Day Three -Early Morning Buzz

Crotalus horridus

head-on shot by Tracey

One more view

Western Slender Glass Lizard

Opaque Red Milk

Western Worm Snake


A bright and sunny morning found us back in eastern Kansas, having a quick McBreakfast before heading out to our first site of the day.  We were on our way to visit a place that Jim had visited before and had found a number of Timber Rattlers.  Some of our group had yet to see a Timber and those of us who had never tire of seeing more, so the whole crew was humming with anticipation.

The site had two separate areas for us to work.  The first place was a long pile of broken concrete slabs near the road, which had apparently been there for many years and was now overgrown and settled in.  Apparently Crotalus horridus had moved in and made use of the spot as a hibernaculum.

We started poking around amongst the rocks and slabs and before too long we heard that old familiar buzz, somewhat muffled as it was coming from under a slab much to large to lift.  Then a second rattle - there were two of them under there!  Nuts!  It's not much fun listening to out-of-reach rattlesnakes.  About this time Jeff asked if we wanted to have a look at his Timber - he was on top of the pile and had turned up a piece of tin to find a nice-sized adult.  This snake had nice black chevrons to contrast a muddy brown background, with a rusty stripe running down the dorsum.

During the lengthy photo session that ensued, Tracey wandered off to a small rock ledge and found a small Red Milk Snake.  This appeared not to be an intergrade but a pure syspila. A pretty one, despite being opaque.  Jim managed to nab a small Redsided Garter as well.

We left the Timber where we found it and headed across the road to the other part of the site, a large partially wooded area about 5-6 acres in size.  As we started out Jim mentioned that this was a good place for Glass Lizards.  A moment or two later one zipped thru the grass, and through a fence!  Jim-be-nimble jumped the fence and grabbed the lizard, keeping the tail intact.  We were to see a number of these creatures at this site, including a couple juveniles.  Once spotted, it was fun just to watch them glide through the vegetation.

We worked our way across a north-facing slope, lifting rocks but not having a great deal of success other than the aforementioned Glass Lizards.  Dav found a Texas Brown Snake, and we spotted a number of American Toads here and there.  Finally someone turned up another Red Milk Snake, a really nice one in shed.  That was about it for the north slope.  As we headed down towards the south slope, Jim turned a rock near the path we were on and found a gorgeous Western Worm Snake of good size.  I hadn't seen a vermis in years and was very happy to get to photograph this one.  Steve obliged us photographers with a bit of fancy snake wrangling - it's tough getting Worm Snakes to sit still for more than a few seconds.

The south-facing slope was more substantial, with wooded and open areas interspersed, with plenty of flat rocks to lift and look under.  I heard the telltale slight hiss of scales - snake on the move!  It was an adult Yellowbellied Racer a few feet from me.  I grabbed it for a quick examination and photo.  These Kansas racers are good-looking snakes I think - the YBRs I grew up with in eastern Missouri lacked any yellow coloration on the ventrals.  This specimen had a greenish tinge to the dorsum along with a bona fide yellow belly.  Herping by ear is a very satisfying method, as long as you end up seeing or catching what you are hearing...

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