REPTILES – My 2006 Nature Checklist
I decided to split up my 2006 Nature Checklist into 5 different categories; Butterflies & Skippers, Amphibians, Reptiles, Mammals and Birds! Reptiles are the next family in my series of species that I have kept track of within Western New York State. I have also taken the Reptiles and split them up between Turtles (4) and Snakes (6).
Some turtle species like the Eastern Painted Turtle can be consistently found in the same area day after day. Then if you’re lucky you could find turtles which are more secretive and it then becomes blog worthy. Last spring I had one of these experiences with a snapping turtle that approached me while I was out in the water searching by flashlight for spring peepers. Suddenly I felt something hit my rubber boots and this large snapping turtle climbing over my foot. I quickly tried to grab it but within a blink of an eye it crawled under a clump of grass. I did my best to grab it but was out of reach and I did not want to loose any fingers. We had so much fun that night.
The next exciting day was on the 1st of June 2006 where I didn’t find one but two unusual turtle encounters. Earlier in the day we had a male Wood Turtle crossing one of the dirt roads here in Allegany. Each year I sometimes come across one or maybe two Wood Turtle here in Allegany. What was so exciting about this find was that this guy was in an area which I had never seen them in this area before. That wasn’t the highlight of the day, it came later heading into town to get some pizza. I found this female Snapper looking for a place to lay her eggs in the gravel. This Snapping Turtle was very laid back and surprisingly it allowed me to get very close for a few pictures! I quickly took a few shots and let her do her thing. I did return later in the evening to find that she had successfully crossed back across the road without any harm.
Then you have those unusual encounters where you find this strange thing stuck in the middle of the road (or bridge). In late July this happened to an Eastern Spiny Softshell and luckily a concerned individual safely removed it from being run over by passing vehicles. It happened to have gotten stuck in the middle of the bridge and couldn’t figure out how to get over the edge. You might wonder how I ended up getting involved; well this person placed this turtle into a bag and brought it to my office for me to identify for him (people bring me unusual presents all the time). Shocked by this unique find, I quickly knew what this funny looking turtle was a Softshell and that we needed to return it back to the lake. I found it amazing how quickly it dashed into the water once we released it.
Here is my list of Turtles which I have listed in taxonomic order by common name (I would be happy to send you their Latin name for any species in question):
|1. Common Snapping Turtle||3. Eastern Spiny Softshell|
|2. Eastern Painted Turtle||4. Wood Turtle|
This year I didn’t spent too much time looking for snakes and only really missed out on seeing the Eastern Milk Snake from my previous years checklist. The highlights this year had to have been seeing three Smooth Green Snakes. Typically I only find green’s squished on the road and rarely lucky enough to find them alive! While at the Audubon Nature Pilgrimage this year, Rex had two live ones that he had found (and let me hold one). Then in late June while leading a group of people into the Old Growth Forest we happen to find a Smooth Green in some of the vegetation. I think we also found a Garter that day and the walk quickly turned into a reptile talk. We released the snakes where we found them and continued back talking about forest ecology. It was one of those few times that I didn’t have my camera with me.
Regarding other species of snakes, the Northern Ring-neck Snake truly put on a show for me year. I found some tiny ones around the admin building and even found one while it was snowing out in October. I was successful this year in photographing a Northern Water Snake after numerous unsuccessful attempts throughout the summer. Common Garter snakes were just as common as always and can’t wait believe where they were being seen.
Here is my list of Snakes which I have listed in taxonomic order by common name (I would be happy to send you their Latin name for any species in question):
|1. Northern Water Snake||4. Eastern Garter Snake|
|2. Brown Snake||5. Northern Ring-neck Snake|
|3. Red-bellied Snake||6. E. Smooth Green Snake|
I can’t wait to see what reptiles in 2007 will bring me. Maybe even a Timber Rattlesnake??