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Southern Illinois and Missouri- April 2005

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The time had come for our annual trip to Southern Illinois. This year we decided to spend two days in Illinois, and two in Missouri. Present in our group was my dad, Keith Albert, my brother, Tim, and a friend of ours, Adam Nadler. Bob Young usually accompanies us on our spring venture as well, but he and his wife were unable to make it this year.

As we approached our first destination, temperatures were still in the mid 50s, leaving us with some doubts about what we might find. Our first stop was the bluffs in Monroe County, Illinois. This area holds some rare species in Illinois. It is the only place in the state where the Eastern Coachwhip (Masticophis flagellum flagellum) can be found. It’s also one of the only areas in Illinois where Great Plains Rat Snakes (Elaphe emoryi) reside. These two, along with a wealth of other species make this a great area to be.

We didn’t find any of these rarities, instead, Keith found the very common Northern Ringneck Snake.
 
With the cool temperatures that was all we could rustle up, and we were off to the next spot.

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The Redbud was blooming

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Bedrock Stream

Well, the herping turned out to be pretty good on this day. As we peered into the rocks, I spotted the first two Timber Rattlesnakes coiled tightly in a crevice.  As we positioned ourselves to look at the snakes better, we must have startled them, and they went deeper into the rock.

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Northern Ringneck Snake

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Monroe County


 
Our next location is one of my favorite places to herp. The area has a few Timber Rattlesnake and Copperhead dens which we check, and Blue Racers are also commonly seen. The hike is always enjoyable. In the spring, Dogwood and Redbud, and many types of wildflowers are blooming. There are mossy ravines, and bluffs, and cool blue streams, which is enough to keep your eyes busy, even when herping is slow.

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Timber Rattlesnake

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