The Spring 2002 Field Trip to

The Savannah River Ecology Laboratory

J.D. Willson, Pierson Hill, Kristine Grayson, Lisa Marks, and Mike Dorcas took another field trip to SREL in April 2002. There they met herp lab alum Shane Lindsay (now working at SREL) and Dr. Whit Gibbons for a couple of days of serious herping. Over the two days the group observed 43 species of reptiles and amphibians in the field, in addition to many other cool animals. See for yourself...

First we stopped in and saw the SREL outreach animals

Paid a visit to their huge 'gator STUMP
...and his offspring
Had to see the alligator snapper again
we also checked out the SNAKE PIT
Lisa modeling the snake-proof boots
First find... a copperhead
next... a canebrake rattlesnake
and finally... a diamondback rattler
on the way home we found 2 corn snakes DOR

The next day JD arrived and we took to the field, finding as many herps as possible...

First stop... the gopher tortoise relocation project.

Kristine plays with a baby gopher tortoise (Gopherus polyphemus)
While Kristine and Lisa track tortoises, JD and Pierson hit the Field...and find... a PYGMY RATTLER (Sistrurus miliarius)

As the afternoon heated up we decided to hit the river...

Captain Whit

Dr. Dorcas drove the jon boat
We cruised the river edges looking for watersnakes
J.D.'s after one...
Pierson gets one too... a beautiful Nerodia erythrogaster
JD helps bag the water snake
Pass it around
a pair of Brown watersnakes (Nerodia taxispilota) are spotted courting
Whit and Mike enjoy the show...
Finally JD goes in after them
But of course gets no credit...
Scanning for marked snakes
Red belly watersnake (Nerodia erythrogaster)

In the afternoon we hit a couple of Carolina Bays and find...

a ringneck snake (Diadophis punctatus)
a big snapping turtle (Chelydra serpentina)
a striped mud turtle (Kinosternon bauri)
Kristine spots the first cottonmouth (Agkistrodon piscivorus) of the trip. Its just a baby.
Lisa catches her first snake ever... queen snake (Regina septemvitatta)

That night we went back out to a couple of bays to listen for calling frogs...

The highlight of the night, bird-voiced treefrogs (Hyla avivoca)

After finding many snakes hit on the road we were getting a little discouraged, but finally the next morning we see...

a live corn snake (Elaphe guttata) crossing the road
and a BIG gray rat snake (Elaphe obsoleta). We thought he was fine but later he just gave up and died, apparently he had been hit by a car after all.

The next morning we lifted some coverboards in search of those elusive kingsnakes... no kings, but we did find...

narrowmouth toads (Gastrophryne carolinensis)
a black racer (coluber constrictor)
and... a COACHWHIP!!! (Masticophis flagellum) that was about to shed.

that night we hung out at Whit's before the ride home and saw...

big broadhead skinks (Eumeces laticeps) fighting in his yard
a screech owl sitting five feet from his deck

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