Trip Details

Herpers: Jim Scharosch & Austin Scharosch

Location: Buchanan County, Iowa

Time - 1:00 pm to 3:30 pm

Temp/Conditions: Lower 70's, sunny, slight breeze

Austin and I took off early in the afternoon and ended up in a park in northern Linn County. The park has a large abandoned quarry and we thought we would check it out. We had never herped this area before. The rocks were large and flat and looked really snakey. There was no water source nearby though and after flipping a bunch of rocks with no sign of snakes, we decided to move on.

We went north to a quarry in Buchanan county that we had scouted in the fall of last year. The area is small and we didn't find anything when we scouted, but it looked good enough to give it a try this spring. It is a nice quarry with a lake in the center, and a small area of south exposed rock in a little draw.

We walked in and flipped a couple of rocks and turned up a twenty inch long fox snake (Elaphe vulpina).

It was nice to catch one, since I managed to go all last year without finding a live one. I wanted to get one early this spring to make sure I didn't get skunked again this year. Took some pics and let it go. I turned a couple more rocks and found another fox snake, this one a juvenile. It was under a very small rock.

I took picture and was giving Austin the "see, you have to check the small rocks too" talk. I said, "Even a rock as small as this one", and I turned a small rock at my feet and as if he were on the payroll, there laid another juvenile fox snake. I think I, or the fox snake, made my point.

I went up on the draw a little further and found a sixteen inch long Northern Banded Water Snake (Nerodia sipedon).

It proceeded to bite me a couple times, pictures were taken and it was released. We worked our way a little further and found another twenty inch long fox snake.

About a foot from that one, we found another juvenile. It was the same size as the other two we found earlier.

As we were preparing to leave, I turned a couple small rocks and turned up a tiny last year's baby Northern Banded Water snake. It was small enough that none of my pictures turned out.

This is a very nice little quarry. I would be surprised if we don't turn up a Milk Snake here eventually. It was nice to see the baby Fox Snakes as that means there must be some larger ones around. I am sure we will get back here a few times this spring.

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