A Mad Dash To Mingo

Looking out over Monopoly Marsh.

An old Red-Ear.

Southern Redbacked Salamander

Turkey-Tail fungus on a wet log.

For years I've been telling my pals about the Broadbanded Water Snakes down in Mingo Swamp.  "They're the most beautiful water snake around," I'd say.  "We need to get down there and I'll show you."   I had made a number of trips down there with the late Harry Steinmann, back in the mid-1980s.  I needed to get down there again - it had been seventeen years since the last time I had visited Mingo.  Plus, I had been corresponding with Wayne Brekhus, an enthusiastic snake man from Columbia, Missouri.  Wayne and his family have visited Mingo a number of times, and he had pointed me to a number of good spots to check out.  I was starting to get a powerful itch...

Plans were made for a quick dash down to Mingo, the last weekend in October.  No camping or other complications - drive down Sunday night, motel it in Poplar Bluff, and work Mingo on Monday.  And that's just what Rick Milas and I did.

Monday morning was cloudy and cold,in the mid forties, and it had rained a bit the night before.  We hiked up and down a few of the service roads, checking out the territory and hoping for the sun to come out.  Checking out the shoreline at May Pond, Rick spotted a large water turtle on the bank, and managed to grab it.  We weren't sure what it was at first, as it was a dull and drab looking slider of some sort.   We figured it out to be an old adult Red-Eared Slider, Trachemys scripta elegans.  Many times the old Red-Ears lose their distinctive head and neck markings.

The temperature rose a few degrees, but the sun refused to show itself.  We headed down to the edge of Monopoly Marsh, and the large piles of wet, rotting logs soon rewarded us with some salamander species - the Southern Redback, Plethodon serratus, a new species for Rick.  We also spotted a few efts and a Slimy Salamander along with a dozen or so of the Redbacks.  We also spotted a few serratus that lacked the bright red dorsal stripe - 'leadbacks', they are called.

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