Trip Details

Start Time: 2:45 p.m.

Weather: Sunny with a high around 71 degrees. Low winds.

Location: Iowa County, Iowa

Herpers: Jim Scharosch & Matt Ricklefs

Account by: Matt Ricklefs

Photos by: Jim Scharosch & Matt Ricklefs

Thought of the Day: Being green on Earth Day!

It was Earth Day (and my niece Sarah's and Marty's birthday). I mention that so they get a shout out when the read the post. Jim and I decided to get out of work early and try a spot we went to a few years ago and to check an area for Green Snakes; Green Snakes...Earth Day, what could be more "green"?

We hit our first spot and it was not long before Jim called out "Bullsnake". It was our first of the year. It was sitting tight at the time and so I came over and he let me scope it out. I was looking for the yellow and, with just its head and a part of the neck showing, I had a hard time. I finally spotted it and as it began to move Jim snagged it for pictures. It was unusually dark so that's my excuse for not seeing it sooner...

Photos by Jim Scharosch

This Bullsnake (Pituophis c. sayi) was about three and a half feet long and in pretty good shape. We took a little while to get some pictures and then we let it go on its way. That was all we found at this location, but it is a small area and this is the second Bullsnake we have found here so we have done alright.

We explored a new location but all we turned up was a Brown Snake (Storeria dekayi) about eight inches long.

Photos by Matt Ricklefs

It was not a bad area and we may need to explore it further.

We went to our final location in hopes of turning up a Green Snake. We walked one area and all I saw was a baby rabbit huddled down hiding.

Photo by Matt Ricklefs

I didn't disturb it but I did get a picture.

We went to another location and turned up a Northern Prairie Skink (Eumeces septentrionalis).

Photos by Jim Scharosch

A good find overall and a good find for this area as we documented this as a county record. Skinks are pretty hard to get to sit still for very long as you can tell by the photo below, but with a little patience we did get a few shots.

Photo by Matt Ricklefs

Our next find was one that we usually see on wooded hillsides. Prior to finding the skink, Jim had turned a board and found a couple of Prairie Ringneck Snakes (Diadophis punctatus arnyi) but we put the board back quickly to work with the skink. We then went back to take a few in situ shots since we could be ready.

Photo by Jim Scharosch

Both snakes were blue-eyed and about ten inches long. We put them back and they burrowed down. We had a companion that we had the last time we were here, a cat.

Photo by Matt Ricklefs

He followed us around and seemed interested in what the heck we were doing. A little later you'll have a "behind the scenes" look at field herping.

We still had not found our Green Snake. In the long past we had a location that we often found Green Snakes and they used old tires to hide under in this area. Whenever I am in an area with tires I usually do not pass up turning them to see what I can find. Especially if the area has Green Snakes. After a little looking Jim exclaimed "Got one!" and sure enough it was under a tire. This was a nice sized Smooth Green Snake (Opheodrys vernalis) about thirteen inches long and we wanted to try for some nice pictures.

Photos by Jim Scharosch

In other posts we have mentioned this and earlier in this post we mentioned a "behind the scenes" look at field herping. Reptiles and amphibians are one of the few animal subjects that you can pose. It's always nice to get a shot "in situation" before they move or even get lucky enough to find something and have them sit long enough to get a nice picture, but more often than not it means capture and posing. Since we had a really good subject (Green snakes are by no means a common find in Iowa) we created a little diorama to place the snake in to get some nice "natural" shot. In the next series of pictures you will see our "outtakes"; one with our friend the cat that conjures up the image of Fay Wray and a certain large gorilla. The Green snake being Fay Wray...

Photo by Matt Ricklefs

As we've said before, you got to have fun doing this along with a love of it. These moments of comedy are priceless.

A good day overall. Happy Earth Day (and happy birthday to some) and above all...Happy Herpin'!

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