Nailed it!


A few years back, I don't recall exactly how many, a co-worker of Jim Scharosch ran over a snake in his yard, and brought it to Jim at work to ask what it was. If I recall the story from Jim correctly, he initially said that it was a Brown Snake, but when his co-worker turned away, the bright red belly of the snake turned to Jim and he knew it was actually a Redbelly Snake. They were not known to occur in Linn County, so we got a bit excited about it. Myself, Jim, and Matt Ricklefs searched...

At least I had my cell phone...


There is a spot in Benton County, Iowa, that myself and my friend Jim Scharosch both flip rocks at from time to time. For a while, we didn't know that the other worked the spot. All I would ever find there was Common Garter Snakes (Thamnophis sirtalis), but the spot was near a rock hunting location, so I stopped by when in the area to see if anything new popped up. After Jim and I realized we both worked the spot, he told me that he found Milk Snakes (Lampropeltis triangulum) and Racers...

Merping with the Orianne Society


Last week, myself and others involved with HerpMapper, headed down to Georgia to meet with The Orianne Society to discuss how we could work together on citizen science projects. Given that the Midwest is currently cold, and has snow on the ground, we had to take advantage of the warm weather in Georgia to do some merping (a term coined during this trip by the wise man, Mike Pingleton, to refer to mapping herpetofauna). We spent the whole day on Wednesday driving. As we neared our destination...

The little agate that couldn't


One of the things I enjoy about rocks is the story they tell. My favorite thing to collect are agates due to their looks, and the way they were formed. I went out to a local spot yesterday to get one last hunt in before the cold weather sets in too much, and I found one nice looking agate. It was whole, but the shape and texture were right, and I could see some chipped areas showing the white chalcedony that is in the "coldwater" agates found on the site. I got home and clamped the rock in the...

The Tiger Salamanders are back!


Larval Tiger Salamanders (Ambystoma tigrinum) used to be a common site for me. They could regularly be seen walking around the bottom of the ponds. In 2008, the Cedar River overflowed out of it's banks higher than it had ever done before. The flood waters didn't quite make it to my favorite pond, but the pond itself also flooded, and spilled out into the river. The stream of water pouring out was enough for little fish to swim up, and make their way in to the pond. After the flood waters...

Tarantulas are Marching North


I was doing some herpetology work with a friend in the Missouri Dept. of Conservation. We were flipping rocks in an area, and finding a bunch of Tarantulas. We find them all the time, and didn't think much of it. On the way home, my friend finally yelled "CRAP!", and when I asked him why, he said Tarantulas had never been found north of the Missouri River before. We checked the Missouri Dept. of Conservation website, which confirmed that the Missouri River was believed to be a barrier. The...

Smooth Softshells in the Wapsipinicon River


When I was a kid, my family attended a birthday party for a friend of my mom along the Wapsipinicon River. The party was for the adults, so myself and other kids were just running all over the place and exploring the river. I met some other boys who liked reptiles and amphibians as much as myself, and we spent most of the weekend together catching snakes and turtles. It was these same boys who introduced me to Softshell Turtles. They told me about the flat, pancake like, turtles that were...

Twelve Consecutive Months of Herping in Iowa


I found a brown snake out basking, and was excited that I had found herps, not just in 12 consecutive months, but 12 consecutive months in Iowa! Not only that, but 12 months in my home county! When I got home to verify my records, I realized I had actually found brown snakes last February, so the ones I found in January completed my cycle. Either way, lets review the cycle in Iowa (finds from outside my home county will be included). February 2011 started my 12 month cycle with just a...

A first for me, but not a lifer


I have mentioned to people, in person and on Field Herp Forum, that there are days when getting out in the field feels like work. Sometimes I get so caught up in the idea of vouchering animals and jotting down coordinates, that I forget to sit and enjoy nature. It is one of the reasons you don't tend to see me nagging people about whether or not they are entering records into the H.E.R.P. database. When I first joined Field Herp Forum, I would come home from hiking and post pictures of every...

When the day is gray and ordinary...


...you go herping anyways... duh! I had to meet up with Mike Pingleton today, so we decided to get together at some sand prairies we had been talking about for a while. I dragged my oldest boy, and my little buddy Isaiah with. The weather forecast showed thunderstorms all day, but I usually find ornate box turtles in the rain, so we figured we would go anyways. I have been trying to find a Western Hhognose Snake in the area for a long time now, and always miss out. A few other forum goers...