Portland Area Thamnophis

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John Williams
Posts: 104
Joined: June 16th, 2010, 4:50 pm

Portland Area Thamnophis

Post by John Williams » January 19th, 2016, 11:53 am

Hello all.

I had a few questions regarding Thamnophis in the greater Portland area and am seeking advice. In July I’ll be taking a vacation to Portland with my wife and plan to spend at least a full day hiking. I won’t be doing too much off trail hiking as my wife is not much of an off trail hiker. That said, the tentative plan is to do a few short hikes in the Gorge area in the morning and then head west for the afternoon.

I’ve looked at several stops and am trying to narrow down the list since I’ll likely only have an afternoon (potentially another morning). These include Sandy River Oxbow Park, Sandy River Delta, Powell Butte, Oaks Bottom, Camassia Natural Area, Cooper Mountain, Tualatin Hills, and Tualatin Refuge. Obviously too much for a day. Oaks Bottom and Camassia are high on my list but I’m not sure Thamnophis will be common at either. From anecdotes I’ve see online, Tualatin and Cooper seem to have big populations of sirtalis and ordinoides. So those will be next in line. Any insight yall can give into any of these sites?

I’m hoping July is a good, sunny time of year to find snakes, and hopefully it isn’t too dry. At whatever spots I’ll be concentrating on grassy areas, streams, forest edge, etc., assuming the Thamnohis up there are typical of most. Thanks in advance!

John

Darian
Posts: 11
Joined: May 8th, 2015, 2:32 pm

Re: Portland Area Thamnophis

Post by Darian » January 19th, 2016, 12:42 pm

Hi John,

I’ve spent a fair amount of time in all of the natural areas that you mention, and you can’t go too far wrong. They are all very nice spots, and all should have plenty of the garters you mention…both species are abundant throughout the Portland area.
July can be kind of an unpredictable month around here…in some years, the warm dry weather starts early (like this past year), and by July everything is browned out and crispy and it’s hot as hell. In other years, it rains a lot into May and/or June and as a result July is lush and green and warm.

If it’s a hot dry year, some of the more rocky upland sites that you mention (Powell Butte, Camassia, Cooper mtn) will be pretty fried by July…that’s not to say that you can’t find herps, but I find these sites at their best in the spring (and they tend to have better reptile diversity than the lowland sites). If you go to Camassia or Cooper be sure to be up on your identification skills of Toxicodendron diversilobum. Oaks bottom, Sandy River Delta, and the Tualatin wildlife refuge are all wetland/riparian areas, and may give you an easier time of finding Thamnophis in mid summer. As a vague generality, I think I tend to see T.sirtalis more in riparian and wetland areas, where as T. ordinoides can be found just about anywhere.

Good Luck,
Darian

sonora
Posts: 59
Joined: September 23rd, 2010, 2:38 pm
Location: Orange, CA

Re: Portland Area Thamnophis

Post by sonora » January 19th, 2016, 12:50 pm

Hi John,
You should have little problem finding ordinoides and sirtalis in most natural areas surrounding the Portland area, as long as the weather doesn't burn you (which is a VERY real possibility anytime in OR and WA). It is not uncommon to experience 55 degree overcast/rain any time in July and the snakes will be difficult (but not impossible) to find unless you can locate suitable artificial cover to flip. If you can make the short drive to Ridgefield NWR in WA, you are almost guaranteed both species by walking the trails and driving the dirt roads (again, as long as the weather is adequate).
Good luck and have fun!
Steve

John Williams
Posts: 104
Joined: June 16th, 2010, 4:50 pm

Re: Portland Area Thamnophis

Post by John Williams » January 19th, 2016, 4:34 pm

Thanks for the input!

Darian-

Good to hear, and sounds like the places will be win/win whether I find snakes or not. Plant identification is a somewhat large part of my job so hopefully I'll be alright on the Toxicodendron.

Steve- Good news, thanks. Hopefully the weather is on my side. Probably won't make it to Washington but that's a good plan b! One thing I've noticed looking at the general area is that dumping does not seem to be as much of a problem as it is here in Texas. I'm not seeing many dumping/flipping sites close to the city. It takes about 5 minutes looking around the greater Houston area on google earth to find several promising sites. Not so in Portland, at least yet, for me.

John

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