Trip Details

Location: Jackson County, IA

Weather: Partly cloudy. High of 52 degrees. Low Wind.

Time: 10:15 a.m.

Herpers: Jim Scharosch & Matt Ricklefs

Account by: Matt Ricklefs

Photos by: Jim Scharosch & Matt Ricklefs

Thought of the Day: Did you miss this guy?

It wasn’t really a day that we expected to find herps. In fact the day began with us in sweatshirts, but we had a couple of areas to scout and some herp related things to do so we stopped at one of our locations in Jackson County since we were in the area.

There are often things that happen that are unexpected. Very rarely do I talk in absolutes when it comes to herping. Luck also has a lot to do with the wonders of herping as well. As Jim and I walked up a hillside, he took a slightly different route than I did. I stopped to check a nice rock that had paid off before just out of habit more than anything, again I was not expecting anything to be out, and looked to my right to find…a Milk Snake (Lampropeltis triangulum), out on the crawl!

Photos by Matt Ricklefs

Photos by Jim Scharosch

Now finding a Milk out on the crawl is unusual enough, but considering it was about 45 degrees at the time, probably a little less as this was our first stop, it was rather hilarious. I said to Jim, “Did you miss this guy?” “There’s a Milk out on the crawl!”. Of course he thought this was funny as well. Out of years of “good habits” we never joke about finding something, unless it is an obvious, tongue in cheek joke; so he knew I wasn’t kidding, but it was still a tad incredulous. This was a nice size one as well at about 34 inches. We decided that it had grown this big so it must know what it is doing so we took pictures as is, with only disturbing it a little, and left it be. When we came back down that way a little later it was still only a foot or so further the direction it seemed to be going.

We looked around for a while and it did start to warm up more than they predicted and the sun was out. After a little while we decided to check a rock cut as some trees had been cleared and left it more exposed. We had worked on this site a little over the last couple of years and it has continued to pay off. Last year there was some road work done that disturbed the area, but it still was OK. This year it was more settled back in and with the tree clearing looked really pretty good. It did not take long and we ended up finding a nice Milk Snake about 26 inches long.

Photo by Jim Scharosch

Photos by Matt Ricklefs

This one was fairly orange colored and was rather “Corn Snake” looking. I would say perhaps this is why people think we actually have Corn Snakes in Iowa, but it is really because people do not know any better and assume since Iowa is a big corn producing state that a snake with that name must be in Iowa. They aren’t. It was very pretty though and posed fairly well.

We found one other Milk Snake that was a little darker and about 19 inches long.

Photo by Jim Scharosch

Photo by Matt Ricklefs

This one posed well, but did the “ball up” thing rather than the “crawl away” thing so we had some fun with some unusual, but not quite “outtake” shots.

Photos by Jim Scharosch

I even got a shot of the snake, my herpmobile and a little of the habitat. You can see the majestic Milk Snake in its natural habitat surveying its expansive kingdom! All hail the Milk King (or Queen)!

Photos by Matt Ricklefs

I did take some pictures of some cool looking small blackish fungus.

Photo by Matt Ricklefs

These were in Jones County, Iowa. I scored one Morel as we were walking around as well.

That was it for the day. Some fun finds and some bonus finds considering we didn’t plan to see anything. Things are starting to get back into the swing of things after an unusually warm March. April has been much more seasonal and we are nearing May so, until next time.

Herpin’ Happy!

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