Friday, December 4, 2009

October Surprises

It always seems as though sometimes there are finds in the field that aren't expected. On a cool 48 degree October afternoon, a friend and I headed out to a local stretch of river to capture the colors of fall. Mid-October in central Michigan is the fall peak for autumn colors and this afternoon was absolutely perfect. With the weather being as cool as it was, herps were not even in the realm of thought as we began to head downstream.

Not long after we began walking along the banks of the river. My friend noticed a serpent heading toward cover not far from the river's edge. I assumed that it was a water snake based on the banding I saw, but as I got closer to it I realized it was something completely different.

This Eastern Milk Snake was obviously on the move trying to get back to its overwintering quarters. But to see it out in the open in such cold weather, I was surprised to say the least. This was the first ever milk snake that I've found that was not under cover.

Eastern Milk Snake - Lampropeltis triangulum

After shooting the snake for a few minutes, we pressed onward downstream to an area where I had seen a Wood Turtle a few weeks earlier in late September. The river here is had a nice gravel and sand bottom, and the water is extremely clear. There are also lots of fallen trees that serve as basking sites for turtles.

As we were moving along the margins of the stream. I noticed an odd looking rock about 20 yards ahead of me, when that rock started to move I immediately realized that it was the species we were looking for. This was the second Wood Turtle I've seen in this area of Michigan, and it was cool to share this find with my friend as it was the first he's seen in the wild.

Wood Turtle - Glyptemys insculpta

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