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Spring in NE Florida (pics added 5/17/15)

Posted: April 24th, 2015, 7:55 am
by soulsurvivor
My year has gotten off to a slow start, as I have just been too busy to get out much. In January, I managed a few hiking outings.

Alachua County Cotton

ImageCottonmouth by soulsurvivor08, on Flickr

ImageCottonmouth by soulsurvivor08, on Flickr

I've also noticed river frog tadpoles at a local spring-fed pond in Clay County.

ImageRiver frog tadpole by soulsurvivor08, on Flickr

In February, I visited Blue Spring in Orange City. It was a cold morning, so there were lots of manatees keeping warm in the spring.

Imagerolling manatee by soulsurvivor08, on Flickr

Imagemanatee by soulsurvivor08, on Flickr

A cormorant at the spring.

Imagecormorant by soulsurvivor08, on Flickr

Imagecormorant by soulsurvivor08, on Flickr

In March, I revisited the spring-fed pond and found some banded water snakes courting.

Imagepair of banded water snakes by soulsurvivor08, on Flickr

River frog tads were still present.

Imageriver frog tadpole by soulsurvivor08, on Flickr

April brought on the first coral snake sighting. It is not uncommon to find them while road-cruising during the spring, at all times of day and night.

Imagecoral snake by soulsurvivor08, on Flickr

When there are no snakes, I photograph other things.

Imagemorning deer by soulsurvivor08, on Flickr

Imagedoe by soulsurvivor08, on Flickr

A kite flying high.

Imagekite by soulsurvivor08, on Flickr

A black and white fox squirrel.

Imagefox squirrel by soulsurvivor08, on Flickr

Imagefox squirrel by soulsurvivor08, on Flickr

Imagefox squirrel by soulsurvivor08, on Flickr

This past week, I have been on vacation, and my friend Dale came down from Kentucky to join me on some herping expeditions. The first day he was in town, it rained, so we only got to see some slimy salamanders, ribbons, and water snakes before the weather became intolerable (think wet t-shirt contest). The only thing I bothered photographing that day was a pair of wood storks in Columbia County.

Imagewood storks by soulsurvivor08, on Flickr

Oh, and a brown water snake trying to bask despite the cloud cover.

Imagebrown water snake by soulsurvivor08, on Flickr

The next morning, the weather was shaping up to be quite nice, so we set out road-cruising. We saw several black racers, which did not hang around for photos, and then a couple of bald eagles that did.

Imagebald eagle by soulsurvivor08, on Flickr

Later, we weren't seeing any snakes on the roads (besides racers), so we started checking around the bridges. Brown water snakes were found in a couple locations basking.

Imagebrown water snake by soulsurvivor08, on Flickr

We counted three heads in this ball of browns. Maybe there were more.

Imagebrown water snake ball by soulsurvivor08, on Flickr

We got tired of road-cruising and not finding anything, so we decided to go hiking for diamondbacks at a location I have seen one and found the shed from another. It was getting pretty warm out, and the only snake we saw was a large yellow rat in a shady area.

Imageyellow rat by soulsurvivor08, on Flickr

Imageyellow rat by soulsurvivor08, on Flickr

I was starting to get overheated and it was getting to be cruising time again, so we returned to the car and drove back to where we had been cruising earlier. We didn't have to wait too long.

Dusky Pygmy

Imagedusky pygmy by soulsurvivor08, on Flickr

Next was what we really wanted to see all along - an Eastern Diamondback. When we spotted it, it had just crawled out onto the road from an area where some loggers were working. All the equipment noise had probably spooked it. We helped it across the road to an area that has so far been spared. I hope it stays that way for a while.

ImageEastern Diamondback by soulsurvivor08, on Flickr

ImageEastern Diamondback by soulsurvivor08, on Flickr

It was bittersweet to walk away from this animal, knowing its future is not secure here with all the logging activity.

ImageEDB in habitat by soulsurvivor08, on Flickr

A little bit later, we cruised a very small coral snake.

Imagecoral snake by soulsurvivor08, on Flickr

Imagecoral snake by soulsurvivor08, on Flickr

The rest of that day, we cruised some ribbons, an eastern glass lizard, and a DOR cottonmouth before calling it a night. The next morning, Dale had to leave fairly early to catch a plane, but we got a few hours of herping in before he had to go. I took him to a spot where someone has tossed out some plywood by the road. He immediately flipped a large yellow rat.

Imageyellow rat by soulsurvivor08, on Flickr

Imageyellow rat by soulsurvivor08, on Flickr

A few feet away under another board was a pair of broadhead skinks.

Imagepair of broadhead skinks by soulsurvivor08, on Flickr

From there, we moved on to another road cruising area of mine. It was looking bleak.....

Imagevulture by soulsurvivor08, on Flickr

But then, just as we were heading out to get Dale on his plane in time.....

Imagecoral snake by soulsurvivor08, on Flickr

Imagecoral snake by soulsurvivor08, on Flickr

After Dale left, I spent the rest of the day sprawled on the couch (herping is hard work), but the following day, I got a wild hair up my butt to try Osceola National Forest again, since we had been rained out earlier in the week. I was hoping for a Canebrake, but no dice. I still think I did OK though.

Imagerough green by soulsurvivor08, on Flickr

Imagecottonmouth by soulsurvivor08, on Flickr

Imagecottonmouth by soulsurvivor08, on Flickr

Imagecottonmouth by soulsurvivor08, on Flickr

Imagered rat by soulsurvivor08, on Flickr

Imagered rat by soulsurvivor08, on Flickr

I also cruised a DOR pinewoods snake, a couple DOR corns, and a couple DOR garters. Cruised one live eastern glass lizard, and one DOR glass lizard. Also cruised a live southern ringneck.

Hopefully I will still find time to get out herping after my vacation is over. I think it's going to be good year. :beer:

Imageheron by soulsurvivor08, on Flickr

~Bree

Re: Spring in NE Florida

Posted: April 24th, 2015, 9:11 am
by Brian Hubbs
Nice pics and nice finds. I need to get down to FL again sometime.

Re: Spring in NE Florida

Posted: April 24th, 2015, 9:19 am
by Berkeley Boone
Nice, Bree!

That fox squirrel and the doe were standing in almost the exact same spot.... how cool!

I'm jealous of all the corals. That is one I still have yet to find. Hopefully that will change soon.

--Berkeley

Re: Spring in NE Florida

Posted: April 24th, 2015, 10:05 am
by Noah M
Great diversity. I need to head to Osceola soon too.

Re: Spring in NE Florida

Posted: April 24th, 2015, 10:09 am
by soulsurvivor
I noticed that, too, Berkeley! I have seen turkeys at that spot as well. Must be a popular gathering place for the woodland critters.

~Bree

Re: Spring in NE Florida

Posted: April 24th, 2015, 11:54 am
by InfantryVeteran
Gorgeous animals! I'm so jealous of the corals!!

Re: Spring in NE Florida

Posted: April 24th, 2015, 7:03 pm
by Carl D. May
Great stuff! That corn looks really cool and very pale.
Excellent essay!

Re: Spring in NE Florida

Posted: April 25th, 2015, 4:23 am
by VAS
Thanks for sharing. That sure gets you in the mood.

VAS

Re: Spring in NE Florida

Posted: April 25th, 2015, 5:44 am
by BillMcGighan
Took us right with you, Bree.
:thumb: :thumb:

Re: Spring in NE Florida

Posted: April 25th, 2015, 7:07 am
by soulsurvivor
Thanks, Bill!

Re: Spring in NE Florida

Posted: April 25th, 2015, 7:59 am
by Josh Holbrook
Northern Florida is a heck of a place to live and herp - I enjoyed seeing your finds Bree.

Re: Spring in NE Florida

Posted: April 25th, 2015, 9:45 am
by soulsurvivor
Thanks, Josh. I hope you're enjoying life in the mountains!

Re: Spring in NE Florida

Posted: April 27th, 2015, 3:22 am
by Tamara D. McConnell
Beautiful post! I loved the corals and the ball of browns.

Re: Spring in NE Florida

Posted: April 27th, 2015, 6:23 am
by Noah M
This is a great post. It makes me want to get out there and find stuff!

Re: Spring in NE Florida

Posted: April 30th, 2015, 1:52 pm
by Daniel D Dye
Awesome stuff, Bree! And once again, I couldn't get away to join you all. :(

Re: Spring in NE Florida

Posted: April 30th, 2015, 4:12 pm
by soulsurvivor
No worries, Daniel. There will be other times! :thumb:

~Bree

Re: Spring in NE Florida

Posted: May 17th, 2015, 3:50 pm
by soulsurvivor
Well, time and money to herp have mostly eluded me since my vacation. But I got out yesterday for a late afternoon road cruise, and turned up some beautiful snakes.

Eastern Diamondback
ImageEastern diamondback by Bree McGhee, on Flickr

ImageEastern diamondback by Bree McGhee, on Flickr

After I moved it off the road....
ImageEastern diamondback by Bree McGhee, on Flickr

I cruised two dusky pygmies, one of which was a beautiful shade of lavender.
Imagedusky pygmy rattlesnake by Bree McGhee, on Flickr

After seeing a gopher tortoise and a yellow rat snake, I cruised a beautiful young cottonmouth.
ImageFlorida cottonmouth by Bree McGhee, on Flickr

I also received several yellowfly bites......yup, it's herping season!
~Bree

Re: Spring in NE Florida (pics added 5/17/15)

Posted: May 17th, 2015, 5:44 pm
by Noah M
That is a very pretty EDB. Thank you for sharing.