Before the Break of the Wet Season in the Southeast

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Josh Holbrook
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Before the Break of the Wet Season in the Southeast

Post by Josh Holbrook » May 31st, 2011, 11:02 am

Time again for another fun and educational experience.

Now, usually, I don't find myself going farther afield than a 3 or so hour radius of my southern Florida abode: but, I do make exceptions. Especially when the crazed, nonsleeping human we have come to know as TimCO makes a visit within 12 or so hours of me. Add to that another chance to herp with some friends I had met 5 or 6 months previous from Georgia and a pass to get out around the Savannah River Ecology Lab without getting a bullet in the head and I was there.

Not wanting to waste time, we got to work ASAP. First we took a little tour of some of the captive animals in the area. About that time Berkeley remarked "I'm gonna look like a pimp and pick up that Alligator snapping turtle." Or something like that...maybe.
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We got to check some of the miles of drift fences and other snake-detaining contraptions set out:
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Pickings were a little slim at first, but there were some successes: Image

Tim and the Cages shooting the SK:
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It was nice to open up this box and get over the "lifer-stress" - Agkistrodon piscivorus piscivorus; Eastern Cottonmouth (Lifer)
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We took some pics, Tim and Matt are on the left (literally, not politically speaking) Young is on the right, Berkeley is wrangling , and the person in the middle's head is cut off, so your guess is as good as mine:
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For some reason, I got some pretty decent shots of cottons that weekend:
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And there were others:

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Later in the weekend, other members of the group turned up a pretty little E. Cottonmouth. After landing this shot I decided I was done taking Cottonmouth pics:
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We tried all the methodology we knew to find other critters, and despite it being "slow" it was by no means dead.

This musk turtle, a lifer for me:
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...had seen better days:
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and the group moved on:
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at one point we stumbled across a couple sallies under some rocks. Now normally, I'd make a comment on how a lizard diseased from cold had lost its scales - but I'm actually getting to like and enjoy salamanders, which is good because we slam dunked on em'.
Ambystoma opacum, Marbled Salamander
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This one was missing a leg:
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We found this peeper walking around too:
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another group shot walking through the pines:
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I think this one is a Southern Dusky Salamander (Desmognathus auriculatus). Either way, lifer:
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When the days herping was over, we were still feeling a bit restless. Tim, Marissa and I decided to head out to a little patch of gum swamp and try a last ditch effort for some herps as a bitter cold rain began. I'm glad we did:

Slimy Salamander (Plethodon glutinosus). I strongly recommend this salamander be renamed as the sticky salamander, for such was its body-juice. Lifer.
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Pickerel Frog (Rana palustris), Lifer:
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Bird-voiced Treefrog (Hyla avivoca), Lifer. Tim tells me these are big game in SC.
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Cope's Grey Treefrog (Hyla chrysoscelis), lifer:
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'Nother peeper (I think?):
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Southern Leopard Frog (Rana sphenocephala):
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And a beautiful Pseudotriton montanus. It was pretty cool, Tim and Marissa cruised this guy right in front of me. I got to see all the action:
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Thus concludes my time in S.C.; but shortly thereafter a few of my co-herpers came down to join me in southern Florida. An exciting find (thus all the pictures) are these Palm Beach County Barking Treefrogs (Hyla gratiosa) The last museum record I've found for these guys in PBC was over 50 years ago. On this rainy night my zoo co-worker Brett and I saw a small frog dart across the road. "Green Treefrog," I thought. I think we all know my guess was incorrect. We had 2 vehicles out about 15 miles apart that evening, both of us found Barkers about the same time. I've herped PBC for 5 years and have never seen a Barker here before then:
A so/so looking Barker:
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And him with a phenomonal looking Barker:
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Forgive the hundred barker pictures. I love these guys.
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I like the concept of this shot, the lighting just wasn't on my side and my flash must not've fired:
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Calling (Kindof):
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Brett shooting em':
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Now, I usually have more southeastern snakes in my posts that this, but for half a month I was herping in the Paraguayan Chaco; and also on my mind for the past few months has been Chameleons. I'm working on some research trying to figure out what species of Chameleon are established in Florida. To keep my "cham eyes" about me, I've gone to look for Oustalet's Chameleons a couple times - a population found by a friend of mine. This population is sweet, but is also the reason why when I publish my research I wont include specific locales: the landowners here have been having lots of trouble with tresspassers running amok and giving herpers a bad name. Please note that none of these pictures were taken in areas where I was illegally tresspassing:

The field grows these Ousts big:
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In situ. It's pretty fun to spot one of these:
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A female. Real pretty:
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I've also been searching a lot in a spot that supposedly has Panther Chameleons. No luck yet, but this sure got my blood pumping before I ID'd it:
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(Anolis equestris)

A weekend or two ago, I got on a a mammal kick and decided to go to southwest Florida in search of Black Bear and Florida panther. Of course, herps were on the target list too. Within five minutes of arriving a usualy suspect got me excited:
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And I got more excited:
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I met up later with a friend, Matt, who joined me for some cruising:
First up:
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I commented that the habitat looked good for Diamondbacks. . .
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Spot on:
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Little guy, big attitude:
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And last snake of the night (it was really dry):
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It was, however, the most beautiful corn I've ever seen. One of the types I like to call "everglades" phase - thick black borders on the saddles, and light orange ground color.

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released:
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I did well for mammals, too. We saw a Black bear cross the road a quarter mile up (no pictures :-/ ) and I heard a Florida Panther while pulling into camp in the evening. Sweet.

I also had a interesting human encounter. At around midnight I got pulled over by a helicopter who landed in the middle of the road, wondering what I was doing. Photographing a quail, of course, I responded:

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Some misc. shots from the weekend:
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A terrestrial gator in a pine rockland:
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Turkeys:
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Hiding rabbit:
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And some other sights from the past 2 or 3 months:

Moonflower (Ipomea alba) is extremely common in some areas in the 'Glades. It only blooms at night.
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You're always being watched in southern Florida:
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He's alive, just really really cold:
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An orchid my wife found/photo'd
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Ever wonder where racers sleep at night?
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Crazy little corn found one evening:
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I guess I'll end it with the one of North America's rarest snakes - a real heartbreaker - Lampropeltis calligaster occipitolineata . . . D O R
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More reason to get out and find another? Right?


Peace everybody - hope you enjoyed,

-Josh

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justinm
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Re: Before the Break of the Wet Season in the Southeast

Post by justinm » May 31st, 2011, 11:49 am

Superior post! I really enjoyed the Cham's and the last Corn was really neat. I haven't seen many goini/meansi posted as juvies, thanks for that.

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Don Becker
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Re: Before the Break of the Wet Season in the Southeast

Post by Don Becker » May 31st, 2011, 12:01 pm

Your pictures of the Southern Leopard and Pickerel Frogs are labeled backwards.

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Tim Borski
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Re: Before the Break of the Wet Season in the Southeast

Post by Tim Borski » May 31st, 2011, 1:53 pm

Really nice, Josh! Some great photos of cool stuff. The new glass seems to be treating you well.
Tim

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Nick
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Re: Before the Break of the Wet Season in the Southeast

Post by Nick » May 31st, 2011, 2:00 pm

That's a nice corn. Looks like one of the two that I had years ago from the Naples area. They're better than anything in Dade County.
justinm wrote:Superior post! I really enjoyed the Cham's and the last Corn was really neat. I haven't seen many goini/meansi posted as juvies, thanks for that.
That king is a floridana, probably a long way from any goini/meansi.

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Jason B
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Re: Before the Break of the Wet Season in the Southeast

Post by Jason B » May 31st, 2011, 2:29 pm

Great stuff Josh. I like that mud salamander! Those barking treefrog shots are really nice too. BTW, Becca's orchid is a violet - Viola lanceolata I think.

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walk-about
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Re: Before the Break of the Wet Season in the Southeast

Post by walk-about » May 31st, 2011, 3:34 pm

Nice post Bro. The scenery/habitat shots were excellent.


Rock ON!


Dave

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justinm
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Re: Before the Break of the Wet Season in the Southeast

Post by justinm » May 31st, 2011, 5:28 pm

Nick wrote:That's a nice corn. Looks like one of the two that I had years ago from the Naples area. They're better than anything in Dade County.
justinm wrote:Superior post! I really enjoyed the Cham's and the last Corn was really neat. I haven't seen many goini/meansi posted as juvies, thanks for that.
That king is a floridana, probably a long way from any goini/meansi.
Looked a lot like the goini/meansi I raised up three years ago, but with less orange, my bad thanks.

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Re: Before the Break of the Wet Season in the Southeast

Post by FLjeep74 » May 31st, 2011, 5:58 pm

Looks like a great time had close and afar. I always enjoy when you post those Barkers.

As soon as I saw the pic of the first Corn I thought how amazing it looked.. but strangely, the second "ugly duckling" had me more intrigued. Not that I've seen tons and tons of Corns, but it's different than any corn I've seen.
Congrats on the lifers too!

BTW, if that's the same jersey you've been wearing into the field all these years, how is it still wearable? lol

Awesome all around, thanks for sharing.

Mike

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Josh Holbrook
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Re: Before the Break of the Wet Season in the Southeast

Post by Josh Holbrook » May 31st, 2011, 6:08 pm

Justin - Thanks. Yeah, I'm afraid that King was a normal floridana juvie - that red is pretty typical, but nice nonetheless. And that neon-ish corn from the end was def. one of my favorites.

Psyon - Thanks. I've never been great at telling the two apart.

Tim - Thanks. We need to repeat last Octobers KP trip sometime soon. And by soon I mean after some rain.

Nick - The first one? Yep, he was from the same area. I've seen others similar to that in south Dade, but that's the first adult I've seen.

Jason - Thanks man. Glad you enjoyed the scaleless ones - Is that still an orchid then? My botany teacher said you can tell orchids based on the little lip/landing petal thing (forget the actual name.)

Dave - Thanks man

Mike - yeah, that second corn definitely had an interesting neon aura to him. And yes, that's the same Jersey - though it is admittedly in rough shape and a little "holey" from campfire burns.

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Mike VanValen
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Re: Before the Break of the Wet Season in the Southeast

Post by Mike VanValen » May 31st, 2011, 6:09 pm

That corn is gorgeous. I would taken at least 100 pics of it.

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Re: Before the Break of the Wet Season in the Southeast

Post by Snake Junky » May 31st, 2011, 6:55 pm

Awesome post. :thumb: Those corns and that king were pretty sweet to look at. Reminds me I need to take another trip to Florida. Thanks for sharing.

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Nigel Smith
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Re: Before the Break of the Wet Season in the Southeast

Post by Nigel Smith » May 31st, 2011, 7:25 pm

Wow! Some cool photos indeed! loved those marbled salamander shots.

Gordon C. Snelling

Re: Before the Break of the Wet Season in the Southeast

Post by Gordon C. Snelling » June 1st, 2011, 4:17 am

Great stuff, however I agree the "orchid" is actually a violet.

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KingCam
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Re: Before the Break of the Wet Season in the Southeast

Post by KingCam » June 1st, 2011, 6:01 am

Your photography is truly amazing, thanks for sharing :thumb: :beer:

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Josh Holbrook
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Re: Before the Break of the Wet Season in the Southeast

Post by Josh Holbrook » June 2nd, 2011, 4:17 am

Mike - I probably should've taken a couple more; he sure was pretty. I was tempted to bring him home, but I'm glad to say he's crawling free again. Go get him.

SnakeJunky - Thanks. Those corns were more of a hit than I was expecting.

Nigel - Yeah, I'd found marbleds rarely when I was a kid, so it had been a while and I tried to take lots of pictures of em'.

Gordon - Oh well :-/ that's why I'm not a Botanist. . . Or at least a good reason to brush up.

KingCam - Thanks man.

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Re: Before the Break of the Wet Season in the Southeast

Post by JakeScott » June 2nd, 2011, 11:35 am

Awesome, Josh! You know I enjoyed the slimy stuff. Your peepr tis a peeper and you desmog is a southern.
Did you ever find chams in Orlando?

-Jake Scott

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Jason Thullbery
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Re: Before the Break of the Wet Season in the Southeast

Post by Jason Thullbery » June 2nd, 2011, 2:14 pm

So it looks like I'm not the only one that could develop an interest in salamanders if they lived in a place that had more. Great finds though, I'm sure I was there for a few of them. :beer:

Jason

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Josh Holbrook
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Re: Before the Break of the Wet Season in the Southeast

Post by Josh Holbrook » June 5th, 2011, 8:00 am

Jake - thanks for the ID's. I'm gonna have to learn my in-the-southeast-but-not-in-SFL amphibians eventually... Starting now. And no, no scouting done lately.

Jason - Yeah; they're pretty cool. Difficult to wrangle sometimes, which was unexpected. Congrats again, BTW.

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Re: Before the Break of the Wet Season in the Southeast

Post by Bryan_Hughes » June 5th, 2011, 8:27 am

Great post and photos! Thanks for completely changing the outlook of my Sunday from "sit around" to "where's my boots?".

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Re: Before the Break of the Wet Season in the Southeast

Post by umop apisdn » June 5th, 2011, 4:14 pm

Very nice report and finds. Kinda painful anytime to see SRS stuff since my stint there was cut short and I left right before spring. Did you still not have to jump through hoops to even just visit? That place was always nerve-racking for me with those DO NOT STOP signs and whatnot on the roads...I heard stories of how those WackenNuts can be pretty ruthless.

As others have said, both of those corns look wonderful. Your barking treefrogs tend to look much more vivid in their patterning than those further north. I was about to say the musk turtle was actually a mud (looked like it missed the facial stripe), but the plastron says you got it right.

Sucks about the S. FL. mole king, but keep at it and maybe that (or some other S. FL holy grails) will turn up alive.

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Re: Before the Break of the Wet Season in the Southeast

Post by TimCO » June 5th, 2011, 5:58 pm

Nice pics bro. SFMK mission in the near future.

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