Sunday, January 22, 2012

Attention Philly Herpers! Check out this lecture at the Free Library on the the Philadelphia Zoo's efforts to protect the herps (and other animals and plants) of Haiti:

Event info:
A Vanishing Kingdom: Tracing the Origins of the Environmental Destruction of Haiti
Monday, January 30, 7:00 P.M.
Free Library of Philadelphia, Parkway Central Library, Skyline Room, 1901 Vine St., 215-567-7710
Join Dr. Garvey Lundy of Montgomery County Community College and Dr. Carlos Martinez Rivera of the Philadelphia Zoo as they explore how social conditions in Haiti affect the island’s flora and fauna, and how, in the wake of the 2010 earthquake, the Philadelphia Zoo is working to establish conservation strategies to save more than 40 plant and animal species native to the island. For more information on One Book events, visit
This is not directly a herping post, but I'd like to announce our newly adopted daughter, Magnolia Elizabeth Brown (Homo sapiens), born December 11th and whom we brought home a few days later. It'll be at least a couple years till she's flipping rocks with her old man, and I imagine fatherhood might keep me closer to home in my herping expeditions (though Scott has demonstrated impressive mobility in his fatherhood). Soon enough, though, I look forward to introducing her to the local frogs, toads, snakes, salamanders, and turtles (heck, maybe even some lizards).

The first river we tried, after a miserably long drive from Philadelphia and a few hours of sleeping in a rest stop in Florida, was a tributary of the Apalachicola, a gorgeous, clear-water, turtle-icious tributary of the Apalachicola, and thus territory of Barbour's map turtle (G. barbouri).

Turtle number one was not a map turtle, but it was darn cute, a loggerhead musk turtle (Sternotherus minor). We ended up seeing a lot of these basking low to the water on the smaller branches and twigs sticking above the surface. The first one held still in Scott's hand just long enough for this shot...
...and then leaped from his hand like the most quick and agile turtle we had ever seen. Luckily there were more.

We kept on wading, snorkeling, diving along the bottom. A larger turtle caught our eye, and we caught the turtle. Meet one of the omnipresent yellow-bellied sliders of the Southeast (Trachemys scripta), close cousin of the red-eared sliders that are a pest in our Delaware Valley waters.

Of course there are snakes down there too. Several species of water snake (Nerodia species) hunt the waters of the Florida panhandle, but what we hear that most of the water snakes in these clear, spring-fed streams are brown water snakes (N. taxispilota) like this little one.

Though we did not catch one of those massive-headed female map turtles, we did come up with a couple males basking.