Buckeye Herps Blog

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

Monday, November 21, 2011

Northern Wood and Rattles...

I was fortunate enough to get to tag along on one of Molly's business trips up north to the Traverse City area in September.  The weather was still nice, although it had started to cool down.  I of course took every opportunity to get outdoors, and selected a new river to kayak, and some nice swamps and fields to check out.  Like all my trips up north, main targets included wood turtles, green snakes, hog-nosed snakes, massasauga rattlesnakes, and blue racers.  It ended up being a very good couple of days...

I hopped on the river early morning, and things were pretty quiet.  The water was frigid, and the ambient temperatures really were not all that much better. Two hours into my paddle I noticed a mink exploring the side of the creek.  This always makes my day, and I was even more excited to be able to get to the shore and snap some pictures.

American Mink Neovison vison

I was pretty pleased, and about 50 yards downstream I rounded a bend to see a wood turtle basking in the shallows!  While getting to the opposite bank for in situ pictures, a second mink (maybe the same one?) popped out of the grasses about 3 feet away.  I quickly tried to frame them both for a shot, but this mink bailed in a few seconds.  The wood turtle cooperated, and hung out all day for pictures.

It doesn't get better than this...

The rest of my paddle was uneventful, but I was alone on the water and pleased with the mornings success.  I headed a bit north, finding a few fields and power line cuts to explore.  Despite flipping cover till I was blue in the face, smooth green snakes continued to evade me.  I was also surrounded by sandy soils, and hognoses also decided to stay hidden.  I did roadcruise this very small redbelly snake, which always makes my day.

In situ on the road

I found some tin I spread out a bit, although who knows when I will return this far north.  The mid-afternoon found me in a marsh I had read a little about.  The temps were now low 70s and the skies were bright.  Leopard frogs were hopping along the trail, and a number of hatchling snapping turtles were moving as well.  I had a couple garter snakes get away, but my hike was fairly uneventful.  Nearing the end of the trail, near the march, I noticed a large dark snake take off in a hurry from the edge of the boardwalk.  It was fairly heavy bodied and I figured it was a watersnake, until I heard the tell-tail sound of a rattle!  My first northern Michigan massasauga and I was a happy camper...

Pure Michigan
I head back down south and roadcruised while exploring around some lakes.  Again no greens or hogs, but I found a DOR blue racer which is interesting, as well as a skink.  A nice end to a wonderful day.  The next day or two I got rained out, but the last morning I headed to areas I have hunted before in the west.  A couple garters later and I had to call it a day.  No greens or hogs this trip.  I did manage to find some a nice board site though and am excited for next years season already.

Happy herping,



  1. I really dig that rattlesnake, real sharp. Makes me want to get up north in the spring to find one, I still need a northern LP individual. That Wood is real pretty too, dare I say we have the most attractive Woods anywhere?

  2. Are woods are the best for sure. Those eastern animals are fugly...