Southeast Ohio, 2014 Edition

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Carl Brune
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Southeast Ohio, 2014 Edition

Post by Carl Brune » January 7th, 2015, 8:30 pm

Here are some reptiles and amphibians that I observed in southeastern Ohio in 2014, in more-or-less chronological order.

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Our pool, on an early morning in February. Winter was pretty brutal this year.

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The Wood Frogs (Rana sylvatica) first arrived at our pool on March 10. Although there were a lot of them (couple dozen?), it seemed that they were all males. This is a light one.

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This is a dark one.

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A quick photo of a Mountain Chorus Frog (Pseudacris brachyphona) that I dipnetted out of this pool in mid March. As you can see, the pool was formed when an old tree fell (or was blown) over. I don't get to see this species too often, so I was pleased. The snow was starting to pick up. I was hoping we were done with that...

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Either it was pretty cold today, or my dipnet was just happy to finally be back in action...

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A Wood Frog seen at a friend's pond.

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The first Wood Frog eggs were laid in our pool on the night of March 21/22.

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A pink phase Wood Frog in our pool.

We had some rainy and warmer conditions on the night of April 2. A friend and I went out roadcruising and saw many amphibians.

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Bullfrog (Rana catesbeiana).

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Pickerel Frog (Rana palustris).

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Green Frog (Rana clamitans).

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Spring Peeper (Pseudacris crucifer).

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Dekay's Snake (Storeria dekayi), the only reptile of the night.

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Mountain Chorus Frog (Pseudacris brachyphona). I do not see these very often, but we wound up seeing several of these.

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Mountain Chorus Frog (Pseudacris brachyphona).

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Mountain Chorus Frog (Pseudacris brachyphona).

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Mountain Chorus Frog (Pseudacris brachyphona).

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Mountain Chorus Frog (Pseudacris brachyphona).

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Mountain Chorus Frog (Pseudacris brachyphona).

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Streamside Salamander (Ambystoma barbouri), I believe. Pike County, Ohio.

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A closer look.

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Southern Two-lined Salamander (Eurycea cirrigera).

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Spotted Salamander (Ambystoma maculatum), as spotted in a roadside ditch.

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A Wood Frog (Rana sylvatica) with some Spotted Salamander eggs in a roadside ditch.

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Spring Peepers (Pseudacris crucifer), in a roadside ditch.

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Spring Peepers (Pseudacris crucifer), in a roadside ditch.

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Eastern Newt (Notophthalmus viridescens), in a roadside ditch, with some eggs (species unknown).

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Spotted Salamander (Ambystoma maculatum), as found next to a roadside ditch.

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The Hannan Trace was laid out by Thomas Hannan in 1798. It connected Saint Albans (West) Virginia to Chillicothe. Chillicothe was the capital of the Northwest Territories at the time and would later be the capital of the state of Ohio (1803-1810 and 1812-1816). For awhile, this road was one of the most important connections between this region and points east. As time marched on, the capital was moved to Columbus and other roads were built. U.S. Highway 35 more-or-less follows the same path today. Now, the Hannan Trace only exists in bits and pieces, quiet back roads in Appalachia.

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You never know what you're gonna find when you explore little-traveled roads that dead end in the middle of nowhere. Sometimes bad things. Somebody recently torched this very nice late model truck. Note the "fuse track" (probably poured gasoline) in the foreground. I sure hope I never run across anything worse, or in progress. I did report this to the county sheriff, and learned that the truck was reported stolen the same day I saw it.

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Four-toed Salamander (Hemidactylium scutatum) found with eggs.

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A Trout Lily that I saw on a hike with Roxanne in mid April.

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An old barn I found hiking. On National Forest property, about 3/4 of a mile from the nearest road, nowadays. Note the daffodils in the foreground. Most likely the legacy of a thoughtful farm wife, way back when.

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This vernal pool was about 100 yards from the old barn. It had Marbled Salamander larvae,(Ambystoma opacum), nesting Four-toed Salamanders (Hemidactylium scutatum), Spotted Salamander eggs that had recently hatched, and breeding American Toads (Bufo americanus).

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American Toads, and an old Spotted Salamander egg mass.

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American Toads.

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Marbled Salamander larvae (Ambystoma opacum).

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Black Racer (Coluber constrictor).

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Red Salamander larva (Pseudotriton ruber).

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Northern Dusky Salamander larva (Desmognathus fuscus).

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Northern Spring Salamander larva (Gyrinophilus porphyriticus porphyriticus).

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A closer look.

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A nice vernal pool some friends showed me. It lies near a ridgetop and contains Wood Frog tadpoles (Rana sylvatica), nesting Four-toed Salamanders (Hemidactylium scutatum), and Southern Two-lined Salamander (Eurycea cirrigera).

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Wood Frog tadpole (Rana sylvatica).

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Wood Frog tadpole (Rana sylvatica).

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Northern Spring Salamander larva (Gyrinophilus porphyriticus porphyriticus).

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Another look.

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A hillside covered with trillium.

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A pretty ravine.

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A large Northern Spring Salamander larva (Gyrinophilus porphyriticus porphyriticus) found in the ravine in the previous photo. It is just starting to transform.

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A closer look.

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Some Red Salamander (Pseudotriton ruber)larvae. The little guys were born this winter. I'm calling the larger one at the bottom a "blonde phase".

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Longtailed Salamander larva (Eurycea longicauda).

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A towboat pushing a massive barge of coal down the Ohio River.

On the night of April 28/29 there were heavy rains and excellent conditions for amphibians moving about in southeast Ohio.

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Longtailed Salamander (Eurycea longicauda).

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Red Salamander (Pseudotriton ruber).

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Red Salamander (Pseudotriton ruber).

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Spotted Salamander (Ambystoma maculatum).

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Red Salamander (Pseudotriton ruber).

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Smallmouth Salamander (Ambystoma texanum).

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Red Salamander (Pseudotriton ruber).

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Northern Leopard Frogs (Rana pipiens).

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Red Salamander (Pseudotriton ruber).

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Grey Treefrog.

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Western Chorus Frog (Pseudacris triseriata).

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Red Salamander (Pseudotriton ruber).

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Green Frog (Rana clamitans).

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Pickerel Frog (Rana palustris).

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Jefferson Salamander (Ambystoma jeffersonianum).

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A composite image of the Red Salamanders (Pseudotriton ruber) seen that evening.

We also went out looking the following night.

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Eastern Spadefoot Toad (Scaphiopus holbrookii).

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American Toad (Bufo americanus).

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A confused Spadefoot, trying to make a threesome?

One amusing thing occurred while we were checking out the spadefoots. Some county sheriffs stopped to check us out. We explained what we were doing and they joined in -- a couple of them were very curious about the various frogs and toads. At one point, there were 4 patrol cars checking out the amphibians with their flashlights. Probably a slow night for them, otherwise...

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An Eastern Box Turtle (Terrapene carolina), as found on a dirt road.

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Five-lined Skink (Eumeces fasciatus).

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A large (49") Black Kingsnake (Lampropeltis getula nigra). I also photographed it last year; it was nice to get reacquainted.

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A Black Kingsnake and a Black Ratsnake were found together (about 6" apart) under the board to the lower right.

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The aforementioned snakes.

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The Black Kingsnake (Lampropeltis getula nigra).

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For some reason this Grey Treefrog decided to spend the day on the side of our house. This is looking straight up at the frog from below. This was a pretty warm and sunny day and this is the south side of the house...

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Another look at the Grey Treefrog. Pretty good camouflage, except for the shadow.

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Ski soda is apparently only available in the Appalachian region of the USA. It used to be bottled in Wellston, Ohio -- just down the road from us. It tastes kind of like Mountain Dew, but has more of an orange flavor. I seldom drink soda, but I gave it a go. Tasty.

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A Black Racer (Coluber constrictor), almost as found. I spotted it basking next to a piece of carpet, and it very slowly crawled under it, probably hoping that I had not noticed it.

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A pair of snakes, as found between some old asphalt shingles. A Dekay's Snake (Storeria dekayi) on the left, a Ring-necked Snake (Diadophis punctatus) on the right.

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A Black Ratsnake (Elaphe obsoleta), almost as found under cover (it had moved its head a little bit). It was digesting a large meal.

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An Eastern Newt (Notophthalmus viridescens), as found under a board.

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This Black Racer (Coluber constrictor) from Gallia County had a significant bluish tinge to it. It did not appear to be in pre-shed condition.

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A large Worm Snake (Carphophis amoenus), as found in an ant nest under a board. It was further down the ant's hole when I first saw it.

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An Eastern Fence Lizard (Sceloporus undulatus), as found. It looks to be a gravid female. I spotted it on the hillside next to the road from my truck as I drove by.

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A pair of Milksnakes (Lampropeltis triangulum), as found under a piece of carpet. Two extremes of color variation. I just wish the lighting on the photo was better...

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A Milksnake (Lampropeltis triangulum) as found crossing a road. I was expecting it to be a Black Ratsnake, but it turned out to be a large and dark milksnake.

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An Eastern Hog-nosed Snake (Heterodon platirhinos). These seem to be a biennial event for me in southeast Ohio. I guess this was my lucky day. In order to get any photos at all of this animal, I had to grab it, which caused it to "die" and made decent photos impossible. For those who may not be aware of the behavior of these snakes, the don't really die, they just play dead (upside down, mouth open, tongue out).

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The Hog-nosed Snake, doing what they do...

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A dark and and shiny Black Racer (Coluber constrictor), as found under a piece of carpet.

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Our pool on May 31. Waiting for the American Toads (Bufo americanus) to transform, so the humans can take over.

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A Snapping Turtle (Chelydra serpentina), that was found crossing a road.

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An old church in Peniel, OH. No longer a town, just an intersection in the middle of nowhere, Gallia County. There are literally 100s of these in southeast Ohio. Like this one, they just about always have a cemetery adjacent to them. The sign says the church was built in 1870 and the denomination is Welsh Calvinistic Methodist (quite a mouthful). A little research indicates that over 3,000 Welsh people emigrated to this area (Gallia and Jackson Counties, OH) in the 1820-1850 timeframe.

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A wild rose.

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A young Black Kingsnake (Lampropeltis getula nigra).

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A Box Turtle (Terrapene carolina), as found on a road at dusk.

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A Copperhead (Agkistrodon contortrix), as found on a dirt road after dark.

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A skinny sub-adult Black Ratsnake (Elaphe obsoleta) I spotted on the shoulder of a road after dark. Shown as found. Fortunately it has a large meal in its belly and is thus hopefully on the way to getting its BMI into the healthy range.

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I was driving down a dirt road looking for snakes one night. Out of the blue, this Grey Treefrog appeared on my windshield. I have no idea where it came from.

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The view from outside my truck.

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A closer look.

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A Milksnake (Lampropeltis triangulum), as found under carpet. It is in pre-shed condition.

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A Black Kingsnake (Lampropeltis getula nigra).

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A ventral view of the previous snake.

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I saw a few Ambystoma larvae in a water-filled tire rut. It was a bit over 2" TL. I'm thinking it's a Spotted Salamander.

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A Smooth Earth Snake (Virginia valeriae).

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A closer look.

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A young Milksnake (Lampropeltis triangulum), as found under a board.

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A Copperhead (Agkistrodon contortrix), found under a board.

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A Common Gartersnake (Thamnophis sirtalis) I found crossing a road at night on a dry forested ridgetop. Not a common snake in this habitat. They do seem to turn up everywhere, eventually.

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A closer look.

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A Black Ratsnake (Elaphe obsoleta), as spotted on the shoulder of a road at night.

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A Rough Green Snake (Opheodrys aestivus), as found crossing a road.

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A young hawk that I saw on a dirt road. I am told by those who know far more about birds than I do that this is probably a Broad-winged Hawk.

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Some snake eggs that I found under a board. I believe they are Ring-necked Snake (Diadophis punctatus) eggs.

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A Copperhead (Agkistrodon contortrix) that was found under a rock.

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A Dekay's Snake (Storeria dekayi), as found under a board.

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A Black Kingsnake (Lampropeltis getula nigra).

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A large gravid Common Gartersnake (Thamnophis sirtalis), as found under a board.

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A Copperhead (Agkistrodon contortrix), as found in a pile of carpet and carpet padding.

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Five-lined Skink (Eumeces fasciatus) eggs. I found them under a discarded 12-pack carton, along with the brooding mom. Not sure about her choice of nursery. Mom ran off and was promptly captured. The units on the ruler are centimeters.

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Here's mom. I put mom back under the 12-pack carton with her eggs.

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A Copperhead (Agkistrodon contortrix), as found under a board.

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A Black Ratsnake (Elaphe obsoleta) I found crossing a bridge on a rural road. It's doing the kinky stick thing. I carried it off to the side and let it go. It immediately zipped into an opening where the abutment meets the road, part of the expansion joint. The snake obviously knows its habitat. A bridge is a great place for ratsnake -- it has shelter, food etc... The snake just needs to stay off the road!

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A Dekay's Snake (Storeria dekayi), as found under a board. I thought this was an attractive coil.

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A Grey Treefrog, a found on the road in the rain. This is a nice green one. I don't see that very often around here.

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A Fowler's Toad (Bufo fowleri) found on the road in the rain.

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A Timber Rattlesnake (Crotalus horridus), found under a board.

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An old school saw mill that I came across. This mostly seems to be done in a factory setting anymore, but occasionally you run across something like this out in the boonies. The saw is under the shelter. They are turning out large 4"x6" beams right now. Back in the 1930s, Roger Conant said that slab piles were great for finding snakes. "Slabs" are the leftovers, part wood, part bark, like you see in the foreground. There are some massive piles farther back...

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A large Black Ratsnake (Elaphe obsoleta), as found under a board. It is in pre-shed condition.

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A subadult Black Kingsnake (Lampropeltis getula nigra), as found under a board.

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A lifted carpet revealed this: two Copperheads (Agkistrodon contortrix).

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The one in the foreground was particularly attractive.

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Here's the other one.

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A Smooth Earth Snake (Virginia valeriae), as found under cover.

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A Black Kingsnake (Lampropeltis getula nigra), as found under a board.

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Another Black Kingsnake (Lampropeltis getula nigra).

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A Black Ratsnake (Elaphe obsoleta) that I spotted on the shoulder of the road as I drove past.

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Sometimes when you lift a board, rather than finding a snake, you find snake food...

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A Cope's Gray Treefrogs (Hyla chrysoscelis), as found guarding our our connection to the outside world -- cable, TV, and phone.

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A Crane Fly Orchid (Tipularia discolor) -- one rather well-camouflaged flower.

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Sulphur Shelf Fungus or "Chicken of the Woods". Apparently, when cooked, it tastes like chicken. That's what they all say. I am not a fungus eater, so I'll take their word for it. Not sure of the exact species, but it is genus Laetiporus.

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Great Spangled Fritillaries (Speyeria cybele) on Joe-Pye Weed (Eupatorium).

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A Milksnake (Lampropeltis triangulum), as found under a board.

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A Copperhead (Agkistrodon contortrix), almost as found on a dirt road.

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An old Box Turtle (Terrapene carolina) shell, as found in the forest.

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A Black Racer (Coluber constrictor), as first spotted when going through a pile of boards.

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A young Black Kingsnake (Lampropeltis getula nigra), and the plastic automobile gas tank it was found under.

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A Black Racer (Coluber constrictor), and the board it was found under. I had not seen one in this area before, so I felt compelled to catch it for a photo. As you can see, I paid a price for that.

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Another Black Racer (Coluber constrictor), as found under a board. It is in pre-shed condition.

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A Copperhead (Agkistrodon contortrix), found under a board.

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An attractive Eastern Box Turtle (Terrapene carolina), as found.

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A Ring-necked Snake (Diadophis punctatus) that smeared me with unmentionables... Also, I believe this is the first time that I have ever been bitten by one.

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The Center Point Church in Lawrence County, Ohio.

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A Milksnake (Lampropeltis triangulum), as found under a board in mid October.

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A Black Racer (Coluber constrictor), as found under a board in mid October.

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A closer look at the Black Racer.

Well that's it. I kinda slacked off herp-wise after snake season ended. I did manage to see some live garter snakes this year -- 7, to be exact. But I did not see any live watersnakes or Queen Snakes in 2014... I also explored some nice habitats that I had not seen before, particularly in Washington and Monroe Counties. However, I only saw one herp in Vinton County this year -- this used to be one of my old standbys. I'll try to balance that out next year. I guess the message here is that you can't do everything...

What will 2015 bring?

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Mark Brown
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Re: Southeast Ohio, 2014 Edition

Post by Mark Brown » January 8th, 2015, 1:53 am

Great stuff, Carl - I always get the biggest kick out of your Ohio posts. It's good to see that slab piles aren't gone completely and that a few are still being created.

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mfb
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Re: Southeast Ohio, 2014 Edition

Post by mfb » January 8th, 2015, 3:28 am

Great stuff! An excellent reminder of good things to come while things are freezing outside!

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Berkeley Boone
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Re: Southeast Ohio, 2014 Edition

Post by Berkeley Boone » January 8th, 2015, 5:21 am

That is officially the most red salamanders I have ever seen. That was awesome!

Nice review, Carl. Great looking places you've got up there. Ohio is a place I will have to check out one day!
--Berkeley

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BillMcGighan
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Re: Southeast Ohio, 2014 Edition

Post by BillMcGighan » January 8th, 2015, 5:30 am

Super, Carl.

I particularly liked all the amphib larval shots.

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cbernz
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Re: Southeast Ohio, 2014 Edition

Post by cbernz » January 8th, 2015, 6:12 am

Cool stuff. I would kill for Mountain Chorus Frogs and Streamside Salamanders.

I gather from your post that you have a dual-purpose swimming pool that functions as a vernal pool in the off-season. That is a really clever idea. Would you mind elaborating a bit on how your system works? Do you add anything to the water, like egg-laying substrates, detritus, or invertebrates, or just let nature take its course? Do you control the water level at all? Do amphibians get in and out by themselves, or do you have ramps for them? I'd also be curious to know what species you have had breeding there. I don't have a swimming pool myself, but I do have a couple handmade vernals.

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Carl Brune
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Re: Southeast Ohio, 2014 Edition

Post by Carl Brune » January 8th, 2015, 10:53 am

Thanks for the comments. cbernz, the pool takes care of itself. Around Oct 1, the water is drained down by ~2' and the pool is covered with a tarp. Leaves fall on top of the tarp, and the tarp fills with rainwater. In the spring, the amphians breed. American Toads, Wood Frogs, and Cope's Grey Treefrogs breed in it. Green Frogs, Bull Frogs, Pickerel Frogs, Peepers, Jefferson's Salamanders, and Ravine Salamanders have also shown up in the pool. When we first moved in, it had been left in the tarp-covered state for over a year, and Green and Bull Frogs were also breeding in it. We usually open the pool the first week in June, which allows most all of the Wood Frog and American Toad tadpoles to transform. At that point, any stragglers and the treefrog tadpoles get moved to another little pond we have. Here's some more photos, from 2013:

ImageOur pool on May 19, 2013. These are American Toad (Bufo americanus) tadpoles.

ImageAnother photo from our pool on May 19, 2013. The frog is a Green Frog (Rana clamitans), the larger tadpoles are Wood Frogs (Rana sylvatica), and the smaller ones are American Toads. The toad tadpoles show no fear of the frog, and even seem to graze on its skin. The Wood Frog tadpoles, on the other hand, make a conscious effort to avoid to avoid the frog -- no doubt because the frog will eat them. It turns out that toad tadpoles are toxic to most predators. I watched for about 10 minutes, and the Wood Frog tadpoles never once got close to the frog.

ImageA metamorph Wood Frog (Rana sylvatica) observed at our pool on June 6, 2013.

ImageThe amphibians were evicted from our pool on June 23, 2013. The Wood Frogs and American Toads had already transformed. The Cope's Gray Treefrog tadpoles were transferred to other bodies of water. Note that the water level in the main pool has been raised quite a bit now by filling it with a hose. The water on top of the tarp is being removed with a sump pump.

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cbernz
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Re: Southeast Ohio, 2014 Edition

Post by cbernz » January 8th, 2015, 12:37 pm

Really great system you have there. Thanks for the info. I wonder if the silver tarp surface has any effect on water temperature or tadpole development?

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mtratcliffe
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Re: Southeast Ohio, 2014 Edition

Post by mtratcliffe » January 8th, 2015, 2:56 pm

I can't state enough just how awesome this post is! I never think of Ohio as a a herp spot, and it looks like you made the most of your surroundings. Also love the mention of Ski - when I lived in IL, I loved to drink those out of a glass bottle on occasion. I miss having it around.

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Mark Brown
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Re: Southeast Ohio, 2014 Edition

Post by Mark Brown » January 8th, 2015, 3:08 pm

mtratcliffe wrote:I never think of Ohio as a a herp spot
Many people don't realize what a great state Ohio is, herpetologically, and more importantly, what a fundamental role it played in the early history of American herpetology. The SSAR began as the Ohio Herpetological Society and the list of important herpetologists from Ohio or with ties to Ohio is impressive, including Roger Conant, Barry Valentine, Kraig Adler, and many more. The Northern Ohio Association of Herpetologists (NOAH) was one of the very early regional herp societies and provided a model for many that followed. Ohio was a real "hot spot" back in the '50s and '60s.

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walk-about
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Re: Southeast Ohio, 2014 Edition

Post by walk-about » January 8th, 2015, 8:22 pm

Carl - WoW Man, you totally crushed that Pete Rose style///!! That was easily the best post I have ever seen from that region of the country. So much to comment on here. So many questions. I loved the side by side of the Red Sals crossing along the asphalt. Those Pickeral and Northern Leopards are stunning...and so diagnostically perfect. And I honestly had no idea that E. Spadefoots were even in the state of Ohio. Who know, right? WoW. Great shots. Just another observation, but some of your Northern Black Racers are really black. I had to do a double take on the one - looking all 'Indigo', and the one found under the carpet (I seem to find them under carpet too - Ha-ha) But not nearly as pretty as yours. Love this post.

Rock ON!

Dave

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Carl Brune
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Re: Southeast Ohio, 2014 Edition

Post by Carl Brune » January 8th, 2015, 8:47 pm

Thanks for the comments. I am a big fan of Ohio, obviously.

cbernz, the tarp certainly helps keep the water warm by preventing it from mixing with the water below. Another important factor is that the pool has southern exposure, with no trees in the way. The algae grows like crazy. It's pretty cool how leaves + water + sunlight = frogs!

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Josh Holbrook
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Re: Southeast Ohio, 2014 Edition

Post by Josh Holbrook » January 9th, 2015, 5:56 am

Great post, I appreciated all the larval amphib shots as well. And all those Red Salamanders! Do you turn up the other Pseudotriton often?

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Bryan Hamilton
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Re: Southeast Ohio, 2014 Edition

Post by Bryan Hamilton » January 9th, 2015, 9:31 am

Incredible post! Makes me homesick for Ohio.

All those red salamanders were on roads? I've never had that kind of luck cruising salamanders but I will have to try it.

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Carl Brune
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Re: Southeast Ohio, 2014 Edition

Post by Carl Brune » January 9th, 2015, 10:21 am

Yes, I saw all 14 of those reds on the road, within about 2 hours on one evening.

Josh, I do see P. montanus fairly often, but not this year. What looking I did do for them was trying to find new localities, which didn't pan out. Their distribution is fairly limited in OH. The roadcruised Reds were north of Mud range.

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pjfishpa
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Re: Southeast Ohio, 2014 Edition

Post by pjfishpa » January 9th, 2015, 4:45 pm

That red salamander composit is great! Have to say you killed it last year on king snakes, copperheads, and rat snakes! None of those up here by me and all high on my list whenever I get down south to look around. Thanks for posting. Good luck in 2015!

Also have to say I love checking out the "forgotten" roads in So Ohio and Kentucky. You never know what you will find for sure! Everything from old graveyards and bridges to possible meth labs! Have been on some really shady sections of the Buckeye Trail in the past that definitely had me hurrying back to the truck!

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Trey
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Re: Southeast Ohio, 2014 Edition

Post by Trey » January 10th, 2015, 12:15 pm

Great post as usual Carl! Love the commentary. Always appreciate the home state being represented. ;)

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Carl Brune
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Re: Southeast Ohio, 2014 Edition

Post by Carl Brune » January 11th, 2015, 8:06 pm

Thanks, pjfishpa and Trey, for the kid words.

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