July 2020 to July 2021 Herping (Missouri, Louisiana, Michigan)

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Jefferson
Posts: 157
Joined: March 2nd, 2014, 6:50 am
Location: Southwest Missouri
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July 2020 to July 2021 Herping (Missouri, Louisiana, Michigan)

Post by Jefferson »

Wow, it is amazing how fast time since I last posted on the forum slips away. Since last July, Bethany and I have had some great herping adventures, and I think it’s time to post some pictures and stories before the amount of unposted material becomes absolutely insurmountable. I’ve seen many of your posts from this year and am glad other herpers across America and the world are still finding cool stuff at the tail-end of the COVID age. Without further ado….

When I last left off writing in late July of 2020, Bethany and I were weekly traversing the back roads of the Southwest Missouri Ozark’s hollers after work in search of a late summer treat here on the plateau: the Western Pigmy rattler, after a productive spring in Arkansas’ mountains and the prairies and glades of western Missouri. Come one dry ninety-degree day in mid-August, we saw a beauty of a “ground rattler” laying across a rural blacktop about forty minutes from home.

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Western Pigmy Rattlesnake, Southwest Missouri, August 2020

The Copperheads were out that night, too.

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Southern Copperhead-Southwest Missouri

The specimen was quite large for a Sistrurus, probably about two feet in total, and as we hunched over the animal to take pictures as the cicadas and crickets buzzed in the fading twilight, it tried to rattle, but was barely audible! These are, in my opinion, the prettiest Pigmies in America beside the fabled Red Pigmies of North Carolina, and always a welcome sight on the roads, as they signal the impending transition from the sweltering Ozark summer to a milder fall.

A few weeks later, temperatures did suddenly moderate into the 70s and heavy rain appeared for the first time in over two weeks in the forecast. Feeling restless in our abode and with COVID mentality still isolating us from most social interaction, we took a weekend to Southeast Missouri just to go somewhere and have an adventure, and the first night cruised through the bootheel’s swamps during a downpour, sighting hundreds of frogs (Green treefrog, bronze frog, bullfrog, leopard frog, etc.) and a lone ribbon snake. Much to our surprise, we saw neither a cottonmouth nor a mud snake during or after this veritable typhoon.

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Green Treefrog, Southeast Missouri

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Bronze Frog, Southeast Missouri

We retired to a motel along US 60, which was quite a step down from our usual Airbnb experience despite the price parity. Smoke hung like an airborne blanket over the room, but when you’re just sleeping for five hours after a road cruise….

The next morning, we met up with a friend on an overcast and unseasonably cool morning (about sixty in late August) with some drizzle in the forecast through noon and clear skies afterwards, munching McDonald’s and watching the radar as we waited. Upon meeting up, we headed out to a large cypress swamp edge replete with trails and some old debris storage areas on its edge, hoping to kick up sirens, amphiumas, or a mud snake. But after a few hours along one trail of kicking through mud, we had seen only some common frogs and toads and a pair of ribbon snakes.

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Southeast Missouri Cypress Swamp

Trying a different section of swamp edge as the day wore on didn’t technically produce any of our target species, but it was plenty fun and turned up some snakes, namely a gigantic Speckled Kingsnake under some old tin at the edge of a rock parking lot and a hulking Cottonmouth basking on a rock pile adjacent the swamp, which retreated among the rocks after a couple pictures.

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Speckled Kingsnake, Southeast Missouri

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Western Cottonmouth, Southeast Missouri

To our mutual horror and amazement, our friend contemplated reaching into the rock pile to snag the Cottonmouth’s tail and get it back in position for better pictures. Thankfully, his senses prevailed on him after a half minute of rumination. Heading out, we saw some turtles basking on logs in a reservoir, but with the cloud cover reflecting off their shells, identification was impossible. They were probably Red-eared sliders but could have also been western painted turtles or one of our cooters. After lunch, we soldiered on to an expansive, sandy prairie tucked into a transitional zone of Missouri where some rare serpents were rumored to reside. The clouds began to thin as wet prairie grasses slapped against our jeans, still sopping from the morning’s precipitation, which had brought out the prairie’s fragrance and greatly stimulated its insects. Everywhere, there were insects—one sign of a healthy piece of ground, untrammeled by insecticides and herbicides. Grasshoppers of several varieties, ants, beetles, small American toad juveniles out and about looking to eat them.

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Missouri Prairie

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Prairie Grasshopper

As our friend guided us through the knee-high prairie, we flipped a huge garter snake at the prairie/woodland interface, but it escaped quickly. After about an hour and a half, we came to our last flippable object, an old bathtub, on the edge of the prairie. As our friend and I lifted the tub, he saw it first and exclaimed, “Scarlet Snake!” Bethany shrieked in disbelief as she caught a glimpse of the small fluorescent snake up from the ground to show. The creature in question was perhaps the most beautiful serpent I’ve ever seen, with its purplish-white background color, orange nose, and intermittent symmetrical red markings. With the snake on an open area of sandy soil, we all crowded around for photographs and marveled at just how easily the little snake could burrow into the sand. It did not calm down sufficiently for good photographs for a several minutes. What a gorgeous little snake, and at least in Missouri (as opposed to the South, where they are more common), a rare one too!

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Scarlet Snake, Missouri

By the time we left the prairie, our friend was still photographing the creature with his specialty lenses, and we headed back west with high spirits, stopping to see some southern painted turtles and sliders on our way at a marsh and then picking up dinner on the plateau’s edge as the sun set over Poplar Bluff. The monotonous ride home through the Ozarks’ curvy byways required some Jim Gaffigan stand-up to keep us from sleeping and a late stop for Apple pie, but we discovered a new song late that night (Fleetwood Mac’s “You Make Loving Fun”) as the Springfield Plateau came back into view, and it was a weekend well-spent down in the “southern” part of Missouri.

After that August trip to Southeast Missouri, we rested on our laurels (herping-wise, anyway) until visiting my family in Michigan for my birthday in early October. We headed back past the same prairie on our way northeast to see if we might rustle up an October hognose snake, but no dice, although the prairie looked and felt beautifully peaceful in the brisk, crisp fall breeze. From there, we made a brief stop at Snake Road (the first time for both of us), but found only one Mississippi Green Watersnake, which made its way off trail and into the woods toward the swamp before we could obtain pictures. We walked for about a mile before turning around. We saw a few fellow herpers, but no one we recognized, and nary a single Cottonmouth. An underwhelming first trip to Snake Road, but I’m sure it won’t be our last. With that, we pointed the car northeast from Union County’s imposing bluffs and crags traversed the agricultural Midwest through the evening, arriving in metro Detroit late that night after some Chick-fil-A in the tony northern suburbs of Indianapolis.

Herping-wise, there was little to report from the trip to Michigan besides Snake Road, as the focus was squarely on family: golfing with my brother, hanging out at the house with mom, visiting grandparents and sisters-in-law, &c. However, before golfing with my brother, we had a few hours spare in the morning and hiked around a metropark with some historical hognose snake records, finding a few old childhood herps in the process: American toad (including one buried in a tree stump’s cavity detritus), Eastern gartersnakes, and Midland painted turtles. The clubhouse also had a gray treefrog in green phase resting on a decorative plant just outside the entrance, but that concluded our herping finds for the trip, and before long, we were west and south of Michigan’s brilliant fall colors and back to Missouri’s comparatively drab ones (living in MO has taught me that, with the exception of Wisconsin and probably some high elevations in the Rockies, good fall colors are only found in the eastern time zone from Virginia and Kentucky northward).

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Midland Painted Turtle, Southeast Michigan

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American Toad in stump, SE Michigan

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Gray treefrog outside clubhouse, Southeast Michigan

Later in October, with cool rain forecast and election anxiety setting in, Bethany and I decided to take an Ambystoma cruise near the Arkansas border only an hour from home after work, and set off listening to a mix of NPR, conservative talk radio, and bluegrass as the rain picked up from a drizzle to a steady soak, and finally, by the time we reached our road, a torrential downpour. It was the kind of hard, unrelenting, yet comforting rain that calls forth the metaphors of baptism and renewal, that leaves no doubt as to its own life-giving power, that Tom Petty must have had in mind when he wrote “Louisiana Rain” or Eric Clapton when he wrote “Let it Rain.” It’s a beautiful thing on its own, a good rainstorm without the dangerous hail or high winds, but when you’re a salamander herper, it's another level entirely.

About ten minutes after turning on the blacktop and taking it slowly past pastures and rocky woodlands, we sighted a fat salamander on the road after a few false alarms (the trouble with fall road cruising is that fallen sticks and leaves, which aren’t there in March when the Tigers and Spotteds move, can really mess with your head!), and got out to see what it was. Bethany claimed she could see rings from the car, although I couldn’t and thought it might just be a spotted salamander. But as we approached, it was clear Bethany was correct—Ringed Salamander! This specimen had wonderfully thick, vibrant yellow rings, too, which were completely unbroken.

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The night's first Ringed Salamander, Ambystoma annulatum, Southern Missouri

In the next forty-five minutes of alternate downpours and light rain, in about 50 degree temperatures, we saw SIX more Ringed Salamanders crossing the road, and nary a single other Ambystoma, despite being in range for Marbled and Spotted salamanders. It was a great night of cruising, getting soaked, and getting wonderful pictures of a beautiful Ozark endemic salamander in its element: a cool, rainy fall night. Just as the Pigmy rattlesnake had portended the transition to fall, so these legion Ambystoma annulatum migrating back into the woods after breeding foretold of the impending winter. Cruising back toward home for Tiger Salamanders in grid of pastureland failed to yield any specimens, and we called it a night after some ice cream.

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Another Ringed Salamander

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Yet another beauty on the crawl, October 2020

With that, things pretty well wrapped up for the year on the herp front. We got some freezes in November and early December. We went to visit a friend of mine in Memphis and tried to trap Sirens under the ice in the bootheel on the way, but all that produced was a few tadpoles, a new small-town Mexican restaurant sampled, and a college football game in the motel room, which was a treat (we currently live without a TV and get news from reading high-quality online sites, which has its downsides, but also makes watching something on TV feel like a special experience associated with travel, not a mundane fact of life, and minimizes distractions at home besides. Okay, off the soapbox….). That was 2020’s herping. What a wild year, a disastrous year for some, a sad year for many, a year of great change and a great test of us as individuals and as a country, an annulus horriblis, but I’m ever thankful that amid the early fear and more enduring isolation of the pandemic, Bethany and I were able to safely and responsibly travel to several places and see great herps and scenery, keeping us sane in the process.

The holidays came and went, and the calendar flipped. We didn’t have anything planned until March, but one night in January, I got a crazy idea. Still house-bound by telework, and watching fluffy snow pile up outside our farmhouse, I went downstairs just as Bethany was about to start cooking, “How would you like to go find some mudpuppies in the middle of Louisiana?” I asked. “When?” That was a fair question. “Tomorrow, but we’ll leave tonight,” and Bethany was amenable, having worked her heart out for several straight weeks at landscaping in the cold.

We packed some flashlights, music, clothes, booked a couple Airbnbs in the dead-center of the Pelican State, planned which Walmart we’d buy a fishing license from once in Louisiana, and headed off around 10pm, past snow-blotched hillsides and forests, over the Boston Mountains of Arkansas, past the charlatan shops selling “COVID miracle cures” in small towns along US 65, down into the snowless, balmy Arkansas River Valley near Little Rock, as Bethany drifted off to sleep and the landscape shifted to flat and piney, as it would remain for the next 225 miles. The sun rose over the Louisiana delta just north of our first stops—Walmart and McDonald’s—revealing agricultural fields, magnolias and live oaks bestride a mix of stately and dilapidated houses (mostly the latter) at
roadside, and swampy, tangled irrigation ditches and sloughy backwaters.

Our first herping location that morning was remote, one of the only good locations for the elusive Louisiana Slimy Salamander, a Pelican State endemic, and good for an assortment of other Louisiana caudates besides. Upon reaching the trailhead after some initial directional confusion on the wildlife area’s gravel roads, we got out of the car to a brisk forty degree January morning in the mixed forests and red clay of northern Louisiana’s hills. An initial search of the woodlands near the trailhead turned up nothing, but further down the trail, we turned up a few Southern Redback salamanders (and reported the locations to the LAFW, as that species is tracked in Louisiana, where it only occurs in a few locales) near a ravine-bottom stream. Further still, near a small waterfall (a behemoth by Louisiana standards though), we flipped a few Spotted Dusky salamanders, colorful stream crayfish, and a few Western Dwarf Salamanders, a lifer for both Bethany and me.

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Southern Redback Salamander, Northeast Louisiana

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Striped Crayfish, Northeast Louisiana

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Lifer Western Dwarf Salamander, Eurycea paludicola, Northeast Louisiana

Another hour of searching the ravine woodlands for our Louisiana Slimy did not turn up Plethodon Kisatchie, although we did find a few more Southern Redbacks. We were “stymied by the slimy.” No matter, Northern Louisiana, close to I-20 and with interesting scenery, is not the worst place to have to revisit at some point.

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Northern Louisiana mixed woods and stream

As the sun got higher overhead and the leaf litter began to dry, we headed back to the car and further south into the heart of Louisiana, to our first Necturus locale, a small, clear stream branch feeding a large bayou, where dip netting turned up some interesting mussels and small fish, but no aquatic salamanders. Fishing license in hand, we preceded to set traps at two locations, each trap labeled with our fishing license number, date, and phone number. One location was a muddy, deep river bridge, surrounded by swampy floodplain, which, if it had been a later month, looked like prime Alligator habitat. This spot was supposed to give us a shot at Gulf Coast Waterdog. Then, with the sun sinking lower and orange over the pines, we sped to our other location 50 miles away, also a river at roadside amid the pines, but swifter and narrower. This location had historical records for the Red River Mudpuppy, which reaches the southern extent of its range in Central LA.

After setting a few mesh minnow traps into the slow, deep pools near the bridge, and exhausted on the edge of delirious from our all-nighter, we headed into the regional hub of Alexandria to check into our Airbnb and have dinner, seeing five or six cowboy hat-clad gentlemen almost come to fisticuffs over a girl outside a gas station on our way there. Our hosts were nice and gave us some dinner suggestions for real Cajun/Louisiana cuisine, but were bewildered when we stumbled back in an hour later and reported that we had eaten Cici’s Pizza (we were hungry, and a buffet is tantalizing when in that state), saying, “Of all the places, you ate there?” After showers, it had been forty hours since my last sleep, and Bethany only got a couple hours on the ride down. We were tuckered, but Bethany tells me that when I am extremely tired, I begin to act drunk without imbibing, delivering random history and economics lectures in a slurred voice, coming up with weird sayings, and my candid level hits 10/10. On this particular night, I felt the need to opine on my first impressions of Louisiana before drifting off. Murmuring that Louisiana seemed to have the worst of all worlds in everything but Necturus (heat of Texas, humidity of the Gulf, crime like Detroit or Chicago, economic stagnation of, well, Louisiana, flat as my home county of Macomb, but with unwieldy road plans that made travel as time-consuming as in West Virginia, swamps like Florida but with a state income tax, etc.), like a platypus has many traits, most contributing to its incongruity, that one doesn’t expect to find all together in one animal. In a bout of hyperbole and delirium, I nicknamed Louisiana “the sovereign platypus.” Bethany asked me as I was drifting off what I thought the guys in cowboy hats outside the gas station were fighting. My sleepy theory: “They were in a heated disagreement over the evolution of the platypus.” That wrapped up our first full day in the Pelican State. What a day, and what a sound night’s sleep…

The next morning, temperatures outside were in the low forties just after dawn as we left the Airbnb. Frost hugged the grasses, but the temperature ticked up into the forties and the frost disappeared from the gleaming grass and tangled piney woods as we closed in on our Gulf Coast Waterdog trap sites. Arriving at the bridge, we pulled up our several minnow traps in the crispy morning chill, and did not initially find any salamanders, but did pull up at least five MASSIVE crayfish nearly the size of restaurant lobsters. I once heard Jeff Foxworthy joke that “as long as there’s a ditch in Louisiana, no one’s going hungry,” and I think these crayfish must be the reason why! One of our large metal traps had four of these beasts. As I pulled that one, I was convinced we had salamanders until it broke the surface from the weight obviously in the trap. As a note, we tried to set our traps five to ten feet deep in slower eddies and pools wherever possible.

No luck at the first spot of the morning, but as we got back in the car and began driving toward our Red River mudpuppy locale, Bethany turned the radio on. We were immediately greeted with the crooning country twang of Charley Pride, singing our favorite song of his, “Roll on Mississippi,” which I took as a good luck omen that we’d find both Necturus (come on now, it’s a song about muddy rivers and fishing!). After stopping back in Alexandria for some crawfish pie (which I give a 6/10) from a hole-in-the-wall joint, we headed to our other mudpuppy spot, the temperatures climbing into comfortable upper 50s now. We parked at roadside and trudged to the bridge, where our three trap lines held taught against the light current in the bend. I braced myself on the clay bank while Bethany filmed me pulling up the trap, and as it entered the last foot of the water column, I could see that something was inside it, in the shape of a….no way…TWO Red River Mudpuppies! One animal was about a foot long with the classic dotting pattern and plain white stripe on the belly associated with this subspecies, the other an inch or two shorter but with the same pattern. We briefly put the animal in a new plastic tub for photographs and pulled up the other two traps. One of the others was empty, while the third and final trap had another Red River mudpuppy! We were ecstatic to say the least, as these were our first Necturus, and we have never been successful trapping for any salamanders whatsoever in the past, despite several attempts for sirens and amphiumas.

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Red River Mudpuppies, Central LouisianaImage

The most impressive part of the mudpuppy, in my opinion, is the bushy red gills, so highly specialized, delicate-looking, intricate, and the only vector for salamander mussel larvae to develop. What beautiful and unique salamanders the Necturus are, and particularly the Red River Mudpuppy! After about a half hour of picture-taking and video, we set the animals back in the river, recorded locations for the LAFW (an acquaintance of ours suggested we report any successful trapping of this species, as the LAFW periodically surveys them but supplemental information is helpful) and headed back into town after contemplating trying a Siren spot (and deciding against, because that species is available so much closer to home), to snack in celebration, nap, and then re-set the traps from the Red River Mudpuppy river into the Gulf Coast Waterdog river after cleaning, to increase our chances of getting a waterdog that night. The rest of the day was uneventful, although we ate at a much better restaurant than Cici’s that night—a hometown grill called the “Pit Grill” that was cheap but tasty. If you’re ever in Alexandria, whether herping or just passing through from New Orleans/Baton Rouge to points northwest, I’d highly recommend that place.

The next day started just as the last, with us waking up, packing up, and headed for the Gulf Coast Waterdog bayou/river. We had eight traps in the river now, and the first six pulled up nothing but more crayfish. But the seventh was like sweet “déjà vu all over again,” as I pulled up our deepest trap from the slowest eddy, holding my breath for ten or fifteen seconds before recognizing a mudpuppy-shaped figure as the trap breached the water. I could not believe it! We found both Necturus we were after, one a Deep South endemic, all because of a crazy idea hatched out of boredom. Instead of yelling as I realized we had a waterdog, I burst into laughter while Bethany jumped up and down. This was ridiculous. Into the tub the creature went in the early winter morning sun for photos and videos, as the upland pines around us were deathly silent and birds of prey called from afar. Careful not to let our visible breath fog up the camera lenses, we captured the following shots.

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Gulf Coast Waterdog, Louisiana

As you can see, the Gulf Coast waterdog was a few inches smaller than the largest Red River Mudpuppy we captured, and had larger, more bluish spots on the back. Although we did not photograph the animal’s underside, it had spotting on the entire belly, not a stripe of plain as in N. maculosus louisianensis, and this showed up clearly on the YouTube companion video. After another forty-five minutes of photography, we started the long trek back north with two Necturus seen and new territory explored. On the way home, we checked a remote and unusual location (mix of swamp bottomland, tangles, dry soil, hillsides of mixed forest, ephemeral pools in the pine straw) for the Louisiana Slimy Salamander, but came up empty save for one Western Dwarf Salamander flipped at the edge of a small pool adjacent a stream floodplain. With that, we headed all the way back to Missouri under fair skies, past the land of what Bethany called “double rubble-wides” that dominate the northern edge of Louisiana and the southeast part of Arkansas. Further to the north, much to our delight, the snow in the mountains of that state, and at home, had melted. Old man winter’s grip was not broken, but it was loosening, both on our moods and the land around us. Four weeks later, spring would take the helm in a series of thunderstorms.

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Western Dwarf Salamander, Grant Parish, LA

In early March, a series of powerful thunderstorms dropping heavy rain made their way across eastern Kansas and the Ozarks, softening up the ground and eventually bringing the amphibians out to migrate. The first few bands of rain did little more than thaw the ground, and we spent several nights chatting until midnight while driving around through an area on the Springfield Plateau that we know has Ambystoma tigrinum, seeing absolutely no amphibians whatever. But the third or fourth storm, along with a rise in nighttime temperatures from 40 to 50, got them moving in numbers. On that first productive night, we saw hundreds of frogs, a heart-breaker DOR Tiger, and one live Smallmouth on a road through a prairie further west (the same one we saw Crawfish frogs at in March 2020).

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Never a fun way to find the year's first Ambystoma...

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Smallmouth Salamander-Western MO

The next night, another series of rainstorms prompted us to go out again, and after another DOR and about two hours of cruising past myriad bullfrogs, leopard frogs, green frogs, chorus and cricket frogs, and toads, we finally happened upon our quarry—a plum Eastern Tiger Salamander, head upturned and visible from a hundred feet in the car, in need of rescuing from the center of a road (the road is normally lightly-travelled, but there was a wedding or some other large event on a property nearby, and traffic was moderate). It was not the largest Tiger we’ve seen, but a pretty specimen, with the classic mottling and yellowish-brown spots of the eastern subspecies of these Ambystomas. A few minutes of photography on the grass, and then we let him back where we found him, a few feet off the road in the direction he was heading.

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Eastern Tiger Salamander-Southwest Missouri

The rest of March was uneventful despite a few glade visits, where the large snakes were not yet active, but late March brought a trip to the Southeast, which Bethany has written about already in her post “Springtime on the Gulf Coast,” so I will not cover the same ground twice here. We had a great time in Florida and the other Gulf states, seeing a dozen new salamander species and several reptiles, and I encourage you to read Bethany’s post (or at least look at the pictures like you probably did with this one) if you have time.

Since returning from the trip to the Gulf Coast, we purchased a home, which has greatly curtailed our herping in the late spring and early summer months, although we have managed to see a few things, including several frog, turtle, lizard, and snake species around our new property (Gray treefrog, Dwarf American toad, ratsnake, garter snake, five-lined skink, etc.) and a few Ornate box turtles on a rainy but warm day in June in a prairie nearby. Mostly, we have been seeing the common reptile and amphibian species that hang out around our property.

Well, that has been our herping since July 2020, and now that summer is in full dog-days mode, I don’t expect things to pick up here in Missouri until the fall barring unforeseen changes or an unexpected trip. I hope you all enjoyed the post, and happy herping this fall!

User avatar
Jeff
Posts: 590
Joined: June 11th, 2010, 5:01 am
Location: Louisiana

Re: July 2020 to July 2021 Herping (Missouri, Louisiana, Michigan)

Post by Jeff »

I've posted two lengthy replies to your travelogue, and both have 'timed-out', so I guess I will resort to composing a manuscript, and pasting it to 'reply'. Better hurry before this reply disapp....

User avatar
Jeff
Posts: 590
Joined: June 11th, 2010, 5:01 am
Location: Louisiana

Re: July 2020 to July 2021 Herping (Missouri, Louisiana, Michigan)

Post by Jeff »

Nathan
I enjoy your writing style - kept me reading through to the end rather than periodically breaking off to work on manuscripts.
First, a 'giant' pygmy, wow!
"Smoke hung like an airborne blanket in the room"
Up in Natchitoches I once requested the cheapest room at a motel. I think maybe it was the set for the SNL "Brew Dude" commercial. Or, they had concealed vomit-scented plug-ins out of reach.
"You make lovin fun"
In mid-1977 a friend of mine (Steve) and I saved our dish-washing money for a post- high school trip to the Mojave Desert. The Rumours album was at the top of the charts and we were subjected to non-pstop singles from the it: Gold Dust Woman, The Chain, Dreams, You make lovin fun, etc. Any of those songs remind me of sidewinders and desert spiny lizard frolicking among the Joshua trees.
Annulatum! I've never seen one.
'TV vs reading'
When I lived in Montana there was no television outside of a few cities. Everyone read books. Boys were proficient in Jack London, Kenneth Roberts and Zane Gray, and could quote Robert Service, whether they became businessmen or repeat penitentiary bunkees. Keep the TV off.
The Louisiana slimy salamander site: Steve Shively and I discovered them there about early 1996, and on a good day could find 3 to 7. Now it takes great effort of several people to find one, and the spotted duskies at the falls also seem to be declining.
A note about the LA platypus - folks in south Louisiana consider anything north of I-10 to be Arkansas. One thing I've noticed about Louisiana herpetology is that it is pretty much a drive-through state: folks from Florida pass through to get to Texas, and folks from the West pass through on their way to Florida. Also, we are the only south/border state that lacks an endemic species!
Good job on the waterdogs. The juvenile Red Rivers are very striking with black and yellow bands.
Drop by again.

Jeff

Jefferson
Posts: 157
Joined: March 2nd, 2014, 6:50 am
Location: Southwest Missouri
Contact:

Re: July 2020 to July 2021 Herping (Missouri, Louisiana, Michigan)

Post by Jefferson »

Hey Jeff!

The time-out is killer....

As for your comments, I'm glad that someone enjoys my narration style, and that the prose evoked some fond old memories (and un-fond, as in the Natchitoches motel)! The entire Rumors album is masterly, but somehow I had never heard "You Make Loving Fun" before that trip to SE Missouri. "Dreams," "Gypsy," and "Rhiannon" would all also be among the 200-300 songs I'd take to a desert island if I had to choose, along with a ton of bluegrass and country. If you've never seen an annulatum and you're ever here in October, hit me up. I know two spots in MO, one near St. Louis, although I can't divulge that one since it was given to me, but the other we found ourselves late October 2020 (the one from the post) and we'd be glad to help you. Thank you for the congrats on the waterdogs, and I'm sorry to hear of the decline in P. kisatchie. It was pretty habitat, and we'll be back again as part of my (likely quixotic but massively fun) quest to see every US salamander species in our lifetimes.

Jefferson

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