Trip Details

Start Time: 4:30 p.m.

Weather: Mostly sunny, high of 65

Location: Buchanan County Iowa

Herpers: Jim Scharosch

Account and photos by: Jim Scharosch

It was a cool but sunny day after a series of cold and rainy days. I wanted to get out, just to get out of the house. I decided to go to a spot I hadn't been to in a couple of years. It is a nice sand prairie location, but it is one of those areas where there is no ground cover to turn. The only way to find things there is to walk up on them laying out. It's not my favorite kind of herping, because even on a good day it can be non-productive for quite a bit of work. But since I just wanted to be outside, I decided I didn't really care if I saw anything.

I had only been walking for about five minutes when I came upon an adult male Ornate Box Turtle (Terrapene ornata).

That's not a big find in many parts of the country, but in Eastern Iowa it's not a common find. In fact, they are a threatened species in Iowa, and this is a new county record for Buchanan County. I had found one many years before in this location but had not taken photos, and the chance of seeing one was one of the reasons I had decided to go to this spot.

I walked around for another twenty minutes or so and then saw another male Ornate Box Turtle. This one was a bit smaller, but was in a more open area so it was easier to get a photo. I didn't mess with either of them, other than to snap pictures.

I spent another forty-five minutes walking around but didn't see anything else. This seems like it might be a good location to turn up a Hognose Snake, and I have seen a Bullsnake here in the past. Seems like a spot I may have to revisit this spring.

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