Trip Details

Location: Buchanan county, Iowa

Weather: 84 degrees, humid, cloudy

Time: 6:00 p.m. 

Herpers: Josh Otten, Laura and Jim Scharosch

Account by: Jim Scharosch

Photos by: Jim Scharosch

This trip was basically a duplicate of a trip we made last year. One day later, two degrees hotter and without Don Becker along, but other than that pretty much the same. We were out to see smooth green snakes, which are fairly common at this site. It is the season for them to lay eggs and it is a lot of fun to both observe the snakes and to see how many eggs we can find. Laura and I met up with Josh Otten and commented on how similar the weather was to last year. I remembered sweating a lot from the high humidty and heat, and how thick the mosquitos were.

We started off slowly on the green snake front, turning a number of boards without seeing either eggs or green snakes. Gravid female brown snakes were all over, though I never stopped to photograph one. I'm not sure why I tend to neglect them this time of year. I think we ended up seeing more than fifty of them before the day was out.

After a bit we saw our first green, but she was very thick with eggs and I didn't want to disturb her too much so I didn't take any pics. I figured it wouldn't be the last of the day.

It wasn't long before I was proven right, and we found a Smooth Green Snake (Opheodrys vernalis) and a clutch of eggs under a board.

This snake didn't lay these eggs, it is still gravid. In fact, there were ten eggs in this clutch and Josh surmised it might be two clutches adhered together.

The snake was fairly clean and bright and it cooperated fairly well for photos.

We searched quite a bit more and didn't turn up any more greens. Josh also commented that we hadn't seen any garter snakes, which hadn't dawned on me and was kinda odd.

We moved to a nearby site and finally turned up another green snake.

She was sitting on a clutch of eggs, but it was obvious she still hadn't laid hers.

Another site turned up this tiny clutch of two eggs.

And then this clutch with seven more.

At the tail end of the day we ended up seeing a handful of garter snakes. Under one board laying together we found a large Common Garter Snake (Thamnophis sirtalis) and a Plains Garter Snake (Thamnophis radix) of nearly identical size. I managed to get a photo of them being held by the ever elusive Josh. He only complained a little about having his picture taken.

Our numbers of green snakes for the day were the same as last year, but the count of eggs was much lower with 23 eggs versus 66. It seemed a bit dryer this year, maybe that had something to with our lower totals. Just like last year it was a hot and sweaty day, but well worth the trip. It was the first chance I had had to herp with Josh this year so that made it even better.

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