Trip Details

Location: Union County, Illinois

Conditions: Sunny, high in the upper 70's

Time: 10:00 am thru 4 pm

Herpers: Jeff LeClere, Mike Pingleton, Jim Scharosch

Account by: Jim Scharosch

In Union county Illinois, we went to the snake road. We were hoping to find a Mississippi Green Water snake. As luck would have it, we didn't find one. In fact, the road was pretty slow the entire day. Early on, Mike found a large Black Rat Snake (Elaphe obsoleta) stretched out in the leaves near the parking area.

As it didn't seem to be in any hurry to run off, we didn't disturb it, taking all of our pictures in situ from a distance. As we started walking the road, we met Kurt and Ian, first timers to the snake road.

They were camping in the area. Ian was into herps, and his dad was cool enough to take him to the midwest herping mecca. They spent the next couple hours walking the road with us.

As we walked along, Kurt spotted a Black Racer (Coluber constrictor) and Jeff snagged it as it shot off toward the hillside. We took a couple of photos and released it.

We found a few of the normal inhabitants of the area, cricket frogs, zig-zag salamanders and the like. At one point, Jeff found a small Spotted Salamander (Ambystoma maculatum).

I didn't work very hard at getting a decent picture, as you can tell from my results.

We weren't seeing much, so we headed back to the truck. Along the way, I spotted a Western Ribbon Snake (Thamnophis proximus) laying on the road. It sat still, so we shot a few in situ photos.

It was kinda strange, because usually ribbon snakes shoot off the road pretty quickly. This one didn't even take off when Ian touched it.

On the walk back, Ian spotted another ribbon snake and it shot into the leaves like a ribbon snake is supposed to do.

We got back to the truck and got ready to take our chances on the bluff after the slow time we had on the road. A truck pulled up with a group of mushroom hunters who were staying at the campground we were at. Not long after, a van pulled up with a teacher and his field biology class from a nearby community college. They all took off down the road. A few minutes later, the young girl from the mushroom hunting group came running back to the parking area where we were waiting to tell us they had spotted a Cottonmouth (Agkistrodon piscivorus) not too far down the road. We headed down there, and it was a nice adult. The biology class came up too, and we had a nice visit with the entire group.

We then headed up the bluff, but it was starting to cool off a lot and the wind was picking up. We didn't see anything else.

We headed into town for a nice Mexican dinner. Mike headed for home at that point, and Jeff and I went up to Kankakee county. A storm blew in that night and the temperature fell quickly. The next day we awoke to an windy, overcast, fifty degree morning. Jeff woke up to a lake in his tent from the thunderstorms during the night. We packed up and headed home, not happy with the way the trip ended, but thankful we had had such nice weather during most of the trip.

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