Friday, April 12, 2013

Nothing Could Be Finer than to Herp in Caroliner... Part 3

Sunday, April 7th 2013

 Now this was the day we'd been waiting for. Temps in the 70s!!! It was still fairly cool when we got up, but we went to Hardee's for breakfast to carb up for the day. I had two disgusting (but delicious) cinnamon raisin biscuits smothered with icing and a bag of round tater tots. Diarrhea on a tray. It was the only veggie choice!

So, after the wonderful chow, we looked at each other and said "roof tiles". And we headed straight to the roof tiles place on Old County Rd, hoping that an early morning romp through the tiles would be beneficial.

Well, we headed to the sunny side of the field and found nothing but red ants (about a dozen bites... they crawled right up my snake stick and onto my hand) and a frozen Green Anole!

Moving to the shaded pile (it was still under 50° F) we found a few more frosty Anoles:

Then I flipped what I thought was a Red-belly at first- until I got a better look!
An Eastern Worm Snake!!!
Beautiful pink belly! What a tough snake to photograph, though! He was squirming all over, refusing to cooperate!
We set him down for an "in situ" shot and he just disappeared into the pine needles and grass. Uncanny. But, another lifer!

So, elated, we headed further down the road. I was hunting the wild bra and panties, while Andrea noticed that there were deer carcasses strewn about.
This place was excellent, with water, river banks and lots of deer bones, but we turned up nothing. Except for a cagey Green Anole.

A bit further along was another turn-off (not a turn-off, per se, but... a road turning off that was gated... you know!) and upon pulling in, we noticed a few roof tiles in the grass next to the road (just the other side of some seepage water). I flipped a tile and saw a stick descending into the grass. I poked at the moving stick... I think it was  a tail! It was! This guy's tail!
A gorgeous, though in-the-blue Corn Snake! Lifer, and an exciting one!!
When this guy sheds, he's going to be killer!!! Not a bad size, either...
I tried to do a fake in situ "hat" shot, but he didn't want to get into my hat and bit me!
We released him and he went back to his boards to await his shed.

Wow!!! A friggin' Corn!

So, nothing could stop us now!!! We turned down an actual road and saw a place to park and herp along a river. There was even a gent there fishing! Sounds easy enough! Nope. I got the car stuck in deep clay mud. As hard as I tried, sticking sticks, broken oars, and everything I could find under the tires, I merely got in deeper. Andrea called AAA while I fumed and swore and, in anger, stormed along the road in the most pissed-off herping I'd ever done! I only saw Anoles, which is OK, because in the state I was in ("I'm fucking wasting fucking precious time!!!") I might have picked up a Moccasin.

So, while we waited for AAA, we talked to the fisherman, who it turns out is also a herper! Conrad is a swell guy and we've since become Facebook friends with him! He was a font of knowledge about local fauna and the 1/2 hour wait passed quickly. AAA finally came and rescued us (it took 2 tries to yank it out...)
The Chevy Sonic is a decent little car, but it can't beat the North Carolina mud!

OK... we were going to meet my mum and step-dad at 2 at a nature walk area about a half hour away and it was 11:30 by now... time to get motoring! We hit the next turn-off area and it proved to be one of our favorites!

There were drainage ditches all along the grassy road (which was closed, but not Posted) and I saw a small grey frog dive into the puddle. I grabbed my observation tank in hopes of getting a closer look at him. I couldn't find him. I startled this lil fella in, though...
I might add that Ground Skinks are excellent swimmers!

A bit further "downstream", I saw someone else who was also looking for small treefrogs... this gorgeous, reddish Ribbon Snake!
A very personable little fella that Andrea became quite attached to. And vice verse.
(This might be the $40 photo... I had $40 in my camera pocket that might have fallen out when I grabbed the camera to snap this pic!)

I had my eye on a small black frog with a neon green Y on his back... like nothing I'd ever seen before. With delusions of grandeur and already naming it Hyla howletti  in my head, I got a hold of it, only to discover it was another color phase of the Southern Cricket Frog. A real beauty too!

Here is a tadpole that was in his pool.

We finally released the Ribbon (this is about exactly how I found him...)

The little grey frog from earlier turned out to be another Southern Cricket! Beauty!

With time dwindling (only about 1/2 hour until we'd have to leave for lunch) we scouted the trails at Island Creek. A lovely place, with a winding creek and lots of fairly easy trails. I got bested by a Ground Skink and really really  pissed off a Green Anole with my presence.

Having cut that bit short (our only time outside of Craven County... this one was in Jones), we headed over to Latham Whitehurst, a new park area, to meet my folks. We had a quick lunch (thanks, Mom!) and hit the trails.

Herping with my Mom, I'd hoped to find some great stuff. There are signs all over, pointing out the various snakes and things that you can see there, but we came up short. We did find another nice Slimy, though...

The trails head right to the river. We'd hoped to see turtles up basking, but no. I snapped a few pictures anyway. It wasn't until that night when Andrea discovered that we had indeed been in the company of turtles... a stack of River Cooters were basking!

These two were basking as well...

There were oodles of minnows feeding in the shallow water.

On the trail back, we saw some Green Anoles closing in on each other...
Our expected Battle Royale never materialized and the only thing that happened was that one started to turn green while the other one hid...

After bidding adeiu to the folks, we headed back to the Croatan, to seek out new wonderful herp spots. We looked for Lake Road which, on the map, looked promising. We never found it. One area that we thought might have been Lake Rd was purely residential. This wild turkey was running through someone's yard, though!
So, with the day's end closing in fast, we did what any herper would... "Roof Tiles"!!

We are what we are and we love our roof tile place. We dug in. I found a Rough Earth Snake before too long.

While Andrea was getting acquainted with him, I went over to the sad Racer carpet... only to become very happy! A young (and alive) Black racer!!
This little beauty did my heart a world of good!
Lookit that black belly!

So we left feeling glad that the carpet is now home to a feisty (he bit himself twice) and healthy young Racer!

Were we done? Not until we made a dusk-time check of my Mom's Rough Earth log! A nearby stone (a rarity in NC) produced an gorgeous youngster with a shiny golden crown! I almost thought I had a Ringneck at first!

"The Log" did indeed have a Rough Earth under it. One that was half in and half out of his doorway!

So that was our herp trip to North Carolina!! We got up Monday morning and readied ourselves for the (overlong) drive to Raleigh for our plane. The drive seemed to go on and on and on. When we finally got there, we found our flight delayed by an hour and a half. Shit! We could have fit in one more trip to the roof-tile place!!

Oh well, great fun was had. We found 7 lifers (I'd promised Andrea 6) and got to hang with my Mom and Jim for a bit. Well worth the time, effort and money!! See y'all again in September!


  1. I'm glad that Sunday was great, despite the red ants and stuck car.

  2. Great photos and storytelling as usual. The stuck in the mud story reminded me of the movie "My Cousin Vinny" when Joe Peschi was talking about cars and tires getting stuck in the Alabama mud.

    1. Haha!! I'm just a tall Joe Peshi!

  3. Nothing escapes NC red clay! And you want rocks to flip? I got 13 wooded acres of rocks--come down to Charlotte any time!