Trip Details

Location: Jackson and Linn County, Iowa

Conditions: Partly sunny with building clouds. 57 degrees. Medium wind with some gusting.

Time: 11:30 a.m.

Herpers: Austin Scharosch, Jim Scharosch & Matt Ricklefs

Account by: Matt Ricklefs

Photos by: Jim Scharosch & Matt Ricklefs

Thought of the Day: We’re in no hurry.

Photo by Matt Ricklefs

Last time, on Herpjournal…
“You need to be happy just to get out. Sure, finding stuff, especially really “cool” stuff is always preferred but you need to be glad to see the birds and butterflies too.”

The forecast for the weekend was disappointing. On Friday the high was 80 degrees. The forecast for Saturday was a drop to a high of 63 degrees with partly cloudy conditions. Then, of course, by Monday it was going to back in the mid 70’s. Our mantra is often to just get out and enjoy the hunt no matter what you find (thus the above quote from the last posting). Often seemingly unfavorable weather can pay off. So we followed our own advice and headed out.

I arrived at Jim’s about 9:00 a.m. We knew we would have time to spare and had already decided we would get breakfast and then head out based on the weather. We were in no hurry as the weather at breakfast was a cool 53 degrees.

At the time we arrived at our destination, it was climbing closer to 56 degrees. The wind was cool, but when it died down and the sun hit it actually felt fairly warm. We wondered if the rocks had enough time to heat up though. As we arrived at our hillside we had our first pleasant surprise. The hillside had been burned. It had needed this badly and it really opened the habitat up. Timbers need the mix of hillside forest and open edge habitat and the burning clears out open areas for sunning and controls otherwise unruly underbrush. For herping, it’s also nice as it helps see where “good” rocks are a little more easily.

After working the hillside for a while we reached an open area and upon approaching one of those “good” rocks noticed something else. It was a Timber Rattlesnake (Crotalus horridus) and a fair sized one at about forty-three inches.

Photos by Jim Scharosch

Photo by Matt Ricklefs

It was completely out sunning by a log. The pictures you see are 100% as we saw when we walked up on it. As it stayed still, we decided rather than attempting to get other posed pictures, we would just leave this one as we found it. It never moved from how we found it or appeared too rattled by our presence (pardon the pun).

We worked to the end of our main area and were again rewarded by another Timber.

Photos by Jim Scharosch

This one was about forty inches. This one, when found, had its tail partially under a rock and was mostly hidden by leaves. We got the above in situ shots, then moved the leaves out of the way for these pictures.

Photos by Jim Scharosch

Here's a shot of Jim taking his pics.

Photo by Matt Ricklefs

We finished up, and as we were leaving, there was a small (about 11 inches) Eastern Garter Snake (Thamnophis sirtalis) out roaming. As it was out in the open of the burned area, it went defensive right away rather than trying to “run and hide”. We decided it was worth getting a pic of this little one as it made an effort to ward us off its turf (or lack thereof).

Photo by Matt Ricklefs

That was it for the three of us. I had to add a shot of Austin, posing on the hillside. I'm not sure what he was looking at....

Photo by Jim Scharosch

On the way home I went right by a spot that I decided to do a quick check at and turned up a Bullsnake (Pituophis catenifer sayi).

Photos by Matt Ricklefs

This one was quite timid. It was almost to the point of making posing too easy and at the same time difficult to get a halfway “natural shot”. It kept hiding its head too. It seemed tired and so was I. I’m sure it was as ready to turn in for the night as I was.

Tune in next week for our special surprise guest stars on the next edition of Herpjournal!
(I think we need to get some kinda theme music…)

Oh yeah – Happy Herpin’!!!

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