Mingo Swamp - Autumn 2005

Heading upriver

Trees and Knees

Basking Redear

Opaque Yellowbelly

Mingo Wildlife Refuge,
Stoddard Co., Missouri.
October 1st, 2005
Sunny, cloudless, high in the
upper 80's.
with Steve Coogan and Marty Whalin.

Saturday morning we got up early, packed up my vehicle and headed west about eighty miles.  It had been a few years since I had visited Mingo Swamp, and as neither Steve nor Marty had ever been there, I thought it might be worthwhile to work it into our three days of herping.  I had toted my canoe down so we could get out on the Mingo River, where I had good luck on past visits with Broadbands and Diamondbacks.

We put in on the Mingo River around mid-morning and slowly made our way upstream.  The scenery is beautiful, the banks being lined with cypress trees, fronting on bottomland forest.  Before too long we came upon a Redshouldered Hawk, raising a ruckus in the cypress trees, and soon the reason for all the noise became evident - a second Redshoulder.  Whether it was a boy-girl thing or a boy-versus-boy thing, it sure got loud for a while. 

Turtles started to make appearances on logs and snags, and as usual they were very wary of us, plopping into the water before we got very close.  Putting binoculars on them, we identified a number of Redeared Sliders, some Southern Painted Turtles, and one unidentified turtle we'll call a Mystery Cooter.

Marty spotted something mammalian loping along the bank at one point.  "Otter?" I called out.  "Mink!" answered the other guys.  I really should study mammals more.  This mink ambled along the shore not far from us, looking for something to snack on, and generally ignoring us.  I can count the number of mink I've ever seen on one hand, so it was great to watch this one for a few minutes.

By mid-day we had seen a fair number of turtles and one mink, but where were the snakes?  We had other areas of Mingo to visit that day, and so we turned around and headed back.  Not long after we turned around I spotted a basking water snake, a Yellowbelly, stretched out on a log.  It was opaque, and so we were able to get in pretty close to observe and take pictures before it suddenly became aware of our presence and hit the water. 

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