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 Post subject: Snake Road hike
PostPosted: February 22nd, 2012, 8:23 pm 
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Joined: January 20th, 2012, 8:11 pm
Posts: 122
Location: S. Illinois
How can you live in S. Illinois and not take a trip to Snake Road on a 64 degree day in February? The answer is, you can't! I packed up the camera and hopped in my car for a solo hike down the trail of joy. I decided to save my ankles today and just hit some spots that I thought would produce some good finds. The first spot I hit was nothing but amazing...After flipping rocks in a small seep for about 25 minutes I had counted 4 zig-zag salamanders, 2 bronze frogs, 5 S. leopard frogs, and 2 green frogs. Some of the photo highlights of this group are a Green frog that was missing a left eye. It appeared to be a birth defect as there were no signs of scarring
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And a really cool green frog that was just screaming yellow under his chin (he was also very photogenic)
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After making sure i left no stone unturned I got into the car to head to my next spot, only to be stopped by the unmistakable figure in the road ahead of me...SNAKE! I was really hoping for a snake today so I grabbed the camera and started snapping away at the beautiful W. cottonmouth that was enjoying the warm sun of this winter's day. A couple of joggers stopped and asked me some questions about the snake and seemed to be as infatuated with it as I was, and why wouldn't they be after seeing this beauty
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After parting with the snake I drove to my next spot and flipped a N. Cricket Frog and 2 Green frogs. I decided to go on foot for the rest of the trail and a few steps down the path I flipped my LIFER Central Newt!
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A few logs later and I had 4 more zig-zag salamanders to add to the count
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I made my way to a small rock lined stream and prepared for the onslaught of frogs that usually awaits a rock flipper here. Three quick flips of rock and I had 3 more green frogs and another bronze frog for the day
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Just slightly up the path is a small cut out in the bluffs that usually yields a smorgasbord of eurycea lucifuga and this time was no exception. A thorough count yielded 10 individuals (a smaller count than usual though)
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It was getting close to my exit time for the day so I decided to check one last seep area and finished the day off with 2 more zig-zag salamanders, a N. cricket frog, a bronze frog, and a final cave salamander that sent me on my way home.
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When I got back to my car I was greeted by a herper who was just getting started for the day. We exchanged our accounts of perilous danger and glorious wonder and I left the trail with a grin from ear to ear from a day of herping joy!


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 Post subject: Re: Snake Road hike
PostPosted: February 23rd, 2012, 5:57 am 
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Joined: June 7th, 2010, 4:26 am
Posts: 3318
Location: Illinois
I want to get excited and say how cool this is, but then I can't get over that you live down there and that makes me so envious that I'm filled with hate. Good work, I would get out as long as its 50 or higher. Go out anywhere down there during or after a good rain.


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 Post subject: Re: Snake Road hike
PostPosted: February 23rd, 2012, 6:12 am 
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Joined: June 8th, 2010, 8:30 am
Posts: 653
Location: Clifton, Arizona
I hope to go back there some day!


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 Post subject: Re: Snake Road hike
PostPosted: February 23rd, 2012, 6:55 am 
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Joined: June 7th, 2010, 8:23 am
Posts: 1737
Location: Unicoi, TN
Pretty good for Feb 22 in Illinois


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 Post subject: Re: Snake Road hike
PostPosted: February 23rd, 2012, 7:53 am 
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Joined: June 7th, 2010, 6:45 am
Posts: 1439
Location: One of the boys from Illinois
BillMcGighan wrote:
Pretty good for Feb 22 in Illinois


yup! Your enthusiasm is infectious, Jeremy!

-Mike


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 Post subject: Re: Snake Road hike
PostPosted: February 23rd, 2012, 10:03 am 
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Joined: June 8th, 2010, 4:51 am
Posts: 176
Location: Chicago, Illinois
Jeremy, that looks like a real chuncker of a cottonmouth. It is great to see the progress of the migrations.

I don't know exactly where you found him, but he is obviously not in the mouth of a den. He looks like he is well out onto the road. So, does he go back into a den or is he already moving out into the swamp? [You might have an idea based on his location.]

Today too, looks like it will be a good day to get out as they are expecting a high of 71. However, I wonder where these guys will go when the weather goes back under freezing tomorrow? It really seems that Spring is coming a little early this year and that Mother Nature is a little confused. I wonder if I am the only one thinking that? I guess that Spring has always been fickle.


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 Post subject: Re: Snake Road hike
PostPosted: February 23rd, 2012, 11:20 am 
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Joined: June 7th, 2010, 3:21 am
Posts: 3298
Location: Iowa
There sure is a lot of one eyed frogs down at snake road.


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 Post subject: Re: Snake Road hike
PostPosted: February 23rd, 2012, 12:35 pm 
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Joined: January 20th, 2012, 8:11 pm
Posts: 122
Location: S. Illinois
Justinm - I'm a little envious of my location myself...I'm wondering if I'll just get burned out and be like, "uggh herpers need to get a life" LOL...It would probably take a while for that to happen though :D

peterknuteberg - He was a fatty for sure. I'd put him at around 26" long. He was definitely NOT near a den either and was only a few feet away from the swamp. I'd say that the closest den area was over 100-150 yards away from where he was. At first he was totally still and then he went into full display mode, rattling his tail and gaping. I moved him off the road and he would have none of it, and quickly made his way back to the gravel. There were lots of cars driving through so I made one last attempt and got him near a small wood pile that was sitting in the swamp and he disappeared into the water.

psyon - That was my first defect one, but as I work the area more I'm sure I'll be finding more and more.

As far as whether they are leaving the dens for the swamp yet...I'd say no. The other guy I ran into had some pics on his camera from the last warm-up we had a week ago of 5 or 6 tangled up at the customary den sites. He even had a shot of a red eft sitting on top of one of the cottonmouths heads. He said he hadn't seen them outside of the dens yet, nor had seen any timber movement yet either.

On a side note the water in the seeps was teaming with inverts, just tons and tons of leeches, freshwater shrimp and snails under every single rock. I also found 10 good sized egg masses in the pool at the north parking lot, but they were too far into the water for me to get a good picture of, I'm guessing they were only a few days old.


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