Along the Illinois River

Horse trail


Prairie Racerunner

Eastern Hognose

Along the Chatauqua impoundment


July 10th, 2005
with Tracey Mitchell

Sunny, hot and humid July weather; high 92 F.

Herping out in the sand prairies and oak savannas in July may seem to be an exercise in futility, but the urge to get out in the field is no fair-weather obsession.  Besides, there's always plenty of other things to see.  I hadn't been over this way in a decade, and Tracey hadn't ever visited, so at the least we were scouting out the area.

We started hiking one of the horse trails about 0930, with the temperature in the upper seventies but climbing rapidly.  The herps weren't presenting themselves as of yet, so we amused ourselves trying to interpret the various tracks crossing the sandy path. 

Other points of interest - various types of milkweed and other plants were in bloom and being visited by Great Spangled and Aphrodite Fritillaries, so we had plants to identify and butterflies to enjoy and photograph.

As the temperature rose, we began to hear the slight scurrying of Racerunners in the vegetation, and managed to catch one or two with a photo.  About the third mile of our four mile loop,  Tracey spotted a small Eastern Hognose crawling along the trail, in spite of the high temperatures.  A good looking snake, it cooperated with us through a photo session without playing dead, which I'd like to avoid - no need to put too much stress on the animal.

Finishing up our trail hike, we headed over to the Illinois River, stopping on the way to rehydrate.   We poked along the banks of the Chatauqua Lake impoundment, turning over driftwood and rocks, but nothing was stirring - no frogs or toads in particular.  Aquatic turtles didn't seem to mind the heat, as we saw a number of Redeared Sliders and Softshells on logs.

We earmarked the Chatauqua lakes as a place to re-visit with a canoe another time.

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