Buckeye Herps Blog

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

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Northern trip part duece

This is part 2 of a 4 day trip up north I took midAugust with my brother and my dog. If you missed it, you can read Part I here.

When we left off Brian, Cid and I had just finished booking it farther west to set up camp for the next two nights before it was too late. We found a nice campground right along the river we wanted to canoe and were able to walk in and grab a campsite for the next two nights without a problem. The campground was fairly wooded, and even had water pumps and latrines. We weren't too worried about missing out on a shower or two...

We set up camp in the dark, and my new tent went up without any issues. Unfortunately, pitching a tent in the dark meant we couldn't really scout the site. Needless to say out we picked a pretty terrible section of grass and our backs were less than ecstatic a few hours later. The fire was crackling soon after arriving and we quickly had a meal of beans and brats ready for consumption. Cid was already fast asleep near the fire and we didn't last too much longer.

We rose early with the dog and decided to go scout around for a place to hike for the morning. We found a nice trail and after only going 20 yards, Brian had already flipped a blue spot salamander and a redback salamander.

Our hike produced a good amount of wood frogs, some spring peepers, water snakes and green frogs. We again struck out one of the main purposes of the trip - wood turtles. The woods around the river were loaded with mosquitoes and we finally had to hang up our hats around noon. We decided to head back to camp to stock up on ice and inquire about a nearby canoe liverey. I decided to take the scenic route on our way back to camp for no good reason and a few minutes of delay later we were heading up the road to our campsite. About 100 yrds from the site, we noticed the domed shell of a turtle crossing the road. Sure enough, it was our wood turtle!

After a few quick pictures he wandered off into the fields between campsites.

We ended up canoeing again all after noon. As luck would have it, we were able to rent the last canoe in town. Unfortunately, this meant we were stuck canoeing with the drunk party-goers for the afternoon. Despite the lack of wildlife due to their noise, they frequently tipped their canoes and Brian and I were able to fish out a few cold beers as they floated by. We did see some fly fisherman, and were suprised to see very large and fast fish swimming in the clear water below us. Imagine our surprise to find out they were salmon! Turns out the great lakes have populations of atlantic, chinkook, pink and coho salmon. Sure enough, all of them are non-native fish. We do have native anodromous fish though, primarily the lake and brook trout.

We stopped after a few hours of pleasant canoeing and drunk people dodging for a quick snack and a swim.

Cid did not appreciate being gently placed in the water.

As the day wore on, we did see a few painted turtles, map turtles and water snakes. Despite the much decreased amount of wildlife compared to the river the day before, we all had a great time.

Camp that night was more of the same, great food, fire and company.

We turned in pretty early, around 9, and slept a little better this night. After a strong 12 hours of sleep we all rose, leisurely broke camp and headed on our way home. We managed to swing by another spot a few hours later. I was just using my delorme atlas to identify possible locations and decided to swing through some back roads. We crossed paths with a powerline cut, and despite Brian's skepticism, I convinced him to give it a go. It was very nice and open with some tall grass, sandy soils and even swampy areas back in the woods. I thought it looked excellent for a few of our target species. After a little while, I wandered up on this...

It only took checking a few slabs of wood to turn up a nice large blue racer in shed.

Soon after, I also spotted a ribbon snake crawling in the open.

Unfortunately, the heat was against us and we didn't see much more after that. Cid didn't mind though, and enjoyed the freedom and endless supply of sticks.

All in all, it was an awesome trip.

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