Land Between the Rivers

Shy boxie

Darksided Salamander

Pickerel Frog

Brown Snake

Smashed Ringneck


Pike and Calhoun counties, western Illinois.  May 4th, 2005.

Partly cloudy day, with cool temperatures in the morning.  Mid-seventies by afternoon.  No recent precipitation.

Tracey Mitchell and I headed over to Pike and Calhoun counties for a long day trip.  The morning was still fairly cool when we arrived at the old homestead belonging to his family, not far from the Illinois River. An Eastern Box Turtle was the first herp of the day.  The turtle refused to stick out its head and cooperate for our cameras.  Tracey commented that it might well have been one of the box turtles he played with as a child here.

Lots of wood and other materials around the old barn to flip, with no success.  We moved up onto the wooded hillside behind the barn, to check out a promising section of rock ledges.  We flipped a Ringneck along the way in the remains of an old root cellar.

The rocky ledges were fabulous, with a lot of deep crevices and some sunny exposures.  We didn't find any herps but I'd bet money there's a few Copperheads around the area at least.

There was a spring nearby that was a hot spot for Darksided Salamanders, and we were rewarded with a half-dozen of them when we stopped for a look.  We also came across a few small Pickerel Frogs, in some cases under the same stones with the salamanders.  I did not get very good pictures of either, still fumbling some with the new camera.

We headed over to another spot we had visited before, with a small creek running thru a railroad viaduct.  There was a large chunk of a cardboard box in the creek along the road's edge, and though there was nothing under it, a small Midland Water Snake slipped out from between the layers, much to our surprise.  We had caught a much larger one in nearly the exact spot on our previous visit. 

A long piece of black plastic proved to be a warm and humid hiding spot for a number of Ringnecks and a Midland Brown Snake.  Across the road was a large chunk of concrete, under which was another ringneck.  I was about to set the chunk back down when I noticed a very smashed Ringneck smeared across the underside.  My guess is some herper just let it fall back down without noticing the snake.  Even if there was no snake, I don't see the point of letting heavy objects fall back with a thud - beetles, earthworms and other inhabitants certainly deserve a better fate too.


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