Trip Details

Location: Jackson County, IA

Weather: 72 degrees. Mostly sunny, becoming overcast with low wind.

Time: 11:20 a.m.

Herpers: Matt Ricklefs

Account by: Matt Ricklefs

Photos by: Matt Ricklefs

Thought of the Day: NINJA TIMBER!

Jim was off on a trip with Jeff LeClere to Kansas so I went to our main Timber spot to look around and check on a few things.

It was a little drier than I expected, however it did not take too long to find a juvenile Milk Snake (Lampropeltis triangulum) about 7 inches long.

I went to the den site to look around and check some of the habitat improvement that we had done that seems to continue to help the Timbers there. I looked around closely and then decided to check a nice rock there. I did find a rather cool Five-lined Skink (Plestiodon fasciatus).

I decided to take a quick in had pic and then since it was still cool thought I would try a pose, that didn't work so I let it go on its way. I was getting my camera back in my backpack and then in my line of sight about two and half feet away was a last years Timber Rattlesnake (Crotalus horridus) close to 12 inches long stretched out right next to the base of the tree partially cover in some grass.

I had looked around, seeming pretty good, and unless it crawled out from somewhere while I was working with the skink it had been there sunning the whole time. That is more likely the scenario as it looked pretty settled in for being stretched out. I took some time and got some pictures but never disturbed it. It never moved the whole time. It never ceases to amaze me how they can blend in. It also goes to show that when you are working with one subject, look closely around as there may be another one you didnĂ­t see, kinda like looking for morels. I moved on and left the little one as it was. I worked up around the den and back toward the front and saw from a distance it was still there just hanging out.

A short time later I found another Milk Snake about the same size as the first one and got a few pictures.

It was starting to cloud up, but I still wanted to check on a road cut that usually yielded Milk Snakes. I did not find more than one as it was dry, but the one I did find was an adult and was a "Chocolate Milk".

You can see in the pictures why I call it that as the usually reddish colors are a light chocolate brown instead. This one was about 18 inches. A few feet away I found another juvenile the same size as the first two.

The clouds continue to move in and I was pretty much done. On the way out it started to sprinkle just a bit. I was glad to see it as we needed some rain. The next couple of days also forecasted rain so that would have continued to get things moving and waking up, however it was going to get cool. Worst of all we would have lows back in the mid 30's which will keep any self respecting herp tucked in.

I'll be anxious to see how Jim and Jeff did and to all out over the weekend and Happy herpin'!

Also - a happy birthday to Jim on 5/10 and a happy Mother's Day to all you moms out there on 5/11!

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