Friday, August 22, 2008

My Philly milk snake (Lampropeltis triangulum) obsession reared its ugly, time-vacuuming head on Sunday (August 17th). Newly revived and as strong as ever, it vetoed alternative plans to hunt copperheads (Agkistrodon contortrix) in Chester County or turtles in Bucks County. I was compelled, instead, to return to Roxborough and hack my way through chest-high weeds and grass and look for cover to flip.

I made the most of it; it was a beautiful day and I rode out on my bicycle. I commute to work most days by bicycle, so the contrast of just sailing along MLK Drive with no traffic to dodge and no traffic lights to stop for was delicious. One other cycler did ask why I had a potato rake strapped to my bike, and I matter-of-factly explained that I had been looking for snakes that morning.

I don't have to tell you I found no snakes, but I did reorganize some old boards and flat rocks I found in piles here and there, stupid in that scouting and spreading out artificial cover is winter work, something you do when the weathers no good for catching anything anywhere, and when the vegetation is dead and has been beaten down a bit already by the weather.

Luckily my schedule doesn't allow any more urban milk snake trips the rest of the season, right?

  • I would like to trap more intensively for turtles in Cobbs Creek. I put the trap in a couple days last weekend, but only came up with fish. I've invested in the best bait out there - sardines in oil, so I hope for more luck this week.
  • I'd like to check in on a copperhead den in Chester County now that the snakes should be gathering for their winter sleep.
  • I'd like to do the same at timber rattler (Crotalus horridus) den or two in the mountains. It would be nice to see some babies joining the big, old snakes I saw this spring.
  • I'd like to start marking brown snakes (Storeria dekayi) in West Philly for a little study idea I've been kicking around - this might be the kind of thing I can squeeze in an hour here, an hour there, but to be honest it excites me more than the pit viper hunting.
  • Last, I've got some travel planned for the next few weekends. It's hard to contemplate in the middle of August, but that leaves a pretty limited time before autumn sweeps in and ruins everything.

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