A Megolithic May

Jefferson

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Well, it's been quite a while since I've posted, but in that time, I have racked up nine lifers in the heavenly hills of Virginia, Tennessee, and North Carolina.

It all started with a spontaneous trip to a locale in the mountains of Southwest Virginia, meant only to test my car, which shockingly yielded my first Wehrle's Salamanders.

Then, on the inaugural outing of the newly-formed Washington and Lee University Herping Club, the high mountains of Northwest Virginia, among the gangly paper and yellow birch, gave up a Cow Knob Salamander and a Shenandoah Mountain Salamander amid a gaggle of Red-backs. Telling Shenandoah Mountain and redback salamanders in leadback phase apart was a nightmare until I learned a simple little trick-the belly of the former has hardly any pigmentation, while the red-backs have a "salt-and-pepper" belly. It was euphoria on the mountaintop: this trip was meant to ring in the herping club with a few creeks and a taste of high-elevation woodland salamanders, but never did I think we'd find both possible lifers for me up there!

The next lifer from Central Virginia is largely debatable. If you read any old Roger Hunt Conant field guide, it will split the Seal Salamander complex up into two subspecies: Appalachian Seal and Virginia Seal (D. monticola monticola and D. monticola jeffersoni). My spot had D. monticola jeffersoni, which is slightly different looking than the regular Seal Salamander.

The next five lifers were all seen on an epic end of semester trip down to Salamander Mecca: Western NC+Eastern TN. The trip was possibly the most fun I've ever taken in pursuit of herps and featured such old friends as Imitators, Red-Cheeks, Gray-Cheeks, Blue Ridge Springs, and Weller's as well as new ones: Southern Ravine, Black-chinned Red, Yonahlossee, Carolina Spring, Carolina Mountain Dusky. I missed Blue Ridge and South Mountain Gray-Cheeks, but in the process of missing them, I saw Lake Lure and some beautiful areas of Western NC's Blue Ridge that I had never before visited. All in all, the misty mountains were kind to me as usual. Still no Timber Rattlesnakes.

The pictures will take more than one post for sure!

Happy herping you all!
Jefferson
 

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Jefferson

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I saw a Big Levels this week! More to come in a post that will be up within next week or two. Happy herpin'!
 

Jefferson

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Update from the past few weeks: In the Virginia Blue Ridge, I have seen a bundle of Peaks of Otter Salamanders and a Big Levels Salamander about two weeks ago. This area is such beautiful habitat! The Alleghenies, on the other hand, have only given me two Black Bears so far, both of which were luckily seen outside of my car. Pictures are below.
Happy herpin' y'all!
Jefferson
 

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Aneides Aeneus

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Looks like you've been seeing some great stuff as usual! The southern appalachians are always an incredible area to visit. I'm also very envious of your shenandoah mountain and cow knob salamanders.

-Ananth
 
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