Buckeye Herps Blog

A photographic journal of the reptiles and amphibians of Ohio, Michigan and other places interesting wildlife call home.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Herps, herpes

and the process of writing about them...

I have never been an enthusiastic writer, but I have always enjoyed reading. It is this sense of joy from reading others work that finally convinced me to try and take a stab at it on my own. This will serve as an outlet for a few different projects. First, I have long meant to add species accounts to all the herps on www.buckeyeherps.com and www.wolverineherps.com. I figure I can blog species accounts and this will force me to keep a steady stream of updates. I also plan to add more trips to the trip accounts section, especially my last couple to AZ/SoCal and West Texas. Second, I hope to provide entertaining and useful information that is similar to some of the other blogs and websites that I enjoy. Ohio Birds and Biodiversity by Jim McCormac, Ohio Nature Blog by Tom Arbour and Mike Pingleton's classic Field Herping not-a-blog (with journal updates since 1996) are all extremely instrumental in my undertaking of this endevour.

This will not just be a nature blog though. I plan to speak a little on the other things I enjoy in life, primarily literature, marriage and our new(ish) puppy. Regarding the "herpes" aspect, I most likely will actually stay away from issues pertaining to the day job, emergency medicine. There are numerous issues involved with medical blogging that I hope to avoid. I may throw up a bit here and there, but will mostly leave that to others.

Anyway, photographs are key to a great blog, so I will share you with a couple images from earlier in the year. I will be out looking for these species tomorrow and maybe remembering some old successes will conjure up some much needed luck. I have been paying my dues for the last 3 months without any thing to show for it. In the world of herping, that is often how it goes...

My first Michigan Massasauga rattlesnake, photographed in situ, likely the day it crawled out of its winter refuge. These little rattlesnakes are endangered throughout most of the range, and are a species of special concern in Michigan. They are still somewhat common in the right habitat, but have suffered drastically from habitat fragmentation, destruction of wetlands and urban sprawl. SE MI likely used to harbor a much larger population before the Motor City. They over winter in crawfish burrows in wetlands such as bogs and fens, and prefer to spend the summer months hunting the natural wet prairies nearby. This animal was found in a wooded wetland, just a few feet from a vernal pool. I was not expecting to see one on this day, and had just walked literally within a few inches of it. I bent over to roll a choice log, hoping for a tiger salamander or other ambystomid, and as I scanned the brown earth I noticed this coiled about 10 inches from my hand.

Sistrurus catenatus

It never did move a muscle, and we took some pictures and left it to enjoy the spring sun.

We did get the tiger salamander though, as well as a majestic blue racer.

Ambystoma tigrinum

Coluber constrictor foxi

But more on them later...

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