Trip Details

Location: Bremer County, Iowa

Conditions: Middle sixties and partly cloudy

Time: about 11:00 a.m.

Herpers: Jim Scharosch
Account by: Jim Scharosch
Photos by: Jim Scharosch

It was going to be an unseasonbly warm April day, so I headed north to a location that we like to check at least once each spring. It was about nine o'clock in the morning and the sun was just starting to warm up the rocks. It was probably about 60 degrees. Since it was still cool when I got there, so I walked an area with some rocks to turn that were near water.

The first thing I saw was a Painted Turtle (Chrysemys picta)that was walking along the bank.

A little while later, I found a Northern Prairie Skink(Eumeces septentrionalis).

Ususally skinks don't sit for pictures, but it was cool enough out that this one obliged for a while.

Continuing on, an odd looking stick caught my eye, then I noticed something you don't see very often except on roads or trails, a Redbelly Snake (Storeria occipitomaculata) on the crawl.

It was kind of funny looking, stretched out over the pyramid shaped rock. I snapped a couple of in situ photos of the twelve inch snake and moved on.

On my way to the next location, I took a meandering route and drove around some of the roads trying to find another Redbelly snake to photograph. It didn't take long to spot a nice one. I posed it on a burned log for contrast and after a bit of wrangling it sat nice for me.

I got to the next spot and it had warmed up a bit. I crossed a small creek and heard some rustling in the grass. I stopped and looked around and saw a couple of Eastern Garter Snakes (Thamnophis sirtalis) crawling around.

It was fun watching them, so I stood there for about five minutes. The one at the top of the photo just sat there then eventually crawled down into the rocks. The one in the center of the frame crawled down the hill toward me then lifted it's head like you see in the photo. It sat there and looked at me for a couple of minutes then turned around and darted into the rocks. The third one kept looping around in a twenty foot radius, doing laps like a race car driver around a track. It was entertaining to watch them.

I walked along a water filled ditch and something shot toward the water. I grabbed a handful of tail just before it hit the water's edge, and found I had a Northern Water Snake (Nerodia sipedon).

It poked a couple of tooth holes in my hand, then sat fairly nicely for photos.

I walked around a bit more and found another painted turtle.

The weather started to turn cloudy and the wind picked up. I could tell it this would be about the end of finding stuff. I tried a couple more small areas but didn't see anything else.

It was a nice way to start the season and a nice way to spend an early April day.

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