Buckeye Herps Blog

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

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Long Weekend of Herping

My brother Brian headed up a couple weeks ago to spend a few days camping and canoeing with me and my dog Cid in northern Michigan. (You may have already seen a couple of the pictures below in a previous post entitled New Field Partner) Molly had plans to head into the big city, and the boys took advantage to get the hell out of it.

The trip started by getting together with some other like minded people at the Midwest PARC meeting. I felt bad just attending the first field trip day and skipping out on the actual conference, but I don't get days off very often, and we had big plans for the other days. PARC (Partners in Amphibian and Reptile Conservation) is a wonderful organization dedicated to conservation of herps and their habitats. PARC is made up of people from all walks of life, and really works to break down barriers between different groups of people to try and encourage cooperation in working towards common goals. Membership is comprised of academics, zoo institutions, government, students and hobbyists.

The first day of the meeting was spent surveying the grounds of the nature center where the meetings were held. We showed up a little early to help set up some turtle traps to check at the end of the day.

Working hard to bait and set the traps.

Max, one of the interns, also got nominated to place the traps.

The rest of the day was a blast and turned up some interesting creatures. Despite it being the middle of August, Ambystomids were the most commonly found creatures. We turned up a bunch of Ambystoma laterale-ish looking creatures.

And one of the bigger highlights were a few tiger salamanders, Ambystoma tigrinum.

Other animals included painted turtles, wood frogs, spring peepers, american toads, eastern gartersnakes, brown snakes and tree frogs.

The next day, Brian and I headed out for our first day of canoeing. We had a decent drive ahead of us, and got off to a little later of a start than we wanted due to a great BBQ the night before.

En route we checked out a few nice back roads, and couldn't resist stopping to flip logs and objects of cover. Oddly, we totally struck out, except for these interesting eggs. I haven't seen any skinks in Michigan yet, but I am fairly certain this is the nest of a female Five-lined skink, Eumeces fasciatus. Unfortunately, she was not to be found nearby.

We pulled into the livery right around noon, and were on the river in a span of about 30 minutes.

Cid wasn't too excited about this canoe thing.

Right from the start we were seeing common map turtles. I convinced Brian that they were fairly easy to catch with the right technique, and he quickly decided to give it a go.

Here he is practicing the wrong technique. He needs to be even lower in the water.

And after his failure...

He had plenty of opportunities to refine his skill though. We ended up seeing 60+ map turtles and got our hands on quite a few.

Here are some of the fruits of our labor.

Same turtle as above, a couple seconds before the action picture.

We also managed to see one of Michigan's iconic turtles, the Blandings Turtle. Not as commonly seen actually on rivers, this one was found in a slow wide section of the stream.

After returning the canoe we tried to find some more spots to flip cover but ended up driving aimlessly for a while. We decided to head west to a new area, and set up camp there for the next two nights. This ended up being a good idea, but I will have to fill you in about that at a later date.

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