Southern Illinois, April 2021

My good friend Jason and I hatched a plan to meet up in southern Illinois in mid April. Jason's son Beckett came as well. We visited several areas, including the famous “Snake Road.” I left our house at 0-dark:30 and arrived our campside about 15 minutes after noon. I think Jason and Beckett had arrived about 30 minutes prior. We immediately got to the business of exploring.

One of the first thing we noticed was all of the wildflowers.

Prairie Trillium (Trillium recurvatum). These were all over the place, including at our campsite. This species prefers limestone geology. It is common in Illinois, but only enters Ohio in the extreme SW corner. Kind of like the Cave Salamander.

Celandine (or Wood) Poppy (Stylophorum diphyllum).

A Cave salamander (Eurycea lucifuga), in a tiny “cave.”

Western Ribbonsnake (Thamnophis proximus).

A closer look at the Western Ribbon.

A hatchling Snapping Turtle (Chelydra serpentina) found on Snake Road.

This log had both a Cave salamander (Eurycea lucifuga) and a Long-tailed Salamander (Eurycea longicauda) under it. I was a little slow with the photo and the longtail is almost under the log.

A closer look at the Cave Salamander. This is the first time I have ever seen this species.

Dwarf American Toad (Bufo americanus charlesmithi).

Dwarf Larkspur (Delphinium tricorne).

A Green Treefrog (Hyla cinerea), as found in the understory. This is one of several southern species that reaches into southern Illinois, but does not occur in Ohio.

A Plain-bellied Watersnake (Nerodia erythrogaster), as spotted basking in some briars.

A juvenile Cottonmouth (Agkistrodon piscivorus) spotted crossing Snake Road. Note the yellow tail tip, that may be used as a lure for prey.

There were a decent number of other people hiking along Snake Road. Many were looking for snakes, but several were hunting Morel Mushrooms, which is probably the only thing your are allowed to collect there. Beckett made friends with some other kids we ran into. It turned out they were camped right next to us. Jason and Beckett both wore their “OU Herp Club” T-shirts. I missed getting a photo of that. We'll have to do this again, before Beckett outgrows his... And I'll bring my shirt too.

Lesser Siren (Siren intermedia).

A closer look at the Siren.

Jason and Beckett.

Jason, Beckett, and the Sirens.

A Timber Rattlesnake (Crotalus horridus), as found under an old sheet of tin.

Plain-bellied Watersnake (Nerodia erythrogaster).

A Cottonmouth (Agkistrodon piscivorus), floating in a swamp.

Swamp habitat.

A juvenile Plain-bellied Watersnake (Nerodia erythrogaster).

A Spotted Salamander (Ambystoma maculatum), as found under a railroad tie. The ones I usually see in SE Ohio do not have the orange spots on their neck.

Cottonmouth (Agkistrodon piscivorus).

The reason it's called a Cottonmouth...

And that was that. The next I knew, I was driving home on Monday afternoon. A good time was had by all!