NE Chapter Trip to North Central PA - May 2013

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brick911
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NE Chapter Trip to North Central PA - May 2013

Post by brick911 » May 23rd, 2013, 10:52 am

When I asked Kyle to come back on as Education Specialist this year, it was for a few reasons. He had relinquished the Presidency after 2011 to give someone else a "shot." When I took over, I looked at the job descriptions for the various officer positions. It was my hope to fulfill those positions with people who were made to do them. Kyle could do every job on the list (he was President for five years). However, please read the job description below, taken from NAFHA bylaws:
Education Specialist:
E. Shall be responsible for setting up field outings for the chapter and assisting members in data collection. The Education Specialist will also be responsible for public education and outreach for his/her chapter if the chapter deems this action necessary.
^^^That is Kyle - 100%, on top of being a good leader.

So anyway, Kyle accepted the nomination and the rest is history. This weekend was his first chance in a while to prove to some new members how good he actually is at setting up and conducting a data-based, fun filled, field trip. And man, did he deliver!

Kyle's cottage in Lycoming County served as the base camp. He spent Friday-Sunday showing various members from our fine chapter around four different counties, with diverse herps, habitats, and tons of quantity.

While Kyle was the backbone of the success, the trip brought out some of the finest people in our chapter. The different personalities, great company, and dedication to herp data was awesome!

To anyone who came, please post your pictures and any anecdotes you'd like to share. *I'm putting this on the main forum as well, so please copy and paste there. The nation needs to see how we roll.

Much appreciation to Kyle on a job well done. It was great meeting everyone, and catching up with old friends!

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ZantiMissKnit
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Re: NE Chapter Trip to North Central PA - May 2013

Post by ZantiMissKnit » May 23rd, 2013, 12:14 pm

Okay, I'll bite...;)

Mike H and I are fairly new members of FHF and NAFHA, and we jumped at the chance to take a long weekend in PA to herp with Kyle. Even though I've only been around here since last September, I feel very comfortable with this chapter and really wanted to meet some of the other people in it.

It's almost a 7 hour drive from Boston to Kyle's cottage. We made it to within a half hour of his place before we pulled off into a park and found our first lifers of the weekend, a few Desmognathus ochrophaeus.

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Mountain Dusky Salamander lifer! by ZantiMissKnit, on Flickr

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Mountain Dusky variations by ZantiMissKnit, on Flickr

We got to Kyle's place, and he and Tom (paturtlelover) were already there. We headed out and he put us to work right away, flipping:

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DSC_0042 by ZantiMissKnit, on Flickr

We flipped more D. ochrophaeus (there was easily over 70 found the entire weekend...) and also found another lifer for us: a Gyrinophilus porphyriticus!

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DSC_0038 by ZantiMissKnit, on Flickr

Plethodon glutinosus made lifer #3:

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DSCN3907 by ZantiMissKnit, on Flickr

We moved on to another spot, one that was much drier. In fact, it got downright dusty and hot there. Before long, I was singing in my head, "Flipping rocks in the hot sun..."

This spot yielded several Diadophis punctatus edwardsii, of varying sizes.

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DSC_0090 by ZantiMissKnit, on Flickr

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DSCN3934 by ZantiMissKnit, on Flickr

A couple of Storeria occipitomaculata:

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DSCN3919 by ZantiMissKnit, on Flickr

Even a few small Thamnophis sirtalis sirtalis.

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DSC_0110 by ZantiMissKnit, on Flickr

Then came the next big lifer for me...a species that has been mocking me from other people's photos since last fall...Pseudotriton ruber!

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DSCN3932 by ZantiMissKnit, on Flickr

Kyle described this one as a "big, old male" and "purple", and vowed to get me a "younger, prettier" one by the time the weekend was over. Still, I was pretty happy with this guy.

We took a short break and retreated to the cottage, where Kyle grilled up some ham- and veggie-burgers. The day wasn't over though.

The next stop yielded some pretty little garters:

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DSC_0120 by ZantiMissKnit, on Flickr

And a damn near perfect S. occipitomaculata:

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DSC_0133 by ZantiMissKnit, on Flickr

Tom called me over to grab whatever was under a big rock he flipped. I was ready.

Lampropeltis triangulum triangulum!!

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DSC_0137 by ZantiMissKnit, on Flickr

A very pretty one that I managed to NOT get a great photo of. There are also photos of me holding it where I certainly don't look my best...but Mike put them on our flickr anyway. Thanks, honey!

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DSCN3955 by ZantiMissKnit, on Flickr

We went back to the cottage and had some beers and s'mores (with chocolate mint cookies, making them S'more or Less) by the campfire. I saw some movement some yards away, and asked if it was a fisher. Kyle said, "No, it's a porcupine" and went off after it so we could get photos.

He never put his beer down either. It's okay, he's of legal drinking age.

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DSCN3972 by ZantiMissKnit, on Flickr

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DSC_0155 by ZantiMissKnit, on Flickr

A little bit of night herping on the street yielded us a couple more Duskies, another ringneck, and the only Pseudacris crucifer that was both seen and heard!

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DSCN3983 by ZantiMissKnit, on Flickr

I'll close this part one -- because this was only the FIRST DAY -- with an obligatory "herpers herping" shot:

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DSCN3984 by ZantiMissKnit, on Flickr

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mike h
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Re: NE Chapter Trip to North Central PA - May 2013

Post by mike h » May 23rd, 2013, 12:39 pm

If it's OK, I'll be posting a link to my three blog posts... one for each day in Pennsylvania. It's the only way for me to sort out everything! (Though Andrea just did a nice condensed version of it).

I will say this, too. I have been herping for well over 40 years and in three days with Kyle, Bob and everyone, I learned more than I have in decades! What a great trip!

So, here is the link to last Friday... apologies in advance for my sometimes salty language and the fact that I'm not as funny as I think I am.
http://hitmewithyournaturestick.blogspo ... art-1.html

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paturtlelover
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Re: NE Chapter Trip to North Central PA - May 2013

Post by paturtlelover » May 24th, 2013, 2:49 pm

I had herped for the first time with Kyle in March and learned a lot about Spotted Salamanders. I was excited and honored when Kyle Invited me to his place for a weekend. After Mike and Andrea arrived the herping started with great results.

Red Salamanders, Spring Salamanders , Slimy Salamanders, Red backs, Dusky Salamanders, Ringnecks, Red bellies, Milks and Garters were all found with in a few hours. Kyle sat back and pointed us in the right direction telling us where the herps would be and why. The following day included most of the above as well as green snakes. With Kyle leading us, I observed more herps in a few hours than I had in the last 2 years.

It was a hard decision for me to leave just after noon on the second day but I had to attend a Wedding that evening. I left with many more questions, a greater desire to herp for more than turtles and a new found interest in the Herp Atlas. I was excited to meet everyone but listened more than I talked. There were great minds at work discussing herps that I had yet to find and the Herp Atlas . I wanted to learn as much as possible.

Mike and Andrea are an AWESOME couple!! Mike, many of your fellow herpers are envious that your best herp buddy is your wife. Bob, your kids are great and enthusiastic herpers. Kyle, thank you for the experiance and the invitation. I hope to herp with some members again before the season is over. Steven, I will keep in touch so we can plan a turtle outing.

sstaedtler
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Re: NE Chapter Trip to North Central PA - May 2013

Post by sstaedtler » May 24th, 2013, 6:29 pm

I won't add too much to what has already been said. Kyle was a great host, from feeding us, to organizing things. He knew the right time to hit the right spots. He'd be like "Steve, go check that rock down by the stop sign", and of course there would be snakes under there. He has such a good knowledge of the area.

A thrill for me was finding two Timber rattlesnakes. I had only seen one in my life before this, and as a group we saw four. I especially like this guy.
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I also loved this large Spring Salamander Mike found, what a beautiful specimen. Although I had seen a Spring before, I never caught one and got to look at it.

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Finally, here is a view from up above in Lycoming County.

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Kyle, Bob, Andrea, Mike, Tom, Dave, and Alex...you guys were all great and hope to meet up some time in the future.

Damian
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Re: NE Chapter Trip to North Central PA - May 2013

Post by Damian » May 25th, 2013, 6:10 am

Great pics guys! Looks like a great time!
Mike H- loved your blog, I didn't want it to end!

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mike h
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Re: NE Chapter Trip to North Central PA - May 2013

Post by mike h » May 25th, 2013, 7:34 am

Thank you for the kind words, everyone! What an amazing time we all had!!

Here are the second and third blog posts that recap our incredible weekend!

Saturday:
http://hitmewithyournaturestick.blogspo ... day-2.html

Sunday:
http://hitmewithyournaturestick.blogspo ... art-3.html

Again, it is so hard to put into words how much this weekend meant to us! You all are wonderful people and top-shelf herpers!

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Matt J
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Re: NE Chapter Trip to North Central PA - May 2013

Post by Matt J » May 25th, 2013, 9:31 am

Awesome stuff guys, I was really jealous I couldn't make it this year. Thanks for hosting another successful outing Kyle :thumb:

davhug1
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Re: NE Chapter Trip to North Central PA - May 2013

Post by davhug1 » May 25th, 2013, 1:22 pm

By mistake i put a post on the forum about the weekend at kyles, but in sum, i just want to thank kyle for the invite, and it was an honor to meet him in person. It was also a thrill to meet, mike and andrea, steve, and alex. All were great guys, and great herpers, i could only be in awe of all of them. It was a great learning experience for me. Perhaps the only dissapointment was not meeting another herping legend, bob ferguson and his three boys, but i'm sure ill catch him down the road. It was a great time that i will always remember, but meeting new friends was the best. Special thanks to Bob, he took a chance by accepting my friend request on fb back in the fall, i would have never have met anyone if it wasnt for him. Thanks Bob.

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ZantiMissKnit
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Re: NE Chapter Trip to North Central PA - May 2013

Post by ZantiMissKnit » May 25th, 2013, 3:54 pm

Mike has already linked his blog posts, and since we share a Flickr account, I'll probably post the same pictures he did. For those who don't like the link-clicky, this post is for you.

Before last Saturday morning, I had never seen a smooth green snake. Kyle took us out to a spot that "could" have greens, "could" have redbellies, etc.

After a while, Kyle walked over to where I was flipping and dropped something in front of me. "Oh, Andrea, look what you just found!"

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DSC_0193 by ZantiMissKnit, on Flickr

Word must have gotten out. A while later, Bob's son Wesley brought me over the tiniest green snake, ever. One that made me squee.

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DSCN4027 by ZantiMissKnit, on Flickr

Nate came over with a handful of ringnecks:

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DSC_0216 by ZantiMissKnit, on Flickr

I believe that Zach later had the same handful of ringnecks:

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DSC_0223 by ZantiMissKnit, on Flickr

Some salamander spots provided us with some great finds.

A gorgeous Desmognathus ochrophaeus, Mountain Dusky Salamander, that Bob found:
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DSC_0255 by ZantiMissKnit, on Flickr

More Gyrinophilus porphyriticus, Spring Salamanders, this one found by Wes:
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DSCN4034 by ZantiMissKnit, on Flickr

Kyle and Mike both found some Eurycea longicauda, Longtail Salamanders. I thought these were particularly stunning.
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DSCN4036 by ZantiMissKnit, on Flickr


Mike found this amazing and large G. porphyriticus (this is the same one that Steve posted above):
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DSC_0308 by ZantiMissKnit, on Flickr

Onward to another spot, this one targeting our legless friends.

Basking was this very large Black Rat Snake (um...what are they called these days? Pantherophis alleghaniensis or Pantherophis obsoletus obsoletus? Has the "eastern" part been dropped? Am I a total n00b or what?) Anyway, we took photos but didn't get too close.

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DSC_0323 by ZantiMissKnit, on Flickr

There were several rocks to flip, but really, these is only one flip that matters:

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DSC_0330 by ZantiMissKnit, on Flickr

I think everyone came running when Mike turned this rock and yelled out a loud profanity. This turned into a group effort, with Alex helping to hold up the rock while several hands came in to get the five snakes underneath.

I look like a kid at Christmas.
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DSCN4052 by ZantiMissKnit, on Flickr


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DSC_0340 by ZantiMissKnit, on Flickr

Mike has good reason to look like a kid at Christmas.Image
DSC_0336 by ZantiMissKnit, on Flickr


I loved this rat snake. I had never held an adult before, and this one was as tame as our ball python.

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DSC_0351 by ZantiMissKnit, on Flickr

We also found a very feisty little garter snake:
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DSC_0365 by ZantiMissKnit, on Flickr

And Zach had a beautiful redbelly.
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DSC_0369 by ZantiMissKnit, on Flickr

We moved onward, to an area known for timber rattlesnakes. It wasn't long before we saw our first Crotalus horridus:

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DSC_0380 by ZantiMissKnit, on Flickr

These were also lifers for Mike and me. I don't know if everyone remembers their first time seeing them, but I don't think I'll ever lose the feeling.

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100_1117 by ZantiMissKnit, on Flickr

I'm in awe of them. I don't even know how to put it into words.

It's been a week since I took these photos, and I'm still marveling at how gorgeous these snakes are.

I could go on, but I would just be stuttering incoherently on cold medicine, so I'll stop.

We went up to a gorgeous overlook.

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DSC_0428 by ZantiMissKnit, on Flickr

We found more milk snakes on the way out:

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DSC_0469 by ZantiMissKnit, on Flickr

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DSC_0456 by ZantiMissKnit, on Flickr

which made me happy:

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DSC_0481 by ZantiMissKnit, on Flickr

Alex found another gorgeous P. ruber:

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DSC_0486 by ZantiMissKnit, on Flickr

while I took a chance on a shot that I think turned out really well:

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DSC_0493 by ZantiMissKnit, on Flickr

Sunday was a cool, drizzling day, and we only had a few hours, but it was quite an eventful day for me. First of all, I woke up to the smell of bacon and coffee. You know it's gonna be a good day when you smell bacon and coffee. Kyle also made pancakes for us - some with blueberries, and some with chocolate chips. Does this guy know how to party or what?

It got better, because we were not only joined by Dave Hughes today, but because I got some really good flips.

Granted, neither of these were lifers for me, especially after the previous day. Both of them, however, were MY flips, not someone else's.

First, a redbelly.

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DSCN4062 by ZantiMissKnit, on Flickr

If that wasn't enough, shortly after (with both Mike and Kyle closely following me, waiting for it to happen), came my triumphant cry of "GREEN!!!!"

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DSCN4073 by ZantiMissKnit, on Flickr

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DSCN4078 by ZantiMissKnit, on Flickr

I had a later flip of a redbelly AND a green!

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DSCN4085 by ZantiMissKnit, on Flickr

Then Mike flipped a rock that had THREE green snakes!

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DSCN4105 by ZantiMissKnit, on Flickr

I found another very feisty little garter snake and showed off my filthy, rock-flipping fingernails:

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DSC_0538 by ZantiMissKnit, on Flickr

Alex even found a spotted salamander:

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DSC_0572 by ZantiMissKnit, on Flickr

I'm going to stop here, and encourage other folks on the trip to post their photos. I know that both Steve and Dave had some lifers as well, and I don't want to steal their thunder.

Kyle, I really do owe it to you for inviting us in to your home and your brain. I can be a little nervous and shy upon meeting people face-to-face, but not once during the whole weekend did I feel anxious or out-of-place. You really did a great job of making everyone comfortable and welcomed. Either that or I just won everyone over with cookies. :D

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kyle loucks
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Re: NE Chapter Trip to North Central PA - May 2013

Post by kyle loucks » May 27th, 2013, 5:22 pm

What was in those cookies?



I will get some pics up soon.

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kyle loucks
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Re: NE Chapter Trip to North Central PA - May 2013

Post by kyle loucks » May 28th, 2013, 1:06 pm

I get great satisfaction in showing folks new things. The area where I spend many of my summer weekends is rich in scenery and loaded with herpetofauna. Where the region lacks in diversity (compared to the south) it makes up for it with quantity.

I have hosted several NAFHA outings with my "kottage" serving as home base, the first in 2007. This has included herpers from as far away as Iowa, Rhode Island, Massachussetts, Virginia, New Jersey and New York. This group added to the list of exceptional herpers to pass through and as I was privileged to meet some for the first time face to face. Good times, there is always a memorable moment when herpers get together.

Tom, who lives 10 minutes from me, was first to arrive, with Andrea and Mike, making their 8 hour trek, dropping in soon after.

Obligatory first stop is a mountain stream that harbors quantities of Mountain Dusky Salamanders and Northern Spring Salamanders.

A misnomer, there are no rattlesnakes here...
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Mike with a spring salamander
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A walk up the hillside provided some Northern Slimy Salamanders and the resultant photo op.

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As Mike would say, "Herpers gotta herp". Even on a steep hillside.

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Andrea concentrating real hard not to look like Popeye.

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The next site... and a large Ringneck.

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Another target... a large Northern Red Salamander under a log on a sunny hillside.

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Andrea and Tom teamed up for this Eastern Milk Snake grasp.

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That night proved a little chilly, but peepers were still to be heard and photographed.

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The next morning, others joined the fun. Bob Freguson (brick911) and his 3 kids. Steve Staedler and Alex Mason, bringing our total to 10 folks.
Here is the crew photographing my resident Northern Watersnake.... herpers gotta herp, despite my attempts at keeping folks from flipping stuff on my property. :lol:

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The snake got its lick in...

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Our route had been predetermined, but the weather has us reversing our destination for the morning.
Smooth Greens, Ringnecks Garters and Efts.
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Steve flipped this nice ringneck
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Bob's son Wes came up with this large spring salamander.
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One man's common critter is another man's, or woman's lifer.

Longtailed Salamander
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The triumphant couple.

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The next stop gave us a great showing.

Despite 10 herpers milling around, flipping rocks and snapping photos, this large 6ft+ Eastern Ratsnake never budged.


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Quite proud of the group getting in situ pics of this animal which was never disturbed.

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Mike won for "best flip", uncovering a black rat, easterm milk and 3 eastern garters under one rock.

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Other show stoppers here are its Timber Rattlesnakes.

Alex spotted the first one.

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Steve and Andrea with a rather unattractive Eastern Milk that Mike thought was dead.

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Bob and his kids looking for more milks but only finding ringnecks.Image

all while this young timber looked on...

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The snake soon got a little nervous and retreat beneath his rock.
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Content to watch others flip away with hopes of lifers and such, I soon succombed to the urged and flipped my own pair of Eastern Milks.

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Time out for the photosession.
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4 foot milk snake...



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After a full day of herping, Bob's fearless kids undauntingly took to the 52 degree water while Mike thoughy better.
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Day 2 ended with Bob and his kids heading home, Tom had departed earlier. Dave joined us for our third and final day.

Misty and cool are perfect ingredients for herping this area.

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Andrea with her first solo green snake flip with Mike showing his approval.
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Dave photgraphing Steve with his own lifer Smooth Green Snake


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Mike with his 3 of a kind green flip.

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Dave flipped this monster ( 18.5 inch) Northern Ringneck equalling the largest that I have
found in these parts.

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Concluded our get together and headed back to the "Kottage"

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The Chow Line...

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My pleasure to host another successful meeting of some of the Northeast's finest herpers...

and, no worse for wear, my resident water snake was back on my steps a week later getting in some sun, no doubt still tasting Bob's son Nate's tasty fingers.


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sans Dave Hughes

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mike h
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Re: NE Chapter Trip to North Central PA - May 2013

Post by mike h » May 28th, 2013, 3:08 pm

Wow! That is the best post ever! I'm not even revulsed by pictures of me for a change! We had so much fun!

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ZantiMissKnit
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Re: NE Chapter Trip to North Central PA - May 2013

Post by ZantiMissKnit » May 29th, 2013, 5:35 am

I always love pictures of you, Mike, especially when you look so happy!

This may be my favorite thread ever. :) I'm looking forward to herping with this group again. Shame we live so far from most of you.

One last thing: my husband is tall, but man, is Tom the Ginger Giant or what?

davhug1
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Re: NE Chapter Trip to North Central PA - May 2013

Post by davhug1 » May 29th, 2013, 3:02 pm

What a great time being surrounded by a great bunch of people, i will post some of my photos when my computer is back in order. I will have to say, i don't think i will meet another woman like andrea, who not only likes snakes, but goes after them with reckless abandon, unbelievable, and she's very good at it. I'm still weery about handling, but i'll get their someday.

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Re: NE Chapter Trip to North Central PA - May 2013

Post by ZantiMissKnit » May 30th, 2013, 4:55 am

davhug1 wrote: I will have to say, i don't think i will meet another woman like andrea, who not only likes snakes, but goes after them with reckless abandon, unbelievable, and she's very good at it.
Naw, I'm sure others exist. There must be a single one out there for you. :)

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Re: NE Chapter Trip to North Central PA - May 2013

Post by davhug1 » May 30th, 2013, 5:44 pm

I arrived sunday, didnt get a ton of photos, but heImage
029 by davhug1, on Flickrre's a few, i was too much in awe watching the masters at work. Here's alex with ring neck. Image
029 by davhug1, on FlImage
029 by davhug1, on FlickrickrImage
029 by Image
019 by davhug1, on Image
034 by davhug1, on FlickrFlickrdavhug1, on Flickr

davhug1
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Re: NE Chapter Trip to North Central PA - May 2013

Post by davhug1 » May 30th, 2013, 5:45 pm

AS you can tell my editing skills on this forum still needs work, but i will work hard to figure it out. It was truely a great time and learning experience.

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Re: NE Chapter Trip to North Central PA - May 2013

Post by davhug1 » May 30th, 2013, 5:49 pm


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paturtlelover
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Re: NE Chapter Trip to North Central PA - May 2013

Post by paturtlelover » May 31st, 2013, 1:46 am

ZantiMissKnit wrote:I always love pictures of you, Mike, especially when you look so happy!

This may be my favorite thread ever. :) I'm looking forward to herping with this group again. Shame we live so far from most of you.

One last thing: my husband is tall, but man, is Tom the Ginger Giant or what?
LOL!!! It was nice to herp with a fellow Ginger!!

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