Young Naturalists in the Sandhills

i Nov 2, 2010 No Comments by

By Jeff Beane, Wake Audubon Board member

The Young Naturalists Club enjoyed a successful field trip to the North Carolina Sandhills on Saturday, 9 October 2010.  The trip focused on Sandhills ecology and herpetology, and covered portions of Moore, Richmond, and Scotland counties.  Ten club members participated.  Leaders were Jeff Beane, Ed Corey, Ross Maynard, and Adrian Yirka.

The group observing and photographing the hatchling Southern Hognose Snake.

The group took two Museum passenger vans and split up for most of the trip, but stayed in contact so that if one group found something of particular interest, the other could come see it.  At least 13 reptile and six amphibian species were turned up during the trip, including two of the primary target species—the rare Southern Hognose Snake (one live and two dead hatchlings) and the more common and widespread Eastern Hognose Snake (one live adult and one dead juvenile).  Both of these species are most readily found during fall.

This live hatchling male Southern Hognose Snake (Heterodon simus) was probably the best find of the trip.

The spectacular defensive behavior of the Eastern Hognose Snake (Heterodon platirhinos) contributed to this adult male being a trip highlight.

Other herp species encountered were Fowler’s Toad, Southern Cricket Frog, Squirrel Treefrog, Eastern Narrowmouth Toad, American Bullfrog, Southern Leopard Frog, Eastern Box Turtle, Yellowbelly Slider, Green Anole, Northern Fence Lizard, Southeastern Five-lined Skink, Ground Skink, Black Racer, Rat Snake, Banded Water Snake, and Cottonmouth.

Fall can be a slow season for amphibians, but this Squirrel Treefrog (Hyla squirella) was one of several species turned up.

An Eastern Fox Squirrel was also seen, along with numerous birds (including Red-cockaded Woodpeckers, Bald Eagles, Black-throated Blue Warbler, and Palm Warblers); fall-blooming wildflowers; and a wide variety of butterflies (at least 14 species were noted at one random roadside stop), odonates, and other arthropods. The day ended with an excellent dinner at Los 2 Potrillos Mexican restaurant in Aberdeen.  A good time was had by all, many photos were taken, and hopefully everyone learned something.

Cloudless Sulphur (Phoebis sennae) feeding on Carphephorus.

The Carolina Mantis (Stagmomantis carolina) is one of many insects abundant in the Sandhills in fall.