Kansas Herp Trip 2002

Wednesday, May 1, 2002

Trip Details

Herpers: Jim Scharosch & Matt Ricklefs

Location: McPherson County KS. & Wabaunsee County KS.

Time: 9:30 am

Temp/Conditions: Cloudy, rainy, windy. Cool - 65 degrees tops. The temp with the weather together did not make for a good start.

May Day. Or more aptly named, "may not" day. For all the success we had had on the previous day, we started out dismally on this day. We treated ourselves to a hotel since we had such a good day Tuesday, and thought we would then maybe go back out that next morning before moving on. As it turned out, the weather did not cooperate. Since we had a bad day there under similar conditions earlier in the week, we decided to move on. We weren't sure exactly where we would go but we headed Northeast. We meandered along to a few sites that once we got there did not look as good as we hoped. That coupled with the weather kept us moving.

As a humorous side line I offer this story. One of the places we decided to check out had curiously large fences. We also ran across signs that read:



As it was set on the sign, we got quite a laugh on their account about the animals being dangerous vechicles. This coupled with these huge fences gave us a lot of laughs on an otherwise gloomy day. Then we came up over the hill. When we crested the hill we were in the middle of a herd of Bison. These were wandering throughout the park in free form.

The word majestic did come to mind and patriotic visions of amber waves of grain were dancing through my head. Fortunately, the Bison were not dancing on the van. Now, I understand what "Dangerous Animal Vehicles" are.

The remainder of the trip was spent bee-lining it to our stop for the night. En route we did find a back road that we had been trying to find for some time. This was a good road, but the weather as it was produced very little. The low light was a DOR Great Plains Rat Snake (Elaphe g. emoryi). A nice specimen about three and a half feet long. A species we would have loved to find alive. We were getting close to where we were used to going. We did find a nice road side stone wall with some good mixed habitat around. Turning a fairly large rock I managed to find a nice Bullsnake (Pituophis catenifer sayi).

I say "I" because up to this point Jim had done much better than I. We have a good joke about this, and do not challenge each other to a snake finding contest. Had we though, Jim would have been the clear winner this trip. The Bullsnake was in fine form and was quite well marked. It had a very straw colored head and well defined black markings leading to the browner markings toward the tail. The belly was also well marked. It huffed and puffed and considering as cool as it was put on a great show. It was about four feet long so it also had some size to it. Once we got our footage, we put the rock back down and let it go back under. Throughout the time we continued to look you could still hear it. We found a number of Prairie-Ring Necks and more Great Plains Skinks. We also started to find the small scorpions and Jim may have been stung, as he felt a sting like pain, but never did see the culprit.

At this point we were almost back to where we would lodge at. Considering the fairly uneventful day we welcomed a good dinner and a nice place to hang out and watch the History Channel.

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