Summer and Fall 2008 in Southeast Ohio

This report covers July - December 2008. The summer had moderate rainfall, but the fall was very dry (with one notable exception). Here are some critters I've seen, in more-or-less chronological order.

Grey Treefrog metamorph from our yard. This is actually June 29.

Some basking Painted Turtles.

Cricket Frog. These are somewhat tough to come by in southeast Ohio. I had more success finding them this year than ever before.

In mid July I met up with Andy Avram for a day. This was the only Ohio herping outside of southeast Ohio I did this summer. We saw a few things:

Queen Snake.

Andy found this small Apalone spinifera on the move in a stream.

Closer look.

Cricket Frog.

Fence Lizards.

A young Sternotherus odoratus observed at night in the shallows of a lake.

Now back in southeast Ohio.

Grey Treefrog, in situ (at night).

Green Frog, in situ (at night).

Copperhead. This one is a county record -- I saw one at this locality a couple years ago, but it escaped without a photograph -- so I was pleased that I was able to corral and photograph this one.

Black Ratsnake, posed (so to speak) on the tin it was found under.

I saw something on the road up ahead...

Let's check it out.

A closer look at the Black Ratsnake.

Grey Treefrog.

In early August I made a trip up to Michigan to attend a conference and my family came along too. One day we did a little herping and turned up two Hemidactylium under logs. These are the only salamanders I've ever seen in Michigan. I suspect that flipping Hemidactylium in August is essentially impossible in most of their range, but Michigan's latitude must be a big help. I've only flipped a couple in SE Ohio, and those were in the spring. We also saw some wood frog metamorphs.

These were another interesting species we saw in Michigan:

A family of Sandhill Cranes. They would pause periodically to eat bugs off of the vegetation.

Sandhill Crane.

Now back in southeast Ohio.

Milk Snake, as found in a rodent nest under tin. I found the color tones on this animal to be particularly pleasing.

A random Ringneck Snake, the serpent I most commonly encounter in southeast Ohio.

Hatchling Milk Snake (September 2).

A closer look.

A Box Turtle, as found, trapped between the rails.

Storeria dekayi.

A random Green Frog.

On September 20 Brian Folt and I had a pretty good day.

Milk Snake, with rather drab colors, but an interesting pattern.

A young Marbled Salamander found under a log.

Cricket Frog.

Cricket Frog.

We also found this neonate Rough Greensnake. It measured 185 mm TL, 115 mm SVL and still had a piece of umbilical cord attached to it. Interestingly, I could see no sign of keels on the scales of this animal.

Another look.

The next day, I was jogging near my house and found a very dry and very flat DOR snake of about 22 cm TL. After soaking it in water for a day and cleaning it up:

Much better than when I found it...

Definitely a neonate Heterodon platirhinos. Interesting, because I have never seen one in this particular area since moving here in 2001. I'd love to find a live one in my yard!

A few days later. Sometimes if you stare long enough, you will spot something:

A Northern Watersnake, in a swamp.

Another look. It never budged once.

An October Black Ratsnake.

A closer look.

One day I was exploring a new location. I stopped in an area that had been clearcut perhaps 10 year before. My plan was to mark the spot with my GPS unit (so I had a record of how far I had hiked in) and then return to my truck. As I was waiting patiently for the GPS unit to acquire a fix, I heard a faint sound. The air was still, otherwise I would not have heard it. I looked in the direction of the noise and managed to spot a Rough Greensnake!

A fall Rough Greensnake.

As often seems to be the case, the second half of the summer and the fall were very dry in southeast Ohio. A notable exception was the pm of October 24 and early am of October 25 when we had a steady rain. Brian Folt and I road cruised extensively to see what we could see. Here are some of the results:

Several Spotted Salamanders were seen on the move.

Many Marbled Salamanders were also seen. They are the "main attraction" of the fall rains around here.

Juvenile Spotted Salamander.

Juvenile Marbled Salamander. These are actually quite hard to see on the blacktop!

Longtailed Salamander.

Green Frog.

"01-20-09 END OF AN ERROR" -- Some anti-Bush sentiment in appalachia.

Dry conditions returned to the region. On November 8 I was exploring a dry creek bed. I flipped a large flat rock in a low spot and saw this:
A mess of Twolined Salamander larvae, but no water. The soil was quite damp, however. I counted 19 larvae, and there were probably more in holes. I snapped off a few quick photos and then carefully returned the rock.

A closer look at some of the larvae.

Some more larvae. I have never encountered a situation like this before.

This winter I have been exploring new areas, hoping to find interesting places to investigate further in the spring. One such place I've found is this:

This spring was lined with stones, perhaps a 100 years ago. It is likely that somebody called this place home back then. Nowadays, it is a 1-mile hike to reach this spot and little sign of the hand of man remains in this area, except for the rocks placed around the spring. It looks very promising for Pseudotriton and Hemidactylium -- I am eager to check it out again this spring!

I also have some results to report on my Pseudotriton larvae project. Here's a couple of teasers:

You can read about the details and see many more photos here.

And with that, I have pretty well summarized July -- December of 2008.