Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Notes from the Field: Mark goes to JERC (Ichauway, GA)

This past weekend, I was invited to join Dr. John Maerz' UGA Herpetology class on their annual field trip to Jones Ecological Research Center (JERC) in Ichauway (Baker County) GA. Dr. Joe Mendelson (Zoo Atlanta) and I joined the group Saturday morning for what I can only describe as a 24 hour crash course in the Reptiles and Amphibians of South West Georgia.

There is an amazing amount of research happening on the 30,000 acres of protected land and I could feel the enthusiasm for learning about these critters. We found almost 40 species in 24 hours, which is simply incredible. Helping Lora Smith and Jess McGuire check their turtle, tortoise, snake, lizard, frog and salamander traps made finding most of these animals some easier! Also their invaluable expertise in telling us where to look!

A wonderful place and I am already itching to get back to Ichauway.

Grover perfecting his box turtle spinning technique

The highlight of the trip for me was seeing my first Sternotherus minor, Loggerhead musk turtle

Lora Smith telling us about how cool this turtle is 
A beefy and extremely well-behaved Amphiuma (Amphiuma means)

How to see an Amphiuma (part 1) 
Joe holding a dwarf salamander (I believe that is full grown) Eurycea quadradigitata

An incredible blue fence lizard (Scoleporus)

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Dr Maerz' expertise in the field was invaluable 
Ashley and the baby Trachemys 
Dr Joe checking out a coachwhip (Masticophis)

How you more easily find snakes in the field 
The burrow of a young gopher tortoise 
Ashley scoping a tortoise burrow for residents

Jess and Will McGuire scoping for tortoises

Can you spot the venomous snake? 

Todd experiences the costs associated with capturing a large taxispilota (Water Snake)

Cassy and a spectaular green tree frog (Hyla cinerea)

A close-up showing the yellow spots!

Lora getting ready to release the Eastern diamonback captured the day before

The rattlesnake was nice enough to let us take pictures before it scooted off

An amazing animal, and the first I have seen in the wild (and I have been looking!)

A three lined salamander, related to the long tails we have on exhibit at the Garden.