Buckeye Herps Blog

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

Monday, January 30, 2012

Winter Herp(ing) 2011

I can't title this "Winter Herps" unfortunately.  If you are looking for pics of herps or epic adventures in the snow, you should look elsewhere.  I can try and help show what desperate measures some midwestern herpers will go through during the doldrums of winter.

There isn't much to do around here this time of the year.  As mentioned previously, winter provides good opportunities to catch up on field notes, spend quality time with family, do some traveling, and maybe try for some salamanders.  Michigan's salamander diversity is less than stellar, but you can always give mudpuppies the old college try.  They can stay active year round and are often caught by ice fisherman.  We figured why not?

I met up with Nick and Dave to try for mudpups a few days before Christmas.  We planned to try and flip some flat rocks and maybe peek under the larger ones with cameras.  Wading through water at this time of the year creates some new problems.  Just walking in with your shoes or boots won't cut it, and I never even considered what would happen when I would try to flip rocks with my bare hands and arms.  Luckily, Dave had access to some long arm waterproof gloves.  These would prove invaluable, if we ever made it to the water...

On the drive in, the warm spell left ground that should be frozen hard, wet and muddy.  Dave had been warned, but we quickly were stuck.  And I mean stuck.

We tried packing sticks/logs under all the tires and pushing hard.  These efforts were fruitless.

We called for a tow, and were notified it would be a while to gather some chains.  We took this opportunity to actually try for some mudpups.  A couple hours later of searching, we remained empty handed, but the truck got towed out.

Notice the waders and gloves.  Not the most fashionable of statements, but key when looking for mudpuppies in the middle of December.

We tried another spot for another couple of hours, but success was not in the cards today.  I had managed to flood both my muck boots, and Dave flooded the gloves, so things ended a little more painful than they when we started.   If you add wet gear to the 35 F temps and extreme wind on the water, it made for a chilly day, and we were happy to finally get back in the cars.  We had started the day with high hopes, and I would have to say we ended up feeling a bit defeated.  Hopefully, we can take another stab at these guys later this winter.

Happy Herping!


Sunday, January 22, 2012

Winter Herps December 2011

Already seems like ages ago now...

I was able to get home to northeast Ohio for a short 48 hour trip prior to the holidays.  It was unseasonably warm, in fact quite balmy in the 40s.  It rained pretty much the whole trip, but my brother Brian and I decided to try and hit the field anyway.  We headed north on 12/21/11 to focus on mountain dusky salamanders and maybe a red salamander if we were real lucky.  It poured most of the trip out there, but got pretty sunny just before arriving.  We met a buddy, Andy A., who joined us for the short hike.  About 5 minutes in I looked down to see a black stick along the board walk.  Brian and Andy had just walked right by it...

Black Ratsnake Pantherophis obsoletus

We were pleasantly surprised to say the least.  I would not have minded a Thamnophis, but this was a little unexpected.  It was quite cool appearing.  A few minutes into photographing it the heavens opened back up with a very cold rain.  We moved on, hoping it would find it's way back underground soon.

It poured hard the rest of the excursion and we got cold fast.  A short jaunt in a creek turned up a few mountain duskies, redbacks, northern two-lined salamanders.  We photographed them quickly and dejectedly called it quits.

Mountain Dusky Salamander Desmognathus ochrophaeus
Pardon the large particles of dust from my sensor...

It wasn't  a bad day for December though.  We found 4 species of herps in with little effort.  Just goes to show herps are out and active in seemingly unlikely conditions.  In regards to the salamandering, I would have rather chosen snow than the rain we had to fight through...

Happy Herping!


Monday, January 2, 2012

Go Wolverines!

Despite the name of the blog and the website, I am a Michigan Wolverine fan through and through.  Unfortunately, my wife, family and medschool roommates are all OSU buckeyes.  I wish I was better at picking friends...

THE big game was in Ann Arbor this year, so a bunch of us loaded up the cars and set out for a day of tail gating fun.  It was blustery and cold, but good times were had by all.

I grilled up some nice breakfast of eggs and sausage.  We had been up at 6 to get out there just after 7am.

Painful apparel...
Remind me why I even invited David?
David sleeping during the first half.  Weak sauce.
Quite the setup working here.  Actually one TV was nonfunctional, we couldn't get a borrowed satellite dish to work, and ended up resorting back to the rabbit ears you might notice on top of the van.  Well they worked, with nice crystal clear HD picture (except when the helicopter would fly over).

Good thing the good guys won (finally!)!

Klev - disgusted with the results.

Hail to the Victors!

Let's go wolverines on January 3rd as they take on the Virginia Tech Hokies in the Sugar Bowl!