Part I: My Herping Eden

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Josh Holbrook
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Part I: My Herping Eden

Post by Josh Holbrook » December 9th, 2012, 7:34 pm

Greetings fellow herpers,

I believe it’s been since May-ish that I’ve put together a good, long field herping post. I really meant to post something since then, but I had a statistics class this semester that very near killed me. That said, it’s over, and it’s time to reminisce on the summer and fall.

A bit of housekeeping, first off: I’ve had a bit of herpetological lunacy and went through about half of my photos in one border format, a few in another, and the last half I got smart and batch processed via photoshop.

The following are from May – September; in a few spots in the eastern United States.

First off, I spent a boatload of time over the summer in my home county (Palm Beach County); relaxing after all the hard work that went into getting my book published - for those of you traveling in southern Florida over the winter or spring break, I wrote this book mostly for you guys, and it provides a bunch of practical advice on field herping down here: http://www.amazon.com/Field-Guide-Snake ... rn+florida (Or PM me for a signed/cheaper copy.)

Anyways, shameless promotion aside, I herped a lot at my thesis site, where I’ve been given gated access and a mandate to turn it into a herping paradise (ok, so I took artistic license with that description.) My thesis site is in central Palm Beach county, in a little town that time forgot and the decades cannot improve ... where all the women are strong, all the men are good-looking, and all the children are above average. It's been quite the Summer in my hometown, out on the edge of the Everglades. (Bonus points for those who catch the reference.)

Some of my finds from the area:

I’ve done a lot of aquatic trapping:

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My first musk in this neck of the woods:
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Some terrestrials are found as well:
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We need a few Burmese Pythons up in my area, because the Raccoons are brutal on turtle nests, I see very few hatchlings
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Birders tell me these are good finds. See em’ all the time:
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Josh has joined me a lot down here
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Interestingly enough, it seems that a lot of red phase snakes turn up in a certain zone of my study area, like some of these crayfish snakes:
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Most of the reds I found were gravid too:
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For those that remember my last forum post, crayfish snakes are not the only red snakes afoot, I’ve found 8 high-red Florida Watersnakes as well:
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And some “normies” as well
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Plenty more from my thesis site:
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Now what is that, which festoons the cypress?
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Orchids they be
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Everglades Dwarf Siren. We turn up about a dozen of these a night when we look for em’:

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Donald’s (Asydabass) made it out quite a few times too, between central America trips:

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Playing with his first Siren:
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He’s gotten me in to some Fish photography from my trapping:

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Some ever-abundant aquatic salamanders:

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In the swamp, no one can hear you scream:

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The set-up for aquatics photo’ing:

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We’ve turned up some swamp snakes here and there, including this fella on an evening that Kyle L. joined us:

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And lots and lots of Crayfish Snakes this year:

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It’s not all herps there, we’re firmly out of the Python’s current range and as such mammals are abundant:

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Strangler Fig:

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I also invested in a nice John Zegel collapsible hook this year:

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A point and shoot shot:

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My thesis site is a city’s water supply and used to be open to anybody to go into, and there’s a old car or two in the swamp. Anyone know what car emblem this is?

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Trapping:

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I could’ve picked worse places to work:
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Passive traps;

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I also made it up to my hometown in CT and found a few critters afoot:

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My first CT Milksnake from my back yard. Crazy I lived there 18 years and never turned one up:
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Spotted Turtle habitat:
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I think this picture ended up in my article in the last issue of Herp Nation:
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For more family time, I met up with the wife’s side for some hanging out in the mountains of Georgia:

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I got my salamander fix for a few weeks:
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50-or-so sallies in an hour. Very nice.

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Lifer Spring Sally
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Only one snake was seen there, also only snake I’ve actually had chase me (granted, airtemp was 95 degrees at 9pm:

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Wife and hounds:
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Roughing it:
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An interesting aside, while there I spoke with my sister-in-law Anne, who was a missionary in China for a few years, and she told me about a huge salamander she had seen there in a well. I asked her if she had pictures of it, and she dug this up for me:
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Splendid. Absolutely splendid.


And a few haphazard shots from some trips to wrap it up:

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I find several of these every time I go to this site. . . I know I’ll find Stilosoma there some day:
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Who doesn’t love a “giant, killer” snake
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Out herp society, The South Florida Herp Society, has been growing by leaps and bounds lately. Though I love forums such as this, there’s nothing like meeting and enjoying herps in person:
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A loggerhead from our annual sea turtle walk
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A few from a bang-a-rang trip with my good friends Brett, Jon and Katie – all of whom have since moved:

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Evidently he cooks for himself…
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I went to southwest Florida to look for bears and panthers for my birthday. The hotel neglected to tell us that although they allowed dogs, they were limited to two 25 pound or less dogs. . . I told my pooches to think light:
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A few snakes were around to, but overall it’s been a woefully sub-par year for night cruising:
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One of two targets found:
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Five feet, pattern retained. Gotta love dem’ deckerti:
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A species I’ll be getting to know much better in the upcoming months:
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Cocodrilo
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And we’ll finish up this segment with some tricolors
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Well, that’s about half of what I’ve got – so stay tuned boys and girls, I hope you’ve enjoyed.


-Josh

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Soopaman
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Re: Part I: My Herping Eden

Post by Soopaman » December 9th, 2012, 7:47 pm

Josh Holbrook wrote:
... in a little town that time forgot and the decades cannot improve ... where all the women are strong, all the men are good-looking, and all the children are above average. It's been quite the Summer in my hometown, out on the edge of the Everglades. (Bonus points for those who catch the reference.)
I see you've been herping Lake Wobegon!

AsydaBass
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Re: Part I: My Herping Eden

Post by AsydaBass » December 9th, 2012, 7:52 pm

Phenomenal, Josh! I feel privileged to have been around for a good chunk of those adventures. And I must say, your photography has come along wonderfully. Keep it up.

-Don
www.rainforestdon.com

Paul White
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Re: Part I: My Herping Eden

Post by Paul White » December 9th, 2012, 8:00 pm

I honestly do not remember the last time I posted but....
daaaamn man that's a nice post. Plenty of herp pr0n. I'm jealous :)

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BillMcGighan
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Re: Part I: My Herping Eden

Post by BillMcGighan » December 9th, 2012, 8:57 pm

Great Stuff, Josh.
All.

Wow, the owl with the Ring-necked is truely special.

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Norman D
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Re: Part I: My Herping Eden

Post by Norman D » December 9th, 2012, 9:14 pm

Very cool post! Looks a little too swampy and humid for this desert rat!

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monklet
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Re: Part I: My Herping Eden

Post by monklet » December 9th, 2012, 9:20 pm

Epic stuff, takin' it to a whole new level! :shock: :thumb: :D 8-)

joeysgreen
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Re: Part I: My Herping Eden

Post by joeysgreen » December 9th, 2012, 9:31 pm

Thanks Josh, great post :)

Ian

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John Martin
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Re: Part I: My Herping Eden

Post by John Martin » December 9th, 2012, 10:24 pm

Now THAT'S a post! Excellent photog work and variety, and I just get shivers thinking about road cruising some of those roads you showed. I loved the ''In the swamp, no one can hear you scream" - very Great White looking pic! :beer:

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kentoid
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Re: Part I: My Herping Eden

Post by kentoid » December 9th, 2012, 10:27 pm

Excellent post. Great to see the aquatic salamanders. Be careful handling armadillos, they're the most common way that people get leprosy in the US. Seriously, look it up.

Cheers, Kent B.

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Nigel Smith
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Re: Part I: My Herping Eden

Post by Nigel Smith » December 9th, 2012, 10:55 pm

Herping eden endeed. Thanks for sharing.

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MHollanders
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Re: Part I: My Herping Eden

Post by MHollanders » December 10th, 2012, 4:21 am

Your photography has been getting really good.

Tamara D. McConnell
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Re: Part I: My Herping Eden

Post by Tamara D. McConnell » December 10th, 2012, 4:27 am

Amazing post. "In the swamp, no one can hear you scream" is awesome.
I loved all of the herps, and I REALLY loved the armadillo.

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Hans Breuer (twoton)
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Re: Part I: My Herping Eden

Post by Hans Breuer (twoton) » December 10th, 2012, 7:46 am

Full of wonders!

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Dell Despain
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Re: Part I: My Herping Eden

Post by Dell Despain » December 10th, 2012, 12:29 pm

Really enjoyed the post Joshua, looking forward to part two.

Have always loved his photos, but hows bout we call him inspector gadget. :P
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Always enjoy your Chameleon shots. How about another in the second post?

-Dell

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Mike Pingleton
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Re: Part I: My Herping Eden

Post by Mike Pingleton » December 10th, 2012, 12:58 pm

Wonderful! Makes me ponder when I can pull the trigger and do FL properly. Great shots, including the aquatics. I like your different image dimensions too.

-Mike

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Dave S
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Re: Part I: My Herping Eden

Post by Dave S » December 10th, 2012, 1:15 pm

Nice work Josh!!!!!
Dave S.

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beanie
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Re: Part I: My Herping Eden

Post by beanie » December 10th, 2012, 2:32 pm

Great post, I too am looking forward to part II.

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dery
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Re: Part I: My Herping Eden

Post by dery » December 10th, 2012, 2:36 pm

Same here.

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Josh Holbrook
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Re: Part I: My Herping Eden

Post by Josh Holbrook » December 10th, 2012, 4:51 pm

Thanks for the kind words everyone,

Soopaman - nailed it!

Don - We definitely kicked some herpetological tail this year. It's been fun.

Paul - Muchos gracias


Bill - The owl was a favorite of mine. It was actually found down a dusty WMA road in some good habitat, which makes it all the more worthwhile.

Norman - The swamp and marsh have their benefits and drawbacks. Although I must admit my favorite place on earth to herp (Paraguayan Chaco) is mostly arid.

John - Yeah, I took the picture and was immediately reminded of the Aliens movies (where I bit hacked the quote from)

Kentoid - thanks. I know the Armadillo/leprosy connection, but try not to give it thought. I'm under the impression from the "in the know" folks I've spoken with that it is present but not common, and even then difficult to get.

Nigel - Most definitely; your neck of the woods isn't so bad either. I got to herp in KY with Jason Butler last year and enjoyed the heck out of it.

Matthijs - Thanks, considering your stellar photography that's quite the compliment.

Tamara - I have a love for armadillos too. Last March, I chased one around Fisheating Creek and got odd stares from the FWC biologists I was with.

Dell - Donald's setup is pretty awesome (except when you have to wait for him to put it together.) I think I only have one more to post in the next post for the Chameleons. . . My next set of posts in the Spring should have some more.

Mike - Come on down man, between Daniel Dye, myself and a few others we can put you on the scent of pretty much anything you want. I've got a spare bedroom for vagrant herpers, too. The image sizes were mostly due to using two cameras this time around, and partially to splitting up the bordering/name stamping between photoshop and Picasa.

Dave - Thanks. We need to get out soon.

Monklet, Joeysgreen, Hans, Beanie and Sam - thanks guys, glad you all enjoyed.

Part two coming in a couple of days - I don't want to upstage myself quite yet (IMHO the 2nd installment is the better of the two.) :beer:

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Mike VanValen
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Re: Part I: My Herping Eden

Post by Mike VanValen » December 10th, 2012, 7:15 pm

Bullfrogs and Painters. Yup, that's Connecticut. :lol:

Really diverse post. I like the little Tantilla, the Florida habitat shots, and I appreciate the fish shots as well.

I have to assume the Indigo was DOR?

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Re: Part I: My Herping Eden

Post by Reptiluvr » December 11th, 2012, 7:06 am

Awesome post. Makes me wish I had been more into field herping as a kid, because I grew up in Boynton Beach. Mom didn't let me ride my bike down the street til high school so looking for potentially venomous snakes and such were a definite no.
Is that Barred Owl eating a ringneck?

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kyle loucks
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Re: Part I: My Herping Eden

Post by kyle loucks » December 11th, 2012, 12:33 pm

Great post Josh. Thanks for the hospitality while I was there, and the tour of your study site. :thumb:

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Re: Part I: My Herping Eden

Post by Herpetologist115 » December 11th, 2012, 3:10 pm

Awesome Chinese Giant Salamander! :thumb:

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Re: Part I: My Herping Eden

Post by Hadar » December 11th, 2012, 4:18 pm

Thanks for sharing Josh. I'll buy a copy of your book when I see you next week as long as it is signed. I am impressed that you found a bear in South Florida. I still haven't seen one there nor a panther. Do you not worry about zoonotic transmission of leprosy from armadillos? Can't wait to find some sirens!

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Re: Part I: My Herping Eden

Post by dery » December 11th, 2012, 4:22 pm

Wish I still had my 9band handling pic.

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Carl Brune
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Re: Part I: My Herping Eden

Post by Carl Brune » December 11th, 2012, 8:15 pm

Nice post. Great variety of stuff in your area.

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spinifer
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Re: Part I: My Herping Eden

Post by spinifer » December 11th, 2012, 8:21 pm

Excellent post as always, Josh. Thanks for sharing. :beer:

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Jeroen Speybroeck
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Re: Part I: My Herping Eden

Post by Jeroen Speybroeck » December 12th, 2012, 1:39 am

Need. To. Herp. FL.

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Daniel D Dye
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Re: Part I: My Herping Eden

Post by Daniel D Dye » December 12th, 2012, 9:07 am

Having a three day stomach virus has it's rewards, otherwise I wouldn't have time to read any post like this awesome one you have here, Josh.

The underwater siren shots are just plain excellent.

I have to make it down that way, maybe early March?

Daniel

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Josh Holbrook
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Re: Part I: My Herping Eden

Post by Josh Holbrook » December 12th, 2012, 9:49 am

Mike - Yep, that's CT. I like it though because you can actually find stuff hiking during the day: it's not as common of an occurrence in FL.

Reptiluvr - Yes, that's a good neck of the woods to grow up in herp-wise; and yep, that's a ringer.

Kyle - No problem. Look me up next time you're down.

Herpetologist115 - Thanks; I wish I could've been there for that one.

Heather - Bears are easy in certain localities. I can tell you where when you come. With Dillos, I don't worry too much - it's pretty impossible to get bitten as long as you don't put your finger into their mouths. . .I did have one experience with an armadillo that could have caused disease that Marisa and Tim Warful can tell you about. Sirens will hopefully be found - I wont have time to get traps out, but hiking should give us some.

Sam - they're hard to catch soemtimes.

Carl and Spinfer - Thanks

Jeroen - It's really a beautiful place.

Dan - Thanks, hope you get better soon, I understand Tigers are moving up there ;-)

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Daniel D Dye
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Re: Part I: My Herping Eden

Post by Daniel D Dye » December 12th, 2012, 10:03 am

Josh Holbrook wrote:
Dan - Thanks, hope you get better soon, I understand Tigers are moving up there ;-)
Yeah, there is a rumor.

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moloch
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Re: Part I: My Herping Eden

Post by moloch » December 14th, 2012, 1:53 am

That was an excellent post, Joshua. Your photos are superb. Love the colours of the Swamp Snakes ... very nice!

Regards,
David

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Steve Atkins
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Re: Part I: My Herping Eden

Post by Steve Atkins » December 16th, 2012, 5:27 am

:thumb: fantastic stuff, I love the siren shots

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dery
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Re: Part I: My Herping Eden

Post by dery » December 16th, 2012, 6:24 am

Jeroen Speybroeck wrote:Need. To. Herp. FL.
Once I have the money, I need to herp Belgium.

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Jeroen Speybroeck
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Re: Part I: My Herping Eden

Post by Jeroen Speybroeck » February 19th, 2013, 12:48 am

dery wrote:
Jeroen Speybroeck wrote:Need. To. Herp. FL.
Once I have the money, I need to herp Belgium.
What a cruel joke. ;)

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krisbell
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Re: Part I: My Herping Eden

Post by krisbell » February 19th, 2013, 2:07 am

Great post as always Josh - an awesome collection of critters.

Are they coins that have been thrown on the Chinese Giant Salamander?! Classy.

Am flying over to FL from the UK for a measly 5 days in April and will be hitting the road as soon as I land, so may need to hit you up for some tips on where to go for bears, and your spare bedroom - oh and last but not least to have my copy of your book signed!!

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paturtlelover
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Re: Part I: My Herping Eden

Post by paturtlelover » February 19th, 2013, 2:56 am

That was so cool I read it twice. Now I am going to be thinking about herping all day at work!

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Josh Holbrook
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Re: Part I: My Herping Eden

Post by Josh Holbrook » February 19th, 2013, 5:31 am

Wow, resurgence after a couple of months. . .

Moloch - Thanks, I've always thought swamp snakes look like a miniature version of red bellied black snakes. Both beautiful to behold.

Steve - thanks. Sirens are a pain to photograph, but rewarding with patience.

Kris - Yep, some people I've talked to that know China say it may even have been put in that little well to save until it ended up in medicine. I can probably help you out on bears.

PA - Thanks. With an avatar like that though, I'll be thinking about wood turtles all day now...

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Re: Part I: My Herping Eden

Post by justinm » February 19th, 2013, 5:58 am

Mike Pingleton wrote:Wonderful! Makes me ponder when I can pull the trigger and do FL properly. Great shots, including the aquatics. I like your different image dimensions too.

-Mike
I literally opened the calendar twice during this post to figure out when I could do a "family" vacation so that my wife can see some relatives in Florida of course. Great photo's and story loved it.

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RenoBart
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Re: Part I: My Herping Eden

Post by RenoBart » February 19th, 2013, 4:32 pm

As much as I hate Florida (left in 1997) this post somehow makes me miss that stinking hot cesspool of a state. :)

Nice stuff.

Bart

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