Trip Details

Location: Lake County, Tennessee, Union County, Illinois

Conditions: Sunny, high in the lower 80's

Time: 10:00 am thru 1 am

Herpers: Jeff LeClere, Mike Pingleton, Jim Scharosch

Account by: Jim Scharosch

We snagged groceries the night before, so Mike cooked up a pound and a half of pure pork sausage goodness, eggs and hashbrowns and we then rolled to the car to headed out. Still in Lake County, Tennessee, we drove down a gravel road and found another Ribbon Snake (Thamnophis proximus) crossing the road.

We parked the truck and walked down a levee road that was gated off to vehicle traffic. We saw a couple of water snakes drop off into the water well out of reach of capture.

As we walked along, I stopped when I heard a water snake flop into the water. I looked down at the bank in front of me and there was a basking Speckled Kingsnake (Lampropeltis getula holbrooki).

It was a good sized adult. I had been hoping to find an adult kingsnake here because I was curious what the patterning would look like.

We walked along the levee and I spotted another adult kingsnake, this one a bit bigger than the previous one.

A few seconds later, Jeff found another one not more than thirty feet from where the last one was.

After taking photos we started to head back toward the truck, and I found another large kingsnake.

It was pretty cool seeing the variety of kings we saw, and there was decent variation in pattern as well. One thing that was odd was the behavior the kingsnakes showed when we released them. One did the typical kingsnake thing, and buried into the grass. The other three went right to the water to escape. One took off swimming across the surface of the water. The other two acted like water snakes, they swam off under water and then would surface with just their heads poking out of the water. When we would move on the bank, they would dive back down and swim farther off under water and then surface again. It was strange watching this water snake like behavior from these kingsnakes.

We got back to the truck and headed back to our campsite to decide what to do for the rest of the day. Jeff really wanted to catch a Southern Painted Turtle (Chrysemys p. dorsalis) to knock it off his lifelist, so we ran him over to the Dollar General to pick up some sweet turtle mudding shorts and shoes and dropped him off at a roadside ditch to try his luck. Mike and I wandered around some junk piles and saw a Black Racer jet off, that was all we found. After an hour or so we hooked back up with Jeff and a couple minutes after that he caught his turtle.

Here's Mike bringing the photo log, and Jeff with his awesome turtle muddin gear.

We cleaned up, Mike cooked us up a bunch of hot dogs and a mess of beans and we headed off to southern Illinois.

We arrived a couple hours later and set up camp. We were now in Union county, Illinois. At midnite we drove down to the snake road so Jeff could take another shot at getting video of calling southern leopard frogs. Mike and I walked the snake road in the dark. We saw lots of frogs, and one yellow bellied water snake that we could not catch. I got a boot full of cold water trying. We went back to the truck and slept while we waited for Jeff to come back. He got video he was happy with and we headed back to camp.

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