Monday, November 21, 2011

Master Naturalist Visit

Last Monday, the participants in the Master Naturalist program at the Lowcountry Institute on Spring Island visited the Audubon Center at Francis Beidler Forest.  This time of year, wildlife along the boardwalk can be scarce.  Many of the birds have migrated to southerly locations, reptiles are less active and often hidden from sight, and deer are literally gun-shy.

During our walk around the boardwalk, we did see a variety of birds, Yellow-bellied Sliders (Trachemys scripta scripta) at the lake, a Greenish Rat Snake sunning on a tree branch, and this likely-born-this-year Eastern Cottonmouth (Agkistrodon piscivorus piscivorus) basking in a patch of sun next to the Yellow Popular (Liriodendron tulipifera) sign.

After lunch, we moved to the bluff near Mallard Lake to inspect the seeps and see what might be living in the those moist habitats.  While still above the bluff on the sandy, dry stretch, Tony Mills caught a male Fence Lizard (Sceloporus undulatus hyacinthinus) basking on a fallen log.  Note the vibrant blue on the lizard's belly and throat!

Under a log, we found a female Marbled Salamander (Ambystoma opacum) with her eggs.  Once the water level rises and floods the area, the eggs will hatch.  Elsewhere we found Southern Two-lined Salamander (Eurycea cirrigera), Three-lined Salamander (Eurycea guttolineata), and Slimy Salamanders (Plethodon glutinosus).

Finally, hopping across the leaf litter, we found what we are identifying as an Upland Chorus Frog (Pseudacris feriarum).  Variability in individuals makes this one tough to identify with only the image to examine.

Images by Mark Musselman

1 comment:

Cathy Miller said...

Fascinating critters! I would sign up for a Herp walk if you guys offered it!