Trip Details

Day & Date: Sunday, May 21, 2006

Start Time: 9:30 a.m.

Weather: Sunny. Around 73 degrees. Low wind.

Location: Bremer CO. Iowa

Herper(s): Jeff LeClere, Dāv Kaufmann, Austin Scharosch, Jim Scharosch & Matt Ricklefs

Account written by Matt Ricklefs

Photos by Jim Scharosch except as noted

Thought of the Day: In Search Of...?

Not too long ago, Jim had gotten back from a trip to Kentucky with Jeff. Jeff lives in MInnesota, but was still in town herping. Dāv came down to herp and pick up Jeff. Sooooo, we all decided to go out and search for the elusive massasauga. In this neck of the woods it is the Eastern Massasauga.

We came to one of our destinations for a look around. We trudged through a fair expanse and had not found anything. I circled around close to the top of a bridge and lo and behold a snake! No, unfortunately not a massasauga but it was a fair sized and nicely colored Western Fox Snake (Elaphe v. vulpina).

Since there was a few of us we took time to "ooo" and "ah" and each of us got some pics. After a while the others went on and I continued to take pictures. Once the mosquitoes got bad enough I conceded and "foxy" went on it's merry way.

I caught up with the rest of the group and outside of a few fleeting garters we had not found anything else. After exhausting the first area we moved on. The next area was nearer to a marsh and we walked the waterside. I found a small toad but had decided not to catch it. Then Jeff found a very nice Grey Treefrog (Hyla versicolor - we'll go with this to make it simple) so I decided to go back and get the small American Toad (Bufo americanus). The Grey Treefrog was practically glowing a beautiful green and we hurried to take some pics while this hue existed.

After a while it did calm down to a more subtle green, but never did get all the way to grey. The treefrog was about an inch and a quarter and the toad was about two and a half inches. This was all this spot had to offer so we bid farewell and moved on once again.

The next spot was also a waterside walk. On the trail Austin and I spotted a small Western Painted Turtle (Chrysemys picta bellii).

Pics above by Austin Scharosch

Austin getting the shot, pic by Matt Ricklefs

This one was small at about three and a half inches. Further up the way as we took pics of this Jim found a Red Bellied Snake (Storeria occipitomaculata).

Shooting pics, photo by Matt Ricklefs

This one was about six and a half inches. We took turns again taking pics and then moved on. As we were leaving this area a water snake was spied by Dāv and Jeff. We made some attempts to secure it for pictures but to no avail, at first. Jef however is quite tenacious and decided that this one would be caught. After a small trek into the trees and bugs at the waterside he finally did come up with it. It was, of course, a Northern Water Snake (Nerodia s. sipedon) and it was about a eighteen inches.

Photo by Matt Rickefs

It was pretty grungy and it appeared to show part of it's skull on the top of its head from a past injury, but it seemed to be healthy otherwise. At the very least it was the challenge and accomplishment of capturing this wily beast. Jeff was kind enough to pose with his trophy and soon we all needed to get in on this fun. After the shananagans were over we moved on.

The last location (as it turned out) was our last chance for a massasauga. After quite a walk we did manage to round up a juvenile Western Fox Snake that was about a foot long.

We also found a Northern Water Snake that was a little closer to sixteen inches.

We took our pics of this and headed on. It was about 3:00 p.m. and it was quickly starting to get cool and cloudy and sprinkley. On the way back Dāv noticed a "garter" in the open area in front of us and upon closer examination it turned out to be a Western Ribbon Snake (Thamnophis p. proximus).

This one was good sized and it had a pretty decent girth for a ribbon snake. It was about two feet long, and colored brownish from the rusty water it lived in. We got our pics and went back to the vehicles. Jim, Austin and I headed back south and Jeff and Dāv headed north for home and that concluded a great day of herping. We didn't hit it huge and we didn't find any massasaugas this time, but there will be other times. We did have time to spend with good friends and get out herping together and that always counts for something!

Until next time, happy herping all!

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