Fifty Seven Kinds of Cottonmouth

late-night leopard frog

comes the dawn...

first one up gets to take the pictures

Redear basking

Jeff with trap

pretty little Bufo fowleri

Oh, no! There goes Tokyo!

There was a grand convergence down in southern Missouri on a Friday night in late March. Jeff came down from Minnesota. Jim from Iowa, and I drove down from central Illinois. We all met up Duck Creek, just north of Mingo Swamp. After herping around Mingo we planned to visit Reelfoot Lake down in Tennessee.

I arrived close to midnight, and Jeff and Jim were already there and had set up camp right in the main parking lot by the road. Camping spots back in the refuge were occupied by drunken rowdies - it would be much quieter along the road. I pitched my tent, we drank a beer, and Jeff set a few minnow traps in a small cypress-lined pond next to our campsite. With any luck we might catch a siren or some other squiggly. Walking the bank we saw a lone Leopard Frog and took a picture or two, and then headed for bed with Spring Peepers calling from nearby...

In the morning it was time for me to whip up a good breakfast. If you get in a big, protein-filled breakfast, you don't need to stop herping for lunch if things are going good, and your belly won't be scraping backbone by suppertime. I cooked up some thick, pan-sized blueberry pancakes (with real blueberries of course) and some sausage links, and everyone ate 'til they were ready to bust. Milk for Jeff and a pot of camp coffee for me and Jim.  Oh yeah.

Jeff checked his traps, and he had an unexpected squiggly in one of them, an adult Diamondback Water Snake. We took a few pictures of it, along with a nice Fowler's toad, and poking around the pond turned up a few more rhombifer poking their heads out into the early morning sun. Herping at your campsite is always an extra bonus...

We broke camp, planning to find a real campground for that night. We decided to do that first, and went off in search of some sites listed on the map. Little icons that are full of promise but, in reality, don't amount to much. The one site we visited looked like a party pit and promised to be mosquito-ridden by sunset. There's not much out there for tent campers anymore, but there are plenty of places for RV camping, which is more like parking anyhow.

Rather than burn any more daylight on lodgings, we headed into Mingo Swamp in hopes of finding a few snakes...


next page                    back to index