Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Nothing Could Be Finer than to Herp in Caroliner... Part 2

April 6th, 2013

OK, so we woke up Saturday morning at about 7:30 and had some breakfast. Andrea was baked, not having slept well for a few nights. I was just my usual baked. We'd decided to go check out my Step-dad's property first. His land has a creek coming off of the Neuse River on it, but there's thick forest between his lot and that.

On the way, Andrea mentioned that some friends herped in North Carolina in March and were "flipping Anoles"! Haha! Funny! Anoles are arboreal! You don't flip them! Man, I couldn't wait to see some!

So, we got there (it was still cool... low 40s) and started flipping. Uh-huh... first animals under a flip were four Squirrel Tree Frogs...
and a Green Anole. A pissed-off, cold Green Anole!

OK! I was wrong! You certainly can flip Anoles and I just had!

Flipping (and gently peeling back bark... don't worry, everything was replaced) exposed many more Squirrel Tree Frogs and Anoles!

Before long, Andrea found the first 5-Lined Skink!
It liked her...
A lot...

I soon spotted one and Andrea got the shot of the weekend...

I also found a Florida Blue Centipede, to whom I showed much respect!
Hemiscolopendra marginata Florida Blue

This Squirrel Tree told us to move on...

We had no luck trying to break our way back to the creek. I got a soaker and little else. So, we headed into the Croatan.

Our first stop was Flanner's Beach. It's a camping spot and usually fairly populated, but there are some very good trails on which we had had luck before. BUT, trying out some new trails to the left of the open field, we didn't see much. It was high noon when I finally saw a Racer streak over a tree root and out of sight. In fact, the tree was on the edge of a cliff overlooking the beach, making me wonder where the hell he could have landed!

We headed back toward a more familiar trail system across the field and a little brown skink handed me my ass. The first two Croatan herps had bested me. BUT, by now the sun was getting warm... we were hitting the 60s, and the Green Anoles were coming out in force!

And my personal best shot of the weekend:

On a short boardwalk over some water, we found some tadpoles, though we're not sure what species they are. We photographed some for posterity. I figured that if I was packin' my observation tank, I'd best use it!

Soon after, I got my revenge and caught myself  one of those little brown skinks that had teased me so badly an hour earlier! Another lifer here... a Ground Skink!
Speedy and beautiful!

We soon found another couple of Atlantic Coast Slimy Salamanders! This first one has some really beautiful golden blotches on his sides...

This one, while not as fancy, is still quite the looker!

It had been an hour since our last lifer... Green Anoles had become so abundant, we stopped attempting to count them at around 50. They were too fast to catch and do silly photo ops with, too. Then, upon a flip... I had another lifer!
I thought I'd found a Southern Two-Lined Salamander, but upon closer inspection (later on the camera), it turns out that we'd found a Chamberlain's Dwarf Salamander!
Note the 4 toes on the hind feet.

Well, I finally caught my first (awake) Green Anole...
Or did he catch me?

Hey- it's another four-toed Chamberlain's! This time less red... more golden!

Another Ground Skink!

Another Slimy! (A male, to be sure!)

We headed out Catfish Lake road (to once again not find Catfish Lake itself, despite having the coordinates set on our handheld GPS and everything). Andrea soon got all up close and personal with this friendly Green Anole!

Our third lifer of the day came in the form of a Southern Cricket Frog in a vernal pool... a mud puddle, really.

At one section where the road goes over a stream, we were poking around and I startled a fairly short (foot and a half?), stout bodied snake into the water. I couldn't find him after that, despite much searching. Moccasin? Probably, dammit.

Speaking of startling things into the water, turtles were basking like mad in the waters off the side of the road. But they were a bitch to try to photograph! River Cooters are shy and fast! Every time I'd slow or stop, they'd plop into the water. This is the only Eastern River Cooter that I was able to get a shot of. And only one shot at that!

So, Catfish Pond Road had beaten us again. We decided that driving along from place to place to just herp a small area wasn't our favorite kind of herping. We headed over to Old County Road to see what was there.

Well, there was a lovely pile of tar roof shingles! I dug through and a black lizard shaped thing undulated away from me. Not sure what it was. But there was shitloads of the stuff. And in a field beyond a gate (that wasn't posted...) was even more!!!!

OK, so we were excited by a dump. But hey- snakes like it!

Eventually, we found a Racer curled up in a carpet. But upon picking it up, we discovered it was deceased.
This made us very very sad. I couldn't figure out what had killed it. It wasn't stiff at all, but it was very cold. Water dripped from it's mouth as I held it aloft. Perhaps it had drowned in the rug? (The rug was half in a puddle) There were no signs of damage on his body.

So, we quit after that. I was bummed.

But still, we'd herped from dawn till nearly dusk and had had a great day... with 3 more lifers! What would Sunday hold for us?


  1. Looks like you guys had an awesome trip!!! Great write up and pics!! Can't wait to see Sunday's adventure! Awesome photo, by Andrea, of the 5-Lined Skink!

  2. Thanks, Steve!! Yes- that little in situ 5-Lined is my favorite shot of the weekend!