern Appalachians.

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DaveR
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Re: The Year in Photographs

Post by DaveR » December 10th, 2011, 1:22 pm

Very nice job Nick. looks like you had a great year. Loved the neo massassaugas...and I never get tired of pines (I've still never seen a live one in the field...on my bucket list).

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