Trip Details

Location: Jefferson county, Kansas

Conditions: 70 degrees, sunny

Time: 9:00 am - 12:30 pm

Herpers: Austin, Laura and Jim Scharosch

This was our last day, and we headed north to visit a couple of locations Chad Whitney had shared with us. Yesterday had been great, and we were hoping to end the trip on an upnote. The day before Austin mentioned how he had a milk snake jinx, as he had never flipped one himself. I told him that was ridiculous, as an eleven year old is too young to have a jinx and that if he kept working at it he would get one soon enough.

We got to the where we were going around 9:00 am and it was already warming up nicely at about sixty degrees. We had some trouble finding the first spot Chad told us about, so we checked a couple of roadcuts. The roadcuts were very steep, and the rocks had obviously been turned by numerous herpers. Austin saw a garter snake in the grass, but that was all we saw. We were kinda bummed as we didn't have a lot of time to herp this last day, but I made the call to try to find the other spot Chad had mentioned.

We headed off on a treacherous trail that forded a couple of creeks. I was glad we had taken the truck on this trip as we would have never made it with the car. When we stopped and walked over the hillside to the area, I was amazed at how cool it was. It was an area that looked like it had never been herped. All of the rocks were set into the grass, and none looked like they had been turned this spring. It was a beautiful area.

As soon as we got to the hillside, Austin turned a rock or two and ended his perceived milk snake jinx. He pulled out a fifteen inch long Red Milk Snake (Lampropeltis t. syspila).

It had a fairly black head, and a nice deep red color. Austin was very happy.

After pictures and releasing the snake, Austin was standing around and I told him, "go flip those nice rocks over there". He flipped the first one and from where I was standing I saw another milk snake under that rock. I could tell from where I was standing about ten feet away that this one was really nice.

The head was completely red with cool black bordering the red. The red saddles were wide, the black and white narrow. It had a cool "H" shaped blotch about halfway down the body. It too was about fifteen inches long. This was another one that was hard to set free after we finished with pictures.

While we were taking pictures, Laura found a Western Worm Snake (Carphophis a. vermis) under a nearby rock.

I was glad to see it as it was the only one of the trip. That didn't surprise me as we were not really in their preferred habitat for most of the trip. It posed pretty well for a worm snake.

We worked the rest of the ridge and found a copperhead and five-lined skink, neither of which did I photograph.

As we were leaving, I saw three rocks in a small washout. A few seconds earlier, Austin had said, "Let's just get going" apparently already happy with his two milk snake day. I said, "Let's check these last couple of rocks". So Austin came over, I flipped one good looking rock, Austin flipped one crappy one, then the second crappy one and snagged a juvenile red milk.

It wasn't the prettiest milk snake I had ever seen, but it was the a milk snake from under the last rock of the trip, just like I had said the day before could never happen two days in a row. Plus I got to reinforce, again, the "Leave No Stone Unturned" lesson.

We headed back to Iowa after another great trip to Kansas. We got to add a couple of species to our lifelist, get some great pictures, have fun and make some great herping memories.

Again, a special thanks to Chad Whitney for hanging out with us and taking us to some new spots again. I have learned a lot about herping Kansas the last two years from Chad.

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