Posts of western North Carolina interest will be coming over the summer at some point, but let’s tie up some loose ends from Florida. Clarkii – with the cold winter, this post is as much for reminiscing on my part as it is educating.
So, Lee County – despite the long drive from my former residence, this county was a really enjoying place for herping – the gulf coast doesn’t suffer the same degradation as the east coast so good herping spots are abundant, especially for clarkii. Interestingly, true salt marsh habitat (instead of mangrove swamp) comes down much farther south on the gulf coast and Lee county boasts quite a few good examples with dotted with the occasional black mangrove. On one area on the mainland, many dark black and green individuals can be found:
And in nearby retention ponds, Florida Watersnake/Mangrove Snake hybrids are common despite the fact that the ponds themselves are saline:
But some of the islands off the coast in Lee county boast some impressive habitat, with just as impressive clarkii to match them. The habitat consists of interesting lagoons lined with mangroves, sandy bottomed with seagrass. The clarkii there were reds, yellows, tans and salt & pepper. I have only herped these lagoons once with Dr. Chesnes, but it was a exhilarating experience – we had been herping long into the night without any luck. We were tired and mildly disappointed, but our disappointment quickly turned when we found the first one laying in wait among some marsh grass. It’s one of those herping sites that gets etched into your memory and fills you with that warm-fuzzy feeling – what a cool area!
More to come – once again, be sure to check out my article on Mangrove Snakes in an upcoming issue of Herp Nation!