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 Post subject: 2016 Wisconsin, Texas, MO, IL
PostPosted: March 7th, 2017, 11:31 pm 
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Joined: June 8th, 2010, 5:54 pm
Posts: 257
Location: Milwaukee, WI
After hours and hours of research on places to herp in 2017, I figured it was time to take a break this winter and do a 2016 post.

2016 would turn out to be a big year for me. I had my first child (Going to do my best to add another herper to the list) and made trips to Texas and the Ozarks.

Season started slow in WI with an Eastern Garter looking for a meal of Green Frogs by a pond here in SE WI.
Image7995 by Stuart Willicombe, on Flickr

After the first spring rains, it was time to go check a vernal pond for Spotted and Blue Spotted Salamanders. The spot did not disappoint! Sometimes, as many as 15 Spotted Salamanders can be flipped under one log.
Image8021 by Stuart Willicombe, on Flickr
Image8036 by Stuart Willicombe, on Flickr
Image8047 by Stuart Willicombe, on Flickr
Image8068 by Stuart Willicombe, on Flickr

In late March, it was finally time to go on our annual big herping adventure (with Jake Pammer, Ben Scott, and John Burris). We started this group in 2015 with an awesome trip to Kansas. This year the plan was to go all over Texas. So, we packed all our gear and started our 17 hour drive to Houston.

We made our first stop in Arkansas to take a break from the driving. This Cypress Swamp area was a great first stop and did not disappoint.

Broad-Banded Watersnake
Image8135 by Stuart Willicombe, on Flickr

Plainbelly Watersnake
Image8138 by Stuart Willicombe, on Flickr

Western Rat Snake
Image8143 by Stuart Willicombe, on Flickr

These Southern Black Racers must have just come out of hibernation and wanted to soak up the rays in a tree. We saw 6 basking in one low tree.
Image8155 by Stuart Willicombe, on Flickr
Image8157 by Stuart Willicombe, on Flickr
Image8180 by Stuart Willicombe, on Flickr


We were hoping to get a Mud Snake on our stop but struck out. So, we continued on and rolled into Houston late that night.

Big shout out to John Williams for giving me some pointers on how to herp the Houston area, because we had a great morning/afternoon. We couldn’t stay long because we had to make it all the way down to Brownsville by the end of the night for the real targets of the trip. I know taxonomy has changed on many of the snakes I am posting. But, I will use some of the older taxonomy to give a better idea of the areas we searched.

We started our morning with Jake flipping this Southern Copperhead
Image8184 by Stuart Willicombe, on Flickr
Image8199 by Stuart Willicombe, on Flickr

Also, a Rough Earth Snake
Image8202 by Stuart Willicombe, on Flickr

A little later, we drove to the outskirts of town to what looked like a great flip site on google earth. But, it seemed like the area was mostly cleaned up. Right when we were about to leave, Ben Scott surprised us with this pretty little Louisiana Milksnake that he flipped under a toilet seat.
Image8213 by Stuart Willicombe, on Flickr


Our last stop in the Houston area had one purpose, finding a Buttermilk Racer. This is a snake I always wanted to see as a kid. I flipped a couch that looked great, but had nothing under it. So, I decided to take a break and search closer to water to see if any nerodia were out and about. After walking back to the flipping area, I see John Burris flipping the same couch I had flipped a few minutes earlier. Sure enough, he yells Buttermilk and the chase was on. Luckily, we were able to secure the target and had the exact look of the Buttermilk I grew up wanting to find.
Image8216 by Stuart Willicombe, on Flickr
Image8224 by Stuart Willicombe, on Flickr

I promised Jake that we would spend some of the afternoon looking for some fossils along the coast. With the main target of Houston found, we searched an area near Texas City (I didn’t think a town could be dirtier than Homestead Florida) and struck out on any cool fossils. But, we did manage to find, I’m assuming, a Santeria site with a bunch of headless Roosters (photos got deleated with a corrupted sd card on my phone :( ) .

After that lovely sight, we decided to make our way down to Brownsville. We did a short stop at a coastal marsh area to see if anything was moving for cruising. We were quickly greeted by this American Alligator enjoying the last of the evening sun.
Image8251 by Stuart Willicombe, on Flickr

Marsh Brown Snakes seemed to be the only snakes that wanted to cross the road that evening
Image8256 by Stuart Willicombe, on Flickr

But, right before leaving, we found this Graham’s Crayfish Snake crossing the road.
Image8261 by Stuart Willicombe, on Flickr


Finally, we made it to the Lower Rio Grande Valley. Obviously, our main targets were Texas Indigos and Speckled Racers. The habitat around that area is very unique. I loved seeing how dry scrub turned into lush tropical plant habitat.

We saw loads of different lizards (I don’t have a good telephoto lens to shoot them) and plenty of Gulf Coast Ribbon Snakes at the start of the hike.
Image8313 by Stuart Willicombe, on Flickr

The largest Green Anoles I have ever seen.
Image8280 by Stuart Willicombe, on Flickr

And I really liked the Gulf Coast Toads
Image8307 by Stuart Willicombe, on Flickr

After hours of searching John Burris spotted the target!

Speckled Racer
Image8284 by Stuart Willicombe, on Flickr
Image8288 by Stuart Willicombe, on Flickr
Image8294 by Stuart Willicombe, on Flickr


After the photos we decided to head out and check out possible flip sites around the town. Flipping an old tire produced this Texas Patchnose Snake. The darn thing wouldn’t sit still for better pics.
Image8314 by Stuart Willicombe, on Flickr

We decided to get out of the car and hike around for a bit hoping to find a WDB or Indigo and Jake got distracted photographing a hawk or something. We impatiently waited for him to be done and gave him an ear full about how we need to cover as much ground as possible. So, we all got back in the car and everyone pretty much got over the top excited about what we saw stretched out 50 yards ahead on the road. I guess Jake's hawk photo session timed this one perfectly.

Texas Indigo
Image8357 by Stuart Willicombe, on Flickr

He was around 7’ and had some wicked scars. I always hoped my first Indigo would be a monster.
Image8343 by Stuart Willicombe, on Flickr

A nice addition to the day was our lifer Western Diamondback Rattlesnake.
Image8372 by Stuart Willicombe, on Flickr

The next day we left Brownsville, probably should have stayed another day, and headed to the Barrier Islands with hopes to find Milks and Kings. We were not able to find much to flip, but did manage to turn up a couple of Coachwhips.

Western Coachwhip #1
Image8401 by Stuart Willicombe, on Flickr

Jake sporting a hat you can only wear in Texas (John Burris in the background)
Image8402 by Stuart Willicombe, on Flickr

Western Coachwhip #2
Image8408 by Stuart Willicombe, on Flickr
Image8414 by Stuart Willicombe, on Flickr
Image8416 by Stuart Willicombe, on Flickr

One thing that pissed me off in Texas, some of the State Natural Areas didn’t open to the public until April. I wish they would have mentioned this online when I was doing my research. Therefore, even though it was too early for most of the good stuff, we decided to take a shot at West Texas. It was a lot of hiking and driving but we did turn up a few cool species.

Western Diamondback Rattlesnakes
Image8436 by Stuart Willicombe, on Flickr
Image8464 by Stuart Willicombe, on Flickr
Image8476 by Stuart Willicombe, on Flickr

Greater Texas Earless Lizard
Image8444 by Stuart Willicombe, on Flickr

Arid-Land Ribbon Snake
Image8452 by Stuart Willicombe, on Flickr

And my absolute favorite find, a young Trans-Pecos Copperhead!
Image8428 by Stuart Willicombe, on Flickr

We had one day left, so we decided to go for the Broad-Banded Copperhead. This would have completed all the copperheads for me and should have been an easy find with all the stuff we flipped. Alas, we struck out on the Broad-Banded but managed to get some other cool finds.

Texas Brown Snake
Image8482 by Stuart Willicombe, on Flickr

Texas Patchnose Snake
Image8502 by Stuart Willicombe, on Flickr

Texas Alligator Lizard
Image8509 by Stuart Willicombe, on Flickr

Well, it was time for the long drive home. I will definitely plan an early summer trip to West Texas in the future. We did one last stop on the way home to a MO Glade and I was able to flip my lifer Western Worm Snake. But, the damage people have done to that glade makes me sick. There were half crushed Ringnecks that were still alive under some of the rocks.

Western Worm Snake
Image8517 by Stuart Willicombe, on Flickr


After 8,000 miles of driving we were back home, and it didn’t take long for Wisconsin to start producing.

Bullsnakes
Image8550 by Stuart Willicombe, on Flickr
Image8557 by Stuart Willicombe, on Flickr
Image8574 by Stuart Willicombe, on Flickr
Image8587 by Stuart Willicombe, on Flickr


Blue Racers
Image8535 by Stuart Willicombe, on Flickr
Image9238 by Stuart Willicombe, on Flickr

Prairie Ringneck Snakes
Image8603 by Stuart Willicombe, on Flickr

A quick trip down near Chicago to get my lifer Chicago Garter Snake
Image8630 by Stuart Willicombe, on Flickr

And, a Common Snapping Turtle
Image8642 by Stuart Willicombe, on Flickr

I had to take a quick trip to a favorite Eastern Fox Snake spot.
Image8653 by Stuart Willicombe, on Flickr
Image8656 by Stuart Willicombe, on Flickr

I started herping with Garret Adamek and had a great spring hiking with him here in WI. Here are a couple of Timber Rattlesnakes from our first outing.
Image8668 by Stuart Willicombe, on Flickr
Image8699 by Stuart Willicombe, on Flickr
Image8705 by Stuart Willicombe, on Flickr

Ugly Eastern Fox Snake from SW WI
Image8730 by Stuart Willicombe, on Flickr

Smooth Softshell Turtles
Image8712 by Stuart Willicombe, on Flickr

Eastern Milksnake
Image8748 by Stuart Willicombe, on Flickr

Prairie Ringneck basking
Image8733 by Stuart Willicombe, on Flickr

Overall, a pretty good first in state trip. After some talking during the drive, we found out that we both herp the same area for Eastern Hognose in SE WI.

Eastern Hognose that Garret was kind enough to watch until I got to the location
Image8762 by Stuart Willicombe, on Flickr
Image8764 by Stuart Willicombe, on Flickr

Basking Common Snapping Turtle
Image8809 by Stuart Willicombe, on Flickr

Blanding’s Turtle with a couple of Midland Painted Turtles
Image8814 by Stuart Willicombe, on Flickr

Garret spotted this sweet looking Eastern Hognose
Image8796 by Stuart Willicombe, on Flickr

Smooth Green Snake
Image9207 by Stuart Willicombe, on Flickr

Huge Snapping Turtle
Image8839 by Stuart Willicombe, on Flickr

Pickerel Frog
Image8820 by Stuart Willicombe, on Flickr

Breeding Central Newts
Image8777 by Stuart Willicombe, on Flickr


In past years, I spent a lot of time finding Timbers and Bullsnakes. But, this year it was time to find some of the more difficult/Endangered/Special Concern species.

(Wisconsin Endangered) Northern Ribbon Snake
Image8922 by Stuart Willicombe, on Flickr

(Wisconsin Endangered) Queen Snake
Image8869 by Stuart Willicombe, on Flickr

(Wisconsin Endangered) Western Slender Glass Lizard
Image9587 by Stuart Willicombe, on Flickr

(Species of Special Concern) Butler’s Garter Snake
Image8944 by Stuart Willicombe, on Flickr

(Species of Special Concern) Plains Garter Snake
Image9022 by Stuart Willicombe, on Flickr

(Species of Special Concern) Lined Snake
Image8614 by Stuart Willicombe, on Flickr

These are other cool finds of the summer.

Eastern Hognose Snakes
Image9174 by Stuart Willicombe, on Flickr
Image9417 by Stuart Willicombe, on Flickr
Image9429 by Stuart Willicombe, on Flickr
Image9454 by Stuart Willicombe, on Flickr
Image9461 by Stuart Willicombe, on Flickr

Smooth Green Snakes (even the gray ones)
Image9057 by Stuart Willicombe, on Flickr
Image9089 by Stuart Willicombe, on Flickr
Image9104 by Stuart Willicombe, on Flickr

Northern Redbelly Snakes
Image9132 by Stuart Willicombe, on Flickr
Image9472 by Stuart Willicombe, on Flickr

Eastern Garter Snakes
Image8611 by Stuart Willicombe, on Flickr
Image8916 by Stuart Willicombe, on Flickr
Image9324 by Stuart Willicombe, on Flickr
Image9536 by Stuart Willicombe, on Flickr

Midland Brown Snake
Image8988 by Stuart Willicombe, on Flickr

Eastern Milk Snakes
Image8984 by Stuart Willicombe, on Flickr
Image9227 by Stuart Willicombe, on Flickr


Blue Racers (IL)
Image9381 by Stuart Willicombe, on Flickr
Image9604 by Stuart Willicombe, on Flickr

Lifer Plains Hognose Snakes (IL)
Image9357 by Stuart Willicombe, on Flickr
Image9632 by Stuart Willicombe, on Flickr

Eastern Musk Turtles
Image9303 by Stuart Willicombe, on Flickr
Image9310 by Stuart Willicombe, on Flickr

Ornate Box Turtle (IL)
Image9392 by Stuart Willicombe, on Flickr

Momma Timbers with their young
Image9574 by Stuart Willicombe, on Flickr
Image9547 by Stuart Willicombe, on Flickr
Image9537 by Stuart Willicombe, on Flickr
Image9528 by Stuart Willicombe, on Flickr


I had some extra vacation time so the team decided to meet up again for a Snake Road/Ozarks 4 day trip. Here are the highlights.

Had to take at least one picture of a Western Cottonmouth
Image9667 by Stuart Willicombe, on Flickr

Southern Black Racer (MO)
Image9685 by Stuart Willicombe, on Flickr

The target of the trip, Western Pygmy Rattlesnake (MO)
Image9688 by Stuart Willicombe, on Flickr
Image9701 by Stuart Willicombe, on Flickr

Red Milk Snake
Image9726 wht by Stuart Willicombe, on Flickr
Image9728 by Stuart Willicombe, on Flickr

Prairie Kingsnakes (IL)
Image9734 by Stuart Willicombe, on Flickr
Image9755 by Stuart Willicombe, on Flickr

And my last snake of the year was a big find!

Kirtland’s Snake
Image9778 by Stuart Willicombe, on Flickr
Image9781 by Stuart Willicombe, on Flickr

Thanks for reading all the way to the end! It was a great year and I was happy to meet so many fellow herpers along the way. Big shout out to Jake Pammer, John Burris, Ben Scott, Garet Adamek, John Edwards, Robert Balogh, Chad Mitchell, Matt Wishard, and Peter Paplanus for an awesome year. I hope to herp with all of you again soon.

Hopefully this one will be herping with me soon!
Image20170222_142907 by Stuart Willicombe, on Flickr


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 Post subject: Re: 2016 Wisconsin, Texas, MO, IL
PostPosted: March 8th, 2017, 9:49 am 

Joined: June 6th, 2011, 7:24 pm
Posts: 39
I gotta say, you have some really nice shots here. The bull and fox snakes stand out really well! It makes me excited to get out and enjoy this season.


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 Post subject: Re: 2016 Wisconsin, Texas, MO, IL
PostPosted: March 8th, 2017, 11:01 am 
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Joined: June 10th, 2010, 1:38 pm
Posts: 967
Wow congrats, the WI queen and ribbon snakes really stand out to me. When I was still living in WI up until a few years back, I was under the impression that their continued occurrence in the state was very questionable and didn't know anyone that had actually found one. Great work!


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 Post subject: Re: 2016 Wisconsin, Texas, MO, IL
PostPosted: March 9th, 2017, 8:36 am 
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Joined: June 7th, 2010, 3:44 pm
Posts: 285
Location: Camden County, Missouri
That was a truly awesome year! :thumb:

Loved both the buttermilk and speckled racer's!

Nice looking Missouri Pygmy too! We have only found one total for all the years we have looked!

Also congrats on that new little herper! :thumb:

Gary


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 Post subject: Re: 2016 Wisconsin, Texas, MO, IL
PostPosted: March 9th, 2017, 1:27 pm 
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Joined: August 16th, 2013, 2:43 pm
Posts: 73
Location: SW Oklahoma
Great stuff!


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 Post subject: Re: 2016 Wisconsin, Texas, MO, IL
PostPosted: March 9th, 2017, 5:52 pm 

Joined: May 12th, 2013, 5:47 pm
Posts: 101
Beautiful. The coloration on the Transpecos Copperhead is wonderful. Thanks for using the common names, too. :-)


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 Post subject: Re: 2016 Wisconsin, Texas, MO, IL
PostPosted: March 10th, 2017, 2:53 pm 
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Joined: June 8th, 2010, 10:53 am
Posts: 146
Location: NW Indiana
You had an amazing year and documented it with awesome shots!!!

Thanks for allowing me to tag along on some of these trips. I look very forward to 2017.

JB


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 Post subject: Re: 2016 Wisconsin, Texas, MO, IL
PostPosted: March 11th, 2017, 6:47 am 
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Joined: June 7th, 2010, 4:13 pm
Posts: 160
Location: NE Illinois
Excellent post, you sure had an epic year. I really enjoyed that so many of your great photos were in situ shots.


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 Post subject: Re: 2016 Wisconsin, Texas, MO, IL
PostPosted: March 11th, 2017, 1:01 pm 
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Joined: February 18th, 2015, 11:11 am
Posts: 120
Location: Deerfield Beach, Florida
That was a great post! Especially loved the Speckled Racer and the beautiful Bull Snakes. And man.......you've got some GORGEOUS horridus in Wisconsin!


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 Post subject: Re: 2016 Wisconsin, Texas, MO, IL
PostPosted: March 16th, 2017, 12:10 pm 
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Joined: June 8th, 2010, 5:54 pm
Posts: 257
Location: Milwaukee, WI
Thanks guys! John, get ready for an amazing 2017!


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 Post subject: Re: 2016 Wisconsin, Texas, MO, IL
PostPosted: March 19th, 2017, 9:19 pm 
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Joined: June 7th, 2010, 9:22 am
Posts: 288
Those hoggies are glorious. And I can never have enough Common Snapper pics. My favorite herp of all time.

Bart


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 Post subject: Re: 2016 Wisconsin, Texas, MO, IL
PostPosted: March 20th, 2017, 1:21 pm 
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Joined: June 11th, 2010, 7:43 am
Posts: 1253
Location: kaukauna, wi
this post sucked balls.

unless you all like trash snakes.

:P

stu, that was a prairie fox snake. that's why it was ugly.

-ben


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