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...