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This is a discussion on !! within the Field Herping Accounts forums, part of the Fieldwork / Fieldherping category; It's been a little while since I posted about the "Jewels of the North Woods" in Michigan. Since then, I ...

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Old 31st October 2016   #1 (permalink)
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It's been a little while since I posted about the "Jewels of the North Woods" in Michigan. Since then, I have gone back to college in Virginia, and between writing papers and volunteering, I have found time to herp thrice in Virginia, once to see some old friends in the Blue Ridge, once to try to break my all-time salamander lifer record for one year (14) in the Alleghenies, and once to try to break it in the Piedmont of Southside Virginia.

In the Blue Ridge, I saw some Peaks of Otter, Northern Springs, Duskies, and the like. This area of the state also produced my first Black Rat Snake, which was found via road cruising on my way to retrieve the camera from a campground where I accidentally left it. Thus, I had to pick the snake up off the road and hold it in the car for eight miles to get it back to the camera. The driver thought I was nuts....which is sort of true when it comes to herps.

The attempt to break my record in the Allegheny highlands of far western Virginia failed to produce a new salamander, but in the process, I road-cruised a beautiful Copperhead (the third time I have seen that species) and re-united with the gorgeous, rugged terrain of Virginia's western mountains.

Today, I headed east of the Blue Ridge and into Southside Virginia in hopes of breaking the record before the inevitable first freeze foreclosed my season. In a gently-sloping, Sweetgum-dominated stream ravine, my friend and I started flipping rocks around noon while noticing wild boar tracks. Pickerel Frogs and Two-lined sallies were pervasive among our early finds, while dusky salamanders picked up after about a hundred yards of creek and at least four times as many rocks. About an hour and a half into herping, we turned up our first bright salmon-colored spring salamander, the first of four. At about 3:00, after over 500 rocks two-lined sallies, 4 pickerel frogs, 2 green frogs, and 1 cricket frog, we finally turned up a pair of (presumably mating) Three-Lined Salamanders along the muddy ledge of the stream bank! After much difficulty in capturing one of the two critters, we took euphoric photographs and set him back after much admiration of his unique color pattern and mottled belly. That three-lined was salamander #15 of the year and overall herp lifer #27 on the season. Yahoo!
Quote of the trip: "Energy and persistence conquer all things." -Ben Franklin
Song of the trip: Colder Weather by ZBB and That's How I Got to Memphis by Tom T Hall

It was a sweet ride back across the mountains into the Shenandoah Valley for sure!
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