Trip Details

Location: Northeast Iowa

Weather: Sunny with low wind. High of 75 degrees.

Time: 5:28 p.m.

Herpers: Jim Scharosch & Matt Ricklefs

Account by: Matt Ricklefs

Photos by: Jim Scharosch & Matt Ricklefs

Thought of the Day: Finally…the board pays off.

Normally this spot we go to is a Saturday spot as we usually go earlier and spend a good amount of time here. We decided to shake things up (which is always good to do) and go after work. We still put in the same amount of time, we just did it later.

We have one piece of board that we have not found anything under, but it is a nice board and we figured it was only a matter of time. Today it paid off with a nice Milk Snake (Lampropeltis triangulum).

Photo by Jim Scharosch

Photos by Matt Ricklefs

It was about 25 inches long even with a stubby tail. It was rather nicely colored. This was a great sign of the board settling in and perhaps one day we will even turn up a Timber here.

As we walked to one of our areas we spotted a Rose-Breasted Grosbeak (Pheucticus ludovicianus) and were able to get a few long range photos before it took off.

Photo by Matt Ricklefs

This is a really cool bird and one of the fun things about herping is seeing the myriad of wildlife along the way.

Our next find was a small Prairie Ringneck Snake (Diadophis p. arnyi) about 5 inches long that I got a fairly decent “in hand” shot of.

Photo by Matt Ricklefs

Although the weather was pretty good, we went long stretches without finding anything. We still had not seen a Timber and we were a little surprised at that. So far this year we had not been “skunked” but it was not looking good.

A little after 7:00 p.m. Jim made an exceptional spot of a juvenile Timber Rattlesnake (Crotalus horidus) tucked far under a rock he had turned.

Photo by Matt Ricklefs

He made the obligatory “Timber!” call and I came up to see. It was a yearling about 10 inches long. Surprisingly and thankfully we actually got this little one to sit for pictures fairly well.

Photos by Matt Ricklefs

Often these small ones just try and get away, rarely even go offensive and due to the size need to be very carefully wrangled. Obviously, without experience, no one should be wrangling or handling a venomous species and young venomous species can be more unpredictable and have a very short strike range. You need to have the proper tools as well, and we did have our snake tongs along. After a short while and enough pictures we allowed this little one to go back under its rock. Usually we try and get “in situ” shots of Timbers, but this one was tucked so far under the rock we did need to get it out before we placed the rock back the way it was to allow the Timber to go back under.

Along the way Jim spotted a Five-Lined Skink out basking. It's not very often that you see one of these guys out in the open and can get close enough to get a decent picture.

Photo by Jim Scharosch

We hit our tin spot on the way out and got another surprise. We had not found anything under this tin for quite some time and today we turned up a 26 inch Milk Snake. It was in shed and fairly grungy, but it was another nice sign that perhaps the snakes were utilizing this more.

Photo by Jim Scharosch

Photo by Matt Ricklefs

That was it for the day. It was a good experiment to go at a different time and we look forward to seeing what new surprises this spot has for us. A spot we have been going to for 25 years now… you have to like that.

Happy herpin’

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