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 Post subject: San Jacinto County - Under Reported?
PostPosted: April 21st, 2012, 6:55 pm 
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Joined: March 18th, 2012, 6:34 pm
Posts: 822
Location: Huffman (NE Houston), Texas
I went out to San Jacinto County today with a non-herper friend and road cruised mostly in Sam Houston National Forest. I mainly went there, because (as of now) we have 7 records for that county in the HERP database. I was hoping to increase those numbers, but it didn't turn out in my favor.

I figured this would be a nice place to go as it's fairly close to Houston (less than an hour drive from where I live). There's lots of folks close by, so I am wondering if people just don't herp there, or if it's really as lame as I found it to be today. I did find one Agkistrodon piscivorous leucostoma in a gulley, and saw what was likely a Coluber contrictor anthicus darting out from under my feet as I was picking blackberries. Neither of which were on the nice, sandy dirt roads.

But with all we drove, and all the trash we flipped (the forest apparently is a major dumping ground for the locals, but that's another issue entirely), and all we hiked, accumulating to 7hrs of herping, we had very poor success with snakes.

Any thoughts? We spent most of our time roadcruising, and the current extent of my roadcruising experience encompasses the entirety of 5hrs or so last weekend during the chapter outing, so I may be able to attribute some lack of success to experience with picking the right roads.


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 Post subject: Re: San Jacinto County - Under Reported?
PostPosted: May 9th, 2012, 5:58 am 

Joined: June 21st, 2010, 9:46 am
Posts: 186
Location: Houston
I had a similar experience when I went out hiking in that area last year. Not sure if it's just bad luck or what. I might be headed up there this weekend to scope out the forest roads a bit, so I'll definitely post if I find anything.

Matt


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 Post subject: Re: San Jacinto County - Under Reported?
PostPosted: May 10th, 2012, 5:59 pm 

Joined: July 2nd, 2011, 6:41 am
Posts: 10
I've heard there are some pygmy rattlers up in that area but I've never actually been up there myself so I can't confirm personally. Wish I could, but I can't.


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 Post subject: Re: San Jacinto County - Under Reported?
PostPosted: May 10th, 2012, 6:14 pm 
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Joined: March 18th, 2012, 6:34 pm
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Location: Huffman (NE Houston), Texas
MAbernathy wrote:
I had a similar experience when I went out hiking in that area last year. Not sure if it's just bad luck or what. I might be headed up there this weekend to scope out the forest roads a bit, so I'll definitely post if I find anything.

Matt


Matt, my weekend is free if you'd like to road cruise together.

I've since spent two more days road cruising that area, and I now can add 2 copperheads and a ribbon snake to the very small list of snake herps seen there.


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 Post subject: Re: San Jacinto County - Under Reported?
PostPosted: May 10th, 2012, 6:21 pm 
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Joined: March 18th, 2012, 6:34 pm
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Location: Huffman (NE Houston), Texas
RuddockReptiles wrote:
I've heard there are some pygmy rattlers up in that area but I've never actually been up there myself so I can't confirm personally. Wish I could, but I can't.


I've heard the same, and heard that they aren't all that uncommon.


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 Post subject: Re: San Jacinto County - Under Reported?
PostPosted: May 10th, 2012, 9:27 pm 
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Joined: June 7th, 2010, 10:14 pm
Posts: 2725
Location: San Antonio, TX
I know pygmies are up in that area, but finding them can be another thing. They will literally sit out in the open or under a shrub in a pine forest and are really hard to spot, even if you are looking right at them. I have found more streckeri on roads than under stuff or in the woods. They are actually tricky to spot on roads as well because they are totally non-reflective. The look like a dark, somewhat snake-shaped line on the road that is already covered in sticks and pine needles. :roll:

San Jacinto county is obviously just under herped.
Looking at the database, I see:
No Texas Rat? No Ribbonsnakes? No slowinski corn? No Brownsnakes or Earthsnakes? No Racer? No Coachwhip? No Watersnakes (3 species are here)? (all these species are common in the next county over)
1 turtle (no Trachemys? no Stinkpots? no Box Turtles? - any of those would be easy to get)
1 Salamander (and a tough one at that! The easy ones - Smallmouthed Salamander, Newts, Dwarf Salamanders are still there asking to be found!)
NO frogs or toads?? One a rainy night right now you could easily go up there and find 7 species, and probably 10 if you hit it right.

I think it would be hard to go there an NOT find 5 county records. So get up there!

Chris


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 Post subject: Re: San Jacinto County - Under Reported?
PostPosted: May 11th, 2012, 6:49 am 
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Joined: March 18th, 2012, 6:34 pm
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Location: Huffman (NE Houston), Texas
chrish wrote:
I know pygmies are up in that area, but finding them can be another thing. They will literally sit out in the open or under a shrub in a pine forest and are really hard to spot, even if you are looking right at them. I have found more streckeri on roads than under stuff or in the woods. They are actually tricky to spot on roads as well because they are totally non-reflective. The look like a dark, somewhat snake-shaped line on the road that is already covered in sticks and pine needles. :roll:

San Jacinto county is obviously just under herped.
Looking at the database, I see:
No Texas Rat? No Ribbonsnakes? No slowinski corn? No Brownsnakes or Earthsnakes? No Racer? No Coachwhip? No Watersnakes (3 species are here)? (all these species are common in the next county over)
1 turtle (no Trachemys? no Stinkpots? no Box Turtles? - any of those would be easy to get)
1 Salamander (and a tough one at that! The easy ones - Smallmouthed Salamander, Newts, Dwarf Salamanders are still there asking to be found!)
NO frogs or toads?? One a rainy night right now you could easily go up there and find 7 species, and probably 10 if you hit it right.

I think it would be hard to go there an NOT find 5 county records. So get up there!

Chris


Lol, I actually do have a toad record but I don't know what kind it is, so I haven't uploaded it yet. I also found a ribbon on the road, but he scooted off by the time I nearly ran over him and got out of the car.

But yes, it's really very under herped. I think I'll start spending time going up there and hiking some while I have time off of school.


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 Post subject: Re: San Jacinto County - Under Reported?
PostPosted: May 11th, 2012, 7:21 am 

Joined: June 21st, 2010, 9:46 am
Posts: 186
Location: Houston
Soopaman

I can't really commit to anything this weekend (1st mother's day for my wife) and with a young one at the house, it all depends on if I can break away. If I get to plan a trip I'll let you know, but for now, my trips will likely be last minute.

Matt


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 Post subject: Re: San Jacinto County - Under Reported?
PostPosted: May 11th, 2012, 5:36 pm 

Joined: July 2nd, 2011, 6:41 am
Posts: 10
I know I can't get away this weekend or next weekend, but Memorial Day weekend I'm free if y'all want to try and do some cruising up that way. I've got a company car and a gas card :beer:


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 Post subject: Re: San Jacinto County - Under Reported?
PostPosted: May 12th, 2012, 3:04 am 
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Joined: March 18th, 2012, 6:34 pm
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Location: Huffman (NE Houston), Texas
RuddockReptiles wrote:
I know I can't get away this weekend or next weekend, but Memorial Day weekend I'm free if y'all want to try and do some cruising up that way. I've got a company car and a gas card :beer:


I think that sounds great. I should be free as well, and hopefully we can (for the herps) expect some nice high night time temperatures.
I struck out again yesterday, except for a coachwhip (in the Montgomery county side, of course...) that was better at playing dead than a hognose. I think it was mostly due to weather though. We were sitting at 87° and a rain system passed by and dropped temperatures down to 74°, and it was consistently 70° after nightfall. For me, it seems this is too cool for snakes though I did find a copperhead out on pavement at 68° earlier this week.


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 Post subject: Re: San Jacinto County - Under Reported?
PostPosted: May 12th, 2012, 5:47 am 

Joined: July 2nd, 2011, 6:41 am
Posts: 10
I went out log flipping around here (Woodlands) yesterday and got skunked out too. Just too cool and with that weather system coming through and the pressure drop I just don't think it was a good day for it.


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 Post subject: Re: San Jacinto County - Under Reported?
PostPosted: May 12th, 2012, 3:13 pm 
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Joined: June 7th, 2010, 10:14 pm
Posts: 2725
Location: San Antonio, TX
Soopaman wrote:
Lol, I actually do have a toad record but I don't know what kind it is, so I haven't uploaded it yet.


Post a pic, we'll tell you.

Actually the cool weather and rain has been a bonanza for amphibs. Get out there and record some calls - any phone wil work if you get close enough. It's an easy way to rack up a lot of records quickly. Most of my 150+ records for the year are just frog calls. If you get a decent mic, you don't even have to get out of the car :lol: .


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 Post subject: Re: San Jacinto County - Under Reported?
PostPosted: May 12th, 2012, 4:38 pm 
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Joined: March 18th, 2012, 6:34 pm
Posts: 822
Location: Huffman (NE Houston), Texas
chrish wrote:
Soopaman wrote:
Lol, I actually do have a toad record but I don't know what kind it is, so I haven't uploaded it yet.


Post a pic, we'll tell you.

Actually the cool weather and rain has been a bonanza for amphibs. Get out there and record some calls - any phone wil work if you get close enough. It's an easy way to rack up a lot of records quickly. Most of my 150+ records for the year are just frog calls. If you get a decent mic, you don't even have to get out of the car :lol: .


Oh, no doubt it's good for amphibs, and so is all the rain. Just, I'm not looking (actively) for amphibs! I like the scaly side of the herping world :)

Here's the toad, which I have since determined is just a pale gulf coast toad (let me know if you disagree):
Image
Ollotis nebulifer (Gulf Coast Toad) by Kyle L.E., on Flickr

It just seemed odd because they were all so pale, and all the gulf coast toads I see locally have very dark patches of forest green on their backs.


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 Post subject: Re: San Jacinto County - Under Reported?
PostPosted: May 13th, 2012, 8:41 pm 
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Joined: June 7th, 2010, 10:14 pm
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Location: San Antonio, TX
Yeah, that's the "lemon-phase" of I. nebulifer.. Great potential for captive breeding projects. :lol:

Soopaman wrote:
Oh, no doubt it's good for amphibs, and so is all the rain. Just, I'm not looking (actively) for amphibs! I like the scaly side of the herping world :)


Oh, absolutely Anurans are by-catch when I'm really out looking for snakes. I used to ignore them completely, but the more you pay attention to them, the cooler they become.

One of the cool things about them is that you can find them by ear. I like to see how many anurans I can "find" by hearing them. I've found and recorded 10 species calling within an hour of where I live this year, and I still haven't even found Lithobates sphenocephalus or catesbianus calling. I hope to add a few more if I get over towards Houston one night this week.

You can "find" anurans by ear when they are on inaccessible private land. Can't do that for snakes!

Once you start finding frogs by ear, it is a little addictive, IMHO. There is a whole world of stuff to experience, even for a jaded old herper like me.
For example:
There are some species of frog I have heard but never seen in Texas which makes me want to search even harder to find one for a photo (e.g. Lithobates grylio).
There are some species of frog that I have seen in Texas, but never heard calling, like Craugaster augusti.
There are some species which are almost impossible to find without knowing their calls (e.g. Lithobates areolatus, Rhinophrynus dorsalis).
There are some species which can't be identified unless they are calling (e.g. Gray Treefrogs).

Now salamanders are just plain cool, particularly when you live in TX and they aren't an everyday occurrence.


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