News from the Sand Prairies
Early morning on the first Saturday in June found me tooling north up I-57 towards the sand prairies. I was meeting Jim, Laura and Austin Scharosch up there for a couple days of field herping. They had headed over from Iowa the afternoon before, and were camping out nearby.
The morning was clear and fairly cool, around 60F, and there had been a couple days of rain up that way earlier in the week, so conditions were still favorable, although our 'tin window' was somewhat limited. A cloudy, overcast day would have let the metal we were intending to flip stay cooler for longer. Once the tin heats up, the snakes move on or head underground.
I got to the campground around 8 am, and we set off for our first string of junk piles and abandoned houses. At our second stop Jim flipped the first Bullsnake of the day, an opaque female of average size. It's always good to get that first snake under your belt early, to keep expectations at a high level.
Racerunners were out and about this morning, skittering away at our approach. At our third stop Jim walked up a nice adult Bullsnake, out on the crawl. This one was a pretty snake, and feisty as well. About the same time Laura turned up a small Glass Lizard, so we had two specimens to take pictures of.
Moving on, we were flipping some metal near a small tree when I spotted a flash of blue near the base. Blue Racer, and this one seemed to practically glow with intense color. I called out, and the four of us circled the tree - we simply had to detain and examine this beauty. Jim moved in to get a hand on it and the racer headed in a direction not on the compass - it went up into the tree! This move didn't save it from capture, but it did make things a little more difficult. Jim and I were reminded of a racer in Kansas a couple years ago, which scooted up into a bushy little cedar tree when approached.
This is what all Blue Racers should look like - a brilliant pale blue over a pallid belly. This one was wired for sound, and was a tough wrangle for photos, but we managed a few before letting the snake go on its way.
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