South Texas - Day 1

Group of locks on gate

Let me start off with a little disclaimer and reminder - most of the land in South Texas where we were travelling is private land. Many of the tin piles we found were on private land. Going on to that land is trespassing. By posting pics, I do not intend to imply that I condone it.

Also, be aware that although I have posted pics of some trash sites, I haven't described their locations and I made sure the pics I shot aren't how these spots appear from the road. In other words, if you were to start driving around SoTex looking for these spots using my pics as a reference, you wouldn't find them.

Now - on with the trip log......

Tim Evans and I left College Station, Texas around 9:30 am to head down to South Texas to find some herps to photograph. We really didn't have any target species this trip, although Tim needed a better picture of a Blue Spiny Lizard (Sceloporus cyanogenys). Really this was just a "get out and herp trip".

We stopped at the Brazos River where there are some old houses and some trash. Turned the trash but saw only a Little Brown Skink (Scincella lateralis). As we headed south, near the town of Independence we saw some basking Red-eared Sliders (Trachemys scripta elegans) and several Eastern Bluebirds and, surprisingly, a Golden-fronted Woodpecker (usually a species you don't come across this far east in TX).

The plan was to drive down along a particular route where I knew some tin/trash sites along the way. However, I missed a turn and we ended up heading out of the way about 30 miles. We cut over on a road I had never been on before and came across this site -

Trash Site 1

At this site we stopped and flipped tin. It was now 80 and we found
1 Flat-headed Snake (Tantilla gracilis) - a very red example.

Flat-headed Snake

1 Gulf Coast Toad (Bufo nebulifer).
1 Green Tree Frog (Hyla cinerea).

As we started to leave, we heard a large lizard (probably a Texas Spiny Lizard - Sceloporus olivaceus) and a large snake (probably a Western Coachwhip - Masticophis flagellum testaceus) crawl off into the underbrush, but couldn't find either for a photograph.

On the way down, we stopped at some of the trash sites that I had mapped out ten years ago, but found that they were now either burned, gone, or rebuilt. Guess I have to update my trash pile lists more than once every 10 years!

Around 4 pm, we stopped at a tin spot near the town of Freer. It was still 80.

trash site 2

Under tin here we found -

1 Great Plains Narrow-mouthed Toad (Gastrophryne olivacea)

Great Plains Narrow-mouthed Toad

1 Texas Spiny Lizard (Sceloporus olivaceus)
1 Reticulated Collared Lizard (Crotaphytus reticulatus) - this guy escaped before we could get a photo.

Our next stop was a trash pile along a dirt road that I had been herping for years.

Trash site 3

We found nothing.

The sun was starting to set, and it was cooling of very quickly. We sprinted over to a dump area in the middle of a little town that I knew. We flipped some of the endless trash in this area, but we only found a couple of -
Great Plains Narrow-mouthed Toads (Gastrophryne olivacea)
and one more Texas Spiny Lizard (Sceloporus olivaceus)

We had planned on staying at Falcon Dam State Park, further down in the Rio Grande Valley, but decided it was too far to drive tonight. Instead we opted for Lake Casa Blanca State Park near Laredo for tonight.

On the way to the park, we decided to drive a quiet paved road that went south from the main highway. We drove down a few miles and then came back up. One this road we saw -

several Rio Grande Leopard Frogs (Rana berlandieri)
1 small Texas Toad (Bufo speciosus)

young Texas Toad (Bufo speciosus)

We arrived at Lake Casa Blanca State Park ($18 for camping) at around 8:30. We set up camp and went to Wal-Mart to buy soap, shampoo and a towel (which I forgot) and beer (which I also forgot!).

We got back to the state park, washed off the day's grime in the showers, and sat at our campsite listening to the chuckle of the Rio Grande Leopard Frogs at the edge of the lake. When I sat down to update my notes, I realized that I had forgotten to buy beer at Wal-mart after all! Oh well - an almost perfect evening!

Just about the time we got ready to hit the hay, some idiots with an oversized car stereo from the other side of the hill started blasting their Tejano music for their evening camping festivities. Of course, with the music that loud, they also had to shout to each other over it to be heard. God I love the peace and quiet of the outdoors.

Click here to go on to day 2

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Chris Harrison