Trip Details

Start Time: 12:30 p.m.

Weather: Partially sunny in the morning with a high around 60 degrees. Increasing cloudiness and short rain showers with dropping temps.

Location: Bremer County Iowa

Herpers: Jim Scharosch & Matt Ricklefs

Account by: Matt Ricklefs
Photos by: Jim Scharosch & Matt Ricklefs

Thought of the Day: @#%$*?^ weather!

What was forecasted and what transpired on this day were quite different. It was supposed to be mostly top partially sunny with a high in the mid sixties. Jim and his band knubby had a gig this night so I went up early and we packed up before heading out to herp. At this point it was still a little cool but the sun was coming out and it looked favorable.

Our trip was about an hour north we hit our first spot and walked for a while before getting to a favorable (i.e. rocky) area.

Photo by Matt Ricklefs

It began to get cloudier. However, in an area we had found a few things before Jim turned up our first find, a Redbelly Snake (Storeria occipitomaculata).

Photos by Jim Scharosch

A welcome find albeit a small one at about five inches. It was cool. It did not move much as we first posed it for some pics, which for a small squirmy species, was very handy. When done we decided to head to another spot. On the way back to the car we say what appeared to be a dead Western Pained Turtle (Chrysemys picta bellii) in some reeds. We had seen a dead one, perhaps a winter kill, earlier. After a second of inspection it was alive, just very cool. As I got my camera out it decided to go mobile and I got only a fleeting shot.

It would have been a nice addition to the post. A few steps later we noticed a rusty “knob” in the grass and almost in answer to our previous thoughts we had our painter! This was a smaller one at about four inches.

Photos by Matt Ricklefs

We got a few pictures that it posed for fairly well and then went on our way. Were those rain clouds moving in?...

By the time we got to our next destination in the area it had already clouded up and was getting cooler. We felt the first few drops of rain. We did find an old railroad tie and upon turning it we found two more Redbelly Snakes.

Photos by Matt Ricklefs

They were just a little bigger than the first one found and one had a beautiful red coloration on the top. We paused to consider how basically these are the same as Brown Snakes (besides being in the same genus) but with slightly different coloration. Yet, it is always a bit more exciting to find these as we encounter them less often. We also saw a flock of American White Pelicans (Pelecanus erythrorhynchos) and I took a second to get a shot.

We then moved on and worked the rest of the area. It got cooler and cloudier until finally we received our first shower. The walk back to the car was less than pleasant. I suppose in general if we as mammals are cold, the herps are probably not too keen on being out either. We decided that we would call it a day and be happy with our finds.

Happy Herpin’!

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