Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Nothing Could Be Finer than to Herp in Caroliner... Part 1

In 2012, our plans to visit North Carolina's Croatan National Forest got dropped due to Andrea's workload at *gasp* work! Well, this year, we were sure to not let crap like that get in our way and we planned a long weekend in Craven County NC for the first weekend in April! The temps in the North have been pretty crappy, and things didn't look GREAT in the south, but better for sure!

Our plane got into Raleigh, NC a bit after 9 AM on Friday April 5th and we rented a car for the 2 1/2 hour drive to my Mom's home in Bridgeton. Of course, we would herp along the way. And eat. In fact, we hit a Shoney's buffet and ate a ton. I'd declared my desire to eat so much that I couldn't herp, but I still flipped logs behind the restaurant, with no success. Nor did I have any success at a seepage ditch next to a gas station an hour later.

So, we pulled into the rest stop that is within 10 miles of my mom's house, the place that we first saw some anoles on our last trip. (Read all about it here) Damn long drive for no other herping spots! So, we looked in the flower bins and some tree frogs taunted us. We were completely unable to get a decent photo. The frogs laughed.

We scoured the grounds and saw nothing. It was cool (about 50° F) but we'd hoped for at least a frosty anole! We were sure an anole would be our first herp! The attendant asked what we were doing and we explained. He said we should check down by the shack and the nearby pond on the property. We said we'd love to, but it says "No Trespassing"! He assured us it was OK... he was the only one there. "Just don't take a motorboat into the pond"! No problem!

So, down by the shack, a flip netted us 3 Atlantic Coast Slimy Salamanders!
We got all up close and personal and found out exactly why they are called "slimy"! That shit stayed on for hours!
Beautiful little guys, though!

My eyes were on the far end of the pond, where there was piles of cleared sticks and logs. Flipping got us nothing. I ascended to the top of a stick covered mound and yelled "holy shit"! There in an undulating coil, all flat headed and shaking his tail was a good sized Eastern King Snake! I eagerly picked up up, fully expecting to get gnawed on!
Well, no bites but he was in a constant state of musking, just nailing me with it! He also exhibited what we called "Ball Python Behavior"... he hid his head with coils.
He also popped both hemipenes out. Ewww... But still, what a beauty! About 4 foot or so!

We thanked the attendant profusely. He laughed and thought we were a couple of crazy cracker Northerners! He said "I'm not afraid of snakes, but then I'm not really telling the truth when I say that" twice! Man, I wish we'd have caught his name just to thank him in print! Our favorite non-family member person of the trip!

Elated, we got to my Mom's house and relaxed a bit. We knew that we might have already peaked! My Mom suggested we herp the yard! We didn't have to be told twice.

At her suggestion, we flipped a long log that acts as a border to a garden. First roll... a juvenile Eastern Glass Lizard!
I never dreamed that I'd see one of these in the wild!
He was missing his tail below the vent. I'm happy to say that we weren't responsible for that!

A few minutes later, Andrea flipped a small log and got a Rough Earth Snake!
Chubby! Perhaps gravid?
It was fun to see her slide back into her hole when her photo session was done!

After a short rest, my Mom wanted to walk with us to the river (the Neuse River is just a few blocks from her house). Just outside, this North Carolina State Bird was singing in a tree above us, making a striking contrast to the blue sky!
NC State Bird
This is my second best shot of the weekend. I'm a fucking birder, it seems.

I wanted to show my mum the Rough Earth Snake, so I went to flip the log Andrea had flipped earlier. There was a different one there! Much smaller!
This one still had his golden crown!

Close to the water, these Muscovy Ducks were roaming around and head bobbing...
muscovy ducks
I'm not sure if they were domestic or feral. Native to South America, they were a bit out of place, but pretty cool all the same!

On the way back, I saw a medium sized frog submerge into a drainage ditch, but couldn't find him.

That was it for the first day... two lifers and a whole lot of fun! The night ended with Indian food (my mom and step-dad's first time!) and a coma. We tried to rest up for the next day when we would enter... the Croatan...


  1. ¡Internet está loco,loco!!!!!me borró lo que escribí!Bueno ,decía que las fotos y ustedes se ven muy bien!Andrea se ve mas delgada.Un beso x2 Martha

    1. Gracias de nuevo, Marta! Lamento que el tinternet se está decir!! xxoo

  2. I'll never forget you yelling, "LIFER! LIFER!" and then picking up that king. :)