A Peach State Tour and More

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Todd Pierson
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A Peach State Tour and More

Post by Todd Pierson » October 26th, 2010, 7:32 pm

It’s been a long, long time since I’ve participated on FHF. That’s partially due to being increasingly busy, but partially due to some frustrations I (and others) have had here. However, I think that the camaraderie that FHF offers is totally worth it, and I’ll try to be less of a lurker and more of a participant.

So, I moved to Georgia, and I’m currently working on my undergraduate degree at UGA. Most of my herping has occurred in the Peach State and surrounding areas during the last year, so I’ll focus on that but add in an additional trip at the end.

At the risk of losing the ophidiophilic audience, I’ll start in (…or near) the mountains, as this is where I’ve spent the vast majority of my time. As soon as I arrived at UGA, I became involved with some research involving the newly discovered Patch-nosed Salamander (Urspelerpes brucei). A year later, we’ve learned a good deal, but these cryptic salamanders continue to be difficult research subjects. Below is an assortment of photographs of some of the individuals I’ve seen.

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This species’ beautiful montane cousins, the Blue Ridge Two-lined Salamanders (Eurycea wilderae), are abundant.

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Long-tailed Salamanders (Eurycea longicauda) are present in some parts of northern Georgia.

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Cave Salamaners (Eurycea lucifuga) are the jewels of the caves.

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However, Desmognathus are the kings of the Appalachians. Through my research in GA and NC during the past year, I’ve been able to see a lot of diversity in this genus. From small to big…

Seepage Salamander (Desmognathus aeneus)

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Pigmy Salamander (Desmognathus wrighti), first alongside D. aeneus.

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Ocoee Salamander (Desmognathus ocoee)

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Carolina Dusky Salamander (Desmognathus carolinensis)

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Imitator Salamander (Desmognathus imitator)

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Santeetlah Dusky Salamander (Desmognathus santeetlah)

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Seal Salamander (Desmognathus monticola)

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Dwarf Black-bellied Salamander (Desmognathus folkertsi)

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…and a month later.

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Black-bellied Salamander (Desmognathus quadramaculatus)

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One of the coolest things I saw this summer was a quadramaculatus nest, guarded by both mom and pops.

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Their predacious Plethodontid cousins are usually lurking, in low abundance, in the same streams.

Red Salamander (Pseudotriton ruber)

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Spring Salamander (Gyrinophilus porphyriticus)

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While Desmognathus rule the streams, Plethodon dominate the forest floor. These salamanders are badass, and I really enjoy the diversity present in the southern Appalachians. If you haven’t noticed, I really love the southern Appalachians in general. From small to big, again…

Weller’s Salamander (Plethodon welleri)

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Southern Red-backed Salamander (Plethodon serratus)

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Southern Zigzag Salamander (Plethodon ventralis)

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Northern Gray-cheeked Salamander (Plethodon montanus)

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Red-legged Salamander (Plethodon shermani)

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Red-cheeked Salamander (Plethodon jordani)

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White-spotted Slimy Salamander (Plethodon cylindraceus)

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Northern Slimy Salamander (Plethodon glutinosus)

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Chattahoochee Slimy Salamander (Plethodon chattahoochee)

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Southern Appalachian Salamander (Plethodon teyahalee)—this one had a bit of shermani in it…

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Atlantic Coast Slimy Salamander (Plethodon chlorobryonis)

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The Pigeon Mountain Salamander (Plethodon petraeus) is Georgia’s only endemic caudate.

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The grand-daddy of the woodland salamanders is the Yonahlossee Salamander (Plethodon yonahloseee). These things really leave an impression.

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However, the coolest species is the Green Salamander (Aneides aeneus). Seriously, there is no cooler salamander in the world.

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Salamandridae and Ambystomatidae are also present in the mountains, but I’ll cover those in the Piedmost section. However, we can’t forget Cryptobranchidae. The Hellbender (Cryptobranchus alleganiensis).

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Frogs are not terribly interesting in the mountains, although the Wood Frog (Rana sylvatica) are pretty cool.

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Reptiles are also not terribly diverse, although I really dig Queen Snakes (Regina septemvittata).

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One of my friends worked on Bog Turtles (Glyptemys muhlenbergii) this summer, and I got to see one fantastic example. We cannot lose these things.

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Driving roads after rainstorms will inevitably turn up Box Turtles (Terrapene carolina).

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No matter how common they are, I still love them.

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Onwards to the Piedmont. Athens is located smack-dab in the middle of the most boring part of Georgia, but there are still some cool animals to be found.

Few salamanders are unique to this area. Southern Two-lined Salamanders (Eurycea cirrigera) are ubiquitous…

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A stunner from N FL:

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Spotted Dusky Salamanders (Desmognathus conanti) are abundant.

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Somethin in the water…

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Ambystomatidae is fun in the spring, and several species can be found in the early part of the year.

Mole Salamander (Ambystoma talpoideum)

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Spotted Salamander (Ambystoma maculatum)

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The fall, however, brings out Marbled Salamanders (Ambystoma opacum)

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Springtime Anurans are also pretty fun around here, as four species of Hyla can be found in Athens.

Cope’s Gray Treefrog (Hyla chrysoscelis)

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Green Treefrog (Hyla cinerea)

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Bird-voiced Treefrog (Hyla avivoca)

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Barking Treefrog (Hyla gratiosa)

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My favorite Anuran, the Eastern Spadefoot (Scaphiopus holbrooki) bred explosively one night last spring.

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An equally goofy species, the Narrow-mouthed Toad (Gastrophryne carolinensis) can be found by its side.

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I still haven’t spent enough time in southern Georgia to see the biggest, baddest of the rattlesnakes, but I’ve seen a few vipers in the Piedmont.

Canebrake Rattlesnake (Crotalus horridus)

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Copperhead (Agkistrodon contortrix)

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Pigmy Rattlesnake (Sistrurus miliarius)

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The coastal plain has really grown on me, and I really need to spend some more time looking for its reptiles. I’ve only spent a total of a week or two down there, but I’ve enjoyed my time very much. The following herps are from GA, SC, and FL.

Although I like the reptiles that the south has to offer, I really dig the amphibians too.

Lesser Siren (Siren intermedia)

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Greater Siren (Siren lacertina)

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Northern Dwarf Siren (Pseudobranchus striatus)

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Southern Dwarf Siren (Pseudobranchus axanthus)

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One-toed Amphiuma (Amphiuma pholeter)

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Dwarf Waterdog (Necturus punctatus)

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Eastern Newts (Notophthalmus viridescens) can be found statewide…

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…but their cooler cousin, the Striped Newt (Notophthalmus perstriatus), is restricted to the coastal plain.

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I’ve only seen (Ambystoma tigrinum) larvae in the south so far (including a pair of albino larvae from the SRS), but I’ll include an adult from Indiana this summer.

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A couple buddies showed me this gem last fall: Flatwoods Salamander (Ambystoma cingulatum). Like Glyptemys, we cannot let these things disappear.

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Plethodontids, when they are present, can be cool in the coastal plain. First, some slimies.

Southeastern Slimy Salamander (Plethodon grobmani)

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Ocmulgee Slimy Salamander (Plethodon ocmulgee)

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South Carolina Slimy Salamander (Plethodon variolatus)

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I spent a day surveying for Southern Dusky Salamanders (Desmognathus auriculatus) in southern Georgia, and we produced a few animals.

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I got to see a few Desmognathus apalachicolae while in N FL last fall.

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Mud Salamanders (Pseudotriton montanus) are typically a coastal plains species, but they will persist in suitable Piedmont patches, and most of the individuals I’ve seen have been near Athens.

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A N FL animal:

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Dwarf Salamander (Eurycea quadridigittata)

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The South’s answer to longicauda, the Three-lined Salamander (Eurycea guttolineata).

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I’ll spare you some miserable photographs of Stereochilus and move on to the Anurans.

I’ve always been partial to Pseudacris, and I’ve enjoyed seeing a few new species over the last year.

Little Grass Frog (Pseudacris ocularis)

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Southern Chorus Frog (Pseudacris nigrita)

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Brimley’s Chorus Frog (Pseudacris brimleyi)

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I encountered some pretty awesome turtles in the coastal plain, although they are rarely a targeted group for me.

Barbour’s Map Turtle (Graptemys barbouri)

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Loggerhead Musk Turtle (Sternotherus minor)

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The snakes are what really suck me to the southern part of the state, and between GA/SC/FL, I’ve seen some cool ones.

Pinewoods Snake (Rhadinaea flavilata)

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Florida Crowned Snake (Tantilla relicta)

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Striped Crayfish Snake (Regina alleni)

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Scarlet Kingsnake (Lampropeltis triangulum)

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Eastern Kingsnake (Lampropeltis getula)

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Pigmy Rattlesnake (Sistrurus miliarius)

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Canebrake Rattlesnake (Crotalus horridus)

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I had to slam on the brakes for several of these snakes (Heterodon platirhinos), for several days…

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…before I turned up one of these adorable (Heterodon simus).

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Surely, I left out something of interest, but it’s hard to remember the entire past year. Either way, I’ve thoroughly enjoyed my time so far in Georgia, and I owe a lot of thanks to all the herpers in the SE that have helped me out. It’s been a blast.

I spent a few weeks this summer studying in England, and I frequently found myself wandering in city parks rather than reading. The herp diversity is fairly weak, but the species that do occur there are pretty interesting.

Unfortunately, my camera was crapping out for most of these salamanders.

Smooth Newt (Lissotriton vulgaris)

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Great Crested Newt (Triturus cristatus)

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Common Toad (Bufo bufo)

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Grass Snake (Natrix natrix)

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Perhaps the greatest “herper high” I’ve experienced this year was when I walked up on this beautiful male adder (Vipera berus) one sunny morning.

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While in England, I made a very brief side trip to Sardegna in search of some of the world’s only Old World Plethodontids.

First, some other interesting herps were observed.

Discoglossus sardus

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Chalcides chalcides

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Chalcides ocellatus

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After a breathtakingly beautiful hike, I found myself face-to-face with a few dozen Speleomantes sarrabusensis—easily the coolest thing I’ve seen in the past year, if not ever.

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I’m glad to be back on FHF, and I hope y’all enjoyed!

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Kevin Price
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Re: A Peach State Tour and More

Post by Kevin Price » October 26th, 2010, 7:47 pm

Those photos are simply stunning. I'm blown away by them and your finding as many varieties as you have. How do you find the time for your studies, all of the herping (I know it's related), and processing your photos? I'll be refering back to these photos again and again for a long time. Being new to the forum as a member, I don't know what your frustrations were in the past, but I'm glad your'e back!
Awesome!

Kevin

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Crazins
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Re: A Peach State Tour and More

Post by Crazins » October 26th, 2010, 7:58 pm

Holy. Crap. Amazing post. Bravo. I'm in awe of your ability to photograph salamanders so well.

-Marisa

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Kerry Nelson
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Re: A Peach State Tour and More

Post by Kerry Nelson » October 26th, 2010, 8:05 pm

Todd Pierson wrote: The Pigeon Mountain Salamander (Plethodon petraeus) is Georgia’s only endemic caudate.
No love for Plethodon savannah and Plethodon ocmulgee? :mrgreen:

Was I around for that box turtle eating a mushroom? I feel like I have pictures of a nearly identical turtle eating a nearly identical mushroom if not.

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Mike VanValen
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Re: A Peach State Tour and More

Post by Mike VanValen » October 26th, 2010, 8:12 pm

Todd,

truly awesome post. The thing that sticks out for me is the Necturus. We just don't see enough of them represented here. I think there's some interesting work to be done with that genus. The Siren and Amphiuma are also a treat.

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Carl Brune
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Re: A Peach State Tour and More

Post by Carl Brune » October 26th, 2010, 8:20 pm

Very nice post, there's a lot of great stuff there. I'm partial to the Mud Salamanders.

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muskiemagnet
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Re: A Peach State Tour and More

Post by muskiemagnet » October 26th, 2010, 8:23 pm

yeah, i'm not sure what to say! great photos. i especially like the larva in egg shots. not sure if this is scientific articulation, but hey, i'm not a scientist.

-ben

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Re: A Peach State Tour and More

Post by Msteffen » October 26th, 2010, 9:44 pm

Kerry Nelson wrote:
Todd Pierson wrote: The Pigeon Mountain Salamander (Plethodon petraeus) is Georgia’s only endemic caudate.
No love for Plethodon savannah and Plethodon ocmulgee? :mrgreen:
Has Urspelerpes also increased its known range? Also, what are the chances of someone outside of UGA getting a specimen? I know someone from Tulsa who would love an adult male.

Mike

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Nigel Smith
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Re: A Peach State Tour and More

Post by Nigel Smith » October 26th, 2010, 10:51 pm

Thanks for the Salamander pictures. They are never enough posted here. :D

crawforde
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Re: A Peach State Tour and More

Post by crawforde » October 27th, 2010, 4:22 am

amazing photograpy and diversity, thank you

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Jon Wedow
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Re: A Peach State Tour and More

Post by Jon Wedow » October 27th, 2010, 5:30 am

Overwhelming post but it was well worth it right up to the end! You've had a great year!

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Cole Grover
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Re: A Peach State Tour and More

Post by Cole Grover » October 27th, 2010, 6:37 am

Todd,

Fantastic stuff! Your posts are truly an asset to any forum and it's good to see you back on here. I see the South is treating you well... What a show!

-Cole

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brick911
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Re: A Peach State Tour and More

Post by brick911 » October 27th, 2010, 6:46 am

This should be in the amateur section. Pffft. :lol:

Seriously, I was BLOWN AWAY! I'm gonna be checking this post a bunch. The stand out to me so far (besides everything) is that Flatwoods Sal.

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Matt J
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Re: A Peach State Tour and More

Post by Matt J » October 27th, 2010, 6:56 am

Can't beat southern Appalachian plethodontids. Not only is it the sheer quantity of animals you've presented, but the quality of each shot is spectacular. Most of my posts include 1 picture i'm proud of, surrounded by a dozen crappy vouchers.

If you don't mind me asking, what gear do you shoot with predominantly? EXIF data says a Rebel XSi and 100mm lens, and the reflection in many of their eyes suggest possibly a MT-24EX. Do you use extension tubes or teleconverters at all, some of those shots are just so close and detailed.

KevColubrid
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Re: A Peach State Tour and More

Post by KevColubrid » October 27th, 2010, 9:37 am

Todd,

You've officially converted me over to the salamander religion. I am a believer! :thumb: Awesome post, great photographs, loved it.

Kevin

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Sam Murray
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Re: A Peach State Tour and More

Post by Sam Murray » October 27th, 2010, 9:51 am

Killin' it. Welcome back, dude.

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Dan Krull
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Re: A Peach State Tour and More

Post by Dan Krull » October 27th, 2010, 10:09 am

U M B

Utterly

Mind

Blowing


Insane.

Well done.

I'm speechless.

DAN

will lattea
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Re: A Peach State Tour and More

Post by will lattea » October 27th, 2010, 11:44 am

dig the radness.

those southern bogs look like they taste just like the ones up here.. special for sure. Have you found any of the nice red GA pygs yet? I also really like that pair of quadramaculatus... despite being so common they're my favorite desmogs... their size and personality makes them the king of the kings in my book.

-Will

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Dell Despain
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Re: A Peach State Tour and More

Post by Dell Despain » October 27th, 2010, 11:49 am

GOOD GOD Todd, that's one hell of a post. I'm glad you came back in to post again.

I'm pressed for time and had to go through the post quickly, but I'll be revisiting this post again. Oh, and the Hellbender in the foreground habitat shot is fantastic.

-Dell

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Gary2sons
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Re: A Peach State Tour and More

Post by Gary2sons » October 27th, 2010, 2:06 pm

Really an awesome post! :thumb:

The pics are absolutely the best!

More in this one post than most of us do in an entire year!

Glad to see you back on FHF!

Gary

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Ames
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Re: A Peach State Tour and More

Post by Ames » October 27th, 2010, 2:07 pm

Absolutely Outstanding! It's no easy task photographing the sallys. Especially, when half of them are easier to find at night, in rainy conditions. Love the tank shots, that's something I've got to try sometime.

Is that Pigeon Mountain, in the web, as found? About to become dinner? Those Weller's are sharp.

We finally got some rain up here yesterday, in the Greater Cincinnati area, we've been in quite a drought. I had a hunch I might see some stuff last night and visited a remnant springhouse foundation I've located. Got five species all on the move or hanging out on their respective little ledges and I thought that was a homerun. :roll:

Thanks for sharing,
Ames

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narumk07
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Re: A Peach State Tour and More

Post by narumk07 » October 27th, 2010, 3:04 pm

Like everyone else has said, amazing post. I love the variety of salamanders! You should post more often

Kevin

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pete
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Re: A Peach State Tour and More

Post by pete » October 27th, 2010, 4:08 pm

That was wonderful!! :thumb: :thumb:

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justinm
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Re: A Peach State Tour and More

Post by justinm » October 27th, 2010, 4:24 pm

Todd,

First of all thanks for coming back to FHF! Don't forget where you came from and post in the Midwest NAFHA chapter, especially if you're going to be home this winter. Snow Dawgs trips could be better with you in them! As far as this post I'm at a total loss for words, it's mind blowingly good. I've got it bookmarked and will revisit it often, thank you.


Justin

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Chad M. Lane
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Re: A Peach State Tour and More

Post by Chad M. Lane » October 27th, 2010, 4:48 pm

Fantastic post Todd! You are making my impatient to salamander season to start!



Thanks,
Chad

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John Martin
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Re: A Peach State Tour and More

Post by John Martin » October 27th, 2010, 5:04 pm

Todd Pierson wrote:
Wow, I am now (more of) a sally convert too. :thumb: As others have said, this post is epic! Your photography is stunning - I'm jealous. My favorite macros are these:

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And my favorite sally is this one - what a cool face and snazzy paint job!

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Thanks for a most enjoyable photo journey...

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Todd Pierson
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Re: A Peach State Tour and More

Post by Todd Pierson » October 28th, 2010, 7:21 am

Thanks for all the compliments, y'all!
Kerry Nelson wrote:No love for Plethodon savannah and Plethodon ocmulgee? :mrgreen:

Was I around for that box turtle eating a mushroom? I feel like I have pictures of a nearly identical turtle eating a nearly identical mushroom if not.
I totally overlooked those. Probably because they suck.

Yeah, that box turtle was from the Bot Gardens, and you were there.v
Mike VanValen wrote:The thing that sticks out for me is the Necturus. We just don't see enough of them represented here.
I totally agree. I'd especially like to see more people in the Midwest/Great Lakes focus on determining the current range of N. maculosus, as I think it has probably declined greatly in the last few decades.
Carl Brune wrote: I'm partial to the Mud Salamanders.
Aren't we all? There's something about walking through mucky water, flipping a log, and sifting through the mud to pull up a red gem.
Msteffen wrote:Has Urspelerpes also increased its known range? Also, what are the chances of someone outside of UGA getting a specimen? I know someone from Tulsa who would love an adult male.
Urspelerpes were found just across the border in SC very early on, although their entire known range is still ~7km2. If you're interested in a specimen, contact Carlos Camp from Piedmont College to see about the possibilities.

Matt J wrote:If you don't mind me asking, what gear do you shoot with predominantly? EXIF data says a Rebel XSi and 100mm lens, and the reflection in many of their eyes suggest possibly a MT-24EX. Do you use extension tubes or teleconverters at all, some of those shots are just so close and detailed.
You're a good sleuth, Matt. I use the Rebel xSi, Canon 100mm macro, and MT-24EX, but no extension tubes or teleconverters.
will lattea wrote:Have you found any of the nice red GA pygs yet?
Actually, that first Pig I posted was one of only two animals I've seen in GA. It was fairly pinkish, but nothing red, yet.
Ames wrote:Is that Pigeon Mountain, in the web, as found? About to become dinner?
It is! We walked up to a nice crevice with several adult and juvenile P. petraeus hanging out, and that guy was the unlucky one of the bunch. There was no spider in sight, but it was a fresh web.

Thanks!
Todd

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Daniel D Dye
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Re: A Peach State Tour and More

Post by Daniel D Dye » October 28th, 2010, 7:38 am

Extremely fascinating post, Todd! It was like reading a field guide...very enjoyable.

Great images!

Daniel

Kfen
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Re: A Peach State Tour and More

Post by Kfen » October 28th, 2010, 2:19 pm

That was awesome! Thank you for taking the time to put up that post. I am very jealous of all your great salamander finds and obvious photography skills.

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Mike Pingleton
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Re: A Peach State Tour and More

Post by Mike Pingleton » October 31st, 2010, 6:24 pm

Epic, Todd! Another one for the Hall of Fame subforum that we don't have.

-Mike

corey.raimond
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Re: A Peach State Tour and More

Post by corey.raimond » October 31st, 2010, 8:03 pm

Wow, epic, you killed it down there!

-Corey

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David Jahn
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Re: A Peach State Tour and More

Post by David Jahn » November 1st, 2010, 2:10 pm

Wow Todd, that's a hell of a comeback! It's great to see your photos posted here again. Your Crypto in habitat is now one of my all-time favorite herp shots!

David

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Scott Waters
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Re: A Peach State Tour and More

Post by Scott Waters » November 3rd, 2010, 6:30 pm

Mike Pingleton wrote:Epic, Todd! Another one for the Hall of Fame subforum that we don't have.

-Mike
Fair enough. I'll get it in place. :) Bad admin has been schooled! :)

scott

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R.Lynch
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Re: A Peach State Tour and More

Post by R.Lynch » November 4th, 2010, 6:01 am

Simply awesome! It's been quite awhile since we've seen a 'field guide' post like this. Thanks!

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Nir
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Re: A Peach State Tour and More

Post by Nir » November 9th, 2010, 6:20 pm

Coming from a fellow salmander afficionado, I must say this is the best post ever!! I am so jealous of salamander diversity you guys enjoy in the southern appalachian!! Great photos!!

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Daniel Parker
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Re: A Peach State Tour and More

Post by Daniel Parker » November 9th, 2010, 9:41 pm

I second the "Holy Crap!" Your photos are absolutely top notch.

It seems like everyone goes to college and becomes a salamander junky :lol:

I really enjoyed that though, especially since I was doing some 'mandering myself in extreme western SC yesterday. I actually had to reach for my field guide, which doesn't happen too much these days. Your post is making me think I missed something. I should have gotten better shots of a few of my Desmogs. They might not have been what I thought they were. The Conant guide isn't quite keeping up with the taxonomy here.

Does anyone know a good online guide that is up to date with current taxonomy and range maps on Appalachian salamanders? I have the new Georgia book, but still need help for the Carolinas.

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Bill Love
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Re: A Peach State Tour and More

Post by Bill Love » November 10th, 2010, 7:59 pm

Todd, that's the best salamander series I've ever had the pleasure of viewing on FHF! I was just shooting salamanders around Clemson, SC a couple days ago, but none of them hold a candle to the 'worst' shots of yours. You've truly perfected the art on that group, and your non-sallie shots are primo too.

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wayne_fidler
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Re: A Peach State Tour and More

Post by wayne_fidler » November 11th, 2010, 2:32 pm

great post!

Jackson Shedd
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Re: A Peach State Tour and More

Post by Jackson Shedd » November 16th, 2010, 10:16 pm

Great post. Congrats on the Speleomantes. Would love to see some one day, but haven't knocked out all the CA web-toes yet. Nice work!

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