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July 10, 2008

I realized that I hadn't been out road cruising in almost a month, so I decided to hit some new areas for a change.  I got some tips on some roads to try and just went out after dark to check them out.  It ended up not being a very fruitful night, even though it has rained quite a bit the last few days.  I knew I'd see frogs and toads all over because of the moisture, but I was hoping for a few snakes.  There was only one DOR (dead on road) coachwhip and that was disappointing.  I did see a few things that I photographed so here are those shots.

First up is a female wolf spider...  with babies!  This spider is one I call a good momma because she takes care of her kids.  Many invertebrates simply lay eggs and leave them.  A few protect them, and many female spiders will carry their egg sac and protect it until the eggs hatch.  In those cases the babies will just disperse and be on their own.  In the wolf spider's case the babies stay with mom until their first molt and then they drop off and disperse.  They get protection for a little while until they're ready to run on their own.


Look at all those babies!!  I can't even begin to count them all.


Like I said before there were lots of frogs on the road and the most common one by far was the southern leopard frog.  I saw many adults and juveniles hopping across in front of me, and there were quite a few that had been hit by cars.  The roads I was on were fairly quiet, but I was near public waterways so I'm sure the bulk of the traffic in the early evening was from fishermen that were headed home.  There didn't seem to be a lot of houses out that way.  Here's an adult leopard:


And here's a juvenile:


Since I don't have a lot to show off tonight I'll include this juvenile dwarf American toad.


The last herp I encountered before calling it a night was another repeat from earlier in the summer.  I had been hearing lots of great plains narrow-mouthed toads from the fields on both sides of the road but I hadn't seen any on the road.  I saw a large pool of water in one of the ditches so I stopped to inspect it.  I sometimes see amphibians in them, but it's usually crayfish, diving beetles, and their larvae.  This time I got lucky and saw a narrow-mouthed toad sitting in the water.  I didn't get a good shot because I was trying to keep from spooking it, and I was also attempting to keep my shoes out of the mud that surrounded the water.  Hey, I was about to go home and didn't want to have to clean my shoes the next day!  :)


The last animal for the night is not a herp, but rather a bird.  I had seen killdeer nesting in various places before and had seen some chicks running around about a month ago.  I had just never gotten this close before.  As I slowly rolled down the gravel road I saw one of the adults fly up and out of sight.  Then I noticed the three little objects wobbling across the road.  I quickly stopped, got out, and observed them for a minute.  Knowing they were frightened, I didn't want to keep them from their parents.  I quickly snapped a few shots and shooed them off the road before turning my car around.  Very cool birds!




2008 Herping main page




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