Proposed Field Herping Trip, approx 3/14-3/18

John

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Just posting to gauge interest. I'm considering a field trip to either the Ozarks and Ouachitas region, or perhaps southern Virginia/eastern TN/western NC. The dates would be the week starting Sunday 3/13 and I'd probably come home on the Friday. I'm alright with doing it on my own, but curious to see if anyone else is interested. Post or PM me. I plan on camping, fyi. This is very much a "bring your own", but I can act as tour guide :p, particularly for Ouachitas/Ozarks, or TN/western NC.
 

John

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I should add that I'm really a salamander-only kind of field herper. Any frogs and reptiles that run across my path are fine but I certainly don't go looking for them.

If you want to get an idea of what's involved on the Ouachitas and Ozarks trip, look at this.
 

Kaysie

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Bah! I've been looking for an excuse to go to the Ouachitas, but I'm going to LA that weekend.
 

John

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I would be driving down through them on my way there because of where I live, so I'll probably stop in several places. Once "arrived", it would likely be the southwestern end, as far north as about Fayetteville AR, maybe a little farther north for some cave adventures.
 

Kaysie

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If you swing by Southern Illinois, let me know. I'm super-busy Monday-Wednesday, but don't have a whole lot going on Thursday, Friday, or Saturday. I can take you down Snake Road, which, despite it's name, has a high number of migrating amphibians too.
 

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My route looks like I'll go through Mt Vernon IL but then turn directly south heading into MO.
 

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Mt. Vernon isn't directly north of MO. But if you're heading south of Mt. Vernon, you'll go through Carbondale (where I live), and within minutes of Snake Road.
 

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Comparing the Smokeys/Blue Ridge area to the Central Highlands weatherwise, they look pretty similar for mid March (looking at historic temperature averages and the current extended forecast). However given the relatively low temperatures, the chances of finding salamanders are higher in the Central Highlands, so that's what I'm leaning towards.
 

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Brad will stand you up!


(Just kidding. I don't hold it against you.)
 

John

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If you want to see some spotted sals, we have them coming out soon up here....
Thanks but I've seen those all over the country!
 

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Kaysie is right, Larue Pine hills is great. I can't go there without finding Plethodon dorsalis under every log it seems. You find a great variation of salamanders though. In one trip down there I found a siren, central newts (adults and efts), spotted salamanders, longtails, caves, zig zags by the dozens, and slimy salamanders. Also plenty of frogs and ring neck snakes at the right time.

Anyway even if you don't stop there have fun, nothing better than a herp adventure. I will be in the keys/everglades at that time. Good luck.
Logan
 

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Ok I'm in the final stages of my planning. I think it's going to be the Ozarks and Ouachitas due to temperature considerations. My route is going to take me somewhat north of where I thought, Kaysie, heading through St. Louis. Any thoughts?
 

Kaysie

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There's a reptile expo in St. Louis on Sunday 13th. I've been considering going.

Other than that, I'm 2 hours south of St. Louis. If you're heading to Ouachitas, you could come down this way, cut south to Arkansas (it's about 4 hours from here to Little Rock), and then cut over to Ouachitas. Although herping through the Mark Twain Natl. Forest (SW of St. Louis) through Missouri would be cool too. Thomas lives over that way.
 

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Dang, that would put you a short distance [relatively] of a search for Plethodon ainsworthi! There should be plenty of places to look other than at or near the type locality. I wish I could join you, as Bay Springs and the Ouachitas have been on my wish list for a while :S
 
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There's a reptile expo in St. Louis on Sunday 13th. I've been considering going.

Other than that, I'm 2 hours south of St. Louis. If you're heading to Ouachitas, you could come down this way, cut south to Arkansas (it's about 4 hours from here to Little Rock), and then cut over to Ouachitas. Although herping through the Mark Twain Natl. Forest (SW of St. Louis) through Missouri would be cool too. Thomas lives over that way.
Indeed I do. I'm in the extreme southwestern corner of Missouri. Mark Twain Natl. Forest is a beautiful area. Just around my property I've been finding Plethodon albagula lately, they starting to become more active. If you go through the Branson area, you could stop by Shepherd of the Hills State Fish Hatchery, they have a hellbender breeding program with both Ozark and Eastern Hellbenders. They aren't on display, but I believe you get a tour on request of the hellbender building.
 

Kaysie

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Dang, that would put you a short distance [relatively] of a search for Plethodon ainsworthi!
Talk about a wild goose chase! That species is extinct, and originally was only known from 2 specimens found in one site 50 years ago.
 

Jennewt

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If you go through the Branson area, you could stop by Shepherd of the Hills State Fish Hatchery, they have a hellbender breeding program with both Ozark and Eastern Hellbenders. They aren't on display, but I believe you get a tour on request of the hellbender building.
Now ya tell me! I went to that hatchery in December. I talked to the person there about hellbenders, but didn't think to ask if I could see the facility. They have a program for hellbenders where they try to give the young a head-start by hatching and raising them in captivity until they are a decent size, then releasing them. The eggs come from the wild though, they aren't CBing them. The hatchery is worth seeing, even if you don't get to see the hellbenders.
 

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Talk about a wild goose chase! That species is extinct, and originally was only known from 2 specimens found in one site 50 years ago.
It's PRESUMED extinct. Richard Highton reported possibly seeing specimens in a recent search, but they escaped. No-one has ever searched under "ideal" wet spring conditions. There also doesn't seem to be any good reason they WOULD be extinct, nor why they would have been restricted to the one location to begin with. There are plenty of reasons they wouldn't be found apart from actual extinction, and most of them amount to not searching properly.
 
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